A Very Special Private Tasting of Washington Cabs

By Kori ~ December 15th, 2008.

Several years ago, Dad (John) began purchasing special bottles of wine to put in his cellar and then enjoy on special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, and so forth. We always look forward to these occasions knowing that we are in for a very special wine treat.

20081215_boud-quilSince we are firm believers in blind tastings, these special occasions are no different from our normal private family tastings in terms of the set-up with the exception that Dad knows the identity of the two wines. The rest of us don’t know anything except that we are tasting two red or white wines. The challenge is to not only determine which wine is our favorite but to identify the varietal and region of origin. Generally one of the wines is one of Dad’s special bottles and the other is either a wine that we’ve tasted before and enjoyed or a more reasonably priced wine of the same varietal.

When we recently celebrated Dad’s birthday, we were treated to a very special tasting of what turned out to be Washington Cabernet Sauvignons. Dad’s special bottle this time was the 2002 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, and it was pitted against the 2004 Boudreaux Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon. We had not previously tasted either of these wines.

For those of you who are not very familiar with Washington State wines, Quilceda Creek is generally considered the premiere Cabernet Sauvignon producer in the state, if not simply the premiere winery in the state. Quilceda Creek, founded in 1978, is a small, family-owned and operated winery located in Snohomish, Washington. Quilceda Creek has received three 100-point ratings in the last four years from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate for their 2002, 2003, and 2005 Cabs. The 2002 and 2003 Quilceda Creek Cabs (rated at the same time) were the first Washington State wines ever to receive a perfect 100-point rating.

Boudreaux Cellars is another Washington State winery well-known for its excellent Cabernet Sauvignon. Owner/winemaker Rob Newsom, a Louisiana native, founded Boudreaux Cellars in 2001 just outside of Leavenworth, Washington. While Boudreaux has not pulled in 100-point ratings yet, in its short seven year history, it has garnered quite a bit of attention. The 2004 Boudreaux Cab nabbed the #10 spot in Gary Vaynerchuk’s 101 Wines Guaranteed to Inspire, Delight, and Bring Thunder to Your World.

Both of these wines were very good but all four of us preferred the Boudreaux Cab over the Quilceda Creek Cab. The Boudreaux had a lot going on and was extremely well-balanced. Both wines have great aging potential, but the Boudreaux is definitely more enjoyable today. And for a fourth of the cost of the Quilceda Creek, Boudreaux hands-down gives you the most bang for your buck. Even though the 2004 is sold out, we have tasted the 2005 Boudreaux Cab as well and it is excellent too.

Both of these wines demonstrate the high quality of wines coming out of Washington State today.

2004 Boudreaux Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (Washington State): Deep, dark garnet. More brilliant than but not quite as dense as the Quilceda Creek. Gorgeous nose with dark fruit, floral, and earthy aromas. Flavors of red and black fruits come through on the palate with a vegetal and grassy component. Extremely well-balanced with good fruit, good acidity, smooth tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: 2005 is currently available vintage: Winery, $50; Available elsewhere, $44 to $55

2002 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (Washington State): Deep, dark, very inky with slight browning around the edges. Very fragrant nose of dark fruits, earth, tobacco, and spice leads to flavors of black cherry and cocoa. Very tannic on the first taste, mellows a bit with some air, has good aging potential.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: WineBid.com, opening bid $195; Available elsewhere, $200 to $450

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

Reader's Comments

  1. tony smith | December 15th, 2008 at 11:58 am

    how long did you let the QC breathe? i get an allocation of QC wine and have learned that if you are drinking one of them you need at least a half day or more of aeration. I poured the 1998 QC cab through the vinturi into a decanter around 2:00pm , tasted it right then (still closed and a little harsh), and then let it sit for about 6 hours until dinner (8:00pm) and there was a huge difference, not even the same wine. The same is true for just the red wine. if you ever open a QC wine again and want to really appreciate it and enjoy it open and decant it in the morning of the day you plan to drink it. Something else that works is to areate it the day before and then pour it back into the original bottle if you are taking it somewhere. I can’t stress this enough with this wine. if you want to enjoy all the potential of this massive cab it needs an incredible amount of air.

  2. Kori | December 15th, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    I tasted these wines completely blind and therefore was not involved in the tasting preparation. According to Dad, he decanted both the Boudreaux and the Quilceda Creek for several hours. Then after our initial tastes, we poured the wine from the decanters through the Vinturi into our glasses for additional aeration. I think that this was a sufficient amount of breathing time to properly evaluate the wines.

  3. Paul Zitarelli | December 16th, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    Kori –

    Fun tasting! I was glad to see the Boudreaux perform so well. Rob Newsom is a terrific guy, and his winery is in an amazing, off-the-grid location along Icicle Creek.

    I’m sitting on 2 bottles of the 2005 Cab and trying to decide when to crack one of them open. Any thoughts on optimal aging for Boudreaux Cabs?

  4. Kori | December 18th, 2008 at 12:45 pm


    The 2005 Cab is excellent right now, but I’m sure it’s peak is still several years away. It should last 12-15 years.