In today’s Wine Wednesday post, we take a look at what a reserve wine label means, and dive into the latest Columbia Crest Reserve Wines.
Columbia Crest has become a well-known wine throughout the United States thanks to its wide distribution. You may think of Columbia Crest wines when picking up everyday wines to enjoy with dinner or to bring to parties as hostess gifts because they are enjoyable, reliable wines at affordable prices.
But did you know that Columbia Crest also has a line of Reserve Wines available?
Before I share more about the latest release of Columbia Crest Reserve Wines, I thought it would be good to look at what exactly classifies a wine as a reserve bottle.
What Makes a Reserve Wine Different?
If you’re a casual wine drinker, you may assume that when you see the word “reserve” on a wine label, that means it is a superior wine for one reason or another. In theory, your guess should be correct.
In some countries, such as Italy and Spain, reserve wines are regulated, and a reserve label usually means the wine has been aged and/or has been made from grapes in a vineyard or block that the vintner has designated as being special. Therefore, when you see the word “reserve” on an Italian or Spanish wine, you can usually count on that to be a higher grade wine than the winery’s standard selection of wines.
Here in the United States, however, there are no regulations currently for labeling a wine as a reserve wine – creating a bit of a Wild Wild West experience when it comes to figuring out reserve wines in the States.
Many wineries do adhere to high standards and only give wines that have been aged and/or are made with grapes from special vineyards or blocks the prestige of a reserve label.
Columbia Crest Reserve Wines
Columbia Crest Reserve Wines are made with grapes from its premier vineyard sites and made in their Petit Chai, which they call a “winery within a winery.” It’s like what a nano brewery is within a large brewery.
The premier sites are mainly located in the Horse Heaven Hills area of the Tri-Cities in eastern Washington. I’ve generally enjoyed most wines I’ve tried from Horse Heaven Hills, so I was excited to try these reserve wines.
2013 Reserve Grenache ($35)
My favorite of the most recent Columbia Crest Reserve Wines releases is the 2013 Reserve Grenache. I love a deep, rich red Grenache, and this one did not disappoint. A blend of 81% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 2% Mourvedre, 2% Viognier, this reserve wine opens up with a luscious aroma and flavors of cherry preserves and has a lovely silky smooth mouthfeel.
2012 Walter Cloris Red Wine ($35)
The 2012 Walter Cloris Red Wine is aged for 26 months and while I found it enjoyable and ready to drink now, I’m told it can also be stored and enjoyed up to 15 years from now. Named after the founder of viticulture in eastern Washington, this mostly-Merlot blend (80% Merlot, 8% Cabernet, 6% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec) is an elegant, yet bold wine. It received 91 points by both Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast. I’d enjoy this one with my Red Wine Braised Slow Cooker Short Ribs or Hearty Turkey Chili with Farro and Stout.
2014 Unoaked Chardonnay ($24)
I’m a huge fan of unoaked Chardonnay – I will almost always chose stainless steel because I’m not at all a fan of oaky Chardonnays – so it’s no surprise that I enjoyed this one. It has a smooth texture and lovely flavor of apples and touch of apricot.
2014 Chenin Blanc ($26)
This lively 2014 Reserve Chenin Blanc is made from some of the oldest vines in Columbia Crest’s estate vineyard. It’s off-dry, has a nice acidity to it, and is full of summery peach flavors.
You can find these and other Columbia Crest Reserve Wines at find food stores, markets, and wine shops throughout the United States. Use the Columbia Crest Winery store locator to find the retailer nearest you!
How often do you buy reserve wines over standard wine selections?
Thanks to Columbia Crest Winery for sending me media samples of their reserve wines to try. As always, all opinions and photos are my own.