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Washington Wine Report is an independent publication focused on bringing Northwest wine to you and bringing you to Northwest wine. Our goal is:
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'14 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

For the past four years I’ve published an annual list of my favorite wines based on those I’ve sampled here from the year gone by. Below is a look back at some of my favorites from 2011 (see the 2010 list here, 2009 here, and 2008 here).

This list was compiled in the following manner.

A. To be considered, a review needed to be published on my blog in 2011. No barrel samples were considered (See the complete list of wines reviewed in my Tasting Note Database here).

B. I considered wines based on rating, my overall excitement about the wine, and price. In terms of rating, all wines below received either a double or single star in my pre-2012 rating system (see the revised rating system here). In terms of excitement, I focused on wines that stood out in the weeks and months after I sampled them.

C. Although there were many wines I sampled here last year, there were many (many) more that I did not. For this reason, there are, as always, a number of significant omissions. This is not meant as a reflection on the numerous wineries producing excellent wines that are not listed here. It is rather a reflection of what I was able to sample and review in the past year.

As with previous years, in the interests of inclusion, I included only one wine from each winery. Without further ado.

1. Cayuse Vineyards Syrah Cailloux Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2008 $80

Incredibly dark in color. Leaps up with floral notes, mineral notes, and bloody meat aromas. The palate is hugely perfumed, rich, and full with a tremendous mouthfeel. Full of umami flavors, mineral, crushed violets, and meat. A mixture of power and grace. 96% Syrah and 4% Viognier. 785 cases produced. Reviewed September 22, 2011

2. Rasa Vineyards Creative Impulse Red Wine DuBrul Vineyard 2008 $95

A compelling wine with earth, dark, dark cherry, chocolate, and herbal notes. On the palate a beautiful display of richness and power, structure and delicacy. An extremely long finish. Only continues to pick up steam after days of being open. 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot. Aged 30 months in French oak (60% new). 15.1% alcohol. 140 cases produced. Reviewed July 20, 2011

3. Gorman Winery The Alabtross Red Wine Red Mountain 2008 $80

Dark to the point of being opaque. A perfumed wine full of earth, soil, floral notes, and dark fruit. On the palate, a gigantically rich, intense wine that packs a huge wallop with focused fruit flavors and textured, ripe tannins. Though not for the faint of heart, this wine stands with the best in the state and is high on the list of the best wines I have had this year. 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Petit Verdot. Kiona Vineyard. Aged in 100% new French oak. 140 cases produced. Reviewed August 29, 2011

4.
Reynvaan Family Vineyards Stonessence Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2009 $70

An aromatic wine full of mineral, earth, smoke, black olive juice, iodine, and crushed rock. The palate is distinct from the other Reynvaan offerings, alternately more subdued but also showing greater movement across the palate with an outrageous minerality. Shimmers with intensity with a chalky feel. Lingers seemingly endlessly. As good a wine as the winery has made and pushing the upper limits of the rating scale. 100% Syrah. Reviewed September 22, 2011

5. Leonetti Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2008 $85

An aromatically compelling, complex wine with seductive aromatics of sage and other herbal notes, earth, high-toned black cherry, red fruit, roasted espresso bean, and whiffs of licorice. Rich and broad on the palate without being weighty with incredibly pure, focused, fruit flavors. The tannin integration is beyond exceptional. Hangs and hangs on the finish. A beautiful expression of Cabernet Sauvignon. Give two plus years. 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 4% Carmenère, 3% Malbec. Mill Creek Upland, Loess, and Seven Hills vineyard. Aged 22 months in new and neutral French oak. 14.6% alcohol. 2,980 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed September 21, 2011

6.
Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2008 $130

Dark in color. Rich aromas of blackberries, mocha, licorice, earth, and spice. An opulent, expansive wine that opens up and spreads out across the palate. Beautifully structured with the tannins to go the distance. Capped off by an extended finish. 98% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot. Champoux, Klipsun, and Taptiel vineyards. Aged 22 months in 100% new French oak. 15.2% alcohol. Sampled at 68 degrees. Reviewed March 23, 2011

7.
FIGGINS Estate Red Wine Walla Walla Valley 2008 $85

An almost endless list of aromas including scorched earth, red and black fruit, bittersweet chocolate, floral notes, and licorice. Wound up tightly initially, the palate is dense and rich with fruit and earth flavors while remaining incredibly elegant. A seemingly endless finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Merlot. Aged 22 months in French oak (70% new). 14.3% alcohol. Reviewed December 31, 2011

8.
Rotie Cellars Northern Blend Washington State 2009 $40

A meaty, gamey wine full of savory notes, floral notes, mineral, sliced black olives, and ash. On the palate, the wine is full of earth, meat, and savory flavors, lingering as long as one wants to count on the finish. 95% Syrah, 5% Viognier. 450 cases produced. Reviewed December 22, 2011

