I recently had the chance to visit one of the great tasting rooms in Walla Walla, Cougar Crest. Whether you are a Husky or a Coug, this is one not to miss. Cougar Crest pours a hugely varied range of wines at their tasting room, so you are able to sample everything from a Rhone blend to Viognier to their Late Harvest Dessert wine. Having tasted at Cougar Crest for over 10 years, the new lineup of wines is as good as any I have sampled. The quality is there across the board for these releases.
Cougar Crest was founded by two Washington State University Grads. Founded in 2001 by David and Debbie Hansen, they first planted vines in 1997 and decided to leave their careers as Veterinarian and Pharmacist to form a winery. After taking classes in enology from UC Davis, Deborah Hansen became the head winemaker, while her husband took over the winery operations side. Deborah’s new releases excelled. Cougar Crest tends to hold back their wines more than most wineries, so you are able to sample red wines from the 2009 and 2010 vintages – and they are showing beautifully right now and drinking at their peak. This makes for a wonderful tasting experience, as some wineries pour their red wines that aren’t ready to drink quite yet. The 2014 Cougar Crest Viognier (WWB, 91) is as good as any Viognier that Deborah has made over the past 10 years, and exudes rich fruit flavors. The 2009 Cougar Crest Cabernet Franc (WWB, 92) is also up there with the best expressions in the state, relying on its feminine and herbaceous side. For those with a sweet tooth, check out the 2009 Late Harvest Viognier (WWB, 92) which is a steal for only $20.00 and has nice richness and intensity.
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. These wines offer really good value and are made to drink right away, especially their 2009 and 2010 releases. Look for them at grocery stores like QFC and Metropolitan Market, as well as Pete’s Wine Shop. Here are the new release wines from Cougar Crest. Learn more about Cougar Crest at cougarcrest.com
2014 Cougar Crest Viognier- Viognier is one of their best bottling each year and this vintage is no exception. This lovely expression begins with bright aromas of beeswax, lychee and ripe pear. This leads to flavors of Gala apple, starfruit and roasted peaches. Absolutely delicious wine. Drink 2016-2022- 91
2014 Cougar Crest Grenache Rose- This wine has lighter aromas of rose petals, guava and strawberry. There are delicate flavors of pink bubblegum, ripe strawberry and guava puree. Lovely stuff that is perfect for a hot summer day. Drink 2016-2021- 89
2012 Cougar Crest Dedication Nine Red Wine- This wine begins with aromas of scorched earth, blackberry and roasted figs. This leads to flavors of red cherry, red raspberry, coffee grounds and cloves with nice weight and intensity. I could see this cellaring rather well. Drink 2016-2025- 90
2009 Cougar Crest Cabernet Franc- This Cab Franc brings aromas of red bell pepper, red cherry and red raspberry with hints of lavender. This leads to flavors of red cherry red raspberry and guava. Absolutely outstanding wine that is drinking in its prime. Drink 2016-2022- 92
2010 Cougar Crest Anniversary Cuvée Red Wine- This wine opens with aromas of red cherry, red raspberry and blackberry jam with clove accents. This leads to flavors of red cherry, smoked pork shoulder, wild blackberry alongside bright minerality. There is a really nice range of flavors and aromatics in this colder vintage blend. Drink 2016-2024- 91
2010 Cougar Crest Cabernet- This wine begins with aromas of red bell pepper, anise, blackberry and cassis. This leads to flavors of blackberry cobbler, black cherry and mocha. Lovely richness and intensity to this wine that is drinking beautifully right now. Drink 2016-2023- 91
2010 Cougar Crest Tempranillo- The wine begins with aromas of black pepper, smoked meats and blackberry. This leads to flavors of red cherry, red raspberry, sagebrush alongside dusty tannins. Nice expression of this varietal, which is done in the fruity, Washington style. Drink 2016-2022- 90
2012 Cougar Crest Malbec- This wine begins with aromas of green bell pepper, blackberry and mocha. This leads to flavors of blackberry, anise, and coffee grounds. Would like a little more weight, given the vintage. Drink 2016-2021- 89
2009 Cougar Crest Minstrel- This is a blend of 86% Grenache and 14% Syrah. The wine begins with bright aromas of prune, red cherry and red raspberry. The wine has flavors of red cherry, red raspberry, guava puree and crimini mushroom. Lively wine that is drinking beautifully right now. Drink 2016-2021- 91
2009 Cougar Crest Late Harvest Viognier- This dense dessert wine begins with aromas of buttercream, roasted almonds, poached pear and pineapple. This leads to flavors of apricot, lychee, pineapple and creme brûlée. Lovely range of flavors and intense aromatics to this impressive bottling that is impossible to resist right now. Drink 2016-2022- 92
#cougarcrest #wawine #wallawalla #washington #viognier #washingtonwineblog