A few weeks ago I attended an open house and trade tasting event in Pendleton. The winery doing the tasting was the team from Columbia Crest, just across the river in Patterson. As I was walking over to the table, the thoughts running through my mind were akin to “blah blah blah…all we ever drink is Columbia Crest around here.”
But, as I tasted through the wines I was reminded that there is nothing blah about Columbia Crest, It’s parent Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, or any of the other sister wineries in the Ste. Michelle family. Actually, the winery is one you just can’t go wrong with.
Did you know that Ste. Michelle offers eleven popular wine labels that are all processed within miles of you? The company also partners with four very prestigious California brands, and twelve European brands. Each of those brands offers several different blends and varietals worthy of mention, and many of them have received near perfect scores in wine competitions and magazines all over the world.
The other night I tasted six different wines, and found each of them to be satisfactory in the least. But, one thing that stood out to me was that the wines were capable of meeting completely different tastes and budgets equally as well.
The first of the wines was Columbia Crest’s new baby, their 2010 Moscato. I loved the nose on this wine, full of lychee and white roses. The sugars were a little high, but balanced incredibly well with the acidity and alcohol to make this a great wine for spicy foods. I desperately wanted to drink this with some Ceviche. This wine isn’t in chain stores yet, so you’ll need to pick it up at your favorite wine shop in the area.
Next, I enjoyed two different Chardonnays from Columbia Crest. The Horse Heaven Hills, and the Indian Wells 2008 vintages. Both were great in their own right, but very much different from each other. The “Tripple H” as I like to call it, was a very drinkable mixture of apple, pear, and minerality both on the nose and the palate. The finish of light vanilla cream was nice.
Conversely, the Indian Wells was filled with pineapple and other tropical fruit flavors. The structure of this wine had so many layers to it, that it was clearly a wine to be served with seafood in creamy, rich sauces.
Next we tasted the 2008 Horse Heaven Hills, and 2008 Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignons. Once again these wines were so strong, yet different in their own rights that I was honestly taken back a little. The Horse Heaven is once again a very, very drinkable wine. It has flavors of cherry, chocolate, anise, and spices. On the other hand, the Indian Wells is a very ripe and jammy wine with dark fruit and vanilla from the nose to the back palate.
Last, I tasted Erath 2008 Estate Pinot Noir. I’m a big Pinot fan, and Erath is one of my favorites. Red Plums and Orange zest mix with chocolate and vanilla in this wine to make a wonderful light wine worth drinking regardless of the time or place.
I really do suggest that you explore Ste. Michelle Wine Estates various brands. It truly is an adventure.