Tasting results: Cabernet Sauvignon

King of Wines stands out in Washington

Wine Press NorthwestMarch 6, 2013 

Conventional wisdom once held that Washington was too cool to grow Cabernet Sauvignon. That thinking was quashed long ago, and Washington Cab is now recognized as some of the best in the world.

The success in international publications by Quilceda Creek Vintners (multiple perfect scores from Wine Advocate) and Columbia Crest (No. 1 wine in the world from Wine Spectator) have put the greatness of Washington Cabernet Sauvignon firmly in the minds of wine lovers worldwide.

Thanks to the recognition of critics and consumers alike, as well as the growing demand for Cab, the variety is the No. 1 red variety planted in Washington. In fact, the amount of Cabernet Sauvignon harvested in Washington has doubled in a decade to 35,900 tons, putting it within 2,000 tons of being the state’s overall leader.

Cabernet thrives in warm sites, as it is a late-ripening grape that often isn’t harvested until mid-October. In 2009, that proved to be a problem, and some of the wines from that vintage in this judging showed signs of the October frost event that ended ripening. And yet, many of those same wines will make for delicious food pairings now and age gracefully.

The Horse Heaven Hills has emerged as a sweet spot for Cabernet, thanks to the success of such vineyards as Champoux, Alder Ridge, Coyote Canyon and McKinley Springs. It’s also a favorite on tiny Red Mountain, as well as the warm Wahluke Slope.

And as this judging shows, Walla Walla also is strong in Cabernet, despite being somewhat cooler than other areas of the Columbia Valley.

While Washington dominated this particular judging of 139 Northwest Cabernets, Southern Oregon also is proving it can excel with the king of wines and wine of kings. And the up-and-coming Snake River Valley, with its high-elevation vineyards, also is showing its prowess.

This judging took place in late January at the Clover Island Inn in Kennewick, Wash. Our judges were: Kristine Bono, hospitality and guest services expert at Col Solare on Red Mountain; Heather Unwin, executive director of Red Mountain AVA Alliance; Justin Michaud, winemaker for StoneCap Wines near Richland, Wash.; Coke Roth, international wine judge and Wine Press Northwest tasting panelist; Ken Robertson, Wine Press Northwest columnist and tasting panelist; Dave Seaver, Wine Press Northwest tasting panelist; Hank Sauer, Wine Press Northwest master facilitator; and Paul Sinclair, an elementary school teacher and Wine Press Northwest tasting panelist.

On to the results:

OUTSTANDING

Milbrandt Vineyards 2010 Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope, $25: The Milbrandt brothers — Butch and Jerry — are part of a longtime farming family in the Columbia Basin, and they got into growing grapes in the late 1990s. Today, they oversee about 2,000 acres of wine grapes, and their tasting room is in the Yakima Valley town of Prosser. This gorgeous Cab comes from the warm Wahluke Slope, and it opens with aromas of exotic spices, pencil shavings and classic black currants. On the palate, it is beautifully balanced, with flavors of elegant dark fruit, inviting Baker’s chocolate and sturdy tannins. Drink this now or hold onto it for up to 10 years. (3,000 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Leonetti Cellar 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $85: The legendary Leonetti Cellar is the oldest winery in the Walla Walla Valley and among the most revered in the New World. Second-generation winemaker Chris Figgins continues to drive quality at Leonetti as he works alongside his father, founder Gary Figgins. The grapes for this superb Cab come from estate vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley. It opens with dark, elegant aromas of rich plum, black olive, dark chocolate, leather and black pepper with just a hint of vanilla. On the palate, it reveals suave, dark flavors of black raspberry, blackberry and dark cherry compote, all backed with artistic tannins that back this wine’s full mouth feel and lengthy finish. (2,760 cases, 14.6% alc.)

Walla Walla Vintners 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $36: Founders Gordy Venneri and Myles Anderson learned winemaking when they became friends in the early 1980s with Leonetti’s Gary Figgins and Woodward Canyon’s Rick Small. That’s not bad company, and the quality of this early tutelage shows in every bottle. The crew at this iconic Walla Walla Valley winery has crafted a superb Cab that includes a bit of Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Carmenérè. The complexity of the blend is evident from first whiff, which reveals aromas of sweet herbs, pipe tobacco, cherries and spices. On the palate, it is a medium-bodied wine with a bright entry of dark fruit and leather backed with solid acidity and mild tannins that allow the flavors to shine. (966 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Best Buy!
Milbrandt Vineyards 2010 Traditions Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $15:
Milbrandt struck twice at the top of our list of great Washington Cabs, and this is a great bargain to boot. It was among the most expressive wines we tasted in this judging. On the nose, it provides aromas of brown sugar, poached plum on parchment paper, white pepper, blackberry and freshly ground coffee. It is an elegant wine on the palate, with flavors of President plum, a hint of chocolate and a dash of spice. Perfectly balanced acidity and tannin meld with a touch of oak in this delicious wine that can be enjoyed any day of the week. (13,500 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Lost River Winery 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $25: This small winery in Washington’s Methow Valley is led by winemaker John Morgan, who has crafted a luscious Cab. Lost River has tasting rooms in the North Cascades town of Winthrop as well as a block away from Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Morgan used grapes from Pepper Bridge, Wallula and Inland Desert vineyards to craft this delicious red. It opens with aromas of Cocoa Puffs, black cherry, vanilla bean and cordial cherry, followed by delicious flavors of cherry and a flourless chocolate torte. It brings bright acidity on the finish, and the tannins are rich and chocolaty. (450 cases, 13.9% alc.)

Saviah Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $28: Rich Funk has been making some of the state’s best red wines since arriving in the Walla Walla Valley and launching Saviah Cellars in 2000. The impressive vineyard pedigree includes Pepper Bridge, McClellan and Seven Hills. It opens with aromas of cedar, black cherry, chocolate and beautifully integrated oak. On the palate, it offers flavors of black currant, juicy boysenberry, chocolate and round, jammy tannins. A note of graphite adds complexity on the finish. This is delicious now and will only get better for years to come. (1,200 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Saviah Cellars 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $45: Saviah Cellars is amid a group of high-end wineries in the southern Walla Walla Valley, just north of the Oregon state line. The grapes for this Cab comes from McClellan Estate Vineyard, adjacent to Seven Hills Vineyard. Winemaker Rich Funk co-fermented his Cab with 7% Petit Verdot, and the technique has resulted in a superior wine. This opens with aromas of brown sugar, black licorice, cherry, vanilla and spicy chocolate. On the palate, it reveals flavors of ripe black cherry, black currant, huckleberry and dark chocolate. (95 cases, 14.1% alc.)

