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Chuck Hill, wine reviewer and columnist

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Wines of the Week Archive
Archived December 15, 2016
Originally Published December 1, 2016

Cabernet Sauvignon for the Holidays
Part 1 of a 4-Part Series  (Part 2)  (Part 3)  (Part 4)
By Chuck Hill

This holiday time of year sends wine lovers to their cellars or to their favorite wine merchant to select rich and hearty red wines to accompany the festive beef, lamb and other entrees of the season.  Each of my Cabernet review columns this month will include wines from all price points, though the better wines tend to push the hand deeper into the pocket.  Grill the steak, roast the roast, raise your glass!  Cheers! 

Quilceda Creek Vintners
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Galitzine Vineyard
Red Mountain AVA

Paul Golitzen’s Quilceda Creek Cabernet tops the listings this week, showing his skills in creating a classic Red Mountain wine with impeccable structure, balance and inviting aromas and flavors.  Look for black fruits, violets and cassis dancing with mineral, vanilla and hints of anise and cedar.  A great wine for drinking now with holiday meats, but even better for aging! 

Kriselle Cellars
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
Rogue Valley AVA

Scott and Kris Steingraber have followed their life journey from California to Washington to Oregon’s Rogue Valley, learning and honing their passion for wine.  Grapes harvested from their home Buxton Vineyard and other local sites are used to craft a variety of red and white wines.  My tasters enjoyed their ripe and juicy Cabernet Sauvignon for complex aromas and flavors of cassis, cherry, mineral and hints of citrus, chocolate and floral notes. 

Chateau Ste. Michelle
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Cold Creek Vineyard
Columbia Valley AVA

The iconic 45-year-old Cold Creek Vineyard in Washington State has been the source of many inspiring Chateau Ste. Michelle wines over the years.  This bottling is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, exhibiting the classic Cold Creek black cherry and cassis with complex notes of gunpowder mineral, anise, cocoa and vanilla.  A great wine to accompany your greatest culinary efforts of beef and lamb. 


Woodward Canyon
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
Walla Walla Valley AVA

This wine comes from the Woodward Canyon estate vineyard in the hills northwest of the winery’s location in Lowden, west of Walla Walla.  A perfect growing season and well-tuned vineyard practices brought impeccable fruit to the winery.  Ripe aromas and flavors of black cherry and plum lengthen to include exotic spice, mineral and dark chocolate wrapped in toasty oak making a Walla Walla classic Cabernet. 

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley AVA

As Cadaretta winery increases the percentage of grapes from their developing Southwind Vineyard in Walla Walla, this wine highlights lots of Red Mountain fruit as well as grapes from the Horse Heaven Hills and other Walla Walla sources.  Complex fruit and superb structure make this a wine to seek out for your holiday table.  Look for blackberry, dark cherry, toasty mocha and intriguing hints of earthy mineral and spicy tar. 

Forsyth Brio
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
Red Mountain AVA

David and Suzie Forsyth have been part of the Washington wine industry for more than 30 years, contributing to the State’s fame through David’s winemaking efforts at famous and little known wineries as well as the couple's own personal production.  This wine comes predominantly from the Kiona Vineyard – planted in 1975 – and shows the potential of Red Mountain.  My tasters enjoyed the opportunity to taste an eight-year-old wine showing power – cherry, berry, cassis – and nuance – vanilla, mineral, toasty oak and spice.  Subtle and impressive with grilled lamb. 

Pepper Bridge
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
Walla Walla Valley AVA

As Pepper Bridge winery approaches its 20th birthday, winemaker Jean-François Pellet continues to skillfully evaluate each vintage to create superb wines from fruit grown at the winery’s estate Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge and Octave Vineyard holdings.  The 2013 Cabernet features blueberry and cassis fruit with notes of smoky meat, barrel spice, cocoa and tobacco – very tasty with Chef Ted’s Sirloin with Mushroom Sauce. 

DeLille Cellars
Grand Ciel 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
Red Mountain AVA

The winery planted their estate Grand Ciel vineyard next to Ciel du Cheval and has released this special wine each year since 2004.  Like many powerful, young bottlings, this wine needs decanting to breathe up and offer its striking quality.  If offers the warm vintage ripe fruits of blackberry, cassis and blueberry followed by complex notes of dried herbs and spice with toffee, toast and leather from oak aging. 

