Background: The Columbia Crest Grand Estates line is a label that shows up regularly as a contender in “best value” lists, especially for its shiraz and merlot varietals.
Review: Here we are sampling the 2005 merlot from Columbia Valley, which is blended with one-third whole-berry fermentation – wherein the grapes are not crushed before being added to the fermenting must.
In the glass, the Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot is an even deep red, not really moving to opaque in the center, and not really moving to transparent at the edges. The aromas are subdued, though deep and clean with a lightly oaked fruit. On the palate, the oak flavor comes across in a smooth, mineral wash across the tongue, with just the lightest of acids lending lift and support. Tannins are a bit more notable, providing a bit of a slope for the dry, black cherry flavor to begin its slow fade. Very clean finish, ready for the next sip.
The Grand Estates Merlot shows wonderful balance and accessibility, only lacking the intensity that might make me sit up and take real notice. So I will offer two stars on the Spirit of Wine scale, with a plus for this wonderfully balanced accessibility. All in all, I might turn to the Grand Estates Shiraz as my first choice in this line.
Find Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot on WineZap.
Review: The Columbia Crest Grand Estates line is more widely recognized for its red wines, less so for its chardonnay, which also hails from the Columbia Valley in Washington State. The Grand Estates Chardonnay is made on its lees, which is the yeast residue from fermentation. The lees and wine are stirred together regularly, called “batonnage”, which creates a rounded mouthfeel in white wines. Let’s see how the Columbia Crest Grand Estates Chardonnay fares in a tasting…
In the glass, the wine is quite transparent, showing just a light honey tint. The nose is bold – almost spectacular, really – with grass and butterscotch and fresh peach.
On the palate, the butterscotch takes over entirely, drawing across your mouth with a motor oil viscosity, leaving off tiny sparkles of fruit as it glides. Very low acids – your cheeks won’t even notice a tingle It finishes quite long. gliding slowly to a clean close.
In all, a smooth, mineral-driven ride. Not as intense as I might have hoped, but I would come back to it again – so that’s three stars on the Spirit of Wine scale. Outstanding value for the price.
Interestingly, the chardonnay follows the same overall style as the Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot, showing a low-intensity, smooth, oily, low-acid experience. It is a touch more distinctive and memorable in the chardonnay.
Find Columbia Crest Grand Estates Chardonnay at WineZap.