Best Buy!
Glaze 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $15:
This superb and inexpensive Cab is made by Ross Mickel of Ross Andrew Winery in Woodinville, Wash., and is marketed by Precept Wines in Seattle. The blend includes 25% Merlot using grapes from Red Mountain, the Horse Heaven Hills and other Columbia Valley sources. It’s a fresh, youthful wine with aromas of purple plum, huckleberry, chocolate and mint, followed by fresh, fleshy flavors of cherry, blueberry, red currant and chocolate. Mild tannins make this suave, beautifully integrated Cab approachable now. At this price, make it your midweek house red. (1,200 cases, 13.8% alc.)

Woodward Canyon Winery 2009 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington, $89: Simply put, this is the standard bearer of Washington Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine by which others are measured. Owner Rick Small has been producing this Cab since he launched Woodward Canyon in 1981, and it is his most recognizable and consistently superb wine. Each year, the label shows a photo of a Walla Walla Valley pioneer and shares that person’s story. This opens with intriguing aromas of black tea, black olive, lean black currant, blackberry, a hint of oak and a whiff of hazelnut coffee. On the palate, it carries flavors of dark fruit — primarily black cherry and blackberry — superb acidity, moderate tannin and a touch of spicy oak. (665 cases, 16.7% alc.)

Nelms Road 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington, $25: Rick Small, founding winemaker of Woodward Canyon, created this second label in 1998 so his wines could be more accessible and affordable. It’s obvious from this bottling that he and winemaker Kevin Mott hold nothing back. It opens with aromas of dark spice, black olive, dark chocolate, black tea, blackberry and pipe tobacco. On the palate, it shows off complex flavors of black currant jam, cocoa powder, blackberry and herbal tea. The chocolaty tannins already are tamed, providing ready access to the delicious fruit. (3,068 cases, 14.1% alc.)

Mercer Canyons 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $17: This value label from Mercer Estates in Prosser, Wash., pays tribute to the Mercer family, which has been farming in Washington for more than 100 years. The bottle is beautifully adorned by the artwork of Eastern Washington native Diane Whitehead. And in the bottle, we find a gorgeous red wine that includes a bit of Merlot and Syrah. It opens with aromas of Bing cherry, black currant, black olive and toasted oak, followed by rich, juicy flavors of ripe plum, boysenberry and a whisper of hickory smoke. Enjoy this with grilled or braised meats. (6,100 cases, 13.9% alc.)

Walla Walla Vintners 2009 Sagemoor Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $40: Hailed as one of Washington’s most important vineyards, Sagemoor was planted in the early 1970s. Today, it is run by Kent Waliser, who is farming some of the state’s most-sought-after grapes. In the hands of Walla Walla Vintners, those grapes become one of the finest Cabs in the Northwest, opening with aromas of plum, cherry, pink peppercorn and slate. On the palate, it is a delicious entry with flavors of boysenberry, black currant and ripe plum, all backed with beautifully balanced acidity and sturdy tannins. (318 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Camaraderie Cellars 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $40 You can’t get a whole lot farther away from the grapes than Don and Vicki Corson are in Port Angeles, Wash. The grapes for this wine came from such top vineyards as Champoux, Artz, Meek and Milbrandt. Since launching Camaraderie in 1992, this is the first wine designated as a reserve, and we can see why. It opens with aromas of mature oak, black currant, cinnamon bark, mocha and toast. On the palate, it spins out flavors of black currant and black cherry backed with a wealth of acidity and big up-front tannins. This is gorgeous now, and we predict it will improve for a decade or more. (110 cases, 14.6% alc.)

Best Buy!
Columbia Crest 2010 H3 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $15:
Columbia Crest created this tier to showcase grapes coming from the Horse Heaven Hills, where Ste. Michelle established the winery. It’s a nationally distributed brand that also carries a nice price tag, meaning you can comfortably enjoy it any night of the week. It opens with aromas of cocoa powder, cedar, new leather, black cherry and dark chocolate. On the palate, it features a rich entry of ripe plum, black currant, white chocolate and dark cherry. There’s a fair bit of oak in this young red, which should resolve itself in short order. (149,000 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Sigillo Cellars 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $28: This is just the second vintage for this young winery in the Cascade foothills town of Snoqualmie, Wash. Winemaker Steve Bailey brought in Cabernet grapes from E&E Shaw Vineyards on Red Mountain, harvested late in October during an unusually cool vintage. The result is a superb red with aromas of black raspberry, blueberry, cranberry and dark chocolate. On the palate, it shows off smooth, rich, delicious flavors of dark fruit and minerality, all backed with elegant tannins, ample acidity and a gorgeous finish. We suspect this will improve for a decade or more. (73 cases, 13.9% alc.)

Best Buy!
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $14:
In our annual “best of the best” competition last fall, we awarded Platinums to Ste. Michelle’s 2010 Indian Wells Cab and 2009 Cold Creek Cab. Now the mainline Cab — of which there is lots! — weighs in as one of the best in this peer-group judging. Hats off to winemaker Bob Bertheau and his crew at the red winemaking facility at Canoe Ridge Estate. This inexpensive beauty opens with aromas of black licorice, coffee, cedar and cherry, followed by flavors of blueberry, herbs, black currant and chocolate. Said one judge: “This is everything I want in a Cab. It has no faults at all.” (225,000 cases, 13.5% alc.)

H/H Estates 2009 Coyote Canyon Vineyard Big John Reserve Cab, Horse Heaven Hills, $35: Owner Mike Andrews named this red after a man who bought one of his prized bulls in 1973 in Reno, Nev. The grapes come from Andrews’ estate vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills, which he began planting in 1994. This opens with gorgeous aromas of caramel, toasted marshmallow, dried cherry and rich cedar, followed by flavors of blueberry, fresh cranberry, rich chocolate and mint. It’s a big, easy-drinking wine. (127 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Browne Family Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $35: Precept Wines CEO Andrew Browne named this brand to honor his grandfather, William Browne, who was a World War II and Korean War veteran and wine lover from his time studying at the University of Bordeaux. We think William would be especially proud of this wine, which uses grapes from top vineyards throughout the Columbia Valley. It opens with aromas of black tea, leather, pencil shavings, moist earth and blackberry. On the palate, it is on the elegant side, showing off flavors of black currant, dark chocolate, Bing cherry and sweet herbs, all backed with modest tannins and bright acidity. (1,200 cases, 13.7% alc.)

Martinez & Martinez Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $30: Sergio Martinez planted a small Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard near his home in the Horse Heaven Hills back in 1981. His son, Andrew, has turned that Phinny Hill fruit into a remarkable wine that opens with aromas of red currant, pie cherry, red strawberry, cedar and a nice hint of mint. Those same red fruits dominate the flavors, bringing juicy acidity and fine-grained late tannins that create length. (75 cases, 14.0% alc.)

