A Perfect Wine Pair from the Pacific Northwest – Both Under $10 at Costco!

Fast facts:

  • 2018 King Estate Pinot Gris,  Willamette Valley, Oregon $9.99*(@Costco, California, Item# 232249)
  • 2016 Columbia Crest H3 Red Blend, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington  $6.99*(@Costco, California, Item# 661918)

*net prices after $5 (King Estate) and $2 (Columbia Crest) discounts at register.

Happy Thirsty Thursday!

For all the many negatives about 2020 and the Covid Era, one thing is becoming abundantly clear to me: it is an incredible year to be a wine consumer.

With the massive constriction in consumption at “on-premise” locations (think bars, restaurants, events like concerts, theater and sports) there is an ocean of great wines looking for a market.  And the 2020 vintage has begun to be harvested, adding to the abundance.

While we feel for the producers and distributors (well, maybe not as much for the distributors) we champions of high QPR wines here at Vinopointer can’t help but raise a glass and cheer our good fortune.

These two wines from Costco bolster my case. First up:

Front label of King Estate 2018 Pinot Gris wine from Costco
Soft and gently perfumed with more substance than most whites, Pinot Gris is a good choice for Chardonnay lovers looking for something a little different.

 

Sure, Pinot Gris is genetically the same grape as those lighter Pinot Grigios that you know and love, or not, depending upon your orientation. But if you’re thinking this wine is going to taste like an Italian Pinot Grigio, you’re mistaken.  It actually has the kind of weight that one would associate with a Chardonnay.  To me, it could easily be mistaken for an unoaked “Chard” and maybe that’s because this wine was “aged” entirely in stainless steel tanks. In other words, no oaks were harmed in the making of this wine.

Tasting Notes:

From the winemaker: “2018 King Estate Pinot Gris is a gorgeous example from a stellar Oregon vintage. This has a glistening pale straw color with aromas of fresh Bartlett pear, ripe white peach, wildflowers and crushed gravel. There are immediate fruit flavors that dance on the pallet like peach, Key lime, nectarine and ripe pear. These fruit flavors are balanced by fresh acidity and fleshy viscosity. There is a lingering elegant finish that begs to be paired with soft cheeses and charcuterie.”

The Willamette Valley is a 150-mile long valley in Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. The Willamette River flows the entire length of the valley, and it is surrounded by mountains on three sides – the Cascade Range to the east, the Oregon Coast Range to the west, and the Calapooya Mountains to the south. Today the valley is often considered synonymous with “Oregon Wine Country”, as it contains more than 19,000 acres of vineyards and over 500 wineries.

 

You’d have to travel bit farther north, to Washington state, to find our other featured wine:

 

Front label of Columbia Crest Les Cheveaux (the horses) 2016 red blend wine from Costco
A super tasteful front label leads to a super tasty red wine blend.

 

Tasting Notes:

The esteeemd Wine Advocate awarded this wine 88 points commenting: “Les Chevaux exhibits aromas of sweet berry fruit and toasty new oak. On the palate, it’s juicy, medium-bodied and flavorful..” Our own tasting notes found it exhibiting aromas of blackberry, boysenberry and blueberry.  It has flavors of black cherry and a hint of cinnamon, and finishes dry with notes of cocoa.

Les Chevaux is a blend that showcases Merlot, with Syrah and Malbec and other minor red varietals in supporting roles. This wine would complement foods with complex flavors to match the complexity of red blends.  Pepper steak , well seasoned beef or lamb, rich stews and strong cheeses would be great pairings. That is, once the weather cools.

Horse Heaven Hills is a relatively new American Viticultural Area, as the sign below attests. But those who love red wines will be rewarded by learning more about the region, which is the source of five 100-point wines produced in Washington. 

The Horse Heaven Hills AVA is located in south-central Washington — its southern border running 50 miles wide along the Columbia River. From the Columbia River, the AVA runs 20 miles north to the southern border of the Yakima Valley AVA.

Entry sign for Horse Heaven Hills AVA in Washington State
Les Chevaux welcome you to H3

 

Horse Heaven Hills (hence H3) is comprised of 570,000 acres, of which 15,532 are planted in wine grapes, representing 27% of Washington’s total grape production. Two-thirds of the acreage is planted to red wine grapes and one-third to white wine grapes. For reds, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot dominate. Whites are almost evenly split between Chardonnay and Riesling.

The area is among Washington’s warmer growing regions, allowing a wide variety of grapes to ripen successfully. Many vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills are planted on south-facing slopes, providing for extended sun exposure.

Like many of eastern Washington’s growing regions, Horse Heaven Hills enjoys an arid and semi-arid continental climate, receiving an average of between 6 and 9 inches of precipitation annually.  Irrigation is therefore required to grow vinifera grapes.

The Horse Heaven Hills had its first vinifera plantings in 1972 at what is now Champoux Vineyards, and vineyard designated bottles — particularly cabernet sauvignon — from this site are some of Washington’s most coveted and most expensive wines. 

Costco is offering you a chance to get a taste of this Horse Heaven for the crazy price of $6.99.

If you’re headed to Costco soon yourself, you can find our most recent reviews of Costco wines here in our Lucky 13 list.

And if your  shopping finds you at Trader Joe’s, you can find our Lucky 13 list of TJ’s wine here.

Stay cool, and stay healthy friends,

Cheers!

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