Notes From The Cellar

Washington State Claret Scores

Steve Paulo

2003 Kiona Cabernet Sauvignon

Quite a while ago now, I won this bottle in a contest at Josh Wade’s Drink Nectar wine/coffee blog. Josh is a huge proponent of the burgeoning Washington State wine scene, and he raved pretty good about Kiona and their cabs, especially.

When the bottle arrived, I popped the cork, eager to see what it had to offer. That bottle, however, offered me little more than a bitter, vinegary sensation. It looked like the rigors of travel… and a loose cork (these things happen)… had done the wine no favors whatsoever. It was undrinkable.

I told Josh about the unfortunate result, he told the folks at Kiona, and they happily sent out another bottle. Good thing they did, because this is a wine I’m glad I got to try.

The Kiona Cabernet Sauvignon is a Washington State blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc, a very Left Bank Bordeaux-style combination (in the UK, red wines from Bordeaux are sometimes called “Claret,” hence my use of the word in the title. No, I’m not British).

The wine is a ruby red color at its core, and there is a slight orange-brown rusting to the edges. The nose shows off a bit of heat (though its modest 13.8% ABV keeps this from getting Lodi Zinfandel levels), but a plentiful bouquet of raspberry, blackcurrant, and white pepper.

The 2003 Kiona is a medium-bodied wine. The tannins start off a bit sharp, but smooth considerably with just a little time in the glass. There is some good structure, but this is a wine to be enjoyed, not to be cellared. The dominant notes on the palate are smooth black cherry, and toasted oak that comes off a bit smoky.

All in all, very enjoyable. And for $12-$20, a very good value.

Verdict: B+

2003 Kiona Cabernet Sauvignon

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