In contrast to the 1,000 cases of Ken Forrester Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot Western Cape Petit 2010 available nationwide, Washington State’s largest winery, Columbia Crest, makes 200,000 to 250,000 cases of its Grand Estates wines, which perennially score well with the critics, yet still routinely cost only $8 and $12 a bottle throughout the Washington area.
The most recent issue of The Wine Blue Book lists 2009 Columbia Crest Chardonnay Columbia Valley Grand Estates and 2008 Columbia Crest Merlot Columbia Valley Grand Estates both as “Great Values” because both earned an average score of 88 points from the wine critics. But at $8 and $10, respectively, they cost less than one-third the price of comparably scoring West Coast chardonnays and merlots.
And even better bargain, according to the Blue Book, is the 2008 Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Estates, with an average score of 87 and a price of $8, which is just 19 percent the average cost of West Coast cabernets that scored 87 points.
All three of these great values can be found for $7.97 at Total Wine stores throughout Virginia and at their sister stores in Maryland, Corridor Wine & Spirits in Laurel and Beltway Fine Wine in Towson. They’re also on sale for $7.99 at Calvert Woodley and Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits in the District.
“Light in texture, playing caramel and tobacco flavors against lime and green apple fruit, mingling effectively on the lively finish,”wrote Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman in the July 31 issue, scoring the Chardonnay 88 points.
“The nose offers up hints of oak, pear, apple and tropical fruit aromas,” agreed Wine Advocate’s Jay Miller in the August issue, awarding the same 88-point score. “Smooth-textured, spicy, and well-balanced, this lengthy effort over-delivers in a big way.”
“It displays a pleasant perfume of spicy red fruits, cherry blossom, and cassis but comes up slightly narrow on the palate,” wrote Miller, scoring the Merlot 86 points. “This wine is unlikely to be cellared by purchasers but should a bottle or two get lost and reappear in a year or two, it could well have filled out.”
The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, which Wine Blue Book called an Outstanding Value, scored 88 points from Steiman, who described it as, “Lithe and open-textured, featuring pretty red berry and cherry flavors at the center, shaded with spice and coffee notes. The finish lingers nicely.”
“Cedar, tobacco, incense, violets, spice box, black currant, and blackberry aromas inform the nose of a layered, spicy, easy-to-understand Cabernet that is nicely balanced and moderately lengthy,” Miller opined. “It is a very good value that will provide enjoyment for another 4-5 years.”
Even if you buy it by the case for $6 a bottle, we doubt it will last long enough for you to find out.
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