9.
Cadence Bel Canto Red Wine Red Mountain 2008 $55

Locked up tightly at present, this wine reveals floral notes, earth, mineral, dark fruit, and light chocolate. The palate is tightly coiled with dark fruit and firm tannins - a whopper while remaining graceful and beautifully structured. Simultaneously full throttle and far from over the top. Put this one in the cellar and forget about it for a few years to see it at its best. 67% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot. Reviewed December 31, 2011

10.
Maison Bleue Petite Joie Marsanne Boushey Vineyard 2010 $35

Intoxicating, compellingly complex aromas of honeydew melon, marzipan, crushed almonds, and spice. Hard to get past the nose and take the first sip. The palate is textured with incredible body and weight with lemony acidity and an exceptionally long finish. Nothing short of an accomplishment of a wine that is the best Marsanne I have had from Washington by a long stretch. 100% Marsanne. Whole cluster pressed and fermented and aged in French oak (30% new). Aged sur lie for 9 months. 100% malolactic fermentation. 13.9% alcohol. 143 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed August 3, 2011

11.
Gramercy Cellars Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2009 $45

An intensely aromatic wine with violets, smoked meat, light chocolate, and mineral notes. The palate is textured with layers of complexity crisply defined by acidity. An exclamation point of Walla Walla Valley Syrah. 100% Syrah. 95% Les Collines Vineyard, 5% Minick Vineyard. Aged 18 months in 500L and 225L neutral barrels. 13.9% alcohol. 605 cases produced. Reviewed September 22, 2011

12.
Betz Family Winery La Cote Rousse Syrah Red Mountain 2009 $55

Perhaps the most compelling of the stellar set of new releases, this 100% Syrah is full of floral notes, mineral notes, smoke, and dark fruit. The palate is taut and full while retaining an incredible freshness and vibrancy. A tart, fruit-filled finish. 51% Kiona Ranch at the End of the Road, 49% Ciel du Cheval vineyards. Aged 12 months in French oak (50% new). 14.8% alcohol. Reviewed September 13, 2011

13.
Kerloo Cellars Garnacha Cockburn Ranch Walla Walla Valley 2009 $38

Pale ruby and slightly cloudy. Very light, delicate aromas of pine resin, vanilla, spice, and red fruit. The palate is soft, light bodied, silky and seductive with red fruit accented by vanilla flavors. Tremendous hang time on the finish. An absolutely beautiful, delicate, unique wine and a rarely seen Walla Walla Valley Grenache. 100% Grenache. Cockburn Ranch, Block 20. Aged 17 months in neutral French oak. 12.1% alcohol. 22 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed December 27, 2011

14.
Waters Winery Syrah Forgotten Hills Walla Walla Valley 2009 $65

After declassifying all of the fruit from the 2008 vintage, Waters Forgotten Hills Syrah returns as a tour de force with the 2009 release. The wine leaps up from the glass with crushed violets, red fruit, smoke, braised meat, iron ore, and earthy funk. The palate is broad and textured, displaying tremendous depth and intensity along with the winery’s trademark bright acidity. Sails on and on at the finish. Quintessentially Waters; unmistakably Forgotten Hills. As good – perhaps better? – than the heralded 2007 vintage release and more than worth the wait. 100% Syrah. Aged in French oak (25% new). 14.4% alcohol. 514 cases produced. Reviewed December 20, 2011

15.
Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2008 $85

Dark in color. Aromas of cherries, raspberries, earth, espresso, licorice, woodspice, and a touch of herbal notes on an aromatically complex, compelling wine. Rich, ripe, and wound up tightly at present with a dense core of fruit, earth flavors, and soft, beautifully refined tannins. A thirty plus second finish. Give one to two years but will be worth the wait. 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, and 7% Petite Verdot. Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge, Figgins Estate, and LeFore vineyards. Aged 22 months in French oak (60% new). 14.4% alcohol. 900 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed June 29, 2011

16.
EFESTE Jolie Bouche Syrah Boushey Vineyard Yakima Valley 2009 $39

A crazily aromatic wine with abundant mineral notes, red fruit, meat, savory notes, iron, and floral notes. The palate is big and brawny while also bringing tremendous refinement. Silky tannins carry this wine off into the distance. Reviewed November 17, 2011

17.
Northstar Merlot Walla Walla Valley 2007 $50

Leaps from the glass with complex aromas of earth, black tea, black fruit, cranberry, raspberry, licorice, chocolate, spice, incense, and mocha. A thick, dense, muscular wine with rich fruit flavors and exceptionally well-integrated, silky tannins. Capped off by a hyper-extended finish. An exclamation point for the varietal that is bound to change a lot of minds about Merlot. 78% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Petit Verdot. Aged 18 months in French oak (56% new). 14.7% alcohol. 400 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed May 17, 2011

18.
Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon Heather Hill Walla Walla Valley 2008 $55

Very pretty, high toned herbal notes along with oak spice and dark cherries on a wine to linger over. The palate is concentrated and rich while remaining silky and light on its feet with beautifully integrated tannins and an incredibly persistent finish. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 23 months in French oak (80% new). 14.8% alcohol. Reviewed December 30, 2011