Sawtooth Estate Winery 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Snake River Valley, $25: In the past decade, we have seen continual improvement in the wines of the Snake River Valley. Part of it is maturity of the vines, and some of it has to do with better equipment arriving as the industry becomes more serious. But a lot of it has to do with winemakers better understanding the fruit they have and how to take better advantage of it. Winemaker Bill Murray used grapes from Sawtooth Vineyard to craft a wine that opens with aromas that reminded us of strawberry jam on toast, black pepper and cherry. On the palate, there are flavors of cherry, blueberry and rich chocolate among a full mouth feel with an easy approach and a lengthy finish. (125 cases, 13.9% alc.)

L’Ecole No. 41 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $40: Owner/winemaker Marty Clubb used grapes from six vineyards on four distinct soil types within the Walla Walla Valley to craft this superb 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. It opens with aromas of hazelnut coffee, blueberry, spice, cedar and Graham cracker. On the palate, it reveals flavors of classic black currant and juicy blueberry, backed with ample yet elegant tannins. This should age beautifully for 10 years or more. (1,760 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Rio Vista Wines 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $28: Owner and winemaker John Little runs this wonderful little winery along the Columbia River north of Lake Chelan. It is one of the few wineries anywhere in which one can pull up to the tasting room on a boat or in an automobile. Little maintains a small estate vineyard along the river, which was the source for this delicious Cab. It opens with aromas of coffee, baking spices, moist earth, black cherry and mocha. On the palate, it shows of rich flavors of boysenberry, blackberry and plum, all backed with velvety texture and modest tannins. Everything fits together in this delicious red. (100 cases, 14.0% alc.)

Dusted Valley Vintners 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $35: The Dusted Valley boys have done it again. This Walla Walla winery’s prowess with red wine is remarkable, and it continues with this Cab using estate fruit. They blended in a bit of Malbec and Merlot to round out the edges, and the result is a superb wine. It opens with aromas of cherry, chocolate, spice and mint, followed by big, easy-drinking flavors of strawberry-rhubarb jam and dark chocolate. The ample acidity and integrated tannins make this a well-structured and well-rounded wine. (860 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Zerba Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $30: Our 2011 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year is not slowing down one bit. In fact, in the hands of winemaker Doug Nierman, this winery on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley is continually reaching new heights of excellence. This Cab uses grapes from three estate vineyards, then spent the better part of two years in American oak. It opens with superb aromas of blackberry, black cherry, milk chocolate and a hint of nuttiness. On the palate, it blossoms into notes of dark plum, chocolate, vanilla and cedar, all backed with moderate tannins that give way to a big finish. (480 cases, 14.6% alc.)

Smasne Cellars 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $30: Robert Smasne has been hitting his stride the past couple of years, earning one rave review after another. All of this has led us to honor him as our Washington Winery of the Year, and this Cab shows our choice makes great sense. This offers up aromas of rich chocolate, minerality, brown sugar and ripe plum, followed by flavors of boysenberry, espresso and cherry. It’s smooth on the midpalate and nicely balanced with moderate tannins. (115 cases, 13.9% alc.)

Spangler Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Southern Oregon, $25: The only top Cab in this judging from Southern Oregon comes from Patrick Spangler, who is burnishing his reputation as one of the top winemakers from the Umpqua Valley. Spangler, who bought LaGarza Cellars several years ago, now has a tasting room in McMinnville, so he is making his presence felt in the Willamette Valley, too. This Cab opens with aromas of black raspberry, vanilla, light pencil shavings and a sprinkling of cocoa. On the palate, it offers plush, approachable flavors of dark fruit and spices backed by moderate tannins. This should age beautifully for a decade or more. (371 cases, 13.7% alc.)

Best Buy!
Waterbrook Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $12:
One of the Walla Walla Valley’s oldest wineries also is one of its biggest. And its size and quality have only been enhanced under ownership of Precept Wine in Seattle. This wine in particular also is a great bargain, so it would be easy to make it your Wednesday night red. This opens with complex aromas of black olive, blueberry, cherry and vanilla, followed by succulent flavors of blue fruit, creamy vanilla, hibiscus tea and chocolaty tannins. This wine is at its prime, so age it on the way home from the store. (8,000 cases, 13.6% alc.)

EXCELLENT

RiverAerie 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $20: Winemaker Ron Bunnell is one of Washington’s top Syrah makers, and he shows his abilities with Cabernet Sauvignon, too. This opens with aromas of boysenberry, plum and chocolate, followed by flavors of blackberry, ripe plum and fruit leather. It is a bold wine on the midpalate that builds to a big finish. (527 cases, 14.1% alc.)

DiStefano Winery 2008 Proprietor’s Reserve Ottimo, Columbia Valley, $75: Owner/winemaker Mark Newton crafted this rich red with 10% Syrah. The name means “ultimate” in Italian, and we can see that. It shows off aromas of brambleberry, caramel, toffee and chocolate, followed by assertive flavors of red currant, Bing cherry and pomegranate. A big, yummy wine. (230 cases, 15.1% alc.)

Cathedral Ridge Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $32: Fourth-generation California winemaker Michael Sebastiani crafts the award-winning wines of Cathedral Ridge. This offers aromas of black cherries, pencil shavings, cola and even a hint of orange oil, followed by big, accessible flavors of blackberry, vanilla, chocolate and plum. (175 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Barnard Griffin 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $17: Winemaker Rob Griffin has been working with Columbia Valley fruit for more than 30 years, and he has this value-minded red under his “Tulip” label dialed in vintage after vintage. This offers aromas of black raspberry, black currant, chocolate curls and a touch of oak, followed by opulent flavors of cedar, spice, cola, clove and blackberry, all backed with succulent tannins. (7,000 cases, 13.6% alc.)

Columbia Crest 2009 StoneTree Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope, $30: Tedd Wildman is one of the top grape growers in Washington, and this warm site on the Wahluke Slope is highly sought after — so much so that Columbia Crest created this reserve wine. It opens with aromas of huckleberry, blackberry and rich spices, followed by rich flavors of black currant, ripe plum and silky tannins. It’s a dark, brooding wine. (200 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Foxy Roxy Wine Co. 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $24: This small producer is on the Royal Slope, an area that one day could become its own American Viticultural Area. Owner Rhonda Davis uses grapes from her estate StoneRidge Vineyard, and the result is a delicious red with aromas of cinnamon, slate and black cherry, followed by juicy flavors or raspberry, red currant, strawberry and bittersweet chocolate, all backed with bright acidity and modest tannins. (200 cases, 13.8% alc.)

Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2010 Alderdale Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $38: Owner/viticulturist/winemaker Jarrod Boyle uses estate grapes from dramatic Destiny Ridge Vineyard, which overlooks the Columbia River in the southern Horse Heaven Hills. This delicious Cab opens with aromas of thyme, rosemary, cherry, cranberry and toasty oak, followed by juicy flavors of pomegranate, red berry, vanilla and mint. It’s a bright wine with a lengthy finish. (414 cases, 14.6% alc.)

