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Reviewed Wineries

Fresh Sheet December 31st 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012






Today’s Fresh Sheet – reviews of new and recent releases – includes wines from CadenceSyncline Wine CellarsForgeron CellarsSparkman CellarsVa Piano VineyardsDusted Valley VintnersChateau Ste. MichelleLeonetti Cellar, and Brandborg Vineyard & Winery.

Cadence

Consider these wines an addendum to my post “Is Washington Home of the Blend?” for few in Washington excel at the art of blending more than winemaker Ben Smith at Cadence. Smith’s focus is vineyard-designated wines from Red Mountain with each wine showcasing a particular site and blend of varieties – usually with a healthy emphasis on Cabernet Franc. However, whereas many wineries explore Franc’s greener (meaner?) side, Smith focuses on the grape’s floral qualities. He consistently evinces characteristics in Cabernet Franc that no other winemaker in the state does.

The 2009 vintage releases once again find Smith and Cadence in top form with the Cara Mia Vineyard continuing to stretch its legs, producing finer and finer wines with each passing year. If you are looking for highly structured wines with restrained use of oak, complex aromas and flavors, and enough ageability lay down in the cellar for decades (yes, plural), look no further.

Cadence Coda Red Wine Red Mountain 2010 $25
(Excellent) On first pour a waft of earth rises up from the glass followed by an explosion of wound up currant, raspberries, cherries, plum, mineral, and floral notes. The palate is tightly wound with tart fruit flavors, firm tannins, and vibrant acids lifting the frame. A very serious wine at this price that needs a couple hours open to fully reveal its charms. 44% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Petit Verdot. 14.4% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

Cadence Winery Camerata Red Wine Cara Mia Vineyard Red Mountain 2009 $55
(Exceptional) An aromatically complex, dazzling wine with red currant, scorched earth, mineral, and floral notes. The palate is highly structured and tightly coiled, packed with red fruit flavors and mineral notes. This is a complete dazzler that will age in the cellar for decades to come. Give it at least two years or an extended decant. 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 9% Petit Verdot.

Cadence Bel Canto Red Wine Cara Mia Vineyard Red Mountain 2009 $55
 (Excellent/Exceptional) An aromatically compelling wine with floral notes, mineral, scorched earth, and red currant. The palate is sublime, full of tart red fruit flavors with incredible restraint and a firm backbone of tannins. A thoroughly delicious wine that will lay down the cellar as long as you care to keep it. 80% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot.

Cadence Taptiel Vineyard Red Wine Red Mountain 2009 $45
 (Excellent/Exceptional) A complex medley of tightly wound aromas of mineral, fresh cranberry, graphite, boysenberry, red plum, and floral notes. The palate starts out with creamy fruit flavors followed by a wave of fine grained – occasionally a touch dry – tannins that pick up the fruit and carry it off to a long finish. A refined, highly structured wine with a long life ahead of it. Give at least two years or decant extensively. 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, and 17% Cabernet Franc. 14.4% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

Cadence Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Wine Red Mountain 2009 $45
 (Excellent) Heady aromas of black and red fruit meld with mineral, floral notes, and currant. The palate is bold yet restrained with length and depth supported by firm tannins that need some time to fully stretch their legs. A beautiful wine that needs more time in the bottle to fully come into its own. Give two plus years or a long decant. 41% Cabernet Franc, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Petit Verdot, and 6% Merlot. 14.4% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.


Syncline Wine Cellars

Syncline Wine Cellars continues in its exploration of Rhone varieties in Washington in a way that no other winery, save McCrea Cellars, can match in terms of diversity. The latest from the winery includes the Subduction Red, one of the first of the 2011 vintage red releases. This is a completely unique wine for Washington – a blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Counoise, and Cinsault. More so than any previous vintage, it would make an excellent ringer for a Côtes du Rhône Villages in a blind Rhone tasting. The winery’s style is on full display across the latest releases with the limited use of new French oak providing each of this wines with a real sense of freshness and purity.

