This month’s Five Wines Under $15 is devoted to the wines of Columbia Crest’s Grand Estates series.

It is not hyperbole to say that there is no winery in Washington – perhaps even in the entire country – that puts out higher quality wines at lower prices than Columbia Crest. Even more remarkable is the winery’s incredible consistency year after year.

Columbia Crest’s Grand Estates wines sit in the middle of the winery’s lineup between the Two Vines and H3 series wines with the reserve wines at the top. Impressively for wines at this price, there is good separation between the varieties. The Merlot tastes like Merlot; the Cabernet tastes like Cabernet.

In terms of the wines reviewed below, I struggle to think of a better value-priced Chardonnay than the 2010 Grand Estates from Columbia Crest. It is a thoroughly delicious, spot-on varietal Chardonnay that bests many bottles twice the price.

The belle of the ball here though is the 2009 Amitage Red Blend. About two thirds Merlot and one third Syrah with a dash of Cabernet Franc added in, it delivers a great deal of enjoyment with a more pronounced finish than is typically seen in wines at this price range.

The best part of the Grand Estates series though is, of course, the price. The wines all retail at $12 and can often be found on sale for less. This positions them perfectly to be ‘house wines’ but won’t leave you sorry that it’s Monday night. Who could ask for anything more?

Read previous Five Wines Under $15 here.

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2010 $12
(Good/Excellent) An aromatically appealing wine with toast, corn silk, spice, and tropical fruit. The palate is plush and silky, loaded with fruit flavor. A very high quality wine for the price. Aged in new and used French oak and stainless steel (22%). 13.5% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot Columbia Valley 2009 $12
(Good/Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with abundant spicy berries, coffee, and dark cherries. The palate is lush and silky smooth, filled with chocolate and dark berry flavors backed by more tannic structure than is often found at this price. Merlot 85%, Syrah 11%, Cabernet Sauvignon 4%. Aged 14 months in oak (33% new). 13.5% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2010 $12
 (Good) An aromatically restrained wine with coffee, dried herbs, and cherry. The palate brings a surprising amount of fruit intensity matched by grainy tannins while still retaining a silky texture. 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Merlot. Aged in oak 16 months (33% new). 13.0% alcohol. Sample provided by winery. Recommended.

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Syrah Columbia Valley 2009 $12
 (Good) A moderately aromatic wine with fresh tar, blueberries, light game, and chocolate. The palate is silky and soft with light chocolate flavors. 81% Syrah, 11% Merlot, and 8% Grenache. Aged 14 months in French (60%) and American oak. 13.5% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Amitage Red Blend Columbia Valley 2009 $12
 (Excellent) An immediately appealing wine with roasted coffee bean, pencil lead, and a light gaminess along with loads of luscious chocolate and berry flavors that linger on an exquisitely balanced finish. 63% Merlot, 33% Syrah, and 4% Cabernet Franc. Aged 16 months in French and American oak (25% new). 13.5% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

Rating System

Please note, my rating system was revised at the beginning of 2012 as follows. Read additional details here.

 (Not recommended/Flawed)

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