Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet & Merlot "H3" $14
The promise of the Horse Heaven Hills (H3) AVA has been extolled on these pages before. So what if this is redundant? There's good reason to honk this horn more than once. Besides, word has clearly not spread enough to price this exceptional region beyond the grasp of mere mortals.
Here we have two Columbia Crest siblings sourced from H3 vineyards, one better than the next. They both share a lot in common: lush, extracted, dense fruit framed within broad-shouldered structures, and amplified by warming oak treatments. The Cab tastes like good Cab and the Merlot tastes better than most people believe Merlot should be.
And based on nonscientific observation, eastern Washington is not subject to the same vintage volatility (talking about weather)
as northern California. That means consistency, reliability, and the
maturing of a local industry not only capable of extraordinary
potential, but realizing it today.
At $14 apiece, these wines outperform many wines double their price. Could they be a little more refined? A little more polished? Sure. But not at this price point. And they definitely couldn't be any more obviously delicious. In a word:
Re-discovering wines like these is a reaffirming pleasure that terrific wine at reasonable prices still exists out there. Even if from a behemoth of a company. (Notice that the bottles pictured below are empty. There's a damn good reason for that.)