*1987 Snoqualmie Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley ($13.45). A spicy, leathery style of cabernet that won't appeal to everyone. I loved its melange of blackberry and bacon flavors. Quite enjoyable now, it has enough tannin to sustain it for a decade.
*1987 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley ($13). A big, fruity wine with ripe, exuberant flavors of black cherry and black currant. This widely available wine is a blend of St. Julien and Napa valley styles. The 1986 version is a step behind.
*1985 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon, River Ridge Vineyard, Limited Bottling ($13.99). A fine subtle but sinewy cabernet with plenty of black cherry and spice. Needs at least five years to hit peak.
*1988 Cypress Merlot ($8). A bit of a sleeper, this chunky, rich, soft, thoroughly delightful wine is a second label of California's J. Lohr
winery. It's not for pondering over, but its exuberant flavors are quite winning. Drink up.
*1986 Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley ($9.49). One-dimensional, straightforward but lively and rich, with nice dollop of spicy oak.
*1989 Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc ($8). With its flinty feel and warm undertones of honey and spice, this dry wine reminded me of a fine Graves at a great price.
*1989 Chateau Ste. Michelle Gewurztraminer, Columbia Valley ($7.49). It's not Alsace but it's not bad. Smooth, stony and spicy, it also sports a slight hint of residual sugar.
*1990 Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling, River Ridge Vineyard ($6.49). OK, so it's not Alsace either, but it's awfully good and it is about as close to Alsace as you can get in the country. Most Alsace houses do better, but this is a good effort.
*1989 Chateau Ste. Michelle Chenin Blanc ($6.49). Crisp, spicy and off-dry, this is an excellent poolside quaff for this summer. Don't try to keep it any longer.
For the most part, I could not recommend strongly any of the chardonnays, which ranged in quality from appalling to ordinary and overpriced.
One wine that has received strong favorable reviews and merchant recommendations is Chateau Ste. Michelle's 1983 Cold Creek Vineyard cabernet bottling. I couldn't tell why from my tasting. It seemed stewed, vegetal and thoroughly unpleasant. Perhaps it was a bad bottle, but it did not seem to have a cork infection. I'd like to taste another bottle, but for now I'd have to counsel consumers to steer clear of this $24 turkey.