One of the state’s most consistent producers of value priced Washington reds each year is Cougar Crest. Founded by two Washington State University grads, Cougar Crest crafts some excellent reds but also makes one of the state’s best Viognier. If you like the rich and tropical fruit style of Viognier, this one is for you. Cougar Crest utilizes their Estate fruit from the Walla Walla Valley and has achieved some impressive scores from Wine Spectator in the past, including one of the highest ratings for any Washington Cabernet Franc (2007 & 2009 vintages achieving scores of 93). Established in 2001 by David and Debbie Hansen, the Hansens planted vines in 1997 and decided to leave their careers as Veterinarian and Pharmacist to form a winery. After taking classes in winemaking from UC Davis, Deborah Hansen became the head winemaker, while her husband took over the winery operations side.
The 2009 Cougar Crest Anniversary Cuvee is taken from a fantastic vintage. Harvey Steinman from Wine Spectator rated this wine a 93 and I rated this one a 92. The wine made from Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot, captures the art of blending, as you can taste the components of the wine playing together nicely. This is a great wine to pick up for a special education. Many of the Cougar Crest wines can be found at Northwest wine shops, but some of their wines can be found at Costco as well. Look for them at grocery stores like QFC and Metropolitan Market, as well as Esquin and Pete’s Wine Shop.
2013 Cougar Crest Grenache Rose- Nose has smoke and orange peel with cranberry. Palate has cranberry, orange peel, and minerals. Finishes clean. -89
2012 Cougar Crest Viognier- honeysuckle and pear with nutmeg on the nose. Palate has velvety texture with Japanese pear, vanilla, and brioche. Delicious. -91
2009 Cougar Crest Late Harvest Viognier- Peach and vanilla on the nose. Palate has vibrant acidity with rich peach and golden delicious and pear flavors.- 92
2012 Cougar Crest Merlot Rose- Slightly acerbic nose with red fruits and burnt rubber. Smooth palate with vanilla and cherry. -88
2009 Cougar Crest Mistral- 86% Grenache and 14% Syrah. Red cherry and raspberry. Light and balanced. Smooth and well made with cranberry, raspberry and herbs. Delicious now, 2014 on. -91
2008 Cougar Crest Merlot- rich nose with black olive, black cherry and espresso. Palate is plush and has great minerality. Red cherry, black olive, and vanilla. Nice viscosity. Drink 2014 on. -92
2009 Cougar Crest Merlot- Red cherry and red bell pepper on the nose. Palate has red cherry, dried herbs, and raspberry. Ripe and delicious. Drink 2014 on. -91
2008 Cougar Crest Syrillo- This is a blend of Tempranillo and Syrah. Earthy and herbaceous nose. Balanced with good acidity there is a citrus component to this wine. Great wine for food. Red cherry, raspberry and mushroom. Drink 2014 on. -90