Don't Tell Them It's From Washington

By Robert Parker

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My colleague, Pierre-Antoine Rovani, covers the wines of Washington State in detail. The Columbia Valley, on the drier, sunnier side of the Cascades, has been described as having great but largely unfulfilled potential. Still, many fine wines are produced there, and here are Pierre-Antoine's ratings and tasting notes on a few of the worthy ones -- including a 100-point cabernet sauvignon.

L'Ecole No. 41 2004 Semillon Fries Vineyard Wahluke Slope

90 points.

This wine bursts from the glass with scents of ripe pears, smoke, and tangerines. With aeration (those who decant this beauty will be recompensed), it offers a medium-bodied core of satiny melon, pear, red currant, and tangerine zest flavors. Drink it over the next three to four years. $20

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2004 Chardonnay Ethos

92 points.

Fashioned from three vineyards, this terrific chardonnay is bursting with spices. Medium- to full-bodied, it reveals spicy pears in the attack that build in intensity through the mid-palate and then return with a vengeance in its long, sappy finish. A highly concentrated white, it is satin-textured and wonderfully balanced. Drink it between 2007 and 2015. $30

Januik 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon

94 points.

Cassis and copious quantities of red fruits are found in the aromatic profile of this sublime cabernet sauvignon. A deep, broad, lush wine, it is an edgeless, harmonious, sultry, medium- to full-bodied delight. Loads of red cherry syrup, blackberry liqueur, cassis, and black cherry nectar flavors are found in its sensual personality. This decadent effort lustfully satisfies corporeal pleasures. To top it all off, its long, supple finish slathers the taste buds with additional waves of luxuriant fruit. At this price, it's a no-brainer! Projected maturity: now to 2016. $30

Columbia Crest 2002 Walter Clore Private Reserve Red

91 points.

Named for a pioneer of the state's wine industry, it has demure aromas of blackberries, sage, vanilla, and rosemary. A blend of 63% cabernet sauvignon and 37% merlot, it wows with its concentration and depth of fruit. Medium- to full-bodied, the wine coats the palate with a myriad of spices, dark berries, and tar. Its extensive, seamless finish reveals additional fruit as well as a slight hint of menthol. Drink it between 2008 and 2016. $35

Spring Valley Vineyard 2003 Frederick

94 points.

Bursting from the glass with candied dark fruits, the blend of 75% cabernet sauvignon, 19% merlot, 5% cabernet franc, and 1% petit verdot is a hugely thick, dense monster. Its immensely powerful core of fruit is crammed with licorice, tar, and blackberry liqueur. This mouth-staining, palate-conquering wine is as ripe as it is muscular, revealing loads of sweet, round tannin in its extensive finish. Projected maturity: 2010 to 2023. $40

Quilceda Creek 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon

100 points.

Dark-colored and powerful, this cabernet sauvignon displays mouth-watering aromatics of black chocolate, sage, and blackberry liqueur. The awe-inspiring core of cassis liqueur, violets, blueberry nectar, black cherry syrup, and chocolate is immensely muscular yet elegant. Texturally reminiscent of liquid velvet, it paints the palate with oodles of fruit, displaying unreal depth, balance, and length. Wow! Projected maturity: 2010 to 2024. $95

Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.

Visit for the Internet's most active wine bulletin board, tens of thousands of tasting notes, or to order his recent book, The World's Greatest Wine Estates: A Modern Perspective. You can also subscribe to Parker's newsletter, The Wine Advocate. Request a sample copy at: The Wine Advocate, P.O. Box 311, Monkton, MD 21111

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