I have a soft spot in my heart (and taste buds) for the wines of Washington state, possibly because I have a summer home in Seattle. And by “summer home” I mean a friend’s spare room that she lets me stay in if I invite her to South Florida in the winter. Which works out well for everyone because frankly, a Miami summer and a Seattle winter are both high on the list of things you never want to experience without a temporary escape hatch.
Anyway, when Columbia Winery unveiled its new labels I was inspired to try the wine inside. (Note: I am often inspired to try the wine inside.) The labels depict misty, romantic mountains, which definitely suggest Washington state, although you could probably also slap a salmon or a cup of shade-grown organic coffee in a recyclable cup on the label and arouse equally pleasant Washington sensations.
We tried four wines with mixed results. Actually, some of us tried three wines. Another person hogged the fourth because he loved it so much he didn’t want to share, which we count as a big recommendation.
The 2014 Columbia Valley Merlot ($16) and Columbia Valley NV Red Blend ($14) are decent reds, though a bit unremarkable for the price (the slightly less expensive reds of 19 Crimes, for example, were more memorable). But we fell hard for two other Columbia wines and wasted no time tracking (and glugging) them down.
2014 Columbia Valley Chardonnay ($14): We sipped, then we swooned over this smooth white wine and its honey and pear flavors. “It has more legs than you’d think,” commented one taster. Truth. Columbia touts the wine’s tropical fruit and apple notes, and there’s a hint of vanilla as well, but it’s that initial warmth of honey and pear that sticks with you and sets this wine apart from the more generic and popular Chardonnays to which lazy wine shoppers (me) might normally gravitate.
2014 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($16): Technically, it’s only 75 percent Cabernet Sauvignon (with eight percent Mourvèdre, seven percent Syrah, seven percent Merlot, two percent Cabernet Franc and one percent Malbec). But everything you need from a Cabernet is right here, with a hint of mocha and the bite of tannins and dark fruit. Columbia says the dark fruits in question are blackberry and black currant, but our Cabernet lover may have been drinking it too swiftly to pick those out. We’re just happy he knew there was fruit in it. In fact, he loved this wine so much he is probably popping a bottle of it even as I write this, and he’s probably not inclined to share much of that one, either.