Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday #34 - Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon to the east – Cabernet Sauvignon to the west! Over 100 labels of Cabernet Sauvignon surround me and all within a mere 15 minute drive or less! I live in a valley with over 100 licensed wineries and the area is full of local Cabernet Sauvignon! WBW #34 is almost here and yours truly, along with gentle guidance from Lenn Thompson of Lenndevours, has chosen the Wine Blogging Wednesday theme as Cabernet Sauvignon from the "Evergreen" State of Washington.

Washington State is home to lighthouses, rain and Alpine-like forests, deserts painted with sagebrush, volcanoes, majestic rivers, java-joints, micro-breweries, and most of all, over 500 wineries with over 31,000 acres of grapes making Washington State the second wine producer in the nation. Cabernet Sauvignon was originally planted sporadically around the Columbia Valley starting in 1963. In fact, the wine region of Washington State comprehends the same latitudes as the southern parts of Burgundy, all of the Loire Valley and the northern parts of Bordeaux.

Naturally, I would blog only Cabernet Sauvignon from Walla Walla — but which one and from which winery? There are at least 100 Cabs to choose from in the Walla Walla Valley and several of the wineries produce two styles - one made with grapes from the Walla Walla Valley and the other style usually a blend of various Cabernet vineyards from the larger Columbia Valley AVA. So many Cabernets and so little time! I finally decided that I would bend the rules a bit and blog not about one, but three Cabernet Sauvignons. Now – how do I decide which three?

Believe it or not, this was not an easy task as I have blogged several Walla Walla produced Cabernet Sauvignon in the past, but this time I wanted to reach beyond and blog about different ones. So, what’s a Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman to do? I finally decided to draw names! I printed a sheet from the Walla Walla Wine Alliance listing the local wineries. I cut the names out with scissors, tossed the names in a ice bucket and drew three names from the ice bucket (and keeping my fingers crossed that they were Cabernet Sauvignon producers). Drum roll please - - -

Fort Walla Walla Cellars - It was just my bad luck that Fort Walla Walla Cellars was sold out of their Cabernet Sauvignon - 2003. Thanks to Terry in the tasting room, he remembered it was still available in splits for $18. A split was perfect, especially since I would not be sharing this particular tasting.

The fruit from Walla Walla vineyards, Pepper Bridge and Minnick Hills, was gently treated and fermented with multiple yeasts in small bins for added complexity. The nose was rich and full with aromas of coffee and dark cherries - - earthy. The wine seemed to fill my mouth like velvet with dense flavors of coffee, chocolate, and cherries. It continued to finish with even more cherries and a touch of vanilla. My mouth was left with a creamy feel and wanting more. (No - I didn't finish the split. I was modest - a difficult chore.) One word to describe this wine - - elegant!

Waterbrook Winery- What a value for the quality! Priced at $22, this 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend from four Cabernet vineyards in the Columbia Valley AVA. An extreme aromatic nose - actually kind of sexy with vanilla over-tones. The wine gave a caramel mouth feel with flavors of dark fruit like blackberries and over-ripe plums with a hint of spice. This velvety wine had a long finish that continued with more caramel and nutmeg. I wouldn't be ashamed to put it next to a $45 bottle. I guess the Wine Spectator wouldn't be ashamed, either. If you are a fan of ratings, this affordable, but structured and silky wine was given a rating of "91" in May. Again, for quality -- an excellent value and I believe this wine is worthy of being cellared.

Whitman Cellars - Walla Walla Valley - 2003 priced at $36. A beautiful nose which took me down memory lane! It reminded me of freshly picked strawberries from the local Klicker Family strawberry patch. And as soon as I tasted this wine, I knew the fruit was from the Walla Walla Valley (four different vineyards - nice complexity). There is something about the grapes from the Walla Walla Valley's soil. Usually earthy qualities with flavors of cherries and just the right amount of acids to make your mouth water for more. A balanced wine with almost a bloody quality (I see grilled steaks in this wine's future). More flavors came through of Coca-Cola and black licorice leaving a lingering finish of bramble berries. Definitely a keeper for the cellar. Complex!

What can I say? When it comes to wine nestled in the SE corner in the state of Washington, I haven't met a Cabernet Sauvignon that I didn't like! Are they worth the price range of $30-50? (excluding the cult-driven $100 a bottle Leonetti - and a fine wine, it is ---) Certainly. Often bold and tannic, these high-end Cabs give you the opportunity to age them. And if you know where to look you can find affordable $10-20 Washington State Cabs (Ste. Michelle and Columbia Crest) which are perfect for every-day-sipping and back yard parties. In this Northwest state, there is no reason for wine lovers to be without a good Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington State. Cheers!

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