Syncline Subduction White Columbia Valley 2011 $20
 (Good/Excellent) A lightly aromatic wine with pear, peach, and lime. The palate has drawn out fruit flavors with an extraordinary amount of texture leading to an open finish. A very serious wine for the price. 38% Roussanne, 26% Marsanne, 20% Viognier, 10% Picpoul, and 6% Grenache Blanc. Boushey, McKinley Springs, and Alder Ridge vineyards. Fermented and aged in neutral French oak. 13.0% alcohol. 410 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Syncline Grenache Blanc Boushey Vineyard Yakima Valley 2011 $26
(Good) Starts off quite reduced but when it opens up this is a moderately aromatic wine with lime, starfruit, and green apple. The palate is broad in feel with tart lime and green apple flavors with cleansing acidity on the finish. 100% Grenache Blanc. Fermented and aged in neutral French oak. 14.1% alcohol. 135 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Syncline Viognier Alder Ridge Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills 2011 $20
 (Good) Very lightly aromatic with cream, white peach, and crushed flowers. The palate is medium-plus bodied with a weighty texture and citric notes, finishing just a touch bitter. 100% Viognier. Fermented and aged in neutral French oak. 13.5% alcohol. 150 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Syncline Marsanne Boushey Vineyard Yakima Valley 2011 $26
 (Excellent/Exceptional) An aromatically complex wine with cream, almond, light floral notes, crayon box, corn silk, lime spritz, and melon. The palate is full bodied with a rich texture leading to an open finish. 100% Marsanne. Fermented and aged in neutral French oak. 13.3% alcohol. 100 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Syncline Subduction Red Columbia Valley 2011 $20
(Excellent) At a blind tasting, on first sniff you might mistake this for a Côtes du Rhône Villages. It’s chock full of fresh aromas of garrigue, white pepper, cherry, and black raspberry. The palate is fresh and fruit filled and still needs a bit of time to fully come together. 39% Mourvèdre, 29% Grenache, 14% Syrah, 9% Carignan, 7% Counoise, and 2% Cinsault. Fermented in concrete and aged 11 months in French oak (5-10% new). 13.5% alcohol. 2,500 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Syncline Cuvee Elena Columbia Valley 2010 $40
(Excellent) An aromatically complex wine with cherry, strawberry, high toned herbal notes, orange peel, floral notes, white pepper, and a dash of citrus and spice. The palate is full bodied with fresh, pure fruit flavors. A luxurious wine that calls out to Southern France. 57% Grenache, 32% Mourvèdre, 5% Syrah, 5% Counoise, and 1% Carignan. McKinley Springs, Alder Ridge, Ciel du Cheval, Heart of the Hill, and Coyote Canyon vineyards. Aged in neutral French oak. 14.8% alcohol. 420 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Syncline Syrah Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Mountain 2010 $50
(Excellent) First impression is clove and vanilla bean along with high toned black cherries, light herbal notes, raspberries, and floral notes. The palate has fresh, pure cherry flavors with a vanilla and anise filled finish accented by grainy tannins and tangy acidity. 100% Syrah. Aged 16 months in neutral French oak. 14.3% alcohol. 125 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.


Forgeron Cellars

The current releases from Forgeron Cellars include what winemaker Marie-Eve Gilla says is, “Hands down the best Chardonnay I’ve made so far.” I would agree. This is a beautifully constructed wine, with a creamy texture that plays off the lively acidity of the vintage.

Gilla has a clear passion for Chardonnay and is continually searching for better fruit sources. “I know this is going to sound very naïve but I want to make the best Chardonnay in Washington State, so I am always trying different vineyards,” she says.

Meanwhile Forgeron’s 2010 Late Harvest Riesling comes at a quality level seldom seen at this price and is a perfect way to offset the cold months ahead. Stock up.

