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February 18, 2002 • Upstairs Downtown

Washington cabernet corks.We cannot tell a lie: Washington Cabernets make a fitting theme for February, birthday month for Presidents Lincoln (Feb. 12th) and Washington (Feb. 22nd). Trouble is, members had a difficult time rounding up ten locally available wines. We consequently included some varietal blends and, although most had a percentage, one had not even a speck of cabernet sauvignon! Price certainly had little to do with quality at this event, although a couple of the pricey wines have previously garnered enthusiastic accolades from other wine reviewers. Our top rated wines included two Best Buys and we recommend eight out of the nine sampled. Roy treated us to sliced New York strip Putanesca, roasted vegetables, and mushroom mashed potatoes.


Wines are judged Equal Within Categories or Recommendation and listed Alphabetically by Brand
* indicates a second or third party web page

Vintage, Varietal or "Type"
Appellation, Vineyard
TASTING NOTES: Color; aroma; flavor; body;
balance; finish. Alcohol. Varietal composition. Summary. ($ paid)

KEY: consensus (flaws?)


Kiona Cabernet label & bottle.Kiona
1999 Cabernet Sauvignon
Washington State

Dark, inky purple color; young, extracted, rich, quite spicy aromas show clove, mint, licorice, vanilla, perfume, and oak over deep, black currant, cassis, berry, and plum fruit (trace of ethyl acetate? Koolaid?); sweet entry, pleasant, ripe, round, sweet berry jam-like flavors, hints of cola, cedar, oak; light to medium body, but with luscious, rich mouthfeel; good balance, sugar and acid counter round tannins; fairly smooth, long, slightly tannic finish. 13.0% alcohol. Teetering on the edge of being over-oaked, yet with great fruit flavors and undeniably very tasty. While this wine clashed with the savory caper and acidic roasted tomato flavors in the Putanesca, it probably will harmonize with roast beef or stew that calls for fruit or jelly in the preparation. ($17) BEST BUY WEBSITE n/a

Matthews label & bottle.Matthews
1999 Red Wine
Yakima Valley

Inky purple color; attractive, complex, sweet, somewhat jammy and concentrated, cassis and blackberry fruit aroma with vanilla, licorice, new leather and briary hints of oak, mahogany; clean, strong, complex, exemplary, sweet, ripe fruit flavors, including black currant, blackberry, prune and plum, with smoke and spice, sappy and sinewy at the same time; medium to full body with some rich texture; very well-balanced; long, smooth and flavorful finish with a faint bitterness. 14.7% alcohol. Composed of: Cabernet Sauvignon 52%, Merlot 37%, and Cabernet Franc 11%. Although a blend of varietals, this wine struck us as being a model of cabernet perfection. ($40) WEBSITE


Columbia Cabernet label & bottle.Columbia
1998 Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley

Medium ruby-purple; light, somewhat subtle, caramel, cedar, vanilla and oak aromas with underlying cherry, blueberry and berry-like fruit (trace of ethyl acetate?); flavors are fruity, attractive, but also dominated by cedar, oak; good mouthfeel, medium to full body; good balance, slightly rich mouthfeel, very even; finish is long, dry, faintly hot, but with smooth tannins. 13.5% alcohol. Quite a nice, very drinkable, elegant style, whose generous beauty is not showy, therefore easily overlooked, and only slightly dulled by the distractions of oak and alcohol. ($15) BEST BUY WEBSITE

Dunham label & bottle.Dunham
1999 Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley

Deep ruby-garnet color; very big, attractive, sweet, clean, ripe fruit and slightly floral aromas mix berry, black currant, blueberry, hints of violets, vanilla, mint, leather, dill, tea, and oak (slightly volatile?); juicy, forward, cranberry and prune flavors are nice, round, not as big as nose promises; medium body, slightly rich; very good balance is faintly tart, tannic; mild tannins in intense, fairly long finish. 13.2% alcohol. Composed of grapes from six different vineyards sources. In spite of the powerful nose, this is an elegant style overall, simple, direct, and fruit forward at this point that promises more to come. Probably the best candidate of this group for improvement after a few years in the cellar. ($43) WEBSITE


