Wine: Columbia Crest H3 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon.
Grapes: Cabernet sauvignon (90 percent), merlot (10 percent)
Region: Washington state
In the glass: Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon is a deeply opaque garnet-red color with a dense blackish core going out into a saturated violet-red rim definition with medium-high viscosity.
On the nose: This wine comes right at you, showing concentrated black currant fruit, creme de cassis, eucalyptus leaves, boysenberry sorbet, vanilla, creme brulee, oak references, violet pastilles and phenolics. It is like a regular California cabernet on steroids, especially for this vintage, but then you realize it’s something more.
On the palate: It is entirely coated when this wine enters the mouth, with highly extracted, yet balanced black fruit, black cherries, brambleberries, marionberry jam, sloe fruit and soft vanilla. The midpalate eases up on the fruit bomb characteristics and reveals good complexity, a bit of acidity and minerality, going into the typical Washington finish, which is shortish, but utterly pleasant, especially for being a 2000. It is a nicely crafted wine.
Odds and ends: This is a slickly packaged wine from one of the top producers in Washington. The grapes are sourced exclusively in the Horse Heaven Hills appellation, meaning in the vicinity of the eastern Columbia Valley. The owner of the brand is Columbia Crest, which together with Chateau Ste Michelle, form the backbone of the large wine businesses that are conglomerated in Washington. Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon is a true champion in the value department at just less than $10, making this something you can’t ignore. It is a fabulous wine to drink now and have with bison steak or chopped burger as I did. Drink it now through 2013.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at email@example.com.