Bowlus Hills 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $24: This second label for Zerba Cellars is a delightful red from estate grapes south of the state line in the Walla Walla Valley. Winemaker Doug Nierman blended just a touch of Malbec to round out the edges. It opens with aromas of cherry, cedar frond and dill, followed by bright, juicy flavors of cranberry, cherry and even a hint of peachiness. It’s a young, delicious drink-now red. (581 cases, 14.7% alc.)

Woodward Canyon Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $44: Most of the grapes for this superb red came from estate Woodward Canyon Vineyard, with a touch from Sagemoor and Weinbau. Winemaker Kevin Mott blended a bit of Merlot and Cabernet Franc to craft a Cab with aromas of black currant, smoke, plum and coffee. On the palate, it reveals flavors of raspberry, plum and dark chocolate. It is backed with ample acidity and tannins, making this a big-structured wine. (121 cases, 15.2% alc.)

Best Buy!
Boomtown 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington, $15:
This highly successful second label for Dusted Valley Vintners delivers quality and value in this delicious and affordable Cab. It opens with aromas of cinnamon bark, black licorice, strawberry jam and mint, followed by flavors of anise, blackberry, black tea and forest floor. It’s ready to drink now, and the screwcap makes it easy to get at. (3,452 cases, 13.9% alc.)

Waterbrook Winery 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $24: Winemaker John Freeman used grapes from three top vineyards and blended in just a bit of Malbec and Petit Verdot to craft this tasty reserve-level Cab. It offers classic aromas of dark cherry, boysenberry, chocolate and a hint of spice, followed by flavors of cola, cherry tobacco and oak. Elegant tannins are mere background music for this delicious red. (4,700 cases, 13.2% alc.)

Dunham Cellars 2008 Lewis Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $75: Eric Dunham and Daniel Wampfler teamed up to craft this superb Cab from Dunham’s favorite vineyard in the Yakima Valley. It opens with heavenly aromas of leather, hibiscus, black tea and plum, followed by deliciously dark flavors of boysenberry, black currant and Baker’s chocolate. Polished tannins make this accessible now. (486 cases, 14.1% alc.)

Three Rivers Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $39: Holly Turner is the longtime winemaker at this destination winery on the outskirts of Walla Walla. She brought in grapes from Seven Hills Vineyard in the southern valley and blended in 10% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot to round out this wine. It opens with aromas of red cherry, raspberry, strawberry, smoke and slate, followed by flavors of black cherry, raspberry and dark chocolate that are backed with tannins that build through the midpalate into a crescendo on the finish. (486 cases, 14.6% alc.)

Best Buy!
Buried Cane 2009 Roughout Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $14:
Middleton Family Wines, with roots in the coastal town of Hoquiam, Wash., makes this second label to Cadaretta in Walla Walla by using top grapes from four vineyards throughout the Columbia Valley. It’s as yummy as it is affordable, with aromas of porcini mushroom, black currant, black olive and minerality, followed by flavors of boysenberry, pomegranate, black cherry and coffee. It’s a delicious, drink-now red. (2,756 cases, 14.1% alc.)

Liberty Lake Wine Cellars 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $25: Barely two barrels of precious Red Mountain juice went into this Spokane winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon. Its delightful aromas include forest floor, dark cherry and Girl Scout chocolate mint cookies, followed by bold flavors of black cherry, dark chocolate and black olive. Gripping tannins, solid acidity and moderate alcohol give this a lot of long-term potential. (47 cases, 13.8% alc.)

3 Horse Ranch Vineyards 2009 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Snake River Valley, $22: The Cunningham family grows certified organic grapes in Idaho’s Snake River Valley, and omnipresent winemaker Greg Koenig crafts the wines at this operation in the town of Eagle. This Cab offers aromas of black plum, black currant and pipe tobacco, followed by rich, delicious flavors of ripe dark berry, black pepper and a hint of dark chocolate. Smooth tannins give way to the delicious dark fruit. (458 cases, 14.9% alc.)

Barons V Winery 2009 Barons V Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $45: Winemaker Matthew Loso dipped into four top vineyards to craft this superb Cab blended with a touch of Merlot. It opens with aromas of baked cherry pie, cinnamon bark and a whiff of mint. On the palate, flavors of dark cherry, dark chocolate and exotic spices are backed by smooth, elegant tannins. (468 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Best Buy!
Snake River Winery 2009 Arena Valley Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Snake River Valley, $15:
Owner/winemaker Scott DeSeelhorst uses grapes from his beautiful estate Arena Valley Vineyard, which is near the Oregon border in tiny Parma, Idaho. This delicious and affordable red from a high-elevation location opens with aromas of cherry, ginger, chocolate, leather and cola, followed by complex flavors of slate, spice, earth and black currant. Elegant tannins provide ample structure. (325 cases, 14% alc.)

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars 2010 Five Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $20: The grapes for this wine come from a who’s who of Washington viticulture, including Klipsun, Stillwater Creek, Dionysus, Bacchus and Wahluke Slope. The resulting wine is dark and rich with aromas of mint, black olive, black currant and malted chocolate, followed by bold flavors of red currant, cherry and chocolate. (1,500 cases, 13.8% alc.)

Coyote Canyon Winery 2010 Coyote Canyon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $25: Owner/winemaker Mike Andrews has been farming in the Horse Heaven Hills since he graduated from Washington State University in the early 1970s. He began planting grapes in 1994 and is growing some of the finest in the state. This wine opens with aromas of cedar, cherry, blueberry and black pepper, followed by juicy flavors of cranberry, black currant, cherry and sweet herbs. (206 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Three Rivers Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $21: Winemaker Holly Turner pulled grapes from seven vineyards in four appellations for this delicious Cab. It offers aromas of green peppercorns, dark cherry and plum, followed by gripping flavors of black cherry and pomegranate. The acidity and tannin play well with all the fruit. (3,200 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Watermill Winery 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $24: The Brown family used grapes from three stellar vineyards — McClellan Estate, Kiona and Pepper Bridge for this Cab, which includes 17% Merlot. It opens with aromas of coffee, black currant, horehound and sweet herbs, followed by black cherry, dark chocolate and black pepper, all backed with nicely refined tannins. (487 cases, 14.9% alc.)

