I like Washington State wines. I really like them. The capacity to make world class wine has long been established and the good news is, they aren’t just clones of California styles. That is what caught my attention years ago when we sold Columbia Valley (pre-Gallo) and Waterbrook. Fast forward to today and we still give strong representation to this impressive region.
My first exposure to one of the true pioneers in Washington’s Columbia Valley, Barnard Griffin, was with the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. I found it to have a very individual style, maybe not what the mass market drinker would embrace, but what I’d like to pour at home myself. True Cabernet varietal fruit character, but also a suggestion of earth with almost neutral oak, interesting.
A household name in the Pacific Northwest, the estate’s reputation is now starting to garner a following on the East Coast as well. The winery was established in 1983, it’s still family-owned and going strong today. I’ve had the opportunity to taste through several more offerings and have added the Columbia Valley Merlot 2015, line priced with the ’15 Cabernet at $14., which has more in common with Bordeaux than any new world region.
The Bob’s Red Blend ($11.) was also hard to overlook despite the stigma that the category is really a disguise for sweet wines, thanks to Gallo’s apothic and the countless imitators. Amazingly, there has been a slide in the popularity of Chardonnay, but I’m looking forward to representing the Barnard Griffin label in early February. The fact that Washington is having tremendous success with other grape varieties from across the globe means that we can look forward to much more from this estate as well as many others that share Columbia Valley’s relatively untapped potential.