The 2011 Columbia Crest Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from grapes grown in multiple vineyards in the Columbia Valley of Washington State. Two Vines is the entry level label for Columbia Crest, who is owned by Chateau Ste. Michelle, together they are the largest wine producer, by far, in the state. In the past, the Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon has included small percentages of Merlot and/or Syrah, depending on the vintage. The wine is fermented in stainless steel vats and aged in used oak barrels for up to 10 months. The alcohol content is 13.5%. This Cabernet lists for $8 and can often be found for a buck or two less.
The color is a dark, but still see thru plum red. The nose is strawberry, raspberry, a whiff of smoke, fudge brownies, and spearmint gum. This does not taste like an $8 Cabernet Sauvignon, there is a touch of complexity on the palate, with a nice slap from the tannins on the mid palate. It tastes of black cherry, sweet blueberry, Nestle Quik powder, smooth vanilla and tart cranberry. The mid palate brings a slight grab in the back of your mouth from the tannins, this is an eight buck wine that is not flabby, it has some quality structure and a mix of curry spice and juicy plum. The plum and spice finish lingers for a very respectable length of time.
The 2011 Columbia Crest Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon sets the bar for what an everyday, affordable, sub ten buck Cabernet Sauvignon should be. Rich fruit flavors, a touch of complexity and enough structure to have you asking how do they do it, year in and year out, at this low price point. The last few vintages in California have produced good grapes, but low yields. The price of excess grapes is up, which means it is very difficult for the California producers of inexpensive wines to find good grapes at the right price. Columbia Valley has had good vintages and good yields, quality grapes are plentiful. If you are looking for inexpensive American wines that drink better than their price tags, look to Columbia Valley and Washington State.