Columbia Crest Reserve: Cream of the Crop from Washington’s Largest Winery

By Kori ~ May 21st, 2012.

Columbia Crest, located in Paterson, Washington, has been one of our favorite sources of value wines for many years. Last year, Juan Munoz Oca took over as head winemaker from Ray Einberger. Einberger had been at the helm since 2002 when he took the reins from Doug Gore who had been the winemaker since Columbia Crest was founded in 1983. The Columbia Crest winemaking team has produced more 90+ scoring bottles of wine than any other winery in the world. For those of us who live in Washington State, it is nice to have such a consistent, affordable producer in our own backyard.

Well-known for their Grand Estates, H3, and Two Vines lines, it is their Reserve line that puts them in the league with the premier producers in the state. As you may remember, the 2005 Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was named as the #1 wine of 2009 in Wine Spectator’s annual Top 100 Wines list, the first Washington wine to receive the honor. Their well-known reserve Bordeaux-style blend became designated as Walter Clore Private Reserve with the 1999 vintage to recognize the pioneer who did the unexpected in Washington State—prove that premium vinifera grapes could flourish in the Columbia Valley.

Recently, we had the opportunity to taste the current releases of both the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and the Walter Clore Private Reserve in a blind samples tasting. While we thought both wines were very good, the 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is excellent.

If you ever find yourself in Paterson, Washington, you should definitely visit and tour Columbia Crest. And even if you aren’t able to visit, be sure to seek out some of their Reserve wines.

2008 Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): Deep, dark red in color. Gorgeous nose with black fruit, cinnamon, and clove aromas. Black fruit, earth, clove, and pencil lead comes through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with good acidity and medium to high, smooth tannins. Well-balanced with good complexity and a long, lingering finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR:  5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $45; Available elsewhere, $32 to $50

2008 Columbia Crest Walter Clore Red Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 57% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Malbec. Deep, dark red. Aromatic with red and black fruit, leather, and Red Vines on the nose. Black cherry, blackberry, and black pepper come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium tannins, and a medium to long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $30; Available elsewhere, $30 to $35

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

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