Summer is hitting heavy, temperatures in the high 90’s Fahrenheit; people stripping down and moving slow. Heat lightning. Sirens. Good grilling weather. To that end, I’m reviewing another personal favorite for cheap domestic Cabernet Sauvignon: the 2008 Pitch Cabernet, from the Columbia Valley in Washington state. Now, for those of you not yet in the know on this one, Washington is what is in American Cabernet. Seriously. California has some good stuff, whatever, but only a few appellations (Alexander Valley, Mt. Veeder, etc.) come even close to the stuff you get out of WA.
Lots of good reasons exist for the superiority of Washington Cabernet. Climate is a big one. The Walla Walla Valley enjoys a fairly cool climate, lying as it does between the 46th and 47th parallel, near the same northerly latitude as Bordeaux and Burgundy in France. Additional daylight hours mean longer growing seasons, which provide greater time for ripening and thus maturity at harvest. The region’s glacially tilled volcanic soil provides a terroir that has gained deserved fame throughout the country; it drains well, and is poor enough in nutrients that the vines must struggle – one of the keys to growing great wine grapes. The Columbia Valley AVA is divided into numerous microclimates due to the high percentage of rivers and its hilly nature (the Cascade Mountains comprise one border, and Reininger Winery’s owner, Chuck Reininger, is a world-class mountaineer). Among these, Walla Walla produces some of the finest Washington State wines.
Which brings me to this post’s wine: the 2008 Pitch Cabernet Sauvignon. An inky purple in the glass, Pitch presents aromas of rich jammy blackberry and cassis, with hints of cocoa, cola, toasty oak, and an herbal garrigue that I just love in my wine. Medium-bodied in the mouth, displaying a velvety structure but with a tannic bite that makes it passable as a pairing for red meat. Nice smooth finish. Would pair well with grilled burgers or steak tips; a great BBQ wine for sure. $12 a bottle.