Tasting Group: Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Vertical, 1997-2008



By Kori ~ August 31st, 2011.

Our Wine Peeps Tasting Group includes what we think is an excellent peer group of knowledgeable wine lovers to taste, share, and learn more about wine together. Unlike our monthly wine tasting dinners in which the guests rotate, this tasting group includes people who are committed to getting together once a month which we believe benefits all of us.

Since we live in Washington State and often drink wines from Washington State, most of our tasting group themes are purposefully non-Washington wines so that we can continue to hone our knowledge of the entire world of wine and maintain well-rounded palates. This month, however, we made an exception for a very special tasting of Washington wines.

Dad (John) generously provided wines from his personal collection so that we could do a Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon vertical tasting of twelve wines from the 1997 through the 2008 vintage.

Alex Golitzin and his wife Jeannette 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 that is dedicated exclusively to the production of world-class Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon. Paul Golitzin joined his parents in the winery in 1992 and was named head winemaker in 2000.

Quilceda Creek is no stranger to high accolades for their wines. Their flagship wine, the Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that we explored in this tasting, has received four 100-point ratings from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate for the 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2007 vintages.

Quilceda Creek sources their grapes from vineyards throughout the Columbia Valley. The vineyard sources for the wines in this tasting are included in the tasting notes below. As you will see, the two constants in every vintage were Champoux and Klipsun with the majority of the fruit coming from Block 1 at Champoux Vineyards. Quilceda Creek became a partner in Champoux Vineyards in 1997 along with Paul and Judy Champoux and three other winery partners, Andrew Will, Powers, and Woodward Canyon.

While our tastings are usually blind, we decided not to taste these blind. We simply wanted to enjoy the wines and taste them in a logical order. We started with the oldest and worked our way to the youngest.

All of the wines were excellent, and some absolutely “wow-ed” us! It was remarkable how fresh the wines were, especially the 1998 vintage, which is 13 years old. The consensus favorite of the evening was the 2003 vintage. Other stars of the tasting were the 1998, 2005, 2007, and 2008 vintages. While the 2008, their current release, is still a young wine, it is already drinking extremely well and shows great potential to only improve with some age. I look forward to trying it again in a few years, if I have the opportunity.

Wines from Quilceda Creek can be hard to come by. Their wines are only offered to members of their private mailing list, which is currently full. The winery is open one weekend each year when mailing list customers can pick up their pre-purchased wines.

From oldest to youngest:

1997 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 9% Merlot. Vineyards: Champoux, Klipsun, Ciel du Cheval, and Tapteil. Deep ruby red. Aromatic with black currant, licorice, earth, and herbal notes on the nose. More black currant, licorice, and earth, as well as dry forest floor come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied and smooth with medium, dry tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of five)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $54

1998 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc. Vineyards: Champoux, Klipsun, and Tapteil. Dark red garnet. Gorgeous nose with black currant, black cherry, and smoke aromas. Black cherry, smoked meat, and licorice flavors on the palate. Medium to full-bodied and smooth with medium to high tannins. Well-balanced with good mouthfeel and a long, lingering finish. Drinking beautifully right now.
Quality: 5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $62

1999 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Merlot. Vineyards: Champoux, Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, and Tapteil. Deep, dark red. Nice nose with black fruit, earth, and vegetal aromas. Black currant, black cherry, earth, and slight vegetal notes come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and medium to high tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of five)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $75

2000 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): 97.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2.5% Cabernet Franc. Vineyards: Champoux, Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, and Tapteil. Unfortunately, this particular bottle was corked; therefore, it was not rated.
Quality: NR (not rated)
QPR:  N/A
Winery Release: $70

2001 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc. Vineyards: Champoux, Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, and Tapteil. Dark purplish red. Aromatic with bright black fruit, especially blackberry and black cherry, and cinnamon on the nose. Blackberry, spice, and a hint of black pepper come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied and lively with medium, dry tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $85

2002 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Franc. Vineyards: Champoux, Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, and Tapteil. Deep, dark purplish red. Nice nose with black cherry, cloves, and earthy aromas. Black cherry, black plum, spice box, and chocolate come through on the palate. Full-bodied with lively acidity and medium to high, dry tannins. Well-balanced and good complexity with a long finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $85

2003 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Merlot. Vineyards: Champoux, Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, and Tapteil. Deep, dark purplish red. Very aromatic with black cherry, earth, and smoke on the nose. Black cherry, black currant, licorice, and chocolate come through on the palate. Full-bodied and lively with medium to high, dry tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with good complexity and a long, lingering finish. Wow!
Quality: 5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $95

2004 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc. Vineyards: Champoux, Tapteil, and Klipsun. Deep, dark red. Nice nose with black cherry, black currant, and licorice aromas that lead to flavors of black fruit, earth, licorice, and a hint of spice. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and medium to high tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $100

2005 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Merlot. Vineyards: Champoux, Klipsun, and Tapteil. Deep, dark purplish red. Nice nose with aromas of blackberry, black cherry, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Fruit-forward with fresh black fruit, spice rack, licorice, and a hint of earth on the palate. Full-bodied with lively acidity and high, dry tannins. Well-balanced with good complexity and a very long, silky finish. Wow!
Quality: 5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $115

2006 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Merlot. Vineyards: Champoux, Klipsun, and Tapteil. Dark red. Aromatic with black fruit and spice on the nose. Black currant, black cherry, spice, black pepper, and a hint of espresso come through on the palate. Full-bodied with lively acidity and high, dry tannins. Well-balanced with a long, lingering finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $125

2007 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Merlot. Vineyards: Champoux, Klipsun, and Tapteil. Deep, dark red. Aromatic with black cherry, floral, and vegetal notes on the nose. Black cherry, blackberry, game, and a hint of earth come through on the palate. Full-bodied and lively with medium to high, dry tannins. Well-balanced with a very long finish. Still young; should open up even more with time.
Quality: 5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $125

2008 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Merlot. Vineyards: Champoux, Klipsun, and Tapteil. Dark purple. Nice nose with black cherry and earthy aromas. Black cherry, earth, licorice, spice box, and espresso come through on the palate. Full-bodied with lively acidity and medium to high, dry tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a long, lingering finish. Very young but headed for greatness. Wow!
Quality: 5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $130


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

Reader's Comments

  1. Erinn | September 2nd, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Quilceda Creek is a personal favorite! Thanks for the great review of the vertical. Very interesting to see the comparisons between different vintages.

  2. Kori | September 6th, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Erinn,
    Thanks! It was fascinating to be able to compare these wonderful wines side by side and see how they varied from vintage to vintage. Cheers!

  3. Charles | December 2nd, 2011 at 12:41 am

    Great, getting such insights without spending bucks is the upside of your post, but then its you who got to taste the awesome wines ;)

  4. Kori | December 6th, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Good point, Charles. Haha. :) Cheers!