2012 Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon H3

Hello friends. I’ll admit: I did not envision a future where Full Pull would feature a wine from Columbia Crest. Not that the wines are bad; in fact they’re quite remarkable values. As a brand ambassador for Washington, it’s hard to imagine much better. It’s just that they’re readily available at most supermarkets, and I don’t think you need a service like Full Pull to buy grocery store wines.

However…

Two forces have combined to flip the script and have me hitting send on a Thursday offer for Crest. The first is that – as part of my Destination Wineries article for Seattle Magazine – I got to visit the outrageous production facility in Paterson, the scale of which is hard to fathom without seeing it live. Beyond the connection that any visit to a friendly winery cultivates, I’m even fonder of the folks at Crest, because they were extremely helpful when my car (which also happened to be carrying my wife and our at-the-time four-month-old baby) broke down in their parking lot.

Okay, so my stance was already softened by that episode. And then, when yesterday’s Wine Spectator Insider was released, I immediately starting getting inquiries about a high-scoring, low-priced wine, from none other than Columbia Crest:

Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”

This is the second time this year that we’ll play the “is this going to end up in Spectator’s year-end Top 100” game. The first was Mark Ryan’s 2012 Board Track Racer “The Chief,” which I pegged at 60/40 odds to make the list. Well, let me just say that I’m considerably more confident about this one. I’d put the odds at 95% that this ends up on the list.

The data just doesn’t lie. To wit, every 92pt wine from the northwest that has made Spectator’s Top 100 in the years covered by our analysis (2007-2013) is more expensive ($22-$48) *and* less available (1519-5800 cases, compared to a staggering 162,000 cases for the 2012 H3 Cab). Another comparable data point is Crest’s 2007 H3 Merlot, which landed on the 2010 Top 100 list. Its price was the same ($15), but its review was weaker (91pts) and its availability was much weaker (30,000 cases).

This is the kind of score/price/availability combo that doesn’t just earn a spot on the Top 100 list; it earns a high spot. Considering how recently Crest earned the #1 spot on the list (in 2009, for their 2005 Cabernet Reserve), I don’t think the top spot is in play. But this is yet another fine achievement from a winery that manages to coax impressive quality out of mind-bogglingly high production numbers. They’re pulling from a stellar vintage, and from arguably the best part of Washington for Cabernet (H3 stands for Horse Heaven Hills), and they’re knocking it out of the park. First come first served with no upper limit, and the wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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