Even cooler Cali pinot
Terrific deluxe meritage from Two Sisters
A cool California chardonnay
Pinot grigio beats chardonnay!
Frame-up: The Beer Store, beer tax and beer prices

Tasting Notes

Columbia Crest impresses

Think Washington state equals Seattle, rain, mild weather, next to British Columbia? The southeastern part of the state is the winegrowing region, hundreds of kilometres south of the BC border. It's not a cool climate, and it's semi-arid too. Check the weather for Pasco, one of the major towns in the region.

As a result, Washington can produce some stellar big reds - cab, merlot, syrah...

The winemaker from one of the state's biggest producers, Columbia Crest, was in town recently to promote the launch of three new vintages at the LCBO. At the cool "wine cave" of the iYellow Wine Club, head winemaker Juan Munoz-Oca, who grew up in Mendoza and learned his trade there, explained the wines of Washington. He says the semi-arid climate is ideal for both big reds and many whites as well, including chardonnay. The state also produces a surprising number of "90-point wines", especially reds.

Of the trio we had, the merlot stood out as a superb deal: it's $17.95, but tastes well into the twenties... These'll likely vanish soon, but Columbia Crest is a brand you can have confidence in and appears regluarly at the LCBO, though they're never quite sure where to put it... Some of the company's other brands include Chateau Ste. Michelle and 14 Hands.


Columbia Crest Grand Estates Chardonnay. Vintages 366542
Oaky nose with apple fruit and melon. Fuller bodied, smoky notes, buttery, lemon hint, good acidity, long smoky finish. $17.95

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot. LCBO 454835
Rich & complex nose. Earthy notes, ripe red berry. Silky tannins, good acidity, cocoa, tobacco, and a smoky finish. $17.95 (but tastes like more).

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon. Vintages 240093
Bold nose of dark ripe red berry fruit. Dark wood notes. Full bodied, with ripe juicy berry fruit, silky tannins give a nice smoothness. Ripe red fruit over spice hints and interesting earthy notes. Nice finish. $17.95


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