Best Buy!
Canoe Ridge Vineyard 2011 Expedition Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $15:
Precept Wine in Seattle rescued this longtime Walla Walla winery from an international spirits company. Winemaker Bill Murray uses estate Canoe Ridge grapes from the Horse Heaven Hills and blended a bit of Merlot, Syrah and Malbec. The resulting wine offers aromas of sarsaparilla, black currant and forest floor, followed by gorgeous flavors of pomegranate, black currant, smoky tobacco and dark chocolate. (7,500 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Stottle Winery 2009 Elerding Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $30: Josh and Amy Stottlemyer used grapes from Elerding Vineyard in the Horse Heavens. It opens with aromas of macerated black cherry, medium toast, black licorice and black pepper. On the palate, it releases notes of black currant, black olive and dark cherry. Try this at any of the winery’s three tasting rooms in Lacey, Hoodsport or Alki in West Seattle. (72 cases, 14.6% alc.)

Arch Terrace 2008 Terra Blanca Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $25: Owner/winemaker Keith Pilgrim’s estate winery is on the warm lower bench of Red Mountain, where he has been producing delicious wine for the better part of two decades. This Cab opens with aromas of black olives, Baker’s chocolate and ripe plum, followed by bold, dark flavors of black currant, black cherry, dark chocolate and black tea. (2,200 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Jones of Washington Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope, $17: Winemaker Victor Palencia continues to hit his stride with estate fruit from the warm Wahluke Slope. This young winemaker is among the best in Washington, and he shows it again here. This reveals aromas of blueberry, huckleberry and spice, followed by bold flavors of black cherry and raspberry. Robust tannins and bright acidity add to the length of this big Cab. (6,000 cases, 14.8% alc.)

Bergevin Lane Vineyards 2010 Moonspell Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $28: Grapes from four appellations contributed to this delicious wine from a top Walla Walla Valley winery. The blend includes a bit of Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. It opens with aromas of ripe plum, cherry cola, smoke and a sprinkle of cocoa. It’s a big, dark, rich red on the palate, with flavors of black currant, black pepper and dark chocolate. (785 cases, 14.4% alc.)

Smasne Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $30: Robert Smasne grew up in a Yakima Valley farming family and now works out of a converted warehouse in the town of Grandview. This Cab uses grapes from throughout the vast Columbia Valley and broadcasts aromas of plum, cherry, sweet herbs and black pepper. On the palate, it includes black currant, minerality, blackberry and dried herbs, all on a layer of solid tannin structure. (230 cases, 13.9% alc.)

Martin-Scott Winery 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $23: This winery in East Wenatchee, Wash., has gained a strong reputation through the years for its delicious reds, and this Cab does not disappoint. It sends out aromas of ripe berry, brown sugar and lightly toasted oak, followed by flavors of black currant, milk chocolate and black olive. Its superb mouth feel leads to an incredibly long finish. (100 cases, 15.4% alc.)

Watermill Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $24: Winemaker Andrew Brown used grapes from McClellan, Kiona, Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills to craft this Cab, which has a bit of Merlot. The resulting wine opens with aromas of minerality, red currant, raspberry and black cherry, followed by flavors of black currant, strawberry and vanilla. (527 cases, 14.9% alc.)

Daven Lore Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $28: Owner/winemaker Gord Taylor went into the Horse Heaven Hills adjacent to his Prosser, Wash., winery for this Cab, using grapes from Alder Ridge and Double Canyon vineyards. It offers aromas of cherry cola, juniper berries, lime zest and Nestle Crunch, followed by flavors of dark red fruit backed with ample acidity. (74 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Glencorrie Winery 2009 Dwelley Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $40: Famed Dwelley Vineyard was the grape source for this small producer west of downtown Walla Walla. The wine offers aromas of black cherry, moist earth, black licorice and pomegranate, followed by flavors of Rainier cherry and vanilla backed by fine-grained tannins. (96 cases, 14.7% alc.)

Desert Wind Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope, $18: This destination winery in the town of Prosser brings in grapes from its estate vineyard on the arid Wahluke Slope north of the Yakima Valley. The aromas reminded us of a dusty country road after a summer squall, as well as Rainier cherry and smoky cedar. On the palate, it reveals flavors of Marionberry and pomegranate. It’s a big wine with substantial tannins. (164 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Pursued by Bear 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $65: This Cab is a collaboration between Walla Walla rockstar winemaker Eric Dunham and actor Kyle MacLachlan, a native of Yakima. It’s a big wine in the nose with aromas of roasted coffee beans, black cherry and toast, followed by flavors of red currant, espresso and dark chocolate. (434 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Best Buy!
Columbia Crest 2010 Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $12:
This is one of the largest bottlings of Cabernet Sauvignon anywhere, and we like the price as much as the wine. It takes off with aromas of light oak, black cherry and vanilla, followed by flavors of black cherry and red raspberry. It’s all backed by round tannins and balanced acidity. (248,000 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Three Rivers Winery 2009 Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $50: Winemaker Holly Turner collaborated with grape grower Paul Champoux for this delicious Cab. It stirs up hints of black olive, black tea, ripe plum and mild oak, followed by bold flavors of plum, black cherry and black tea, all backed with big up-front tannins and spice on the finish. (98 cases, 14.9% alc.)

Reininger Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $41: Owner/winemaker Chuck Reininger used grapes from famed Seven Hills and Pepper Bridge for this delicious Cab, which includes 8% Petit Verdot. It opens with aromas of dusty blackberry and milk chocolate, followed by flavors of red currant, dried cranberry, plum and black tea. It’s all backed by sturdy tannins. (556 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2009 Cold Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $30: Cold Creek Vineyard north of the Yakima Valley was planted in the early 1970s on the advice of Walter Clore, the father of Washington wine. It has been a cherished estate vineyard for Ste. Michelle ever since. This opens with aromas of Bing cherry, milk chocolate and oak, followed by dark, elegant flavors of cherry, chocolate and black tea. It’s a balanced wine with austere tannins. (7,000 cases, 15.0% alc.)

Feather 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $55: Feather is part of Long Shadows, a collaboration of international winemakers working with Washington grapes. This wine is overseen by Randy Dunn, famed Napa Valley winemaker. The result is a big wine with aromas of strawberry, oak and roasted coffee, followed by big, bold flavors of ripe plum and black currant. Nicely rounded tannins do not overwhelm this delicious wine. (1,697 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Purple Star Wines 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $16: Winemaker Kyle Johnson launched this winery in 2008 and used grapes from Milbrandt, Olsen and Kiona vineyards to craft a Cab with aromas of mocha, elderberry and cola, followed by flavors of red currant and black cherry. It’s all backed with enjoyable fine-grained tannins. (1,036 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Lujon Wine Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $20: The father-son team of Lewis and John Derthick make wines from Washington and Oregon grapes. This Cab from Walla Walla Valley grapes spins out aromas of red currant, coffee, brown sugar and slate, followed by flavors of black currant and ripe plum. Sophisticated tannins give way to a lengthy finish. (225 cases, 14.8% alc.)

