Forget Bravo TV’s new show “Shahs of Sunset” – the only ‘Shah’ we northwesterners need know about is the “Shah of Columbia Valley.” Part of the Woodhouse Wine Estates collection of wines out of Columbia Valley and the Rattlesnake Hills, Hudson Shah Cabernet is a beautiful, muscular wine for its lean price ($10.99).
I was looking for a budget-friendly wine on Saturday and ran into one of the winemakers from the Woodhouse Wine Estates. He was in Montana demoing a Kennedy Shah red and this solid 2009 Hudson Shah Cab. There was one bottle left, so I grabbed it. Shame I hadn’t gotten there sooner. I just had a feeling about this wine (Perchance, is that called “winevoyance?”) and knew I’d want another bottle – mostly because there aren’t too many bad Cabs that come out of Columbia Valley.
I’ve become so spoiled these days in terms of wine and wine tasting – constantly upping the ante on my palate – that it’s very rare to find a wine at that low a price point that could satisfy me anymore. But because I’ll always be a bargain hunter at heart (as much out of necessity) I go giddy when I do find something great at a low price.
This Hudson Shah 2009 is a very good Cab for the price. Muscular, tannin-rich, and cherry fruity, but with coffee and spice notes to balance.
A slight “Bordeaux blend” with 80% Cabernet Sauvignon 12% Malbec 8% Petit Verdot, it drinks beautifully, and is made in the Old World style – a distinction that is difficult to achieve at this price point.
Wine Press Northwest’s 2009 Harvest Report says the growing year was volatile, but ended up working out for winemakers who got the heat they needed by mid-summer, and harvested just a few days ahead of a fall cold snap. Incidentally, looking at regional or area-specific wine grape harvest reports is a birds-eye view into how good a particular vintage will be, and how novices can make good investments.
Now, does the Hudson Shah Cab lack a bit of substance you might find in one of its neighboring competitors, such as Abeja? Definitely. If that was not the case, it would also be in the mid-$30 range. However, in all honesty for $28 less, it has many of the same interesting palate elements, and is an incredibly drinkable wine anyone could afford to buy. At about $120 by the case, it might also enable you to put a little age on a few of those bottles to make it even more drinkable. But it must be said that in the three years it already has on it, it’s a better-than-great everyday wine that drinks more like an $18 to $20 bottle.
Remember, Washington reds are still very affordable by comparison to Cabs and Bordeaux blends found in California’s long-established Napa Valley. The trade-off is that they are admittedly more youthful – both in their oenological evolution and in ‘vine terroir’. However, this region’s wines are gaining ground fast. For the average person – and even some diehard connoisseurs – they have a lot of substance and drink beautifully at a much more attractive price, and a $38 wine from the Columbia Valley drinks a lot like a $75 red from Napa.