By Chuck Hill
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Wines of the Week Archive
The calendar doesn’t lie. December has slipped into a sparkling memory, and I’m still contemplating Cabernet with hearty meats and meals. Fortunately, cold weather is conducive to enjoying rich red wines, and across the U.S., temperatures are still chilly. Enjoy these wonderful Cabernet Sauvignons and blends as the winter wanes, or save in your cellar for future fun.
This top-scoring, Red Mountain wine shows why Washington’s most famous AVA is getting all the press. Complex flavors and aromas are not hindered by aging in 84% new French oak. The wine opens with raspberry and cherry with exotic notes of spice and aromatic cedar. And as it opens, darker fruits of plum and cassis come through with added hints of tobacco, mocha and vanilla.
Gravel Bar Winery
Not every favorite Cabernet has to be expensive. This Columbia Valley blend of 88% Cabernet and 12% Merlot was crafted by Josh Maloney and aged in all American oak. Black cherry and raspberry dominate both nose and palate with hints of black olive, mint and dark chocolate.
Winemaker Chris Upchurch directs the team at DeLille Cellars, but he has
his own vineyard and winery on Red Mountain as well. Showing the classic
Red Mountain pedigree of violets, black cherries and ripe dark fruits,
the wine ventures into the Medoc to pick up notes of graphite, herbs and
cassis. This was a favorite with my tasters, and I’m sure it will be a
favorite of yours as well.
L’Ecole No 41
Marty and Megan Clubb took over the reins of L’Ecole No 41 in 1989 from Megan’s parents; Baker and Jean Ferguson founded L’Ecole in 1983. Today, the third generation – Marty and Megan’s son and daughter – are involved in the winery and contribute to its growing success. This Old-World style Cabernet offers ripe blackcurrant and plum with notes of cigar box, cocoa and violets – a favorite with beef from the grill!
This wine comes from the Woodward Canyon estate vineyard southwest of the winery in the Walla Walla Valley. Rick Small and his winemaking team were presented with near perfect fruit from this exemplary growing season. Look for aromas and flavors of blackberry, dark cherry and ripe plum mingling with toasty oak, tobacco and dark chocolate.
This wine was conceived by Columbia Crest winemaker Juan Muñoz-Oca as a free-spirited creation to express individual style through winemaking. Comparing the project with street art – both artist and winemaker “work with an unpredictable canvas, blending instinct and experience to create something vibrant, gutsy and fleeting.” Unusual fermentation protocols created a dense and flavorful wine with aromas and flavors of blueberry, cherry, leather and chocolate.
North by Northwest
This tempting wine from NXNW features fruit grown at premier Walla Walla vineyard sites including Wallula, Les Collines, Alder Ridge and Heather Hill. Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot were added to the blend to contribute body and firm tannins. Blackberry and dark cherry open the performance with finely balanced contributions of mineral, anise, cocoa and floral notes.
This wine named “After the Floods” refers to the three Columbia Valley AVAs where the grapes were sourced – all three affected by the cataclysmic ancient floods that shaped this growing region. Aromas and flavors show the Columbia Valley classic dark berry and blueberry with hints of cherry and earthy mineral.
Winemaker Tony Dollar named this annual red wine blend after the Bordeaux Medoc region on the ‘left bank’ of the Gironde River. Comprised of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Cabernet Franc, the wine offers classic aromas of cassis, dark cherry, raspberry, violets and hints of toffee and cocoa.
Talented winemaker Matt Gubitosa crafted his 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from grapes grown at Lublin Vineyard on the western Yakima Valley. Matt’s wines are rich and full-bodied – many say intense – and show the varietal character and ripe fruit he prefers. Look for ripe aromas and flavors of black cherry, plum and cassis with notes of earthy mineral and graphite. Finishing hints of cherry and vibrant acidity make this a great food wine.
My tasters remarked that this wine is very much in the New-World style, featuring very ripe fruit and a powerful presence in both nose and palate. Aromas of ripe fig, cassis and plum lead to a palate rich with dark fruit flavors, toasty oak, dark chocolate and spicy tobacco.
Three Rivers Winery
This wine is crafted from fruit grown at Washington’s Champoux Vineyard
in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. Old timers will recognize this property
as being the former Mercer Ranch Vineyards planted in the early 1970s.
Ripe berry and toasty oak greet the nose as the wine opens up with
breathing. Look for flavors of blackberry, blueberry and smoky cedar on
Wines from other areas
Dry Creek Vineyard
This powerful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc has been a flagship wine for Dry Creek Vineyard for many years. Fruit selection is 100% Dry Creek Valley AVA featuring prized estate and hillside vineyards. The wine opens with aromas of blueberry and cherry with hints of vanilla and toasty oak. The palate is rich with flavors of boysenberry, black pepper and barrel spice.
William Hill Estate
Winemaker Mark Williams blends lots from southern Napa to the hidden vineyards of California’s North Coast and Central Coast regions to craft this flavorful and affordable Cabernet Sauvignon. Look for aromas and flavors of ripe cherry and berry with notes of spice, vanilla and toasty oak.
To find contact information for most of the wineries
in the above text,