Maryhill Winery
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Proprietor’s Reserve
Columbia Valley AVA

Visitors gather in Maryhill’s cozy tasting room during the holiday season to enjoy the wine, the fireplace and the holiday good cheer.  Among the treasures they take home is the 2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  Aromas of blackberry and berry candy mingle with notes of herbs and spice leading to a rich, toasty palate featuring a cocoon of caramel, vanilla and earthy mineral around the core of dark fruits and spice. 

Nine Hats
2014 Red Wine
Columbia Valley AVA

Wiinemaker Gilles Nicault draws on his relationships with Washington’s most sought after growers to craft his selection of wines for everyday enjoyment.  His blend for the 2014 Red Wine includes Syrah pairing with Cabernet Sauvignon to balance fruity and savory on the nose and palate.  Look for blackcurrant, dark cherry, vanilla, toasty oak, tobacco and hints of caramel and cocoa. 

Six Prong by Alder Ridge
2015 Cabernet Sauvignon
Horse Heaven Hills AVA

This wine comes from Washington State’s Horse Heaven Hills AVA.  Winemaker Jon Zimmerman brings 30 years of experience in Washington to craft accessible wines from superb vineyards.  This young Cabernet offers aromas of cassis and cherry with notes of earthy tobacco and toasty oak.  The palate expands the fruit palette adding caramel and smoky cedar on the finish. 

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley AVA

Mary Tuuri Derby is a sparky, spunky, sparkling Walla Walla winemaker who crafts delicious wines – often with a quirky feminine twist.  Enjoy her 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon for its aromas of cherry, berry and mineral, and its elegant fruit flavors with notes of vanilla and coffee.  Mary recommends the wine to celebrate the season with meats from the grill. 

14 Hands
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
Horse Heaven Hills AVA

Winemaker Keith Kenison guides the 14 Hands crew in creating these special wines from the stable of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Grapes (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) from the heart of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA were fermented, and the wine aged in French oak, 74% new.  The wine offers aromas and flavors of cherry and black currant with earthy mineral, toasty oak and vanilla.  Keith’s food folks suggest grilled rib eye steak – a great choice. 

Tamarack Cellars
2014 Firehouse Red
Columbia Valley AVA

Small wineries often create “second” wines that are exceptional values, and Ron Coleman does just that with his Firehouse Red blend.  The Tamarack Cellars winery occupies a World War II era firehouse building at the old Walla Walla airport – hence the wine’s name.  This bright and fruity wine is a blend of almost every red variety that comes into the winery.  Look for strawberry, raspberry, cherry and notes of roses, tobacco and coffee. 


Wines from other areas

Joseph Phelps Vineyards
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley

Whenever this wine is in a tasting, it always rises to the top of the rankings.  It is complex and confidant, making a statement with ripe fruit, elegant oak influence, superb structure, firm-but-yielding tannins and a balancing acidity on the finish.  It will pair with your finest holiday meats, showing aromas of blackberry and blueberry with complex notes of coffee, tobacco, dark chocolate and oak spice. 

Lafite Rothschild Legende
2012 Pauillac
Bordeaux France

Those of us who were fortunate enough to be wine-raised during a time of a strong dollar learned to enjoy the delights and complexity of French wines.  At the table, you find yourself going back to the glass with the real Bordeaux wine in it.  The Lafite folks bottle several “cru Bourgeois” style wines, including this from the Pauillac commune.  Delicious and complex – very French, very Pauillac – those who know should seek it out.  

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley

Hindsight Wines is a project of four successful California wine-savvy professionals.  With winemaker Jac Cole at the hands-on helm, they offer reserve-style bottlings at approachable prices.  Their 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is crafted from grapes representing three corners of the Napa Valley and offers ripe cassis and blueberry with notes of vanilla, toasty oak, graphite and cocoa.  This very rich and flavorful wine is an excellent choice for your meaty holiday entrees. 

Emblem by Michael Mondavi
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley

Grapes for the Emblem Cabernet Sauvignon come predominantly from the Mondavi family’s Oso Vineyard in the Napa Valley.  The vines grow on beautiful stone-lined terraces out of rocky, porous soil at an elevation of 1,250 feet.  Read Robert Louis Stevenson’s Silverado Squatters for a vivid literary description of the area!  While reading, enjoy this mouth-filling Cabernet featuring rich cassis fruit mingling with a cornucopia of complexity – toasty tobacco, crème brûlée, leather and vanilla.  (FYI, Prime members can download Silverado Squatters from Amazon to their Kindle for free!)

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To find contact information for most of the wineries in the above text,
visit our alphabetical lists for Northwest States.



©  February, 2017  Chuck Hill
All rights reserved.  Last revised: 02/07/2017