Founded more than 25 years ago, today Columbia Crest is one of Washington State’s premier wine producers. Since the release of its first white varietal wines in 1987 and its first release of red varietal wines in 1988, this Washington State winery has become recognized as the epitome of consistency in the global value wine category. In the 90’s, Impact magazine named Columbia Crest as one of the “Top Five U.S. Wineries”. It has also garnered tons of top honors and accolades from other large circulated wine publications like The Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator as being one of the “Best Value Wineries” in the world. Year after year, Columbia Crest has shown amazing consistency at producing exceptional wines at a price point that most consumers can swallow.
The Columbia Crest “Grand Estates” Chardonnay is, in this case, one of the winery’s stewards of excellence. In 1997, Wine Spectator magazine ranked the 1995 Estates Series Chardonnay #59 on its “Top 100” list. In 1999, Columbia Crest pleased the judges again at Wine Spectator to earn a spot at #40 on its “Top 100” list with its 1997 Estates Series Chardonnay. The list of medals and achievements has been endless for both the Chardonnay as well as the Columbia Crest Winery. In my personal opinion, Columbia Crest is one of the most reliable winery names that shoppers should be looking for when considering to purchase either a red or white wine.
However, with that being said, I will caution you: There’s a lot to choose from if you decide that you want to try a wine from Columbia Crest for the first time. You’ve got their first tier, which is called “Two Vines” – this is their least expensive stuff. Then you’ve got their second tier of juice, called “Grand Estates”, which is the equivalent of saying “$10 bucks of intensity and gusto.” The next rung will put you into their VIP section with the Horse Heaven Hills (“H3″) wines that first debuted in 2008. Finally, their top of the line wine is the high octane brain bender “Reserve” – which is liquid gold. This is definitely one of those situations where you get exactly what you pay for here. The “Two Vines” is pretty decent for the price, while the Reserve line-up will rock your world so long as you’re willing to ante up anywhere from $25-40 bills to feel the beat of your brain.
I thought for this tasting experience that I ought to hit the sweet spot of most wine buyers – $10 buckaroos. I’ve had the Columbia Crest “Grand Estates” line-up of wines more times than counting sheep in my sleep over my wine drinking years, and that includes this very “decorated” Chardonnay for which my beloved sister-in-law and I would drink by the gallons way back in our early days. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m usually a huge fan of the consumer-friendly “Grand Estates” line-up, however I’ve become particularly sensitive to one very apparent attribute about the “Grand Estates” Chardonnay – it appears to be stuck in its glory days of the ‘90s and early years of 2000 when most of the Chardonnay drinking world liked gnawing on big chunks of oak. Back then, it was the cool and palatable thing to do. Fast forward to the present, I can honestly say that not much has changed over the years with this brawny-style American Chardonnay. All in all, the 2007 Columbia Crest “Grand Estates” Chardonnay just seemed very “dated” to my taste buds. Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok, but solid wood just doesn’t cut it for me anymore. I would personally welcome a design change towards a leaner and crisper modern style.
I award the 2007 Columbia Crest “Grand Estates” Chardonnay 2 Stars out of 4. It tasted “out of style” to me with it’s over the top oaky flavors. However, I’m sure that there are still a lot of “woodchucks” out there that would whole-heartedly disagree with me and ask that this recipe be left alone.