Columbia Crest New H3 Label

H3 - Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine was a big surprise for me. My wife is continually buying wine I would never think of bringing home. I so enjoyed the wine, I left some for the next day. My notes are from day two.

Tasting notes: What an interesting nose - spicy vegetal which leans towards baked bell pepper, cigar box, leather, empty pepper mill. Medium bodied wine, good fruit, pencil shavings, flower petals, hint of bubble gum, good mouth feel. I like it. Has a pleasant finish, not huge, not too dry. This is a buy me drink me wine, perfect for a grilled steak and prawns. This wine is locally priced in the $15 range (less if on sale). I’ve included some winemaker notes below..


Winemaker notes:

The H3 label is named for the American Viticultural Area in which Columbia Crest is located (Horse Heaven Hills AVA) and where it planted its estate vineyards more than two decades ago. All the grapes will come from those vineyards. Distribution of these new wines will be somewhat limited initially, though they will be broadly available in the Pacific Northwest, as well as Utah, Montana, Wyoming and New Jersey. They'll be in restaurants in Arizona and Atlanta, Ga.

“This intense, fruit-forward Cabernet Sauvignon delivers aromas of cherry blossom, and rose petals, with a perfect balance of earth, mineral, deep berry flavors, and a soft, smooth cocoa finish.” -Ray Einberger, Winemaker

Growing Season

August 15 marked the beginning of the earliest harvest on record.

Warm summer months contributed to the uniformity of berry maturation.

A temperature drop in late summer cooled the vineyards and allowed the grapes extra hang time to enhance flavor and aromatic development.

The warmer areas of the Horse Heaven Hills saw early ripening with mature fruit and intense flavors with slight dust and earthy undertones. The cooler locations saw later ripening with bright fruit, slight mineral and herbal qualities.


The Horse Heaven Hills vineyards are seated east of the Cascade Mountain range. Up to 14,000 feet high, the mountains effectively block eastward-moving wet weather systems from the Pacific Ocean.

The terrain consists of south-facing slopes that provide excellent sun exposure for grape ripening, and good air drainage which protects the vineyards during the winter months.

Well-drained, sandy soils have low fertility and low water-holding capacity, allowing precise control of vine growth patterns.

Strong wind patterns, which are unique to the Horse Heaven Hills, reduce canopy size and density, create better sun exposure, and contribute to even ripening by moderating temperature extremes.


Grapes were crushed at 20% whole-berry to retain fruit quality.

Fermentation lasted 7-14 days on the skins to extract optimum fruit and structural components.

Various yeasts were used to maintain fruit flavors and complexity.

Malolactic fermentation occurred in stainless steel tanks and oak barrels.

Blending occurred shortly after malolactic fermentation.

The wine was barrel aged in 40% new American and French oak, and 60% older oak for 14-18 months.

Technical Data

Total acidity: 0.58 g/100ml

pH: 3.75

Alcohol: 14.3%

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