19.
Rulo Winery Syrah Columbia Valley 2007 $20

A moderately aromatic wine with pure aromas of blackberry, raspberries, Dimetapp, dark chocolate, mineral notes, and herbs. The palate is incredibly, incredibly dense with rich fruit flavors, almost to the point of being impenetrable. Coats the palate while still remaining light on its feet. Only gets better with more time to breath. Give 1-2 years or decant extensively. 14.5% alcohol. Reviewed March 18, 2011

20.
Sparkman Cellars Ruckus Syrah Red Mountain 2008 $32

Locked up tight at present with blackberries, blueberries, game, floral notes, and penetrating mineral aromas. On the palate, a big, rich, chewy wine with expansive fruit flavors, a dense core of tannins, and a seemingly endless finish. 87% Klipsun Syrah, 13% Klipsun Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 15 months in French oak (45% new). 14.9% alcohol. 223 cases produced. Sampled at 60 degrees (suggested 62). Reviewed February 15, 2011

21.
K Vintners The Beautiful Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2009 $60

An uber aromatic wine with abundant mineral, green olive, and ash notes. On the palate, a gorgeous, textured, richly flavorful wine with a long, drawn out finish. 95% Syrah co-fermented with 5% Viognier. 15.5% alcohol. 580 cases produced. Reviewed December 30, 2011

22.
Force Majeure Reserve Syrah Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Mountain 2007 $65

Light ruby colored. Bright raspberry aromas pair with crushed flowers and spice on an aromatically compelling wine. The palate is silky and weighted with intense, penetrating fruit flavors that persist for thirty-plus seconds on the finish. This is a wine you can just smell and be totally satisfied. Syrah co-fermented with 3% Viognier. Aged 39 months in 100% new French oak. 14.6% alcohol. 45 cases produced. Ben Smith winemaker. Reviewed September 2, 2011

23.
Adams Bench Red Willow Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley 2008 $60

Dark and alluring with dark, dried cherries, incense, and high toned herbal notes. Completely coats the palate from end to end with bold but beautifully balanced dark fruit flavors. Taught, grainy tannins squeeze the tongue before gently letting go. Carries into a long finish. A prototype of Washington Cabernet Sauvignon, once again showing Tim Blue among the state’s best. Give two-plus years or decant extensively. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot. 14.9% alcohol. 100 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed December 27, 2011

24.
21 Grams Red Wine Columbia Valley 2008 $125

Quite distinct from previous vintages, this wine reveals savory notes of soy and iodine along with licorice, green olive, and kisses of chocolate in a jumble of red and black fruit. The palate has plush, rich fruit flavors with ripe tannins and restrained oak accents. Lingers on and on. 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14 % Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot. Cold Creek, Seven Hills, Sagemoor, Portteus, Va Piano, and Phinney Hill. Aged in French oak (50% new). 14.6% alcohol. 100 cases produced. Reviewed December 20, 2011

25.
Cadaretta SBS Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Columbia Valley 2010 $23

A delicious, aromatic wine with gooseberry, mineral, and citrus notes. Palate has a full, rounded feel, full of white grapefruit favors with tart, mouthwatering, racy acidity. A very clean, extremely enjoyable wine. Oysters anyone? 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Semillon. Spring Creek, Frenchman Hills, and Rosebud vineyards. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 14.1% alcohol. 820 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed July 6, 2011

26.
Tranche Cellars Syrah Columbia Valley 2006 $35

An aromatically complex and appealing wine with wood spice, mineral, high toned blackberry, moist earth, baker’s chocolate, coffee, and dark floral notes. Dense and drawn out, coating the palate from end to end with rich fruit flavors accented by barrel notes and silky tannins. An extended finish. The wood plays a fairly dominant role in this show but it works for this wine. Drinking absolutely beautifully right now, this wine will continue to age gracefully for years to come. Aged 33 months in French oak (60% new). 15.2% alcohol. 274 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed December 20, 2011

27.
DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate Blanc Columbia Valley 2009 $34

Consistently one of the finest white wines made in the state – with a correspondingly high price point – the 2009 Chaleur Estate Blanc from DeLille Cellars is another standout full of herbal notes, citrus, crushed nuts, oak spices, and gooseberries. Lingers on the finish. 62% Sauvignon Blanc, 38% Semillon. Boushey, Sagemoor, and Klipsun vineyards. Reviewed November 21, 2011

28.
Corliss Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2006 $75

An aromatic powerhouse with mocha, herbal notes, black cherries, black licorice, and spice box. The palate is dense and perfumed with rich waves of mouth coating dark fruit flavors accented by barrel notes and a silky texture. The finish lingers long and effortlessly. An absolutely beautiful, multiple swallow wine - among my favorites from this winery - that is drinking beautifully right now but has a long, long drinking window in front of it. The barrel influence is not shy here but has the fruit to match it. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Stillwater, Bacchus, Dionysus, and Weinbau vineyards. Aged in French oak (80% new) for 33 months. 15.1% alcohol. 624 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed September 22, 2011

