Wine Tasting Dinner: 2006 Washington Cabernet Sauvignon



By Kori ~ November 10th, 2010.

Washington State Cabernet Sauvignons are among the best in the world, and they are much better values (higher QPR) than most Cabs in other wine regions of the world. Last Friday evening, we tasted six Cabernet Sauvignons from the 2006 vintage from Washington State in our monthly wine tasting dinner. It was another fabulous evening of good wines, the company of wonderful friends, and LaGayle’s (Mom’s) excellent food. All six wines paired well with our dinner of tomato basil soup, candied walnut gorgonzola salad with dried cranberries, prime rib, cilantro lime mashed sweet potatoes, braised kale, and Orange Muscat cake for dessert.

The consensus favorite was the 2006 Quilceda Creek Galitzine Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. The Golitzin family founded Quilceda Creek, located in Snohomish, Washington, in 1978. Generally considered the premier winery in Washington State, Quilceda Creek remains a small, family-owned and operated winery. Quilceda Creek is no stranger to high accolades for their wines. Their flagship wine, the Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, has received four 100-point ratings from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate for the 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2007 vintages. In 2001, they purchased and planted their own Galitzine Vineyard on Red Mountain. The 2004 Quilceda Creek Galitzine Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was the first release from this vineyard.

A close second place was the 2006 Columbia Crest Wautoma Springs Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Columbia Crest, located in Paterson, Washington, is the largest producer in the state. Head winemaker Ray Einberger and his team continue to pump out great wines at great prices. Well-known for their H3, Grand Estates, and Two Vines lines, it is their Reserve line that puts them in the league with the premier producers in the state.

Not only did four of these six wines receive a Quality rating of 4 stars or higher (out of 5), but the top five also received a QPR rating of 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5). Even though these wines are not inexpensive, they are well worth the money. I would encourage you to try any of these wines, especially with a meal, to decide for yourself how Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon compares to other world-renowned Cabs.

From 1st to last in the group consensus rankings:

2006 Quilceda Creek Galitzine Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Galitzine Vineyard, Red Mountain, Washington): Dark purple in color. Nose is a bit tight at first but opens up with gorgeous black fruit aromas after a little time in the glass. Black cherry, blackcurrant, clove, and vanilla come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity and medium to high tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a long, lingering finish. A beautiful wine by itself that only gets better with food.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $98; Available elsewhere, $150 to $250

2006 Columbia Crest Wautoma Springs Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Wautoma Springs Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington): Dark red in color. Oak, vanilla, and black fruits on the nose lead to black cherry, blackcurrant, and vanilla on the palate. Full-bodied and lively with medium to high, drying tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $35

2006 Saviah Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (Walla Walla Valley, Washington): Deep, dark red. Aromatic with earth, hazelnut, floral notes, and a hint of bacon on the nose. Black cherry, blackberry, earth, and a touch of oak come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied and smooth with medium to high tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $28; Available elsewhere, $27 to $28

2006 Tertulia Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (Horse Heaven Hills, Washington): Dark purple in color. Nice nose with oak, cinnamon, black fruit, and vanilla aromas. Black fruits, spice, and a hint of licorice on the palate. Medium to full-bodied and smooth with medium to high, drying tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $24; Available elsewhere, $25 to $34

2006 Stephenson Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (Washington State): Dark, purplish red. Aromatic with black fruit, smoke, and floral aromas. Black fruits, especially blackberry, and floral notes dominate the palate. A bit jammy. Medium to full-bodied and lively with medium to high, drying tannins and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $28; Available elsewhere, $25 to $33

2006 Four Lakes Chelan Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): Dark, inky, purplish red in color. Black fruits, licorice, and dill pickle on the nose; black fruits, licorice, chocolate, and leafy greens on the palate. Full-bodied and thick with lively acidity, medium to high, drying tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $29; Available elsewhere, $29


Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Red Wine, Washington State Wine, Wine Tasting Dinners, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Cabfrancophile | November 10th, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Here’s my usual question on QPR and Quilceda Creek. What is the peer group you’re using based on your definition of QPR? And is it the same peer group as the Columbia Crest Reserve? Given the theme of the tasting, I’m assuming these are both being compared to the same subset of structured, ‘reserve’ level Cabernets. This suggests that the “average” 4.5 rated Cabernet costs $200 or more given 5 bangs for your buck is awarded when price < 50% of average of its peers. Does your database of reviews support this implication?

    I do find your definition of QPR curious since it allows arbitrary definition of peer groups and QPR to be relative, especially when it comes to regions or styles with inflated prices. But that it is how you define it, and so it is. The pertinent question is whether a $100 wine can meet the quantitative definition of top QPR (5 out of 5) based on your criteria. Especially since there are a fair number of structured, 'reserve' level Cabernets rated at 4.5 for under $100 reviewed on this blog.

