Columbia Crest “Amitage” – 2008

It would be fair to say that Columbia Crest is a label that doesn’t hold a lot of cache with wine experts. CC is about as far from a a boutique as a winemaker can get – it’s a behemoth by any standard. But I’ve always had a soft spot for these Washington wines, which usually provide good QPR if not tons of complexity at the low end. And the 2008 Amitage red blend is one of their best efforts in terms of value.

This one is an interesting blend – 64% Merlot, 19% Syrah, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4.5% Malbec. Yes, in addition to a Columbia Crest it’s mostly Merlot – but the 5-grape blend adds a surprisingly complex character to this wine. I would describe this one as a hard wine not to like – in fact, I tasted it against several considerably more expensive red blends and actually liked it the best. Why? Well, for starters it has wonderful fruit – blackberry and currant most prominent for me – but a nice minty note, a little pepper and a really lovely nose of violets.

At 13.5% this is an easy-drinking everyday red in every way. Perhaps it isn’t the most challenging wine out there, but I think anyone who drinks red wine regularly – including the real snobs – would be hard-pressed not to like it. While soft, it even has a little tannic structure at the backbone and I think it will hold up nicely to modestly seasoned red-meat dishes. I paid $6.50 per bottle at BevMo’s “5-cent Sale”, and at the price it’s a true bargain.


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