Forgeron Cellars Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2011 $27
 (Excellent/Exceptional) Lightly aromatic with citrus peel, candle wax, toast, spice and a light floral lift. The palate has a rounded texture with creamy, pure fruit flavors energized by a streak of lemony acidity that runs from start to lingering finish. A gorgeous, refined expression of Chardonnay. 94% Chardonnay, 6% Orange Muscat. Weinbau, Kestrel, and Crawford vineyards. Aged in French oak (32% new). 818 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Forgeron Cellars Merlot Columbia Valley 2009 $30
(Excellent) A classically Washington Merlot with raspberry jam and mocha along with peppermint and barrel spices. The mouthfeel is luxurious and rich with ripe fruit flavors and fine grained tannins leading to a vanilla and mint filled finish. A very pretty, expressive wine that shows a fascinating mixture of boldness and elegance. 94% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc. Boushey (50%), StoneTree (44%), and Weinbau vineyards. Aged in French and American oak (35% new). 14.2% alcohol. 185 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Forgeron Cellars Syrah Columbia Valley 2009 $30
(Excellent) An aromatic wine with licorice and dark spices, iron, earth, and violets. The palate is soft and sultry with dark fruit flavors accented by spice and buffeted by smooth tannins. A very delicious, understated wine. 96% Syrah and 4% Petit Sirah. Boushey (48%), Les Collines (48%), and StoneTree vineyards. Aged in French oak (45% new). 238 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Forgeron Cellars Late Harvest Riesling Columbia Valley 2010 $19
 (Excellent) An incredibly aromatic wine with apricot, citrus, and pear syrup. The palate is full and rich, beautifully balanced with acidity and full of pear flavors. 100% Riesling. Dionysus Vineyard. Fermented and aged in stainless. 281 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.


Sparkman Cellars

The latest releases from Sparkman Cellars find winemaker Chris Sparkman continuing to play and experiment. Sparkman uses his wine club wines – several of which are reviewed below – to explore new vineyard sources and varieties. Dry Touriga Nacional anyone? You’ll have to wait for that one. Like many winemakers, Sparkman saw a record crop in 2012, bringing in an astounding 117 tons.

Sparkman Cellars Enlightenment Chardonnay French Creek Vineyard Yakima Valley 2011 $50
 (Excellent) Draws you into the glass with toasty spices, mineral notes, and pear. The palate is textured, medium-plus bodied with drawn out spice flavors.

Sparkman Cellars Wonderland Grenache Olsen Vineyard Yakima Valley 2010 $42
 (Good) An aromatically intriguing wine with peat, red fruit, and peppery spice. The palate is medium bodied with tart fruit flavors. 75 cases produced.

Sparkman Cellars Wilderness Red Wine Columbia Valley 2010 $28
 (Good) An aromatic wine with abundant spice, vanilla, and dark fruit. The palate is broad with chewy tannins and refreshing fruit flavors. 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Syrah, along with Mourvèdre and Merlot.

Sparkman Cellars Ruby Leigh Red Wine Red Mountain 2010 $NA
(Good) A moderately aromatic wine with abundant floral notes, currant, spice, vanilla, and mint. The palate is understated with dry, chewy tannins. A bit brusque at present, this wine may settle down with some additional time in the bottle. 56% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Franc, and 11% Petit Verdot.

Sparkman Cellars Stella Mae Red Wine Red Mountain 2010 $NA
 (Good/Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with abundant mineral notes, light herbal notes, spice, and dry chocolate. The palate has chewy, firm tannins and soft fruit flavors. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 11% Malbec, and 11% Petit Verdot.

Sparkman Cellars Underworld Petit Verdot Olsen Vineyard Yakima Valley 2010 $42
 (Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with potting soil, peat, black cherry, and floral notes. The palate is big and broad with refreshing acidity. A big boy wine that remains true to the vintage. Limited release.

Sparkman Cellars Rainmaker Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley 2010 $42
 (Excellent) This barrel selection Cabernet is an aromatic wine with abundant toasty spices, cherry, licorice, peat, and mineral notes. The palate is smooth but firm with abundant cherry flavors, fresh acidity, and well integrated tannins. Limited release.

Sparkman Cellars Kingpin Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain 2010 $NA
(Excellent) An aromatically subdued wine with abundant mineral notes, spice, currant, and dark flowers. The palate is brawny but refined. Still has some sharp edges but these should soften with some additional time in the bottle.

Sparkman Cellars Preposterous Malbec Red Mountain 2010 $38
 (Excellent/Exceptional) A completely opaque wine with plum, white pepper, and abundant mineral notes. The palate is rich and intense with soft fruit flavors and more tannic structure than typically often seen in this variety. Hangs on the finish.

Sparkman Cellars The Untamed Syrah Columbia Valley 2010 $42
 (Excellent) An extremely aromatic wine with fresh blueberry pie, mineral, and floral notes. The palate is rounded and fresh with generous blueberry flavors. Syrah co-fermented with Viognier. Klipsun, Olsen, and Ciel du Cheval vineyards. Aged in French oak (30% new).

