Saturday, July 3, 2010

Head For The Hills (Horse Heaven, That Is)

Columbia Crest is one of the most successful wineries in Washington State. They have produced more 90+ scoring bottles than any other winery in the world, including last year's Wine of The Year (the 2005 Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet. If you didn't get yours, so sorry, mine are nestled snugly at the bottom of my closet where they shall stay until 2020, as per instructions given to me personally by their fabulous winemaker, Ray Einberger).  They will always hold a special place in my heart, as the very first wine I ever tasted - the wine which made me the woman I am today - was one of theirs. The 1998 Walter Clore Reserve Red is embedded permanently in my mind. But I'm not here to talk about that one. Instead, I'd like to tell you about two new additions to the Crest lineup this year: the H3 Pinot Gris, and the H3 Les Chevaux Red Blend.

If you know Crest, you've probably seen the H3 series before. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay came first, and each has received 90+ scores multiple vintages running. H3 stands for Horse Heaven Hills, the hottest vineyard site in Washington State and source of the ripest grapes with the lushest fruit flavors.

The H3 Pinot Gris certainly lives up to that standard. The nose is deceptively simple, suggesting honey with floral undertones. But the palate is surprisingly complex! For a mid-range white, there's a lot going on here. The palate leads off with the honeysuckle from the nose, and is then packed full of sunny cintrus: orange, lemon, grapefruit, lime! The gang's all here, with a hint of minerality on the finish, like a nice Alsace. I ahd it with goat cheese on crackers and it was heavenly.

Date: 6/29/2010

Wine: Columbia Crest H3 Pinot Gris
Grapes: 92 % Pinot Gris, 8% Pinot Blanc
Vintage: 2009
ABV: 13%
Origin: Horse Heaven Hills, Washington State
Color: pale straw
Nose: honey, honeysuckle
Palate: surprisingly complex! honeysuckle, citrus circus, lemon, hint of minerality
Price: $13

Les Chevaux is the new red blend in the H3 herd. "Chevaux" is French for - you guessed it - "horses." The nose of cherry brandy, vanilla, and clove is nothing short of seductive. The palate is built upon a framework of structured, spicy blackberry, with more brandy on the finish, licorice midpalate, and lovely vanilla tones from the oak, shaded by graphite and cedar. The intense flavor of this wine is seamlessly integrated with the balanced acid and firm but gentle tannins. Yet another triumph from the amazing team at Crest. Put this one in your face for sure!

Date: 6/29/2010
Wine: Columbia Crest H3 Les Chevaux Red Blend
Grapes: 34% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah, 8% Cabernet Franc, 8% Malbec
Vintage: 2008
ABV: 14.5%
Origin: Horse Heaven Hills, Washington State
Color: violet-red
Nose: cherry, vanilla, brandy, clove
Palate: structured blackberry with vanilla and brandy on the finish. Kinda Spanish. Licorice, graphite, and pepper, oh my! Oaky reds for the win.
Price: $13

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