There was a time not that long ago when 93% of all wines produced in Washington State were consumed in Washington State. That has changed, and thank goodness, because there are wines of tremendous quality being made there, which deserve to compete with the best in the world. We demonstrated this at a recent event at The Party Source where we featured nothing but Washington State wines, from Rosés and delicious red blends to big Cabernets with lots of flavor, there was something for everyone to enjoy.
Price is the other great thing about Washington State wines; many if not most well-rated wines come at a fraction of the price of their more expensive California neighbors, including this week’s feature, the H3 Cabernet from Columbia Crest winery, which remains one of the best Cabernet values I have ever seen.
This wine is called H3 because it comes from a region of the Columbia Valley called Horse Heaven Hills, so named back in 1881 by James Gordon Kinney, who was impressed by the knee-high grass that fed the large bands of wild horses that once roamed the area. He remarked, “The area offers excellent forage and comparative isolation… This is surely a horse heaven!”
The area would be a desert were it not for the Columbia River which winds through it. Despite the view of our 42nd state as all damp and rainy, that’s really just the coast – most of the moisture coming through is stopped to the west by the Cascade Mountains. As a result, the vines which grow there have to dig deep through the dry, crusty soil to find water, and this stressing of the vines means delicious wine.
The H3 Cabernet Sauvignon is surprisingly complex for the price, with good aromas of blackberry and vanilla, deep dark fruit flavors, and once it warms up, an almost figgy quality, with a nice finish.
I would say Washington Cabernets run a bit more tart than ripe vs. Napa as a whole, but the depth of flavor in the H3 is absolutely stunning for the price.
On my five-cork scale based on taste and value, I give the 2015 H3 Cabernet from Columbia Crest 3.75 corks! This is a reliable wine that you can find for less than $15 almost everywhere.
If you’d like to try interesting wines like this, please join me at our next private wine party at The Party Source! I host a wine dinner there every month with sommelier and wine manager Steve Tartaglia, and we feature several interesting wines, paired with a delicious catered dinner from Kate’s Catering and Personal Chef Services. There are always cool prizes to win, too, so listen Wednesday at 4:15 to win your spot on the guest list, or click here for a chance to win!