Sparkman Cellars Darkness Syrah Yakima Valley 2010 $62
(Excellent) A mineral driven wine with brambly fruit, dry chocolate, and a whiff of blueberries. The palate has a vibrant intensity, great definition and rich fruit flavors. 100% Syrah. Boushey and Olsen vineyards. Aged in French oak (44% new). 14.9% alcohol. 230 cases produced.


Va Piano Vineyards

Winemaker Justin Wylie at Va Piano Vineyards is never one to sit still. The latest wrinkles at the winery include what will be a series of varietally-designated ‘Bruno’ wines, such as the Cabernet Sauvignon reviewed below. Production is up over 1,000 cases for this wine, and it is now under screwcap. These Bruno wines – formerly designated as Bruno’s Blend - will flesh out the lower tier of the winery’s lineup. Additionally, Wylie is creating a series of ‘black label’ wines that will focus on vineyard designates outside of the winery’s estate offerings. These wines will flesh out the upper tier. The first of these, a 2010 DuBrul Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is reviewed below.

Va Piano Vineyards Bruno’s Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2010 $23
 (Good) An aromatic wine with dark cherries, tobacco, and light herbal tones. The palate is tart and dry with grippy tannins. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot. Aged in French oak (30% new). 14.4% alcohol. 1,065 cases produced.

Va Piano Vineyards Syrah Columbia Valley 2009 $40
 (Excellent) An aromatically appealing wine with cherry cola, chocolate, and violets. The palate is perfumed with tart cranberry flavors and grainy tannins. 100% Syrah. Lewis, Les Collines, Portteus, and Minnick vineyards. Aged 21 months in French oak (30% new). 18% whole cluster. 14.2% alcohol.

Va Piano Vineyards Estate Cabernet Franc Walla Walla Valley 2009 $48
(Good/Excellent) This first varietal Cabernet Franc from Va Piano is an aromatically appealing wine with floral notes, herbal notes, dusty chocolate, and cherry. The palate has taught cherry flavors and grainy tannins. 80% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot.

Va Piano Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2009 $48
(Good/Excellent) A brooding wine with black currant, cherry, and high toned herbal notes. The palate has firm, slightly dry tannins, and abundant cherry flavors. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.

Va Piano Vineyards Uniti Estate Red Wine Walla Walla Valley 2009 $48
 (Excellent) An aromatically complex wine with earth, floral notes, cranberry, currant, herbal tones and spices. The palate has tart, cranberry like acidity and chalky tannins. Give one to two years. 33% Cabernet Franc, 13% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 17% Petit Verdot.

Va Piano Estate Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2010 $48
(Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with black olive, earth, and crushed rock. The palate is perfumed with soft savory notes and tart fruit flavors.

Va Piano Estate Merlot Walla Walla Valley 2010 $48
 (Good) A moderately aromatic wine with dusty chocolate, blackberry, floral notes, and cherry. The palate has tart, cranberry like acidity. 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc.

Va Piano Cabernet Sauvignon DuBrul Vineyard Yakima Valley 2010 $85
 (Excellent/Exceptional) A very aromatically pretty wine with earth, dark cherry, licorice, and toasty spices. The palate is understated and refined with chewy fruit flavors. Continues to ramp up in intensity after several days of being open. Aged in French oak (75% new). 75 cases produced. To be released next spring. Sample provided by winery.

Dusted Valley Vintners

In a short time, Dusted Valley Vintners has grown into a big little winery. Production is now at 8,000 cases with the value priced Boomtown wines adding another 25,000. The Dusted Valley wines show a focus on estate fruit, with vineyards including Sconni Block, Minnick Hills, Birch Creek, and Stoney Vine. The latter is located down in the Rocks and had its first crop in 2010. The winery also uses non-estate sources including Stone Tree and Lonesome Springs Ranch. The Boomtown wines come from across the Columbia Valley.

True to their roots, Chad Johnson and Corey Braunel age most of their wines in tight grained Wisconsin oak – a distinctive element which some wine lovers might enjoy and others might not. To my palate, these wines show best at the lower end of the temperature register (think 62 not 70) where the oak seems to stay in better balance letting the fruit shine through.