Tamarack Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $32: Owner Ron Coleman and winemaker Dan Gordon used grapes from six Columbia Valley vineyards to craft this red. Aromas of coffee, black currant, black pepper and plum are followed by dark flavors of boysenberry, blackberry, black pepper and dark chocolate. The sweet, strong tannins are draped behind all the fruit. (1,320 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Dusted Valley Vintners 2010 V.R. Special Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $53: Owners Chad Johnson and Corey Braunel used grapes from famed StoneTree Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope, as well as Birch Creek and Minnick Hill. The result is a delicious Cab with aromas of black pepper, black currant and dark chocolate, followed by big, dark flavors of Bing cherry, chocolate and ample tannins. This is a young wine that hasn’t come around to show its full potential. (144 cases, 14.9% alc.)

Smasne Cellars 2009 Three Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $68: Owner/winemaker Robert Smasne has been dialing in his vineyard sources since his first vintage 15 years ago, and the work is paying off. This yummy Cab opens with aromas of toasted, black cherry and rhubarb, followed by deep flavors of black olive and Marionberry. It’s all backed with big, yet approachable, tannins. (120 cases, 13.9% alc.)

Cloudlift Cellars 2010 Halcyon, Horse Heaven Hills, $25: Master woodworker Tom Stangeland launched his Seattle winery in 2008 and has been making beautifully balanced wines since. This delicious red presents complex aromas of blueberry, Marionberry and brown sugar, trailed by flavors of dark fruit, black olive and dark chocolate. Its assertive finish allows the fruit to linger. (71 cases, 13.1% alc.)

Spangler Vineyards 2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Southern Oregon, $40: Winemaker Patrick Spangler offers up this mature reserve-level Cab, and it is a treat. It opens with aromas of exotic spices, ripe plum and blackberry, followed by flavors of black currant, boysenberry and mild oak. Gripping tannins mellow on the finish, making this a wine that is drinking nicely right now. (324 cases, 13.4% alc.)

Dusted Valley Vintners 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $35: This delicious wine from a top Walla Walla Valley winery includes a bit of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. It opens with aromas of huckleberry, black cherry, black tea and a touch of marjoram. On the palate, it shows off flavors of black currant and dark chocolate. It’s a big, lusty wine. (638 cases, 14.7% alc.)

Woodward Canyon Winery 2010 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington,$54: Winemaker Kevin Mott used grapes from Champoux, Woodward Canyon, Sagemoor and Weinbau for this debonair Cab. It opens with aromas of hazelnut, Bing cherry and orange oil, followed by flavors of red currant, cranberry, mint and black licorice. (2,967 cases, 14.1% alc.)

Anelare 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $44: Winemaker Victor Cruz used grapes from Gamache and West Hills vineyards to craft a Cabernet Sauvignon with aromas of new leather, cherry, smoke and black currant, followed by flavors of pomegranate, pie cherry, cola and dark chocolate. (73 cases, 14.1% alc.)

Columbia Crest 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley. $45: Ray Einberger chose the top 10 percent from lots of Beverly, Four Feather, StoneTree and Wautoma Springs during his penultimate harvest as Columbia Crest’s head winemaker. Juan Muñoz-Oca took over the nurturing of this staring in spring 2011. The final blend with Merlot (9%) and Cabernet Franc (5%) in new French oak for 25 months imparts aromas of black currant jam, dusty blackberry and Belgian chocolate. There’s no doubt that it drinks like a refined Cab with its delicious cherry and chocolate flavors, backed by fine-grained tannin. (8,400 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Gamache Vintners 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $28: Charlie Hoppes makes the wines for this producer with a Columbia Basin vineyard and Prosser tasting room. This Cab begins with hints of spices, chocolate, lavender and blackberry, followed by elegant flavors of cola, ripe plum and chocolate. Bold fruit melds beautifully with moderate tannins. (587 cases, 14.6% alc.)

Frenchman’s Gulch 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $25: This winery in Sun Valley, Idaho, used grapes from famed Phinny Hill Vineyard in Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills to craft a delicious Cab. It opens with aromas of mint, raspberry, cedar and cranberry, followed by flavors of blueberry and blackberry backed by mild tannins. (400 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Camaraderie Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $30: Owner/winemaker Don Corson acquired grapes from some of Washington’s top vineyards, including Artz, Meek, Champoux and Milbrandt. The resulting wine opens with aromas of rich cherry, chocolate, spearmint and cola, followed by flavors of blueberry, boysenberry, Marionberry and slate. (346 cases, 14.6% alc.)

Best Buy!
Ste. Chapelle 2009 Winemaker’s Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Snake River Valley, $8:
This is the least-expensive Cab in our judging, priced in a way to enjoy on an everyday basis. It is a complex little red with aromas of fresh cranberry, raspberry, fresh herb and cocoa powder, followed by bright flavors of pomegranate, cherry and rhubarb. Mild tannins give this immediate accessibility and make it versatile at the dining table. (850 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Westport Winery 2010 Charterboat Chick’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $27: Co-owner Kim Roberts does all the marketing for this small, progressive winery on the Washington coast. She named this wine after herself for the time she spent on a charterboat in Westport. The wine casts out bright aromas of black currant, raspberry and cocoa powder, followed by bright flavors of cranberry, Rainier cherry and hibiscus tea. (252 cases, 12.0% alc.)

Glencorrie Winery 2009 Cuvée Marquis Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $45: Though not labeled as such, this is a Cabernet Sauvignon that uses grapes from Stillwater Creek, Conner Lee, Gamache and Weinbau vineyards. It opens with aromas of black licorice, dark chocolate and Bing cherry, then transcends into flavors of plum, cherry and vanilla, framed by smooth tannins. (96 cases, 14.7% alc.)

Eleganté Cellars 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $30: Winemaker Doug Simmons used grapes from highly regarded Les Collines Vineyard near the Oregon border. The resulting wine shares aromas of strawberry, cola, milk chocolate and toasted marshmallow, backed by enjoyable flavors of black currant, Bing cherry and black olive. This reminds us of an elegant European style of wine that should age well for another decade. (338 cases, 13.8% alc.)

Coach House Cellars 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $30: Two couples created this boutique operation in Bellingham, Wash., and this delicious wine opens with aromas of red plum, red currant, pomegranate and caramel. On the palate, it brings home flavors of ripe plum, huckleberry, dark cherry and toasted oak, all backed by gripping tannins and plenty of acidity. (235 cases, 14.0% alc.)

Native Sun Wines 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $50: Winemaker Kyle Johnson of young Purple Star uses this label for his higher-tier wines. This delicious Cab opens with lovely aromas of elegant dark fruit, dusty rose and light oak, followed by flavors of black olive, black currant and bold, ripe plum. It is backed with well-integrated tannins that lead to a beautiful finish. (104 cases, 14.4% alc.)

