Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for March 2016. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast's on-line database here.
A lot of exciting wines in the March issue. Sleight of Hand Cellars - already a consistent standout producer - has crafted some of their best wines to date, with the Sleight of Hand 2013 The Sorceress Grenache Columbia Valley ($60, 93 points); 2013 Psychedelic Stoney Vine Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley ($60, 95 points); and 2013 Levitation Syrah Columbia Valley ($45, 93 points).
Sticking with Rhone-style wines, few do them better than Syncline Wine Cellars. Check out their 2013 Grenache-Carignan Horse Heaven Hills ($25, 92 points) and 2013 McKinley Springs Vineyard Syrah Horse Heaven Hills ($30, 93 points).
There are also several new wineries of note listed below. La Rata is a new project from Elizabeth Bourcier, assistant vigneron at Cayuse Vineyards. The winery's first release, La Rata 2012 Red Blend Walla Walla Valley ($70, 94 points) is a unique blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Cabernet. It's a stunner. Meanwhile long-time winemaker Co Dinn (formerly of Hogue Cellars) continues to impress with his new wines, the Co Dinn 2013 Painted Hills Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley ($60, 91 points) and 2013 Roskamp Vineyard Block Two Syrah Snipes Mountain ($50, 93 points). Finally, Les Trouvés, a negociant label from Avennia, released its first white wine, 2013 Rhône-style White Blend Washington ($18, 90 points). It's a delicious blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, and Viognier.
Walla Walla Valley's Five Star Cellars always flies below the radar but consistently produces top quality wines as indicated below. The Five Star Cellars 2012 Sangiovese Walla Walla Valley ($30, 91 points) in particular is one of the better examples of the variety I've had from the state.
If you're looking for wines for the cellar, look no further than two wines from Woodward Canyon: the Woodward Canyon 2012 Estate Reserve Red Blend Walla Walla Valley ($79, 94 points) and Woodward Canyon 2013 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon Washington ($99, 94 points). Give both significant time or an extended (think a day, not an hour) decant.
On the white wine front, L'Ecole No 41 produced two winners from the warm 2014 vintage, the
2014 Luminesce Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Grown Walla Walla Valley ($22, 91 points) and 2014 Chardonnay Columbia Valley ($25, 90 points).
In terms of value wines, you won't find a better example of Merlot for the price than the Hogue 2013 Genesis Merlot Columbia Valley $16 90 points. The North by Northwest 2013 The Explorer Series Red Blend Columbia Valley ($15, 90 points) is also well worth checking out.
14 Hands 2013 Reserve M-S-G-V Rhône-style Red Blend Horse Heaven Hills $30 89 points
Mourvèdre and Syrah each make up a third of this wine with the rest Grenache and Viognier. The latter (12%) shows itself prominently on the aromas, with perfumed notes of purple flowers and orange peel that are followed by purple fruit, vanilla, coffee and spice. The palate offers elegant, yet sweet and flavorful pomegranate and cranberry flavors with pleasing spice accents.
àMaurice 2012 William Ivey Red Blend Columbia Valley $40 91 points
This wine is half Cabernet Sauvignon, with the balance Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It draws you into the glass with light, high-toned aromas of herbs, flowers and assorted spices. The palate brings a medley of black and red-fruit flavors, with herbal accents that display deftness, elegance and length. It’s drinking well now but should only improve with additional time in the bottle. Best after 2018.
àMaurice 2013 Anne Martin McCool Red Blend Columbia Valley $40 91 points
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, this wine opens with reserved aromas of herbs and assorted barrel spices, with blackberry lurking in the background. The plimp black-fruit flavors have depth and immediate appeal.
àMaurice 2013 Night Owl Estate Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $48 90 points
Merlot makes up 55% of this blend, with the balance Cabernet Sauvignon (27%) and equal parts Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The aromas of fresh and dried herbs and smoke enchant, while the palate expertly balances fruit and savory herb flavors, with tart acids providing the frame. It leans into the savory but with much to enjoy.
àMaurice 2013 Owl & Crown Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $65 90 points
The aromas of dried flowers and green herbs have yet to fully blossom, seeming light and elusive, with green pepper providing accents. The blackberry and black currant flavors are light and layered, with well-balanced tannins and an extended finish.