29.
Pamplin Family Winery JRG Red Wine Columbia Valley 2008 $30

Dark in color. A pleasingly aromatic wine marked by brioche, plum, black cherry, wood spice, and incense. Palate is medium bodied with tart, focused cherry fruit flavors that linger on a long finish. An impressively throttled back wine. 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 14% Malbec, 4% Petit Verdot. Seven Hills, Klipsun, Canoe Ridge and Wallula vineyards. Aged 20 months in French oak (46% new). 14.7% alcohol. 205 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed May 18, 2011

30.
Amavi Cellars Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2009 $29

Medium purple. An aromatic wine that leaps from the glass with violets, chocolate, earth, dark fruit, orange peel, cream, and mineral notes. The palate is lush and perfumed with blue and black fruits and savory notes with great complexity of flavors and depth. A wine that is simultaneously big and restrained with a creamy feel. Lingers on the finish with perfumed flavors. A rare find at this price point. 100% Syrah. Les Collines, Seven Hills, and Pepper Bridge vineyards. Aged in French oak (16% new). 14.1% alcohol. 1,396 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed December 20, 2011

31.
Januik Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2008 $30

A bit closed up and brooding at present but showing high toned herbal notes, spice, licorice, and black cherry. Rich and dense on the palate with abundant, penetrating dark cherry flavors and a long finish. 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5%Merlot, 1%Cabernet Franc, and 2% Malbec. Champoux, Klipsun, Ciel du Cheval, Red Mountain and Weinbau vineyards. Aged 20 months in French oak. 1,597 cases produced. Reviewed May 10, 2011

32.
Long Shadows Poet’s Leap Riesling Columbia Valley 2010 $20

Aromatically alluring with bosc pear, nectarine, lime zest, and wet stone. Just off dry with a seamless palate full of white grapefruit flavors and mouthwatering acidity. Lingers impressively on the finish. Reviewed November 18, 2011

33.
Sleight of Hand Funkadelic Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2009 $60

Aromas jump from the glass of earth, funk, mineral, black olive juice, ash, game, and a whiff of orange peel. A thoroughly delicious, delectable wine that shows the Rocks district of the Walla Walla Valley perfectly. 100% Syrah. The Funk Vineyard. Aged 11 months in French oak (25% new). 13.9% alcohol. 95 cases produced. Reviewed July 20, 2011

34.
Guardian Cellars Angel Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley 2010 $20

Pale in color. Aromas of lime, toasty oak spices, and herbal notes. Tart with crisp on the palate with lime flavors and vibrant, mouthwatering acidity. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Klipsun and Spring Creek vineyards. Barrel fermented in new French oak. 14.0% alcohol. 295 cases produced. Reviewed November 18, 2011

35.
àMaurice Malbec Columbia Valley 2008 $35

Dark and inky with a purple rim. Abundant pepper and plum aromas along with spice. Rich and flavorful on the palate with great depth on a deliciously varietal wine. A big, brawny beast with a long finish. 100% Malbec. Gamache Vineyard. Aged in French oak (40% new). 14.5% alcohol. 320 cases produced. Reviewed July 20, 2011

36.
Pacific Rim Riesling Columbia Valley 2010 $11

Pale lemon yellow. An aromatically compelling wine with floral notes, peaches, and jasmine. The palate is medium-dry and full off mandarin orange and lime flavors, beautifully stitched together with a zing of acidity that carries along to a lingering finish. 100% Riesling. 11.5% alcohol. 2.3% Residual Sugar. Reviewed August 30, 2011

37.
Obelisco Estate Estate Grown Merlot Red Mountain 2008 $30

Leaps up from the glass with smoky oak notes, spice, incense, and red fruit. The palate is loaded with fruit flavors that draw out and lead to a long, spice filled finish. A beautiful wine that is a steal at this price point. 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah, and 5% Malbec. 13.7% alcohol. 395 cases produced. Reviewed December 27, 2011

38.
Mark Ryan Long Haul Red Wine Red Mountain 2008 $45

An expressive wine with mineral, carob, rose hips, and high toned red fruit. The palate is rich and dense with sinewy red fruit flavors and a firm scaffolding of tannins. 63% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 11% Petit Verdot, and 4% Malbec. Reviewed August 17, 2011

39.
Tulpen Cellars Caberent Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2007 $28

Aromatically closed up initially with milk chocolate, dark cherries, herbal notes, and wood spice. The palate is big, lush, and opulent with lingering flavors of milk chocolate and dark cherries. An extended finish. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Tokar, Double River, and Heather Hill vineyards. 14.9% alcohol. 205 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed November 14, 2011

40.
Fidelitas Malbec Columbia Valley 2008 $35

Compelling aromas of pepper, plum, spice, and black fruit. The palate brings abundant green notes along with pepper, spice, and citric acidity. Consistently among the best Malbec produced in the state. Stillwater Creek Vineyard (29%), Northridge-Milbrandt Vineyard (29%), Goose Ridge (24%) and Conner Lee Vineyard (23%). Aged 20 months in French and American oak (50% new). 14.70% alcohol. 344 cases produced. Reviewed May 12, 2011