Best Buy!
Ridge Crest 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $12:
This nicely priced Cab is produced by Claar Cellars, which has a winery north of Pasco, Wash., and a tasting room in the Yakima Valley. The nose features oak, spice, chocolate and cola, followed by elegant flavors of cherry, spice and toast. Soft tannins and a moderate finish make this a ready-to-drink wine. (680 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Martinez & Martinez Winery 2010 Dominio de Martinez, Horse Heaven Hills, $45: Andrew Martinez used estate grapes from the family’s 30-year-old vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills to craft this tasty Cab for his Prosser, Wash., tasting room. It opens with aromas of rhubarb, cherry and chocolate sprinkles, followed by bold flavors of dark berry, vanilla and chocolate. It’s a big, up-front wine to pair with braised meats. (40 cases, 14.0% alc.)

Spangler Vineyards 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Oregon, $35: This elegant Cab from winemaker Patrick Spangler opens with aromas of fresh red currant, a hint of oak and mocha, followed by succulent flavors of rich dark fruit and chocolate syrup. We loved the full mouth feel and bright, food-friendly tannins. (229 cases, 13.8% alc.)

Dumas Station 2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $32: Winemaker Jay DeWitt used grapes from Minnick Hills Vineyard, just north of the Walla Walla airport. The wine opens with aromas of dark chocolate, black olive, fig and Bing cherry, followed by rich, juicy flavors of boysenberry and black currant. (200 cases, 15.1% alc.)

Glencorrie Winery 2009 Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $23: This blend is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon using grapes from Stillwater Creek, Conner Lee, Gamache and Weinbau vineyards. It offers aromas of blueberry, white pepper and blackberry, followed by fresh flavors of plum, cranberry, cherry, chocolate and mint. It’s beautifully balanced. (408 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Terra Blanca Winery & Estate Vineyard 2008 Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $45: Owner/winemaker Keith Pilgrim aged this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon for 32 months in French oak. The result is a big, dark wine with aromas of cedar, black cherry and dark chocolate, followed by flavors of black olive, black licorice, exotic spice and boysenberry. The tannins are ample, as one would expect from Red Mountain, yet they are well integrated. (580 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Knight Hill Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope, $28: Anne and Terry Harrison employ the services of consulting winemaker Anke Freimuth-Wildman at their Rattlesnake Hills winery. She brought in grapes from the warm Wahluke Slope to craft a wine with hints of leather, spice, earth, cola and huckleberry jam, followed by bold flavors of black raspberry, plum and cranberry. (87 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2010 a squared Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $24: Winemaker Jarrod Boyle blended just a touch of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot into this tasty Cab. It opens with succulent aromas of plump berries, coffee and cherry, followed by balanced, quaffable flavors of ripe plum and boysenberry. (434 cases, 14.4% alc.)

San Juan Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $19: This winery in Friday Harbor, Wash., used grapes harvested just prior to a freak frost that generally brought the 2009 growing season to a halt. Using grapes from Destiny Ridge and Coyote Canyon, the wine opens with aromas of black tea, chocolate, cherry and red currant, followed by rich, refined flavors of pomegranate, black currant and black olive. (300 cases, 14.1% alc.)

H/H Estates 2010 Coyote Canyon Vineyard Big John Cab Reserve, Horse Heaven Hills, $35: Winemakers John Gabriel and Mike Andrews collaborated on this bold red wine from estate grapes in the Horse Heaven Hills. It opens with aromas of ripe plum, black currant and Bing cherry, followed by rich flavors of boysenberry and black raspberry. The sleek tannins provide nice balance. (170 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Cathedral Ridge Winery 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $48: Michael Sebastiani commutes between his home in Sonoma County to Hood River, Ore., to craft the wines of Cathedral Ridge for Robb Bell. This Cab showcases aromas of black currant, black raspberry and distinctive dark chocolate, followed by rich flavors of black olive and ripe dark fruit. (75 cases, 14.6% alc.)

Lodmell Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $35: The Lodmell family’s estate vineyard is about 30 miles northwest of Walla Walla near the tiny town of Eureka, and the tasting room is in the lobby of the Marcus Whitman Hotel in downtown Walla Walla. This Cab reveals aromas of sweet purple fruit, including huckleberry, followed by luscious flavors of cherry, red currant, mint and spice. (96 cases, 14.0% alc.)

Cave B Estate Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $28: The first wines we’ve tasted labeled with Washington’s newest AVA is this Cab near George, Wash. Pretty aromas of dark fruit, chocolate, spice and fig, turn into flavors of plush cherry and a hint of oak. (500 cases, 13.8% alc.)

RiverAerie 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $20: This winery in Prosser, Wash., is adjacent to Wine O’Clock, a family-owned restaurant offering one of the best meals in the Yakima Valley. This tasty red opens with aromas of dark fruit and spice, followed by flavors of blackberry, dark chocolate and black currant backed with moderate tannin. (305 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Claar Cellars 2009 White Bluffs Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $22: The Whitelatch family grows about 120 acres of wine grapes overlooking the Columbia River atop the White Bluffs and the Hanford Reach National Monument. This sleek Cab opens with aromas of blackberry, Van cherry, alder smoke and tobacco leaf, followed by flavors of high-toned red fruit, including red currant and Rainier cherry. (188 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Dumas Station 2007 Minnick Hills Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $60: Winemaker Jay DeWitt blended a bit of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot into this reserve-tier red. It opens with aromas of black currant, dried cherry and toast, followed by elegant flavors of blackberry, plum and dark chocolate. (80 cases, 15.3% alc.)

Forgeron Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $33: Marie-Eve Gilla moved from her native France to make wine in Washington state, and she has led this Walla Walla winery since its inception. This wine opens with aromas of cocoa powder, cola, vanilla bean and cherry, followed by big, intense flavors of blueberry and black cherry. It’s all backed by assertive tannins. (397 cases, 14.4% alc.)

RECOMMENDED

Dunham Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon XV, Columbia Valley, $45: This delicious Cab from Walla Walla opens with aromas of boysenberry, blueberry and tar, followed by well-structured flavors of pie cherry, raspberry and cranberry, all backed with moderate tannins. (1,406 cases, 13.8% alc.)

Van Löben Sels Cellars 2009 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $55: This new label from Arbor Crest is an upper-tier brand meant to highlight top vineyards. This offers aromas of blackberry, black cherry and dark chocolate, followed by flavors of boysenberry and blackberry. (90 cases, 13.8% alc.)

Pondera Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $30: Pondera, in Woodinville, Wash., has crafted a Cab with elegant aromas of violet, sage and blueberry, followed by rich flavors of boysenberry backed with assertive tannins. This wine is just a baby and needs more time to settle in. (130 cases, 14.7% alc.)

