Sunday, July 4, 2010

Head For The Hills Part Deux

At the same tasting where I tried the two new H3 wines discussed in my last post, I also tried the new vintages of two of the "old" H3 wines - the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I found the new vintages remarkably like I remembered. Just like before, they were both quite good, and certainly worthy of the 90+ ratings they consistently receive. And just like before, I liked the Merlot better.

The Cabernet Sauvignon had a nose of simple red fruit, and like previous vintages, I was surprised to find the flavors predominately vegetal, with green bean, cedar and resinous herb, like Rosemary. It's surprising because those are charactaristics I normally associate with cool-climate Cabs, and the Horse Heaven Hills are one of the hottest vineyard sites in the state. Also like usual, the finish had a distinctly gamey, roast-beefy finish, and the tannins were assertive without being too aggressive. I love a good reliable, consistent wine.

Date: 6/29/2010

Wine: Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon
Grapes: 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc
Vintage: 2008
ABV: 14.5% (on a Cab? Jeezy Creezy)
Origin: Horse Heaven Hills, Washington State
Color: violet-red
Nose: cherries
Palate: more herbal - rosemary, roast beef, cherry, cedar
Price: $13

The Merlot had a slightly more complex nose of cherry and cassis. Mouth-coating, utterly velvety tannins fill the palate with the slightly dusty fruit flavor I like to call "brambly blackberry." It's more like a blackberry you just picked off the side of a dry gravel road that hasn't seen rain in a week or more, as opposed to the just plain "blackberry" flavor of a clean, ripe berry. And of course, a nice lengthy finish with hints of mocha. Probably tobacco, too - I couldn't quite put my finger on one other flavor (gotta love those palate-bombarding big tastings) and the winemaker notes on the sell-sheet say that's the only one I missed. So there you go.

Date: 6/29/2010

Wine: Columbia Crest H3 Merlot
Grapes: Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, a Kiss of Syrah (this is direct from the sell-sheet)
Vintage: 2008
ABV: 14.5% (again! I expect this sort of thing from a Syrah, but wow. Must have been a hot summer)
Origin: Horse Heaven Hills, Washington State
Color: deep brick red with purple highlights
Nose: cherry, cassis
Palate: Brambly blackberry with mocha
Price: $13

These are both very good wines, well worth their 90+ scores, so if you put them in your face you will be very happy. Personally, for the same price, I think I'd rather drink the Rattlesnake Hills Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the Kennedy Shah series by Woodhouse Family Cellars. I'm adding this not to hate on the H3 series in any way, which I absolutely adore, but because I'm concerned that my penchant for focusing on the positive might make you beautiful readers think I just love absolutely everything the most possible OMG BEST WINE EVAR!!!!1 When the truth is, I really just tend to find something about everything that someone would like, and if I can't, well ... Momma always said if I can't say something nice, I shouldn't say anything at all.

But I digress, the point is, I love H3, but personally do slightly prefer Kennedy Shah in the same price range. However, Woodhouse Family Cellars is a relatively small winery in Woodinville Wine Country, and if you live outside of WA, you're unlikely to find it. So buy all means, wherever you live, whenever you see it, buy the H3 wines, put them in your face, and enjoy!

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