Dusted Valley Vintners Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2011 $29
 (Good/Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with abundant spice, apple, cardamom, and mineral notes. The palate is textured, medium-plus bodied with lemony acidity that draws out to a long finish. 100% Chardonnay. Evergreen Vineyard. Aged in French oak (15% new). 13.9% alcohol. 144 cases produced.

Dusted Valley Vintners Grenache Stone Tree Vineyard Wahluke Slope 2011 $39
(Excellent) A brightly aromatic wine with fresh blueberries, ripe raspberries, and mint. The palate is plush with rich, ripe, concentrated fruit flavors. 76% Grenache, 24% Syrah. Aged in 16% new American oak and French oak for 10 months. 14.7% alcohol. 160 cases produced.

Dusted Valley Vintners Stained Tooth Syrah Columbia Valley 2010 $32
(Excellent) Draws you into the glass with pure boysenberry, light herbal tones, and spice. The palate has plush fruit flavors and fine grained tannins. 91% Syrah, 5% Petite Sirah, 2% Mourvèdre, and 2% Grenache. Stone Tree, Stoney Vine, Lonesome Springs Ranch, and Birch Creek vineyards. Aged 12 months in American oak (20% new). 14.6% alcohol. 714 cases produced.

Dusted Valley Vintners Tall Tales Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2010 $53
 (Good/Excellent) An aromatic wine with abundant spice, a touch of pepper, earth, and blackberry. The palate is tart and spritely with blackberry and blueberry flavors. 100% Syrah. Stoney Vine, Birch Creek, and Minnick Hills vineyards. Aged 16 months in American oak (35% new). 14.7% alcohol. 192 cases produced.

Dusted Valley Vintners Rachis Syrah Columbia Valley 2009 $53
(Good) An aromatic wine with boysenberry, blueberry, vanilla, and spice. The palate is quite ripe and feels a little boozy with a vanilla filled finish. 97% Syrah, 3% Viognier. 74% Stone Tree, 8% Lonesome Springs Ranch, and 18% Birch Creek vineyards. Aged 16 months in American oak (30% new). 15.1% alcohol. 175 cases produced.

Dusted Valley Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2009 $35
(Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with abundant barrel aromas of vanilla and spice along with dark cherries. The palate is reminiscent of a Mounds Bar, full of chocolate and coconut flavors with dusty tannins. 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec, 6% Merlot. Minnick Hills, Sconni Block, and Birch Creek vineyards. Aged 18 months in American oak (65% new). 14.2% alcohol. 860 cases produced.

Dusted Valley Vintners Malbec Columbia Valley 2010 $42
 (Good) Dark in color. The oak aromas are at the fore here with vanilla and spice along with dark plums, brambly berries, and high toned floral aromas. The palate is rich and plush with dark fruit flavors and abundant woodspice accents. 87% Malbec, 11% Merlot, and 2% Petit Verdot. Birch Creek, Minnick Hills, and Stone Tree vineyards. Aged 16 months in American and French oak (45% new). 14.7% alcohol. 216 cases produced.

Dusted Valley Vintners Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley 2010 $42
 (Good) A moderately aromatic wine with abundant oak spice, chocolate, high toned herbal notes, and dark fruit. The palate is rich and ripe, full of dark fruit and chocolate flavors and grainy tannins. 80% Cabernet Franc, 18% Merlot, and 2% Petit Verdot. Minnick Hills, Stone Tree vineyards. Aged 16 months in French oak (40% new). 14.7% alcohol. 240 cases produced.

Dusted Valley Vintners Petite Sirah Columbia Valley 2010 $42
 (Excellent) Dark as night. An aromatically appealing wine with earth, floral notes, and vanilla. The palate is perfumed, rich and liquorous with chewy tannins. Made in a big, bold style without ever quite going over the top. 90% Petite Sirah, 10% Syrah. Stone Tree, Stoney Vine vineyards. Aged 16 months in American and French oak (40% new). 15.3% alcohol. 240 cases produced.


