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Chuck Hill, wine reviewer and columnist

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Wines of the Week Archive
Archived February 7, 2017
Originally Published December 21, 2016

Cabernet Sauvignon & Blends
Part 4 of a 4-Part Series  (Part 1)  (Part 2)  (Part 3)
By Chuck Hill

The holidays are upon us.  Stores are packed with last-minute shoppers, and home chefs are busy planning delicious meals for family and friends.  I’ve got Cabernet Sauvignon and blends for every budget, just in time to pair with your most elegant holiday menus.  

Upchurch Vineyard Upchurch Vineyard 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon - Red Mountain AVA
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
Red Mountain AVA

Chris and Thea Upchurch secured their small corner of Red Mountain and planted the vineyard that bears the Upchurch name.  Chris is winemaking director for DeLille Cellars and crafts his own special blend as well.  This elegant bottling offers aromas of violets, blackberry and toasty cedar, following with a palate of black cherries, cassis and olive with dried herbs and mineral.  If you can find a bottle, age it for a few years for even more complexity and style. 

Walla Walla Vintners
2014 Washington Cuvee

The creative winemaking team at Walla Walla Vintners forged this flavorful blend from almost equal parts of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with small amounts of Carmenere, Malbec and Petit Verdot.  A blend of oaks (40% new) added to the wine’s complexity, resulting in aromas and flavors of black cherry, fresh herbs, dried plum, vanilla and spice. 

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2013 Artist Series Red Blend


Chateau Ste. Michelle
2013 Artist Series Red Blend
Columbia Valley AVA

Artist Cameron Anne Mason created the art that appears on the label of this special wine. Her work is inspired by the beauty and fragility of Madrone trees. The blend of the wine is mostly Cabernet and Merlot with splashes of Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Aromas of cassis, herbs and spice invite a sip, revealing ripe dark fruits, cola and toasty oak on the finish. 


Cougar Crest
2012 Encore, Estate
Walla Walla Valley AVA

Winemaker Deborah Hansen of Cougar Crest crafted this tasty blend from equal portions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from the winery’s Cougar Hills Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley.  Black cherry, berry and plum mingle with spice, earthy mineral and toasty oak to accompany your finest holiday meats. 

Girardet Vineyards & Winery
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
Umpqua Valley AVA

Winemaker Marc Girardet learned the craft from his father Philippe as he grew up in the vineyard and winery.  He became winemaker in 1999 at age 24.  Girardet Cabernet offers an Old World style with lean red fruits mingling with olive and pepper, finishing with tangy acidity that complements any rich meat. 

H/H Estates
2012 Bozak Red, Reserve
Horse Heaven Hills AVA

This reserve line of wines comes from Mike Andrews of Coyote Canyon Winery in Prosser, though the estate vineyard is in the Horse Heaven Hills.  The name “Bozak” pays tribute to the sire bull of Andrews’ Horse Heaven Hereford Ranch.  The wine is a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Petit Verdot with the unusual addition of 20% Mourvedre.  It is rich and earthy, opening with red and black fruits that change and reveal tobacco, coffee and cocoa with a finish of tangy cranberry and toasty oak. 

Columbia Crest
2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley AVA

This wine features a blend of vineyard sources including Cold Creek, Wautoma Springs (near Cold Creek), Beverly Vineyard and Stone Tree Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope.  Very ripe grapes produced a wine with rich red and black berry aromas and flavors.  Oak aging mellowed the character and added spice, leather and toasty nuances. 

Tamarack Cellars Tamarack Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley AVA

Winemaker/owner Ron Coleman and winemaker Danny Gordon crafted this exemplary Cabernet Sauvignon from grapes grown at five of Washington’s most respected vineyards.  Ripe blackberry and currant mingle with pepper and herbs, opening to reveal smoky meat and dried fruits – serve with prime rib or holiday leg of lamb. 

Browne Family Vineyards
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley AVA

Inspired by the greatness of his grandfather, William Bitner Browne, Andrew Browne creates his wines with standards of integrity and excellence.  Browne is the CEO of Precept Brands, a wine-industry innovator in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.  Intense and concentrated, this wine invites you to serve rich meats from the grill.  Look for black cherry, vanilla, earthy olive mineral and lingering tannins on the finish. 

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley AVA

Winemaker David “Merf” Merfeld started at Northstar 15 years ago and has become a master in selecting and blending lots of wine from all of the available vineyard sources throughout the state.  His Cabernet offers not only the rich plum, cherry and blackcurrant of the varietal, but also the nuances of oak aging: caramel, toasted coconut and smoky mineral. 

Three Rivers Winery
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley AVA

Some of Washington’s earliest vineyard plantings took place at Sagemoor, Bacchus and Dionysus Vineyards along the Columbia River north of Pasco.  Grapes for this 100% Cabernet bottling came from Bacchus Vineyard.  Look for aromas of earthy mineral wrapped around dark cherry and cassis fruit, leading to ripe cherry and blackberry with notes of toasty cedar. 

Maryhill Winery
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Kiona Vineyard
Red Mountain AVA

In the 1970s the Holmes and Williams families pioneered a little-known corner of the Yakima Valley known as Red Mountain.  Their Kiona Vineyard was one of the early plantings and helped spread the Red Mountain story throughout the wine world.  If you are looking for a delicious wine from an historic Washington vineyard, look no further.  Cherry and red berries dance with Red Mountain violets and rich dark fruits on the palate. 

Wines from other areas:

Santa Julia
2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserva

Though many are familiar with Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina, the same bodegas produce elegant Cabernet Sauvignon wines of great value.  From the Zuccardi family – making wine in Mendoza for more than 50 years – comes this ripe and spicy Cabernet featuring blackberry, blueberry, dried herbs and earthy mineral – great with meats from the grill. 

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Edgardo Del Popolo crafts BenMarco wines from grapes harvested in the high elevation Valle de Uco in the foothills of the Andes.  His non-interventionist winemaking style emphasizes the terroir and quality of the fruit – an Old World concept that is welcome in this day and age.  Aromas and flavors of blackcurrant, dark cherry and herbs make a wine that superbly accompanies meats and dishes with hearty sauce. 

2013 Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon

This blend of 50% Malbec and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon is a joint venture between Domaines Baron de Rothschild (Lafite) and Nicolas Catena.  As the winery says, “the wine offers the elegant texture of Cabernet Sauvignon enhanced by the fruit of Argentinean Malbec.”  Look for enticing flavors of black and red fruits with notes of mocha, cigar box and a finish with refreshing acidity.

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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