Columbia Valley is a huge area with multiple sub-appellations, home to a diverse array of grape varieties and wine styles. It’s hard to generalize about an entire region, but I think these wines represent a good introduction to what’s available from Columbia Valley.
I recently tasted through a few of these Washington State wines and found some really nice bottles. Like any region, there are those larger-production blends that offer some fun flavors but leave the palate and mind wanting more.
These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.
Review: 2014 Buried Cane Chardonnay – Washington, Columbia Valley
Dark straw color. Peaches and papayas on the nose, some white flowers and honeyed tea, a sweeter, perfumed aspect. Medium-low acid. Chunky pineapple fruit on the palate (papaya, pineapple and mango), with notes of honey, white tea, nougat, sweet white flowers and honeysuckle. Tasty, attractive, fun, not ultimately deep or complex but very good stuff for the price. Aged six months in 20% new French oak, includes 11% Semillon. (85 points IJB)
Review: 2014 Nine Hats Cellars Pinot Gris The Benches - Washington, Columbia Valley
Light gold color. Nose of peaches, white flowers, lime peels. Creamy body, moderate acid, lemon-lime, white peaches, lots of floral kick and laundry freshener. Waxy, a hint of raw almond and nettle. Clean, refreshing, bright yet full of fruit and flowers. (86 points IJB)
Review: 2014 Long Shadows Wineries Riesling Poet’s Leap - Washington, Columbia Valley
Pale lemon color. Bright but complex aromatics, like limes, white peach and papaya topped with sea breeze, white flowers and clean laundry. A zesty and brisk wine but such pleasant richness, creaminess and sweetness as well. Peaches, apricot, papaya, drizzled with lime, I like the potpourri, straw, crushed chalk, ocean spray and ginger notes. Complex but stays zesty and downright fun. Delicious now, but perhaps it could do some cool stuff in the cellar. (89 points IJB)
Review: 2014 Dolan & Weiss Pinot Grigio Julia’s Dazzle Rosé Benches Vineyard - Washington, Columbia Valley, Horse Heaven Hills
White cherry and watermelon colored. Smells of roses and dandelions, white peaches, lime zest. Crisp and clean on the palate but a creamy, waxy feel. Tart white cherries, orange peels, ruby red grapefruit mixed with honeycomb, lesser amounts of pepper, roses, dandelions and chalk. Good balance, tangy stuff, very pleasant and creamy too. The label had me thinking this was a gimmick wine, but it’s really solid juice. (87 points IJB)
Review: 2012 Mullan Road Cellars Red Wine Blend - Washington, Columbia Valley
Medium purple color. A sweet spice kick (clove, cinnamon?), along with rich but tart fruit (black and red currants, blackberries), backed up by notes of coffee, coconut and cracked pepper. Forward and ripe on the palate with moderate tannins, some tang from the acid. The black cherry, raspberries and blackberries and juicy, ripe, flowing and velvety. Root beer, cola, vanilla and clove add complexity. Juicy, ripe and open, yet so very pretty. Smooth and refined, despite the structure. Hints of baking spices, toasted oak and malt balls. Some interesting complexity to unravel in the cellar, but showing well now. A Dennis Cakebread project, this blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and 13% Cabernet Franc shows a whole lot to love. (91 points IJB)
Review: 2012 Cadaretta Windthrow - Washington, Columbia Valley
Vibrant purple color. Bold aromas of the juiciest raspberries and blackberries, some caramel, dried rose petals, vanilla, cedar. Full bodied, a velvety feel to the tannins, moderate acid. The fruit is concentrated and rich, with juicy blackberries and black cherries, add in vanilla, toasted nuts, sweet floral notes, hints of black pepper glaze. I get some dusty-loamy aspects, sweet coffee. Velvety and rich, approachable but it could benefit from two years or more. 56% Syrah, 25% Grenache and 19% Mourvedre, aged 17 months in 1/3 new French oak. (88 points IJB)
Review: 2011 Buried Cane Heartwood Red - Washington, Columbia Valley
Medium purple color. Tight upon opening, needs swirling and time to show the black cherry, raspberry and dark plum fruit, along with hints of white pepper and tobacco. Medium-to-full-bodied with some velvety tannins and moderate-to-low acid. Lots of black cherries, dark plums and blueberries underlined by mocha, violets, some caramel and roasted red pepper notes. Opens to show barbecue sauce and coffee grounds flavors. A bit compact though and could use air or a decant. A wide-ranging Rhone blend of 54% Syrah, 15% Cinsault, 14% Mourvedre, 7% Grenache, 6% Counoise and 4% Viognier. (88 points IJB)
Wines Scoring <85 points
Review: 2013 Columbia Winery Chardonnay - Washington, Columbia Valley
Light gold color. Smells like oranges, yellow apples, honeybutter, some floral white tea notes as well. Creamy body, medium weight, medium acid. Rich yellow apples, papaya, drizzled with honeycomb and hazelnut. Some circus peanut candies and caramel apple. Fun stuff, not really complicated, but tasty.
Review: N.V. Columbia Winery Red - Washington, Columbia Valley
Bright ruby color. Aromas of fig cookies, raspberry jam, mocha. Medium-light bodied, low tannin and low acid. Red apple peel and raspberry jam blend with toast, vanilla and caramel flavors. Tastes manufactured, the toasted oak is a bit much, overwhelms the sweet red fruit.
Review: 2013 Columbia Winery Cabernet Sauvignon - Washington, Columbia Valley
Medium ruby color. Smells of currant jam, roses, sweet vanilla and coffee. On the palate, light tannins, medium acid, tart cranberries, roasted plums and black currants mix with sweeter cherry jam, toasted oak, mocha and sweet vanilla. A fun, fruit-forward wine with easy drinking appeal for the near-term.
Review: 2013 Columbia Winery Merlot - Washington, Columbia Valley
Light purple color. Smells like raspberry cheesecake topping, black cherry soda, vanilla and coconut. Light tannins, low acid, a candied, chewy feel to the palate. The black cherry and plum fruit tastes sweet and slightly cooked, mixed in with vanilla, caramel and espresso. Simple, sweet, syrupy, lacks a signature of place.