We tend not to drink much cabernet, but my wife really enjoys the rich body and sometimes silky texture on decent Napa cabs. However, lately I've been looking around for quality Napa/CA replacements in the $20-$40 range, as I feel most Napa cabs lack quality/distinctiveness until you reach $50+.

I don't have much experience with Washington wines, but have been seeing great deals on well-reviewed Washington cabernets. So my request for the forum -- Compare and contrast California and Washington cabs at the < $50 price point, in terms of structure -- body, acidity, tannins, "fruitiness".

Thanks in advance.
Original Post
You can get rich silky Washington Cabs with considerable character for less than $50, examples including Bookwalter, Columbia Crest Reserve, Efeste, Fidelitas, Gorman, Mark Ryan.

Those are not my favorites though. You get more classic Cabernet character with Andrew Will, Cadence, Januik, Seven Hills, Soos Creek, Tamarak.
These will not be confused with Napa wines, having higher acidity and rougher tannins. They are not made to drink young.
When you say WA you're talking about a very big area; Red Mountain or Horse Heaven Hills is going to be different than somewhere like Walla Walla where the weather is a little cooler. In general though, the $25 WA cab drinks like a $40-50 Napa cab.

I would describe WW as more floral and earthy than a general Napa Cab at that price point with greater acidity than what you'll find in Napa valley floor fruit. The body will tend to be a little lighter on average and WW tends to be easier to enjoy young than other areas in WA. At about $50, Spring Valley Vineyards Derby, Frederick (Cab blend) or Uriah (Merlot blend) is probably the easiest WW to find in MN or you can find some stuff from L'Ecole.

Red Mountain or Horse Heaven Hills tend to be warmer areas so the body is a little more dense. Red Mountain tends to be tannic when young so it takes time to come around but they're very good wines with some age. HHH tends to be earthier than Napa too. You can actually get a Columbia Crest H3 Cab for about $11-15 and get a good sample of the AVA and to me it drinks better than a $25 Napa cab. The H3 Merlot is also very good and shouldn't be overlooked.
Second on Columbia Crest reserve, and Mark Ryan. The later is seriously good and in need of 3-7 yrs cellar time. Also Cadence is excellent, but lighter body and heavily Cab Franc based. If you like that sort of style, Cougar Crest will be right up that alley for $10-15 less. Januik and Bookwalter had been hit or miss for me, mostly miss.

- Amavi from Walla Walla.
- Chateau Ste Michelle Cold Creek/Ethos/Canoe Ridge
- Long Shadows (Retails at $40-50 but you may find it cheaper online. It is partnership between WA growers and foreign winemakers, Most notably the Pedestal Merlot is made by Michel Rolland.)
- Long Shadows (Retails at $40-50 but you may find it cheaper online. It is partnership between WA growers and foreign winemakers, Most notably the Pedestal Merlot is made by Michel Rolland.)[/QUOTE]

Second that on the Long Shadows series.
The "Feather" made by Randy Dunn is pretty good too, but my personal fav is the "Pirouette" by Huneeus & Philippe Melka,which is a Cab dominated meritage.
Well, you're comparing a place that's about 750 square miles with a place that's about 71,000 square miles, so it's hard to make a comparison.

Some wines from Washington are thick, ripe, jammy, and some aren't.

Basically it depends on the producer. But at $50, you get a wide range of good wines from various different regions in Washington. I would however, suggest that you look at their Merlot, which is damned good.

Cadence, Betz, Forgeron, Woodward Canyon, Pepper Bridge, Andrew Will, Leonetti, Owen Sullivan, Uriah, Hightower, Abeja, and many others come to mind in that price range. O + S make some good Cab Franc too - I'm drinking a 2000 right now.

Some of the wines tend to have more apparent tannins and acidity than some from Napa, but not all.
Thanks for all the responses. When purchasing wine, I firmly believe in tasting over anything else, so this gives me a good basis from which to start.
In general we prefer Napa mountain cabs to valley floor due to the brambly nature -- does the same trend hold for comparing WW to Red Mountain?
My (limited) current purchases are:
2006 Long Shadows Wineries Chester-Kidder (I've enjoyed Aussie cab-syrah blends, so this should be interesting)
2008 Cougar Crest Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Grown (Not a huge cab franc fan so this should be interesting)
2010 Seven Hills Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Seven Hills Vineyard

So it looks like I am on the right track, based on the comments. Any thoughts on beginning drink dates for these wines? We tend to prefer younger wines which still show a great deal of fruit, but from which the tannins have integrated to the point where they are smooth. I'll seek out some Mark Ryan and Andrew Will. In general I dislike jammy wines, as they remind me of zinfandel.

Oh and Wine Gopher - I remember you missed our last offline, so we'll have to plan another one soon. Also, I've had the H3 merlot and was impressed considering the price point.
GoBlue, As a former WA resident, I have a few of many of the suggested "in-stock". Let's plan a WA cab off-line.

quote:
Originally posted by GoBlue2002:
Thanks for all the responses. When purchasing wine, I firmly believe in tasting over anything else, so this gives me a good basis from which to start.
In general we prefer Napa mountain cabs to valley floor due to the brambly nature -- does the same trend hold for comparing WW to Red Mountain?
My (limited) current purchases are:
2006 Long Shadows Wineries Chester-Kidder (I've enjoyed Aussie cab-syrah blends, so this should be interesting)
2008 Cougar Crest Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Grown (Not a huge cab franc fan so this should be interesting)
2010 Seven Hills Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Seven Hills Vineyard

So it looks like I am on the right track, based on the comments. Any thoughts on beginning drink dates for these wines? We tend to prefer younger wines which still show a great deal of fruit, but from which the tannins have integrated to the point where they are smooth. I'll seek out some Mark Ryan and Andrew Will. In general I dislike jammy wines, as they remind me of zinfandel.

Oh and Wine Gopher - I remember you missed our last offline, so we'll have to plan another one soon. Also, I've had the H3 merlot and was impressed considering the price point.
quote:
Originally posted by Bigfoot003:
GoBlue, As a former WA resident, I have a few of many of the suggested "in-stock". Let's plan a WA cab off-line.


Sounds like a plan! I'd have to bring the 2006 Long Shadows Wineries Chester-Kidder, as it's the only Washington cab I currently have in my cellar, but I could also bring a Napa cab or something else for comparison (or variety). Oh and I didn't buy this one from Benchmark either!

Wine Gopher - you missed our last offline, are you interested in this idea? If so, we can move this conversation to the offline forum.
Agree with many of the above comments about CA vs. WA cabs/cab blends. A big +1 to Andrew Will (especially the Champioux vnyd. blend). See if you can get your hands on some Quilceda creek Red Wine (kind of their second wine). This is a very nice wine in your listed price point and has some of that silkiness that you are looking for (much less tannic than their flagship wines). Also, don't completely give up on Napa. The number of high quality <$50 bottlings is diminishing, but worth seeking. Examples that might meet your profile include Chappellet signature, Turnbull and Keenan (to list a few). I have seen all of these in the sub-$50 range in my market. Happy hunting.
quote:
Wine Gopher - you missed our last offline, are you interested in this idea? If so, we can move this conversation to the offline forum.


Yes, I am definitely interested as long as it is September or later. We're spending the last two weeks of August in Europe for our honeymoon.

I can contribute WA and/or Napa cabs to sample. We traveled to Napa in spring 2012 & Walla Walla in fall 2012 so I should be of help with either area (although it was the WW Syrah that impressed me the most). Mountain cabs in Napa are also our preference.

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