Jones of Washington Winery 2009 Jacks Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope, $30: This ultra-tall bottle from winemaker Victor Palencia releases aromas of Marionberry cobbler, strawberry/rhubarb and a dense earthiness of moist potting soil. The flavors feature a mix of chocolate and Bing cherries with a finish of fine-grained tannin and more Marionberry. (200 cases, 14.8% alc.)

Ferraro Cellar 2010 Phinny Hill Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $30: This Oregon winery reached into one of Washington’s top vineyards for this yummy Cab. There’s a theme of black cherry, cedar shavings and ripe plum, all backed with rich, chocolaty tannins. (82 cases, 14.7% alc.)

Walla Walla Vintners 2009 Vineyard Select Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $48: One of the Walla Walla Valley’s oldest wineries continues to make some of its best wines. This Cab from valley grapes offers aromas and flavors of red currant, strawberry, Bing cherry and marjoram. (110 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Van Löben Sels Cellars 2008 Conner Lee Vineyard Bona Dea, Columbia Valley, $65: Conner Lee Vineyard is in the Columbia Basin not far from Quincy, Wash., and its grapes are highly sought after. This rich and fragrant Cab shows off aromas and flavors of violet, Bing cherry and chocolate notes. (90 cases, 13.8% alc.)

Bunchgrass Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $42: Tom Olander now leads the winemaking efforts
at this cherished Walla Walla Valley winery. This Cab offers aromas and flavors of blackberry syrup, exotic spices, black pepper and boysenberry, all backed with opulent tannins. (92 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Heymann Whinery 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, $27: This winery near Centralia, Wash., has a history of stunning fruit wines but also makes some solid traditional wines, too. This Cab opens with aromas of black tea, olive and black currant, followed by bold flavors of black cherry and pomegranate. (99 cases, 13.6% alc.)

Helix by Reininger 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $29: Chuck Reininger is the man behind this label west of Walla Walla that focuses on using fruit from outside of the valley. This opens with aromas of huckleberry and vanilla and finishes with flavors of plum, blackberry and spice. (611 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Robert Karl Cellars 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $30: Winemaker Joseph Gunselman used grapes from his estate Gunselman Bench, as well as McKinley Springs and Phinny Hill vineyards. The result is a delicious Cab with aromas and flavors of black licorice, raspberry, boysenberry and horehound. (500 cases, 13.5% alc.)

McKinley Springs 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $24: Winemaker Doug Rowell blended grapes from McKinley Springs’ original 1980 block with some newer grapes and added a bit of Petit Verdot for complexity. The result is a wine with aromas and flavors of black olive, plum, chocolate and exotic spices. (1,255 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2009 Limited Release Druthers Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $85: This wine is part of a Ste. Michelle project that allows its winemakers to stretch their legs a bit with small-production projects. This wine offers aromas and flavors of clove, cola, cedar, black cherry and plum. It’s a big wine that will show off more when the tannins resolve a bit more. (178 cases, 16.0% alc.)

William Church Winery 2009 Molly’s Vintage Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $38: William Church in Woodinville, Wash., dedicates proceeds from this wine to a research institute in memory of Molly Baber, a dear friend. The wine offers aromas and flavors of red raspberry and black currant backed with sophisticated tannins. (105 cases, 14.3% alc.)

L’Ecole No. 41 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $32: Winemaker Marty Clubb sourced grapes from no fewer than nine vineyards in five appellations. The resulting wine is rich with dark fruit, whispers of smoke and rich tannins. This is a bit tightly wound at the moment and should improve with some patience in the cellar. (4,000 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Best Buy!
Sagelands Vineyard 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $13:
Once based in the Rattlesnake Hills, this brand was rescued from an international conglomerate by Precept Wine in Seattle. This offers aromas and flavors of red currant, raspberry and pomegranate with underlying sweet herbal notes. (6,000 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Sweet Valley Wines 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $35: Josh McDaniels started Sweet Valley when he was in high school and has since built the Walla Walla winery into a great success story. This Cab offers aromas and flavors of chocolate, exotic chai spice and black raspberry. (145 cases, 14.8% alc.)

Schmidt Family Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Applegate Valley, $39: Winemaker Cal Schmidt used 11-year-old estate vines in the intriguing Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon to craft this wine, which offers aromas and flavors of raspberry, slate and lime zest, all backed by solid tannins. (225 cases, 14.7% alc.)

Best Buy!
House Wine 2010 Steak House Cab, Columbia Valley, $12:
Launched by Charles Smith and now owned by Precept Wine in Seattle, the House Wine label has been a huge success story — especially for those looking for value wines. Aromas and flavors of red plum, black cherry and sweet oak receive backing by sturdy tannins. (5,500 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Cave B Estate Winery 2010 XXV Cabernet Sauvignon, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $38: Winemaker Freddy Arredondo crafted this wine from estate vines planted in 1985 near the Gorge at George, Wash. It offers aromas and flavors of black olive, black tea and ripe plum, all backed with elegant tannins. (136 cases, 14.4% alc.)

AntoLin Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $22: Tony Haralson used grapes from Wautoma Springs, a vineyard near famed Cold Creek north of the Yakima Valley. This is a yummy wine with aromas and flavors of cherry fruit leather, black raspberry and sweet oak. (130 cases, 13.7% alc.)

Smasne Cellars 2009 Upland Vineyard Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon, Snipes Mountain, $45: From Snipes Mountain in the heart of the Yakima Valley comes fruit from vineyards that date back decades. Winemaker Robert Smasne has crafted a red with aromas and flavors of plum, black olive and boysenberry. (78 cases, 13.9% alc.)

Two Mountain Winery 2009 Copeland Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, $28: Winemaker Matthew Rawn used estate grapes near Zillah, Wash., to craft a Cabernet Sauvignon with aromas and flavors of chocolate chip cookie, black cherry and ripe plum. (485 cases, 13.9% alc.)

DiStefano Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $36: This longtime Woodinville, Wash., winery offers up a luscious Cab with aromas and flavors of red raspberry, red currant, cedar and exotic spices. It’s all expertly backed with mild tannins and bright acidity. (105 cases, 15.4% alc.)

3 Horse Ranch Vineyards 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Snake River Valley, $23: Winemaker Greg Koenig blended 6% Merlot with this Snake River Valley wine using estate organic grapes. The wine offers aromas and flavors of spicy cranberry, rhubarb and ripe cherry, all backed with moderate tannins. (342 cases, 14.9% alc.)

Best Buy!
Sawtooth Estate Winery
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Snake River Valley, $15:
Here’s another great bargain from one of Idaho’s oldest and largest wineries in the Snake River Valley. It provides aromas and flavors of ripe red cherry, raspberry and pomegranate. Its tannins are fairly assertive, so we suggest this with a fatty cut of beef. (1,000 cases, 13.7% alc.)

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