TNs: Washington State cabs

Our monthly wine tasting group met at one of the members home to do a blind tasting with a theme of Washington State cabernet. The normal cheese, bread and cracker accompaniment was abandoned in favor of our host`s most gracious offering of fine meats and tuna steaks along with exquisite cheeses, spreads, bread and crackers. Some top producers like Quilceda Creek, Leonetti and Woodward Canyon were not represented, but we did experience a few winners in addition to fine fellowship.

2 starter whites were:

2007 LUCIA SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS CHARDONNAY- nice minerally citrus and apple notes; decent medium bodied chard not made in an over oaked style; very refreshing and a good palate cleanser from the Pisoni folks.

2008 MACROSTIE SONOMA COAST CHARDONNAY- a little bigger and better IMHO; more complex and balanced, it offered more sumptuous apple, pineapple, pear and lime notes with a hint of oak with a creamy lushness.

The brown bagged cabernets in 2 flights of 5 and 1 of 4:

2007 ANDREW WILL “SORELLA” HORSE HEAVEN HILLS- well this was mostly cab with 72% blended with 15% cab franc and 10% merlot and 3% petit verdot; showing real well in the first flight of 5, this had nice blackberry, blueberry, red cherry and anise flavors which dominated nicely into a medium body and silky mouthfeel; no astringency here; it`s drinking good now and probably will continue for the next few years with some dissipation of the fruit forwardness; #1 in this flight.

2005 CH ROLLAT EDOUARD DE ROLLAT WALLA WALLA VALLEY [WWV]- the initial nose and taste was strange; was it brett, VA or something else? Whatever, there was some OK wild fruit in a tannic base which extended through the finish; my least fav of the flight.

2008 DUSTED VALLEY VINTNERS WWV- I got a blast of candied red cherries at first which then evolved into a domination of mostly oaky vanilla and toasty notes, not in balance, and in the “mold” of a wine I`d guess to be made for the more generically acceptable profile of such; at that, it came in 2nd in this flight.

1996 DELILLE CELLARS HARRISON HILL- very different from the outset, this was obviously older and perhaps over the hill, no pun intended; the fruit had moved into a wild, tart stage with some coffee and mocha topping; last in the flight.

2009 OWEN ROE SHARECROPPER`S COLUMBIA VALLEY- deep, dark youthful color, big, fat and somewhat intense, some good black cherry/ cranberry with a little talc and tannic finish.

2006 MILBRANDT VINEYARDS THE ESTATES WAHLUKE SLOPE- youthful in color and presentation, this is an oak dominated cab that has some black fruit that seeps through; another in a mold of wines that are more user friendly and little display of depth or complexity.

2009 OWEN ROE SHARECROPPER`S COLUMBIA VALLEY- a dup with inconsistent notes, a got some funk in the nose which after time blew off; just OK fruit; got a little better with time; still not a good wine; most agreed voting it last in this flight of 5.

1996 DeLILLE CELLARS CHALEUR ESTATES VINEYARDS- surprisingly youthful, still vibrant expressive fruit, some toastiness; complex and full bodied; I liked this a lot; my #2 in the flight; others #4.

2008 JANICK HORSE HEAVEN HILLS CHAMOUX VINEYARD- lots of oak; another in the mold; some chocolate, black currants and black cherry; a big statement from the barrel; 3rd in the flight.

2006 LECOLE NUMBER 41 “PERIGEE” SEVEN HILLS VINEYARD WWV- 56% cab, 34% merlot; some strange notes of coconut, cough syrup- menthol, some black fruit hidden amongst the weirdness; my $5, the groups #1 in this flight??

2006 LONG SHADOWS RANDY DUNN FEATHER- not my usual Randy Dunn experience; this is rather oaky with a subdued fruit profile and out of balance; theres evidence of class on the 2nd taste with more fruit expression; this may have better decanted; the groups #2 in the flight.

2007 JANUIK CIEL DU CHEVAL VINEYARD- if any wine was over oaked in the evening, it was this one; full of vanilla, toast and wood, it gave mostly of what it was made to do; I know there are a lot of folks who like this profile and it is popular with the masses; for me it`s cookie cutter boring; guess what? It came in 1st in the flight.

1998 CH ST. MICHELLE COLIUMBIA VALLEY- youthful in color and more cab like, this offered some nice black and red fruit with decent balance and integrity; my 2nd in the flight and also for the group.

2007 ANDREW WILL CHET DU CHEVAL- not quite what the theme intended, this is 15% cab, 40% merlot, 45% cab franc; Ill take it; lots of wonderful upfront sweet fruit of blueberry, blackberry and black cherry with a silky smooth feel; tasty and should evolve into a good wine with time as the balance is achieved; my #1 of the flight, the groups #4.

And to finish it off, our host opened:

1977 WARE VINTAGE PORT- ive had a few of this over the years and have some cellared and was happy to see where it is at this point; its deliciously fruity and sweet with a graceful intensity that pleased throughout; some of the alcohol I`ve experienced in the past has dissipated; a fine end to a fun evening.


Hard to beat Andrew Will in any line-up. If you are not already aware, you’ll be surprised at how well and how long they age. Next time, you may want to try adding some Cadence wines, if you are not alreaady familiar with the producer.

Blake nice notes, it interesting how well the 98 St Michelle is holding up. I had quite a bit of that wine back in the day and would not have guessed it would have held up so well against the younger competition.

John- Thanks for the info re Andrew Will and Cadence; I`ll be on the lookout for both. My more serious experience with Washington cab comes from many years of Leonetti appreciation and little more.

Jason- we were equally amazed at the fruity youthfulness of the 98`St. Michelle, a good wine.

Blake - both of those wines are on the leaner, more tannic side of things. I don’t know, it’s a stretch but I guess if you were making an analogy to Napa, they’d be more like say, old time Heitz as opposed to the newer bigger, fatter styles. And some of their bottlings can be really tight. But I agree w the poster above - I have both and I wish there were more wines made like those, even in WA where some of the wines have become very much like Napa.

DeLille for me tends to be on the softer side than those two. Januik is interesting - they tend to have a good shot of oak and I wish he’d back off on that a bit but I have some Cabs and some of his Chardonnays stashed away just to see what happens to them over 10/15 years. Can’t say just yet, but we’ll open some in the near future I guess. Lastly - don’t count out Chat St Michelle. Yeah they’re a big producer, etc., but don’t forget, there are bigger producers in Bordeaux and some people are willing to pay a lot of money for those wines. Some of those Chat St Michelle wines can go for a long time - we drank a bottle of the 1995 a couple weeks ago and it was just beautiful. That’s why I’m giving the Januik wines a shot.