àMaurice 2012 Gamache Vineyard Malbec Columbia Valley $38 91 points
Aromas of dried herb, clove and plum are fresh. The flavors are supple and reserved, showing a pleasing tension between the fruit and acid that keeps the attention high. Editor’s Choice
àMaurice 2014 Boushey Vineyard Marsanne-Viognier Yakima Valley $35 89 points
The aromas of flowers, mineral, peach and almond are initially light but pleasing. The stone-fruit flavors are full bodied and sweet, pulling up ever so slightly on the finish.
àMaurice 2013 Fred Estate Syrah Walla Walla Valley $45 89 points
Bright aromas of freshly roasted coffee beans, brown stems, dried herbs, purple flowers, mineral and black pepper are followed by ethereally light fruit and savory flavors that focus on elegance. This wine provides plenty of interest but the finish seems a bit clipped. It might lengthen out with aging.
àMaurice 2014 Boushey Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $45 89 points
Coming from one of the state’s premier Syrah vineyards, this warm-vintage wine seems aromatically quiet, with light aromas of funk, earth, red berries and coffee. Flavors are generous and ripe, with the alcohol occasionally poking out.
àMaurice 2014 Fred Estate Syrah Walla Walla Valley $45 88 points
The berry, herb and coffee aromas are light and are followed by high-toned potpourri notes. It’s full in feel but with lighter-styled flavors, with the tannins showing some astringency.
Amavi 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $32 91 points
Aromas of cocoa, herb, woodspice and blue and black fruit lead to lush, palate-coating dark fruit flavors that display depth and richness, backed by a dry lick of tannins.
Amavi 2014 Semillon Walla Walla Valley $24 89 points
Honeycomb, fig and herb aromas are followed by textured flavors that show intensity and persistence.
Amavi 2013 Syrah Walla Walla Valley $32 89 points
Les Collines and Stone Valley fruit make up 75% of this wine with the rest coming from Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge and Summit View. It offers generous aromas of blueberry puree, dried herbs, red fruit, woodspice, dried flowers and mineral. The flavors bring the same but are more pulled-back than the aromas suggest, with a bit of astringency that holds the wine back.
Anew 2014 Riesling Columbia Valley $11 88 points
Light aromas of jasmine and honeysuckle lead to off-dry, spritzy-feeling stone-fruit flavors. It’s an enjoyable wine made in a drink-now style. Best Buy
Barnard Griffin 2014 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $11 88 points
Aromas of tangerine and melon are light but display nuance. It tingles the palate with a broad, textured feel and a finish that sails. Best Buy
Barnard Griffin 2013 Merlot Columbia Valley $17 83 points
The aromas of cinnamon, kelp, and dried fruit are unusual and don’t seem in harmony. The gamy flavors bring some appeal but don’t entirely come together.
Barnard Griffin 2014 Syrah Columbia Valley $17 89 points
Immediate in its appeal, this young wine is redolent with aromas of blueberry and huckleberry pie. The blue-fruit flavors are saturated and smooth in feel, trailing a touch toward the finish.
Barons 2012 Petit Baron Red Blend Columbia Valley $22 90 points
The aromas of purple flowers, moist soil, spice and vanilla offer intrigue. It’s palate-coating with plum and dark-fruit flavors that bring a weighty, full feel. It will drink best at the dinner table.
Barons 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $45 90 points
The aromas explore Cabernet’s greener side, with overt notes of bell pepper along with vanilla and other barrel spices. The black-fruit flavors show richness, with grainy tannins backing them up. This wine is best for those who enjoy the variety’s savory aspects.
Barons 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $65 88 points
Aromas of golden raisins, fig, licorice and vanilla lead to full-feeling dark-fruit flavors, with the tannins bringing a sense of grittiness. Time might smooth things, but the aromas already seem a bit dried out.
Barons 2014 Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $18 85 points
The aromas of high-toned herbs, butter and toast seem to show some oxygen exposure, giving a latex-paint smell and leading to elegantly styled pineapple, kiwi and papaya flavors. It’s tropical fruit in a glass.
Betz Family 2013 Cuvée Frangin Red Blend Columbia Valley $35 90 points
The second vintage of this declassified barrel wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Syrah. It provides aromas of blackberry, pencil eraser, coffee, strawberry and herbs. The palate boasts plump, flavorful fruit and savory notes before a lingering finish.
Betz Family 2013 Besoleil Rhône-style Red Blend Columbia Valley $47 92 points
This wine is a blend of Grenache (49%), Syrah (20%), Cinsault (16%), Mourvèdre (9%) and Counoise. Complex aromas of raspberry, blueberry, dried herbs and pepper lead to reserved yet rich fruit flavors that put a premium on purity. Give it time to open up.
