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Reviewed Wineries

Wines of the Month - February 2016

Monday, February 29, 2016

A look at some of the top wines from my tastings this month. Formal reviews to be published in Wine Enthusiast.

There were a large number of standout wines in my tastings this month, some of which are listed below. Of particular note are recent releases from Gramercy Cellars. As I noted on the WWR Facebook page recently, I sample these wines over more than a week’s time and they sung happily along the whole time. Impressive to see, especially from a warm vintage. The wines are all notable for their focus on purity and texture. I didn’t list them below in the interest of space but the winery’s 2013 Lower East Cabernet and 2012 The Deuece Syrah are also well worth a look. To the wines!

Auclair Cabernet Franc Red Wine Artz Vineyard Red Mountain 2013 $42
Varietal Cabernet Franc is a rarity from this appellation, which seems a shame as the grape clearly thrives here (see the Franc-heavy blends from Cadence). This wine offers abundant cherry and herb aromas and flavors with a captivating mouthfeel.

Avennia Gravura Red Wine Columbia Valley 2013 $35
Predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, much of the appeal of this wine comes from its impeccable sense of balance. The herb and red and black fruit flavors are rich yet reserved. It provides a lot of value as well.

Avennia Sestina Red Wine Columbia Valley 2013 $65
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up nearly three quarters of this blend, with the fruit coming from older plantings at some of the state’s top sites. The wine is all about subtlety and nuance, with aromas and flavors of earth, pink peppercorn, currant and dried herb.

Bridge Press Cellars Cabernet Franc XL Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2013 $30
This wine is notable for being one of the early vineyard designates to come out of this vineyard in the SeVein project above Seven Hills Vineyard. It displays a mixture of fruit and barrel (French and American), with aromas and flavors of herb, cocoa, vanilla and baking spice.

Eight Bells Winery David’s Block Red Wine Red Willow Vineyard Yakima Valley 2012 $35
Coming from a block designed by the late Columbia Winery winemaker David Lake, this wine is just over half Cabernet Sauvignon, with the balance the five other Bordeaux varieties. There’s plenty of complexity to the earth, herb, and fruit aromas, while the palate brings a lovely sense of texture and balance.

Eight Bells 8 Clones Syrah Red Willow Vineyard Yakima Valley 2013 $32
This wine is a consistent standout from this winery and the latest vintage does not disappoint. It boasts perfumed aromas and flavors of orange peel, flowers, and red and blue fruit. The purity is downright dazzling.

Passing Time Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills 2013 $75
This is the second vintage of this wine from former NFL quarterbacks Damon Huard and Dan Marino, with Chris Peterson of Avennia serving as winemaker. The Cabernet all comes from Discovery Vineyard and provides a forward, downright irresistible wine that shows impeccable balance.

Gramercy Cellars The Third Man Grenache Columbia Valley 2013 $42
I believe this is the first vintage of this wine to carry a varietal designation, though Syrah (19%) and Mourvedre (5%) still contribute to the wine. It’s all about purity and clarity, with generous red and blue fruit aromas and flavors, along with spice accents.

Gramercy Cellars Lower East Syrah Columbia Valley 2013 $28
Wow. Syrah at this level of quality at this price. Fans of this winery will find a whole lot to enjoy here, with directly appealing aromas of herbs, smoked meat and stems that lead to pure fruit and savory flavors and plenty of hang time.

Gramercy Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2012 $48
Tasting the 2012 Lower East Cabernet Sauvignon last year, ostensibly made from lesser fruit, you knew that this wine was going to be good. It does not disappoint, with dark, dense fruit flavors that have plenty of liveliness. Give it some time in the cellar or a long decant.

Kontos Cellars Alatus Red Wine Blend Walla Walla Valley 2012 $38
Cabernet and Merlot make up three quarters of this wine with the rest Malbec and Syrah. The aromas are reserved while the palate brings a mouthful of dark fruit, vanilla and baking spice flavors. It’s the crazy long finish that really captures the attention though.

Woodward Canyon Chardonnay Washington State 2014 $44
Woodward Canyon consistently excels with this variety, crafting some of the best Chardonnay to be found in the state vintage after vintage. The emphasis is always on nuance and detail as it is here on this blend of Celilo and Estate vineyards.

See previous 'Wines of the Month' here.

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