At the end of last year, I decided to focus on the incredibly successful 2008 vintage that cool climate regions like Washington and Oregon enjoyed when I featured J. Bookwalter’s Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Foreshadow as my Wine of the Year. Before these wines begin to disappear from the average wine shop to make way for the incoming 2009 vintage, I thought it would be appropriate to focus on an even more widely available and less expensive wine from a consistently dependable producer in that same region. Columbia Crest produces a wide range of wines, from the quite serviceable Two Vines and Grand Estates table wines to award winning Columbia Valley Reserve wines (the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon was named Wine of the Year by the Wine Spectator, arguably the highest wine-related honor on the planet). In between those labels are the affordable and widely distributed Horse Heaven Hills wines, of which Columbia Crest produces a Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a red blend named Les Chevaux. I recently had a chance to taste the Cabernet Sauvignon and was very impressed with its ability to express its unique varietal character while demonstrating the complexity that this region showcases so well, and at an astonishing price point.

COLUMBIA CREST CABERNET SAUVIGNON HORSE HEAVEN HILLS  2008, 90 Points, $15, 40,000 Cases Made-  Gorgeous varietal profile, with minty cedar and smoke aromas laced with cassis fruit. Full, deep, creamy body with mocha notes surrounding the blackberry, black licorice and cedar spice elements. Great balance and demonstration of terroir, long finish with silky tannins.

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