Columbia Crest Cabernet label & bottle.Columbia Crest
1998 Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley

Medium ruby color; closed aroma lacks fruit, is lightly cedary, with some smoke, charred oak, coffee bean, caramel, burnt butterscotch; simple, restrained flavors, but with somewhat more fruit than nose indicates, plum-like with a little smoke and black pepper; light to medium body; good balance; smooth, dry, pleasant finish, lingers fairly well. 13.0% alcohol. Enjoyable light to medium-weight style that makes up in price what it lacks in flavor depth and complexity. ($9) WEBSITE

Hogue Cab-Merlot label & bottle.Hogue
1999 Cabernet-Merlot
Columbia Valley

Medium ruby color, considerably lighter than most in flight; somewhat closed-in, orange peel, dried apricot, berry, cherry, cola, earthy and faintly vegetal, weedy aromas with a slight mustiness (medicinal?); light flavors are shallow, but fresher than aromas; light body; balance is slightly hard, tart, somewhat more tannic than fruit can handle; dry finish is slightly metallic, bitter, and, again, long on grip and short on flavor. 13.0% alcohol. Composed of: Cabernet Sauvignon 51%, Merlot 45%, and Cabernet Franc 4%. Not unpleasant, but not terribly exciting, might work well with simple grilled meats. ($8) WEBSITE

Seven Hills Cabernet label & bottle.Seven Hills
1998 Cabernet Sauvignon
Walla Walla Valley,
Seven Oaks Vineyard

Deep ruby-garnet color; clean, mild, slightly musty, earthy, spicy aromas mingle berries, black pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, oak (furniture polish?); sweet entry with pleasant, coffee, licorice, candy, dark cherry and blackberry flavors, bright fruit in midpalate; medium body, slightly rich; well balanced; finish is medium long, slightly oaky, stiff. 12.5% alcohol. Elegant style with nice oak, but a little heavy-handed, nevertheless. ($26) WEBSITE

Spring Valley Vineyard label & bottle.Spring Valley Vineyard
1999 "Uriah"
Walla Walla Valley

Dark ruby-purple color; very spicy, charred oak, smoke, leather, menthol, citrus peel with estery and controversial aromas (chemical? volatile? ethyl acetate?) are also candy-like, almost overripe berries, with a hint of alcohol; flavors are consistent, also spicy, cedary, minerally, attractive, with deep cranberry, prune and cherry fruit that trails off in the finish; medium body, silky tannins; balance slightly tart, quite tannic; finishes short, slightly hot. 13.5% alcohol. Composed of: Merlot 59%, Cabernet Franc 35%, and Petite Verdot 6%. Quite appealing, if somewhat overblown and eccentric, this might be just the ticket for charred meat and may even handle spice rubs that include hot peppers. ($33) WEBSITE


Hedges Red Wine label & bottle.Hedges
1999 Red Wine
Columbia Valley

Medium garnet color; initially funky smell of H2S (blows off in 10 minutes) over cooked blackberry fruit and slightly earthy, vegetal, leathery, smoky oak aromas; flavors are moderately appealing, hint at fruit, but are more coffee and cocoa, almost stale; light body, almost thin; good balance, although somewhat tannic; long finish is very dry, rough, tannic and oaky, slightly bitter, hot, short on flavor. 13.5% alcohol. Composed of: Cabernet Sauvignon 52%, Merlot 35%, Cabernet Franc 8%, and Syrah 5%. Previous vintages have found favor in our group, so this bottle's taint and awkwardness were somewhat surprising and disappointing. ($12) WEBSITE

This Panel included Regulars Deanna, Glenn, Bob B., Marlene, Jim, Betsy, and Roy and Guests Steve, Henry, and Bob
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