41.
JM Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain 2008 $38

Dark in color. Rises up from the glass with black cherry, spice, anise, and light herbal notes. A mouthful of intense red and black fruit flavors with a rich, textured feel. Gracefully structured with a thirty plus second finish. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc. Klipsun, Shaw, Ciel du Cheval, and Kiona vineyards. 300 cases produced. Reviewed February 23, 2011

42.
Novelty Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2008 $25

Pleasingly aromatic with toast, spice, butterscotch, herbal notes, and red and black fruit. The palate is big and intensely flavorful. A thoroughly delicious, rich wine with a lingering finish. 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Stillwater Creek, Alder Ridge, Weinbau and Chandler’s Reach vineyards. 14.4% alcohol. 4,846 cases produced. Reviewed May 10, 2011

43.
Dowsett Family Winery Gewürztraminer Celilo Vineyard Columbia Gorge 2010 $22

An aromatic wine that is like walking through a field of white flowers while holding a freshly cut grapefruit. Tart with racy acidity with loads of spice and grapefruit flavors. Some might find it almost a bit too tart for their taste – others might find it almost a bit too delicious. 173 cases produced. Reviewed July 6, 2011

44.
Saviah Cellars Une Valley Red Wine Walla Walla Valley 2009 $32

Moderately aromatic with earth, floral notes, incense, milk chocolate and dried cherries. The palate is both elegant and weighted, full of chocolate and cherry flavors seamlessly stitched together. The tannins are soft and silky. A very pretty wine. 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, and 6% Cabernet Franc. 382 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed December 20, 2011

45.
Olsen Estates Petit Verdot Yakima Valley 2008 $38

Somewhat closed up aromatically at present with earth, blackberry, stem notes, and licorice. The palate is rich and luscious with layers of intense fruit flavors. 100% Petit Verdot. Aged in French oak (78% new) for 16 months. 14.4% alcohol. 221 cases produced. Note: Price is prior to closure announcement. Reviewed February 9, 2011

46.
Stevens Winery Merlot Yakima Valley 2008 $30

Aromatically open with abundant amounts of raspberries and red vines. The fruit flavors are rich, chewy, and bright, etched by acidity. A thoroughly delicious, fruit-filled wine with enough structure that many will mistake it for a cabernet. As good a merlot as is coming out of Washington. 100% Merlot. 50% Meek, 50% DuBrul vineyards. Reviewed March 2, 2011

47.
Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling Columbia Valley 2010 $20

Pale lemon yellow. An aromatic wine with a cornucopia of ripe peaches and nectarines, along with pear and whiffs of lime zest. Palate has rounded feel and a zing of acidity that runs from start to lingering finish along with persistent lime flavors. 100% Riesling. Zillah Ranch and Evergreen vineyards. Fermented at aged in stainless steel. 12.5% alcohol. 1.64g/100ml Residual Sugar. Reviewed November 21, 2011

48.
Pepper Bridge Merlot Estate Vineyards Walla Walla Valley 2008 $50

Tightly wound initially, this wine unfurls to reveal dark raspberries, red currant, and earth. The fruit is dense while avoiding ever being over weighted. The tannins are chalky and lead to a drawn out, spicy finish. Tremendous hang time. A beautiful example of Washington Merlot that balances grace and power and will only get better with some additional time in the bottle. Give 1-2 years. 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec. 51% Seven Hills, 49% Pepper Bridge vineyards. Aged 17 months in French oak (47% new). 14.1% alcohol. 1,181 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed December 20, 2011

49.
Woodward Canyon Estate Sauvignon Blanc Walla Walla Valley 2010 $26

Lightly aromatic with citrus, lime zest, mineral, and gooseberry. The palate is full with great intensity and depth of flavors and bright acidity. A beautiful wine. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Fermented and aged in stainless steel and neutral oak. 14.1% alcohol. 201 cases produced. Reviewed November 18, 2011

50.
J Bookwalter Winery Conflict Red Wine Conner Lee Vineyard Columbia Valley 2008 $50

Intoxicating aromatics of spice, potpourri, blueberries, raspberries, and black fruit along with French oak accents. A delicious, fruit laden palate with silky tannins. 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, and 10% Malbec. Aged 20 months in new and used French oak. 15.2% alcohol. 208 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed July 6, 2011

51.
L’Ecole No 41 Chenin Blanc Columbia Valley 2010 $15

Light in color. Delicate aromas of fresh cut hay, lime, honey, and Golden Delicious apples. Palate is tart with pink grapefruit, mineral notes, and a zing of acidity. Lingers long after the last sip. 100% Chenin Blanc. Willard Farms, Phil Church vineyards. 1.5% Residual Sugar, 9.3 g/l acid. 13.5% alcohol. 2,122 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed April 27, 2011

