The Cabernet Sauvignon in Washington comes from the east side of the Cascade Mountains, away from that ever-present rain cloud that sits along the coast. The grape seems to do well here with the sandy loam soils that give way to an almost desert-like land. The rivers that run through the area have been utilized to make irrigation systems. The annual rainfall is 6-10 inches so without these irrigations systems there would be no vineyards.
You will often enjoy a Cabernet Sauvignon that is brighter and higher in acidity than of its counterparts down in California. One reason for this is the 40 degree diurnal shift. Such a large difference in temperature throughout a day lends itself to great grape growing. Like Colorado they boast 300 days of sunshine per year. Because Washington is further north than California they receive about 2 more hours per day of sunlight during the growing season. The soil, mostly sandy and stone-studded on top of a basalt based foundation from the Missoula Floods during the Ice Age 20,000 years ago imparts unique mineral characteristics to the grapes.
The Cabernet Sauvignon of the area often exhibits a lush texture with concentrated berry flavors of blackberries, boysenberries, cherries and raspberries. The oak regiment is a lighter more nuanced style than many of the heavily oaked California Cabernet Sauvignons. The 2015 Charles & Charles is a wonderful Cabernet blend (30% Syrah) that shows the above characteristics along with earthy and savory notes of tobacco and herbs and a hint of vanilla. It is vibrant with balanced tannins and a very pleasing and noticeable acidity. An amazing buy at $12.99.
Columbia Valley’s Chateau Ste Michelle is celebrating its 50th year and has a commemorative bottle of its 2015 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine shows a little more of the riper red fruits that one would expect from the warmest vintage on record in Washington. However, there is still a noticeable level of acidity that make you want to enjoy a glass with a grilled ribeye. Well worth the $17.99 price.
If you enjoy Cabernet Sauvignon I highly recommend you give one from Washington a try. They are a great value with many extremely good options for less than $30.00. You will be glad you tried them.