  2. Cabfrancophile | November 10th, 2010 at 10:11 am

    As an example, here’s a recent note from your blog:

    2007 Col Solare Red Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Deep, dark purple. Gorgeous nose with aromas and flavors of black cherry, blackberry, vanilla, and spice. Full-bodied yet elegant with smooth tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
    Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
    QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
    Where to buy: Winery, $75

    I guess you will tell me it is a proprietary blend instead of a Cabernet Sauvignon. But by WWQA standards, this could be sold as a varietal Cabernet. Is this a different peer group than the QC Cabernet in this post simply because the label says Red instead of Cab?

  3. Alvin Cabfrancsux | November 10th, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Looks like that was a very enjoyable dinner. Must have been wonderful taking notes on some beautiful wines.

  4. Mike | November 10th, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    I’m sure they are both beautiful wines, but I’m also having a hard time understanding Quilceda Creek with the same QPR rating as Columbia Crest. You rated both at 4.5 stars but the QC is easily 3 to 5 times the price. Can you explain your reasoning or methodology?

  5. Kori | November 10th, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Cabfrancophile,
    Thanks for your interest in our QPR ratings and methodology. The peer group for this tasting included all Cabs that we have ever rated, whether they have been written up on our blog or not. Regarding your question about Col Solare, yes, the peer group for it is different because it is labeled as a proprietary blend rather than as a Cab. While it could be labeled as a Cab by percentage, that is not how it is labeled and sold (or where you would find it in a wine shop).

    Alvin,
    Yes, it was a wonderful dinner on all counts: wine, food, and company.

    Mike,
    For a more complete explanation of our QPR methodology, please visit our Wine Ratings page: http://winepeeps.com/wine-ratings/. Based on this system, both the QC and CC Rsv received 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5), but obviously, the CC Rsv would be the best value at 1/3 of the price.

    Cheers!

  6. Cabfrancophile | November 11th, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Alvin, love your last name. Must be French, though I doubt it originated in the Loire or Right Bank of Bordeaux. I’ll gladly take possession of any Cheval Blanc, Angelus, Ausone or Figeac you own should you find them not to your taste! Or Le Macchiole Paleo . . . .

    Kori, I understand your statement with respect to peer groups. Seems odd since you position this blog as a “link to great QPR wines.” I’d happily pay some premium for a varietal or vineyard designate since the context is important. But for a value shopper, isn’t taste what matters? A Cab-dominant wine will still taste the same regardless of which shelf it sits upon. (Though I would not recommend investing much time scouring the bottom shelf!)

    This is also why basing QPR on the most expensive wines as opposed to the least expensive for a given peer group and level of quality seems odd. Sure, I could buy Margaux or Lafite for hundreds (thousands?) of dollars which will be 4.5 or 5 star quality at maturity. But Columbia Crest has set the bar at a fraction of the price. And I’m still not convinced that you can produce data–published or unpublished–that indicates the average 4.5 star Cab is $200+.

  7. Kori | November 11th, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Cabfrancophile,
    Thanks again for your interest in QPRs and how we calculate them. Keep in mind that the wines you see on our blog are only the tip of the iceberg of what we have tasted. For example, we started our monthly tasting dinners in 2002 but only began the blog in 2008. One of our goals is to eventually have a searchable and sortable database of everything available to our readers, but the project has proved to be much more costly and time-consuming than we anticipated. I’m sure that would help answer a lot of your questions. In the meantime, we appreciate your patience. Cheers!

  8. Cabfrancophile | November 12th, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Kori, I appreciate the patient explanation. I have commented further in the current post on QPR. I definitely appreciate rating in terms of both QPR and raw quality. But I suppose I want to challenge the Peeps a bit to see if the QPR calculation can be made a bit more intuitive and transparent.

  9. Wine Tasting Dinner: 2006 Washington Cabernet Sauvignon | Fantasticbeach3's Blog | November 13th, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    [...] Wine Tasting Dinner: 2006 Washington Cabernet Sauvignon was originally posted on Wine Peeps on Wed, 10 Nov 2010 15:00 UTC. Wine Peeps – Your link to great QPR wines from Washington State and beyond. [...]

  10. Wine Tasting Dinner: 2006 Washington Cabernet Sauvignon « Howardsillick's Blog | November 21st, 2010 at 3:57 am

    [...] Wine Tasting Dinner: 2006 Washington Cabernet Sauvignon was originally posted on Wine Peeps. Wine Peeps – Your link to great QPR wines from Washington State and beyond [...]

Leave a Comment