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My first experience with Washington wine turned me into a whole new world of wine about a year ago. The wine was 2004 Walla Walla Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Winery (not regular cab...it was a kind of cuvee...value priced under $20). That time I realized wine can be yummy without matching food. Then, my imagination on how better the high-end wines would be brought me to a journey to the wine world.

While trying many different wines (mostly from CA Cab/Pinots), I have been trying Washington wines from time to time. But, I have been somewhat underwhelmed by them. So far I tried DeLille Chaleur Estate (97), Cadence Spring Valley (00), L'Ecole Cab (97), Januik Table Wine (04), Betz Clos de Betz (04), etc.

Yesterday, I tried 04 Betz Clos de Betz with high expectation. I decanted one hour and drank it. It did not show much fruit. Kind of rustic/dusty scent on the nose...little thin and plain on the palate...tannic and hot on the finish. Maybe it needs more aging time (or decanting) or maybe I should try more Cab (over blend). It dramatically contrasts with 04 Walla Walla Vinteners Cab (distinctive chocolate/cherry nose, sexy and silky mouth feel and finish).

Now I have some questions about Washington Wines based on my tasting. I am wondering if my tasting indicates I used to (and like) too much fruit-foward CA wines. But, I don't think Walla Walla Cab is similar style to CA Cabs. Isn't Washington Cab (and reds) generally bigger and more powerful? Whenever I tried Washington wines (except Walla Walla Vintners), I remember (and miss) bright, clean, seamless characters of CA cabs. Are there any common characters (between CA cabs and Walla Walla Vinterrs Cab), in contrast with other Washington Reds, you can think of?

Since I know I over-generalize my statment, I am wondering what other Washington wines I need to try further. Would I need to focus more on Walla Walla fruit
(over the other regions)?

I am currently consdering to try the follwoing wines: Boudreaux Cellars Cab/Merlot, Fielding Hills Cab/Merlot/Cab Franc, Abeja Cab, Five Star Cab/Merlot, Andrew Will Cab/Merlot/Blend, Betz Cab (would be different from Clos De Betz?), Saviah Big Sky Cuvee, Baer Ursa/Actos, Stevens Cab/Blend, Stephenson Cab, Long Shadows Merlot, Spring Valley Uriah/Frederick, Seven Hills Cab/Merlot/Blend, NorthStar Merlot, Cougar Crest Cab, Ross Andrew Cab, Leonetti Cab/Merlot, Quilceda Creek Cab/Merlot, etc.

Thank you for your valueable comments and advices in advance.
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kthan,

You don't give vintages on the wines you want to try, and there is a difference.

'97 was a cool year, and it is not surprising that WA wines from that year seem underwhelming compared to CA cabs. The '04s are much too young.

Here are some gross generalizations about WA red wines.

They tend to be riper than Bordeaux, but less so than CA wines. I would not characterize them as "powerful" on the whole. There are wide stylistic variations, and some winemakers go for maximum oomph.
The Merlots from WA generally come across richer that the Cabs. It is usual to see the Merlot get a point or two higher than the Cab in the WS ratings for any particular winery in the same year.
The blends are often the best pick.

Some of the wines you name drink well young:

Boudreaux, Fielding Hills, Saviah Big Sky, Baer Ursa, and the Long Shadows Merlot I put in that group. Not to say that they won't improve with time.

The others are not going to reward you unless you wait.
pape du neuf,

Thank you so much for your informative response. Especially, your advice on early-drinkning wines would be particularly helpful. I heard 97 is not a good vintage for WA wines. I don't have particular vintages in mind (maybe 02...considering couple of years aging time and better availability than older vintages).

Any wines pretty similar to Walla Walla Vintners Cab in style and profile?

I added some more wines to my list: Seven Hills Cab/Merlot/Blend, Ross Andrew Cab, Cougar Crest, Dunham Cab, Reilinger Cab/Merlot, Northstar Cab/Merlot. Any comments on these?
Cougar Crest is closest to the Walla Walla stylistically. Seven Hills is richer, a real crowd pleasing winner.
Nothstar and Dunham are built more for the long haul, with no lack of stuffing.
Reininger has not impressed me. They seem to be going for elegance, but it come off as not quite ripe.

Mind you, my preference is not for fruit bombs, so when I say "rich" you have to calibrate to your taste.

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