Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Columbia Crest Shiraz – Grand Estates 2006 and Two Vines 2005 – Washington

We’ve generally believed that many high-volume production wines vary little from year to year. We’ve been buying these two Columbia Crest Syrahs for several years, but when we opened these last two bottles they tasted a bit “different” from what our taste buds remembered. So we judged them again, and only later went back to see our postings about the 2003 Grand Estates and the 2003 Two Vines (the only vintages we’ve published online).

The 2005 Two Vines wine was tight and earthy. We didn’t finish it the first night, and it definitely softened and “improved” the following evening. On that second evening, we opened the 2006 Grand Estates wine (about $3-4 more expensive). It was certainly more integrated, and this time Francesca liked the Grand Estates wine better – the last time we reviewed these, she preferred the Two Vines.

The significant difference from the older vintages is that these newer ones are more earthy and less fruity. That could be from the grapes and growing conditions from the different years, or it could also be an intentional stylistic change by the winemaker.

We’d certainly buy either of these Syrahs no matter what the vintage year on the label. These are still solid Washington state Syrahs, and they remain on our House wine list, despite the slight changes in these latest vintages. Change is not a bad thing – these wines are just as good, just different.