The story: It recently came to my attention that I rarely give a wine a score higher than 3.5. The question implied that it was a bit confusing to hear a good review and have me highly enjoy or even recommend the wine and then give it a score of 3 or 3.5. I pondered the comment for awhile and while it is true I think it can be explained. I only write a full review on wines that I have opened and evaluated at home in a rather controlled setting. Many other wines I taste/drink are at restaurants or tastings and I generally do not evaluate these wines to the same level simply because it may not be fair, or because I just want to drink and enjoy when out with friends. The wines I drink at home are often samples, or more everyday wines that I have picked up around town. Because of this it may be partly that they are of a lower price point and therefore probably correlate to a slightly lower quality. However my version of rating indicates that a 3 out of 4 is equivalent to 86-88 in 100 point scales, and a 3.5 is 89-91 making it an outstanding wine.
However, to appease the masses I have finally drunk a wine at home that I would consider higher than a 3.5.
The wine: The 2004 Walter Clore Private Reserve is a Columbia Crest wine blending cabernet sauvignon and merlot, and created to honor Dr. Walter Clore the founder of the Washington wine industry. The wine has aged very well pouring a dark purple, almost black at its core, with a ruby edge. The stunning nose is of dark blackberries, hints of cedar and tar, with waves of black tea and currant. It is a full-bodied wine offering blackberry liquer then giving way to a creamy, coffee middle and a long finish filled with spicy licorice and sweet fruit. This wine is in a good place, the obvious wood influence has integrated well. That said, it could go for a couple more years without question.
The verdict: The wine is big and delicious. Poured on Christmas Eve with pepper encrusted beef tenderloin and gratin daphinoise it was big enough to have it's own place in the meal but balanced enough, and containing enough acidity, to really shine with the food. Really a great effort, highlighting why the Columbia Crest Reserve wines get a lot of attention for their quality to price ratio, this wine is a downright bargain at $25. And for the first time in quite a while, this wine gets a score of 4/5.