Wednesday, December 17, 2008

**** $ Columbia Crest Grand Estates Shiraz, 2003, Columbia Valley, WA - Review and Rating

Review: Let's turn today to a look at one of the lesser-recognized wines from a very-well-recognized label, Columbia Crest Grand Estates. Perhaps best known for its high-scoring merlot, the Columbia Crest Grand Estates label of Columbia Valley, WA, also produces highly-credited cabernet sauvignon and shiraz among its portfolio of red wines. Today we'll focus on Columbia Crest Grand Estates accomplishments with the increasingly popular shiraz grape - a red grape capable of deep, robust, age-worthy wine.

The Grand Estates label of Columbia Crest is one notch up from its entry-level Two Vines label, and yet not up to the collector level of the Columbia Crest Reserve line. Grapes for the Grand Estates line are harvested from throughout Columbia Valley in Washington State, USA, largest of the state's winemaking regions.

The Columbia Crest Grand Estates Shiraz is widely produced, and can often be obtained at attractive prices at the retail level. Often, it's quality exceeds its price point, resulting in what we characterize as a truly high-value wine. Let's see what the wine itself holds...

In the glass, Columbia Crest Grand Estates Shiraz, 2003, shows as dark red - opaque in the middle, moving to brick/purple at the rim. Aromas do push their way out of the glass and into the room. They are full of full purple fruit and bright cedar berries.

On the palate, a thick robe of clean, sweet fruit forms in the front of the mouth, resolving to a balanced, layered combination of deep oak, warm vanilla and lightly bright fruit acids lingering along the sides and back of the palate. The finish is lasting and ends with a distinct up-note, bright and clean.

Gosh, I do believe I might stick with this one for an evening, so I will award it four stars out of five on the Spirit of Wine scale. At a bare-bones price, this is an awesome - almost unbelievable - value.

Wine Spectator awarded 87 points to Columbia Crest Grand Estates Shiraz for 2003, saying it was, "Lithe and appealing for its pleasant raspberry and plum flavors, echoing gently on the polished finish."

The high level of value-for-price is consistent for the Columbia Crest label, having been seen earlier in my tasting of the Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon of 2001. Interestingly, both the shiraz and the cabernet sauvignon are capable of several years of aging to excellent advantage, a feature not typically seen in wines within this very modest price bracket.

I would note too, that Columbia Crest often wins kudos for the quality of its wines. The Columbia Crest Walter Clore Private Reserve Columbia Valley, 2002, finished number 33 on the Wine Spectator Top 100 list for 2005 with 93 points; and, even more impressively, Wine Spectator ranked the 2004 Grand Estates Merlot number 71 on its Top 100 list in 2007 with 90 points.

I would encourage you to further investigate Columbia Crest, and especially its Grand Estates line. And, please, don't let the low prices scare you away!

Find Columbia Crest Grand Estates Shiraz at WineZap.

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