- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Hogue Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, 2004, $12

Cabernet sauvignon thrives in Washington state’s Columbia River Valley, where the combination of warm summer days and cool nights gives the wines rich fruit and a firm structure.

Good examples avoid the excesses that too often mar this varietal these days. They taste balanced rather than blowzy.

Cabernet is an agreeable grape. So long as it gets enough warmth and sunshine, it can yield good wine. That adaptability explains why it has been planted throughout the wine-growing world and why fine wines come today from so many different regions in many different counties.

Too much heat, though, can lead to over-ripe grapes and over-extracted wines. Sadly, many cabernets on the market today fall into this camp. Their flavors resemble stewed rather than fresh fruit.

Happily, there’s nothing stewed or jammy about this fairly priced cabernet from Hogue Cellars. Its flavors are fresh and vibrant, its tannins firm, and its acidity lively.

Full-bodied but not heavy, it will pair well with all sorts of meat and hearty pasta dishes, and offers excellent value.

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