Big Wine Bargains Can Still be Found in Washington

Sagelands 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon lauded

San Francisco ExaminerPamela Busch

Washington contains more cabernet sauvignon and merlot vines than any state besides California. And like California cabs, most Washington cabs are fruit-forward, but to a different degree. Eastern Washington gets very hot during the summer, but the evening temperatures dip. That gives the fruit a chance to cool off, preventing over-ripening. That is not to say that all California cabs are fruitier, but in Washington there is a better chance for the wines to have higher acidity, which in that sense makes them more like Bordeaux.

This is even truer of merlot. From a flavor point of view, both cab and merlot are more similar to California in that they often have densely packed fruit. In the case of Washington and sometimes California, that’s a result of high-altitude vineyards.

Sagelands Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 (Columbia Valley, Wash.):

Sagelands has flown under the radar for nearly 30 years. During the early days, nearly every small Washington winery was lucky if it had even a local following. But I’ve never understood, since I first tried its wines in the late 1990s, why Sagelands has not gotten more play. This intro-level cabernet sauvignon is sourced from Columbia Valley fruit. A mouthful with ripe tannins, blackberries and a tinge of red peppers, it outshines many cabs at higher price points. Suggested retail: $15

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