Chateau Ste. Michelle

Many wine lovers know of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s higher production wines, such as those from their Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills sampled below. These wines are widely available and consistently offer high quality for the price. Fewer are aware, however, of the winery’s limited production offerings. Many of these wines are sold directly at the winery or are destined for wine club releases. These limited release wines are somewhat of a ‘winery within a winery’ where Bob Bertheau and his winemaking team experiment with different varieties, blends, and vineyards to create some of the Chateau’s most compelling wines.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Chardonnay Horse Heaven Hills 2009 $22
 (Good) A lightly aromatic wine with spice, tropical fruit notes (mango, pineapple), and straw. The palate is broad and textured with a creamy feel, tapering toward the finish. 100% Chardonnay. Aged 9 months in French oak (31% new). 14.5% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills 2009 $22
 (Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with jammy raspberry and cherry aromas along with vanilla and spice. The palate is fruit-filled, rich yet supple with more structured tannins than usually found on wines at this price. 79% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Syrah, and 4% Malbec. Aged 18 months in French (57% new) and American (11% new) oak. 14.5% alcohol. 6,900 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills 2010 $22
 (Good) A moderately aromatic wine with the oak at the fore with cedar and penetrating vanilla notes followed by fresh raspberries as the wine opens. The palate is light bodied with abundant oak flavors while retaining a pleasing freshness. Tannins become considerably more prominent as the wine opens up. 89% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 18 months in 19% new French and 41% new American oak. 14.5% alcohol. 6,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills 2009 $28
 (Excellent) An aromatic wine with roasted coffee bean, char, black cherry, pencil lead, and high toned herbal notes. The palate is rich and full, loaded with sweet chocolate and cherry flavors that persist on the finish. Made in a big, bold fruit and barrel style. 95% Cabernet Sauvignon. 5% Merlot. Aged 22 months in French (78%) and American oak. 15.0% alcohol. 4,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Chateau Ste. Michelle CSM Red Wine Limited Release Wahluke Slope 2008 $NA
 (Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with jammy red and black fruit, cedar, incense, and pencil lead. The palate is refined and restrained with dry fruit flavors, generous oak accents, and chewy tannins. 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Syrah, and 4% Malbec. Aged 15 months in French and American oak. 14.3% alcohol. 597 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Malbec Limited Release Wahluke Slope 2008 $25
(Excellent) An aromatically intriguing wine with floral notes, dark plum, and peppery spice. The palate is light bodied, soft and smooth with chalky tannins. 87% Malbec, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 18 months in American oak. 14.4% alcohol. 597 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Malbec Limited Release Horse Heaven Hills 2009 $32
(Good) A lightly aromatic wine with dark plum, bittersweet chocolate, and abundant barrel spices. The palate is on the lighter side with soft, plump tannins and abundant dry chocolate flavors, finishing with a bit of heat. 83% Malbec, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Merlot. Aged 18 months in American oak. 15.0% alcohol. 605 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Syrah Limited Release Stone Tree Vineyard Wahluke Slope 2008 $36
(Excellent) An aromatically fascinating wine with plum, boysenberry, blueberry, and light coffee and chocolate notes. The palate is ripe and smooth with abundant chocolate and blue fruit flavors and sinewy tannins, finishing just a touch hot. 100% Syrah. Aged 16 months in French oak (37% new). 14.6% alcohol. 597 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.


Onesies

Leonetti Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2009 $88
(Exceptional) Locked up tightly with dark cherries, raspberries, spice, incense, dry chocolate, scorched earth. The palate is a showstopper, rich and opulent, packed full of dark fruit flavors, tightly wound tannins, and a coil of rich fruit flavors. Give this two years or more but this is a wine for the ages – perhaps the winery’s best of this last decade. 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 4% Carmenere, and 1% Malbec. Aged 22 months in new and neutral French oak. Mill Creek Upland, Loess, and Seven Hills vineyards. 2,760 cases produced.

Brandborg Nouveau Pinot Noir Elkton Villages Umpqua Valley 2012 $25
(Good) Watch out world, here comes Oregon Nouveau Pinot Noir! Made using carbonic maceration, this is an aromatically appealing wine with wild strawberries, cherries, herbal notes, and light spices. The palate is broad with candied cherry and gummy bear flavors along with herbal accents and a citrus twist on the finish. A very enjoyable wine, perfect for the season. 100% Pinot Noir. 13.6% alcohol. 40 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

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