52.
Owen Roe Ex Umbris Syrah Columbia Valley 2009 $24

Aromas of raspberries, plums, and light chocolate. Palate has seamless, fresh, pure fruit flavors with great depth and intensity with a lick of cranberry. Alcohol shows through at times. 100% Syrah. Erickson Road (Columbia Valley), Six Prong, Lewis Vineyard, Outlook, Slide Mountain, Red Willow, and Union Gap vineyards. Aged 16 months in French oak (10% new). 14.8% alcohol. 4,862 cases produced. Reviewed November 30, 2011

53.
Woodinville Wine Cellars Reserve Cabernet Columbia Valley 2007 $45

Compelling aromas of black tea leaves, mocha, black cherry, and bright, penetrating aromas of licorice and cedar. Breathtakingly beautiful on the palate with winding cranberry flavors, puckering acidity, intense fruit flavors, and graceful tannins. An extended finish with lingering spice notes. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Stillwater Creek (50%), Conner Lee (25%), and Dineen (25%). Aged 26 months in French oak (100% new). 14.5% alcohol. 100 cases produced. Reviewed May 20, 2011

54.
Matthews Estate Syrah Columbia Valley 2009 $39

Leaps up from the glass with blueberries, plum, baker’s chocolate, and boysenberries. Silky berry and chocolate flavors glide across a palate buffeted by soft tannins. Lingers on the finish. A thoroughly delicious wine. 100% Syrah. Lawrence, Stillwater Creek, and Va Piano vineyards. Aged 19 months in French oak. 14.8% alcohol. 337 cases produced. Reviewed November 17, 2011

55.
Desert Wind Ruah Red Wine Columbia Valley 2008 $20

An aromatic wine with heaping amounts of black cherry along with spice, black pepper, green pepper, dust, and an underlayer of bittersweet chocolate. Palate is firm and tart with a tight coil of black cherry fruit. A tart, fruit filled finish. An impressive wine at this price point. Reviewed May 5, 2011

56.
Tenor Wines Merlot Columbia Valley 2007 $48

The aromatics are arrestingly complex with licorice, coffee bean, a jumble of red and black fruit, and high toned oak spices. The palate is big and beautifully rich with a cornucopia of fruit flavors. Rich and opulent while retaining great subtlety. Capped off by a long finish. A shot across the bow of the state’s top Merlots. 100% Merlot. Aged 18 months in new French oak. 15.0% alcohol. 78 cases produced. Reviewed June 30, 2011

57.
Walla Walla Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2008 $35

A somewhat brooding but appealing wine with dark cherries, herbal notes, chocolate, spice, and earth. The palate has silky fruit flavors with well integrated tannins and a lingering finish. 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec, 2% Carmenère and 2% Petit Verdot. Pepper Bridge, Dwelley, Windrow, Seven Hills and Frazier Bluff vineyards. 14.5% alcohol. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed December 30, 2011

58.
Ross Andrew Winery Syrah Boushey Vineyard Yakima Valley 2008 $34

Compelling, Boushey-only aromatics of funk, char, roasted meat, blueberries, and hints of violets. Dense and rich fruit flavors on a wine with vibrant acidity. Drinks above its price point and has a very long life ahead of it. Aged 14 months in French oak. 13.8% alcohol. 551 cases produced. Reviewed February 15, 2011

59.
Soos Creek Red Wine Ciel du Cheval Red Mountain 2008 $30

An aromatically appealing wine with dark fruit, chocolate, floral notes, and spice. The palate is tightly wound with a core of black fruit flavors hanging on a scaffolding of grippy tannins. Lingers on the finish. 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc and 9% MerlotReviewed December 27, 2011

60.
Tero Estates Windrow Red Wine Walla Walla Valley 2008 $55

Medium ruby. This wine is locked up very tightly at present but opens to reveal red fruit, licorice, and occasionally somewhat strong herbal notes. The palate is broad and generous, full of cherry flavors that glide along to a tart, cherry filled finish. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Malbec. 14.3% alcohol. 106 cases produced. Reviewed December 30, 2011

61.
Forgeron Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2008 $30

Very pretty, appealing aromas of spice, dark cherry, and chocolate. The palate is loaded with silky fruit flavors and grainy tannins. 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot, 4% Malbec. Dionysus (Cabernet), Lonesome Springs (Petit Verdot), and Stonetree vineyards (Malbec). Aged in French oak (40% new). 367 cases produced. Reviewed December 20, 2011

62.
Syncline Wine Cellars Cuvee Elena Columbia Valley 2008 $35

Light herbal and floral notes mix with wild blueberries, raspberries, mineral notes, and a whiff of pepper. The palate is seamlessly stitched together with impeccable balance. Bright acidity and incredibly fresh, clean fruit flavors persist on and on long after the last sip. 48% Grenache, 24% Mourvedre, 13% Syrah, 10% Counoise, and 5% Cinsault. Northridge, Coyote Canyon, and McKinley Springs vineyards. Aged in 225L and 700L French oak (2nd and 3rd fill) for 16 months. 250 cases produced. Reviewed February 2, 2011

