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Chuck Hill, wine reviewer and columnist

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Wines of the Week Archive
Archived January 10, 2018
Originally Published November 18, 2017

Cabernet Sauvignon and Blends for the Holidays
Part 1 in a 3-Part Series  (Part 2)  (Part 3)
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 in this 3-part series 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! 

Here’s a winey toast for your next gathering:

Fill every beaker up, my friends,

Pour forth the cheering wine!

There’s life and strength in every drop,

Thanksgiving to the vine!

Hedges Family Estate
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
Red Mountain AVA

The Tom and Anne-Marie Hedges were instrumental in the development and promotion of the Red Mountain AVA in Washington State. You can visit the elegant Hedges Family Estate chateau on Red Mountain where you will enjoy the wine, the grounds and the hospitality. My tasters certainly enjoyed their new Cabernet, offering aromas and flavors of smoky cassis and black cherry, barrel spice, ripe plum and notes of vanilla, caramel and mineral on the finish. 

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley AVA

The Middleton family came west to Washington State in 1898 and purchased a lumber mill in Grays Harbor on the coast. Their export business of shipping lumber from this port included the schooner “Cadaretta” for which this winery is named. Cadaretta wines are made in the Artifex co-op winery in Walla Walla. This soft and elegant Cabernet Sauvignon shows cassis and pomegranate with hints of herbs and spicy oak – great with our leg of lamb from the grill! 

Split Rail Winery
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
Snake River Valley AVA

When I was growing up, my folk’s house had a split-rail fence around the property, and I was taught how to maintain it and to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of its design. Naturally, when I discovered Split Rail Winery from Idaho, I had to try their wine. Winemaker/owner Jed Glavin crafted this rich and chewy Cabernet featuring dark fruits, juicy blackberry and plum, corralled by earthy mineral, toasty oak and notes of dried herbs and licorice. 

Spangler Vineyards
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve

Pat Spangler is one of Southern Oregon’s most talented winemakers specializing in grape varieties more commonly associated with California. His Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is always a delicious wine with aromas of cherry, red currant and vanilla, leading to rich and complex flavors of cherry, berry and cherry candy with hints of smoky cedar and leather on the finish. 

Andrew Januik
2014 Stone Cairn Cabernet Sauvignon
Red Mountain AVA

Andrew Januik is the son of famed Washington winemaker Mike Januik. From my observation, there are few offspring of Northwest winemakers that have entered the industry with such enthusiasm and talent. Andrew’s Stone Cairn Cabernet comes from some of Red Mountain’s finest vineyards and offers a feminine profile of plum and cassis with floral notes, spicy vanilla, cocoa and silky tannins. 

Januik Winery
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Ciel du Cheval
Red Mountain AVA

So here is dad’s wine from the same AVA with similar winemaking techniques, yet it is a more masculine wine…a little more “in your face.”  Black cherry, raspberry and black fruits on the nose lead to a complex and well-integrated palate of fruit and oak, showing toast, dark chocolate and dried fruits. 

Reininger Winery
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
Walla Walla Valley AVA

Chuck Reininger makes wine under two labels. His eponymous Reininger label is generally reserved for wines made from Walla Walla Valley grapes. The fast-growing Helix brand features wines crafted from the finest Columbia Valley vineyards. This 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is rich and powerful with aromas and flavors of cassis and cherry mingling with earthy spices, vanilla and notes of toasty oak – very nice with meats from the grill. 

Hightower Cellars
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
Red Mountain AVA

Tim and Kelly Hightower are celebrating 20 years for their winery, which began in Woodinville, then transitioned to Red Mountain in 2002, and they finished planting their vineyard in 2005. They source grapes from their own fruit and from other Red Mountain vineyards, as well as from Walla Walla. This 2013 Cabernet shows off the best of the vintage with blackberry, cherry and dried plum with enticing notes of toasty cedar, vanilla and mineral. 

The Conqueror
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
Horse Heaven Hills AVA

The recent addition to the lineup of wines from Canoe Ridge Vineyard offers this Cabernet with lots of oak and notes of caramel and vanilla over a base of cran-cherry and cherry candy fruit, mingling with raspberry and plum. A soft finish suggests pouring with lighter meals or as an aperitif for red wine fans. 

Ferraro Cellar
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Phinny Hill Vineyard
Horse Heaven Hills AVA

This small winery was brought to my attention by an old friend from my high school and college days! Dick Ferraro grew up in Walla Walla where Italian relatives taught him the ins and outs of winemaking. Dick and his wife Mary founded Ferraro Cellar in 2002 in Beaverton, Oregon, using grapes from the Columbia Valley. This flavorful Cabernet offers rich cherry and blackberry flavors with notes of toasty oak and vanilla. Ferraro Cellar shares a tasting room in Newberg with Sineann Winery. 

Columbia Crest
2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, H3
Horse Heaven Hills AVA

The Horse Heaven Hills in Washington State has been home to Columbia Crest Winery for more that 20 years, and this heritage allows winemaker Juan Muñoz Oca and his staff to create wines that capture the terroir of the region. Look for black cherries and blackberries with notes of vanilla, cassis and cocoa – great value for your holiday table. 

Wines from other areas

Grgich Hills Estate
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley

Famed winemaker Miljenko “Mike” Grgich is 93 years young and was inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame in 2008. The wines of his namesake winery are among the very best of the Napa Valley and have been among my tasting panels' favorites for more than 15 years. The structure and balance of Grgich's Cabernet Sauvignon wines is legendary with ripe fruit, acidity, oak and body, all coming together with classic flavors of cassis, dark berry, vanilla and notes of toasty oak. 

Fortress Winery
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Knight’s Reserve

Fortress Winery is proud of its Sonoma heritage. Its terrain climbs up toward the ridges of the Mayacamas Mountains to the west. Knight’s Valley AVA borders the Alexander Valley, Chalk Hill and Calistoga regions. This rich and dark wine shows black fruits, earthy mineral and spice with highlights of blackberry and pomegranate. A lingering finish of firm tannins, vanilla and toasty oak complements meats from the grill or roasts from the oven. 

Dry Creek Vineyard
2015 Cabernet Sauvignon
Dry Creek Valley

Known primarily for Zinfandel, Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley has almost as much Cabernet Sauvignon planted to its unique microclimate. Pioneering winery Dry Creek Vineyard crafted this complex wine from a nearly perfect vintage, showing bright aromas of black cherry, cassis and plum, and flavors of dark fruits, dark chocolate and spice. Decanting with aeration adds notes of toasted hazelnut and earthy leather. 

Rutherford Vintners
2015 Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley

This recently released wine from the Napa Valley hails from multiple vineyards, adding to its complexity and balance.  We enjoyed it with Chef Ted’s leg of lamb from the grill where it showed it’s versatility for your holiday meals. Look for dark plum, blackberry and vanilla with notes of earthy mineral, toasty cedar and olive.

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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, 2018  Chuck Hill
All rights reserved.  Last revised: 02/07/2018