63.
JB Neufeld Cabernet Sauvignon Artz Vineyard Red Mountain 2008 $32

An aromatic wine with milk chocolate, herbal notes, blackberry, licorice, spice, and mineral notes. The palate is dense and rich with well-integrated, chalky tannins. A persistent finish. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 18 months in French oak (80% new). 15.0% alcohol. 270 cases produced. Reviewed March 22, 2011

64.
Fall Line Winery Red Wine Red Willow Vineyard 2008 $28

An alluring wine with coffee grounds, earth tones, floral notes, and red fruit. The palate is dense and compact with intense red fruit flavors. It’s hard to find many wines made from this top Washington vineyard that are less than thirty-five dollars and up, let alone one with this level of quality. 53% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc. Aged 18 months in French oak (36% new). 269 cases produced. Reviewed December 22, 2011

65.
Dumas State Estate Merlot Walla Walla Valley 2008 $28

Extremely appealing aromatics of dusty milk chocolate, earth, a light herbaceousness, and tart red raspberries. A silky, plush palate with lush, tart fruit flavors and silky tannins. Drinking absolutely beautifully right now with years ahead of it. 75% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. Minnick Hills and Birch Creek vineyards. Aged 22 months in American and French oak (40% new). 190 cases produced. Reviewed October 4, 2011

66.
Covington Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Klipsun Vineyard Red Mountain 2007 $60

Dark and seductive with aromas of earth, dark fruit, and floral notes with a light herbal accent. Brooding on the palate with dark fruit, dry chocolate, chalky tannins and a lingering, mineral laden finish. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 30 months in French oak. Reviewed May 11, 2011

67.
William Church Viognier Columbia Valley 2010 $22

An aromatic wine with white flowers, peaches, and melon. A full-bodied wine that tingles that palate with ripe peach and floral flavors. 100% Viognier. Conner Lee Vineyard. 290 cases produced. Reviewed November 18, 2011

68.
Trust Cellars Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley 2008 $32

Aromatically closed up initially with raspberries, cherries, floral notes, rose hips, herbal notes, and light mineral notes. Plump, ripe tannins and cherry flavors glide across the palate leading to a fruit filled finish. 100% Cabernet Franc. 70 cases produced. Reviewed December 22, 2011

69.
Nefarious Cellars Syrah Rocky Mother Vineyard Columbia Valley 2008 $42

Abundant dry chocolate aromas mix with blackberries, mint, and ink. A big, full, rich wine laden with blackberry and chocolate flavors. Reviewed February 8, 2011

70.
Domaine Pouillon Gewürztraminer Jewitt Creek Columbia Gorge 2010 $15

Leaps from the glass with lime, spice, pink grapefruit, white flowers, and melon. Zings across the palate with crisp acidity and lively grapefruit and spice flavors. Capped off by a lingering finish. 100% Gewurztraminer. 13.9% alcohol. Reviewed November 18, 2011

71.
Columbia Crest Walter Clore Private Reserve Red Wine Columbia Valley 2008 $35

An aromatically appealing wine with coffee bean, licorice, sweet, toasty spices, and a mix of red and black fruit. Rich fruit flavors are balanced by an elegant, silky smooth structure. 57% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Malbec. Coyote Canyon, Beverly, Wautoma Springs, Stone Tree, and Four Feathers vineyards. Aged for 30 months in 100% new French oak. 14.5% alcohol. 1,800 cases produced. Reviewed October 14, 2011

72.
Dynasty Cellars DC3 Meritage Red Wine Walla Walla Valley 2007 $25

Dark in color with a purple tinge. Abundant dark berry aromas along with light spices, char, and licorice. The palate is big and brawny, rich and concentrated, packed tightly full of fruit and chalky tannins. The finish glides along. An impressive effort with the tannic structure to go the distance. 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot. Aged in French oak (25% new). 14.5% alcohol. 155 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed April 5, 2011

73.
Robert Ramsay Syrah Horse Heaven Hills 2007 $20

Dark in color with purple at the rim. Aromatic with abundant dark chocolate, spice, and floral notes. A thoroughly delicious wine with a rich, textured palate and a lingering finish. 92% Syrah, 5% Viognier, and 3% Mourvedre. Aged in French oak (38% new). 245 cases produced. Reviewed October 14, 2011

74.
Mackey Vineyards Off-Dry Riesling Columbia Valley 2010 $15

An aromatic wine with red apples, tropical fruit, honey, and floral notes. Off-dry in style with a fair amount of sugar but well balanced by mouthwatering acidity. A very well-priced bottle of wine for this level of quality. 100% Riesling. Bacchus and Kilian Vineyards. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 12.1% alcohol. 167 cases produced. Reviewed July 20, 2011

75.
SYZYGY Red Wine Columbia Valley 2007 $24

This excellent Red Wine from SYZYGY is full of brambly berries, spice, and chocolate. On the palate it is lusciously rich and full of ripe tannins. 50% Syrah, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot and 11% Malbec. 14.8% alcohol. 948 cases produced. Reviewed June 23, 2011

76.
Hestia Cellars Chenin Blanc Columbia Valley 2010 $15

Abundant, ripe Asian pear aromas along with lemon rind and white grapefruit. Palate is crisp and lemony with mouthwatering acidity. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 13.0% alcohol. 200 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed June 27, 2011

77.
Columbia Winery Stone Cutter Series Opal White Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $NA

Spice, herbal notes, lime, mineral, and pear on a lightly aromatic wine. Crisp and tart with a touch of tropical fruit flavors, a creamy texture, and mouthwatering acidity. 52% Sauvignon Blanc, 47% Semillon (not sure where that 1% went). Phil Church, Art Denhoed, Destiny Ridge, and Milbrandt vineyards. Aged 6 months in neutral oak. 300 cases produced. Reviewed May 5, 2011

78.
Barrister Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Sagemoor Vineyard Columbia Valley 2007 $33

An alluring, aromatic wine with layers of complexity marked by blackberry, herbal notes, floral notes, licorice, and chocolate. On the palate, a big, bold, gripping wine with abundant fruit flavors and dry tannins. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 10% Syrah. Aged 20 months in French (75%) and American oak. 15.2% alcohol. 210 cases produced. Reviewed February 21, 2011

79.
Laurelhurst Cellars Merlot Columbia Valley 2008 $24

A slight brick red tinge. Leaps up from the glass with abundant ripe red fruit aromas of raspberry, bing cherry, and red currant along with coffee, espresso bean, and a light herbal undertone. Palate is tart and full of ripe fruit flavors, chocolate, and soft but structured tannins. Lingers on the finish. A compelling wine at an even more compelling price point. Boushey and Klipsun vineyards. 14.6% alcohol. 67 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed September 28, 2011

80.
DiStefano Sogno Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley 2007 $32

An aromatically appealing, very varietal wine with milk chocolate, black cherries, and very light herbal notes. The palate is full and ripe with abundant cherry flavors. Shows a bit of heat on the finish on an otherwise quite enjoyable wine. 82% Cabernet Franc, 12% Merlot, and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. 15.5% alcohol. 580 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed December 22, 2011

81.
Kyra Wines Pinot Gris Evergreen Vineyard Columbia Valley 2010 $13

An aromatically appealing wine with abundant pear and melon aromas. The palate is full of ripe apple and peach flavors with a medium bodied feel and a lingering finish. 100% Pinot Gris. 13.5% alcohol. 300 cases produced. Reviewed December 23, 2011

82.
Idilico Albarino Washington State 2010 $15

Appealing, perfumed aromas of white flowers, green apple, and spice. Palate is crisp and clean with the hallmark brisk, tart, lemony acidity of the 2010 vintage. Truly summer in a glass. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 12.5% alcohol. 140 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed June 27, 2011

83.
:Note Bene Cellars Red Wine Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Mountain 2008 $35

Medium ruby. Aromatically shows abundant toasty notes along with vanilla extract and herbal notes. The palate is medium bodied with dark cherry flavors and silky tannins. 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, and 28% Cabernet Franc. Aged 22 months in French and American oak. 15.3% alcohol. 175 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed November 30, 2011

84.
Brian Carter Cellars Opulento Fortified Red Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $18

Made in a Ruby Port style, this wine is lightly aromatic with spice, tea leaves, and lemon twist. The palate is rich and seamless, full of chocolate, caramel, and dark cherries. An extended finish. 60% Touriga National, 37% Souzao, 3% Tinta Cao. Upland and Lonesome Springs vineyards. Aged 22 months in French oak (20% new). 10% Residual Sugar. 19% alcohol. 449 cases produced. Reviewed November 21, 2011

85.
Barnard Griffin Rose of Sangiovese Columbia Valley 2010 $12

Light cherry red in color. An aromatic wine marked by wild strawberries, melon, and spice. Crisp, dry, and clean on a palate loaded with fruit flavors matched by mouthwatering acidity. A perfect summer wine at a can’t-be-beat price. This is a case purchase summer wine if ever there were one. Van Batavia, Balcom & Moe, and Gunkel vineyards. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 12.4% alcohol. Reviewed May 13, 2011

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4 comments

  1. Jamer Says:
  2. Great 2011 WA wine retrospective Sean! Many I've had, but, many need to get in my glass this year. Cheers!

     
  3. VancDarkstar Says:
  4. Your list isn't in alphabetical order, so is it in order of preference?

     
  5. VancDarkstar, the list is ranked based on rating, my overall excitement about the wine, and price.

     
  6. Anonymous Says:
  7. Thanks so much for posting this every year Sean. Where would I be without your guidance of vast trial & error sampling of all these great wines? Lord knows I don't have the time or money to investigate so many (though I sure would love to!), so checking out some of your recommendations is always a welcome piece of info.

    Much appreciated!

    Brad

     

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