Betz Family 2013 La Côte Rousse Syrah Red Mountain $57 93 points
Aromas of iron, fresh-roasted coffee beans, high-toned dried herbs, mineral, blue fruit and savory spices explode from the glass. This wine coats the palate from end to end with supple, dense fruit and savory flavors that feel sleek but still show depth. The tannins bring some heft.
Betz Family 2013 La Côte Patriarche Syrah Yakima Valley $57 93 points
Coming from the state’s first Syrah vineyard, this wine offers aromas of thistle, smoke, blackberry and blue fruit, along with mineral and pomegranate accents—still seeming to need time to settle in. The flavors show superb delicacy and impressive length. It wins on its subtleties rather than sheer opulence, though it has plenty of both.
Betz Family 2013 La Serenne Syrah Yakima Valley $57 92 points
The aromas of dark fruit, mineral, smoked meat, coffee and spice are brooding, not yet fully revealing their charms. Elegant yet penetrating, the fruit and savory flavors coat the palate from end to end with supple-feeling fruit flavors and a lengthy finish.
Bontzu 2014 Gewürztraminer Walla Walla Valley $16 85 points
The aromas of lees and spice are light for the variety. It drinks off dry, with flower and lees flavors.
Bontzu 2013 Grenache Walla Walla Valley $36 90 points
This wine is all varietal from Cockburn Ranch near the Blue Mountains. Aromas of vanilla, fresh dill, orange zest and red fruit lead to plump fruit and barrel flavors that show a sense of nuance and persistence.
Bontzu 2013 G-S-M Walla Walla Valley $29 91 points
Grenache (60%) makes up the majority of this wine, with the rest fleshed out by Syrah (28%) and Mourvèdre, all aged in used French puncheons. Expressive fruit aromas offer notes of boysenberry, raspberry, orange peel and spice. The flavors are velvety in feel and linger on the finish.
Bontzu 2013 Malbec Walla Walla Valley $30 89 points
Vanilla, thyme, dill and plum aromas are followed by plentiful fruit and barrel flavors that possess a pleasing mouthfeel. The oak is out front at times, especially on the aromas, but the wine is appealing.
Brian Carter Cellars 2010 Solesce Stone Tree Vineyard Red Blend Wahluke Slope $55 92 points
This is the first vintage of the winery’s flagship wine to receive a vineyard designation. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (61%), Merlot (24%), Merlot and Petit Verdot, it offers brooding aromas of dried herbs and tobacco along with coffee and barrel spice. The style is reserved but it still brings a lot of richness along with lively acidity, exceptional balance, well-integrated tannins and a lengthy finish.
Brian Carter Cellars 2011 Trentenaire Red Blend Columbia Valley $45 92 points
While Petit Verdot is often relegated to being a minor blending component, it makes up a full 51% of this wine with the balance Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. High-toned, locked-up aromas of herbs, flowers, tobacco and cocoa are followed by fruit flavors backed by lively acids and firm but well-integrated tannins.
Brian Carter Cellars 2011 Le Coursier Red Blend Columbia Valley $34 91 points
This is a blend of two-thirds Merlot topped off with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Mocha, raspberry and high-toned herb and spice aromas lead to elegant yet rich and well-balanced fruit flavors. It’s a delight.
Brian Carter Cellars 2011 One Shaw Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $50 91 points
This winery has made its mark over the years exclusively with blended wines, yet here is a single-varietal, single-vineyard offering. The aromas are expressive with notes of black cherry and high-toned herbs along with spice accents. The dark fruit and licorice flavors are tightly wound with a core of firm tannins and lively acids. Editor’s Choice
Brian Carter Cellars 2011 Tuttorosso Red Blend Yakima Valley $34 88 points
This wine is a blend of Sangiovese (69%), Cabernet Sauvignon (17%) and Syrah. Dried raspberry, herb and cocoa aromas lead to reserved cranberry and cherry flavors that linger.
Brian Carter Cellars 2013 Abracadabra Red Blend Columbia Valley $22 88 points
Roasted coffee bean, ember and spice aromas take the lead on this blend. The flavors display the same, showing a surprising amount of restraint for the vintage.
Brian Carter Cellars 2013 Opulento Red Blend Yakima Valley $22 87 points
This wine is a blend of Touriga Nacional (58%), Souzao (21%), Tinta Roriz (11%) and Tinta Cao. Exceptionally light blue-fruit aromas are followed by sweet plum and coffee flavors that provide enjoyment but don’t entirely come together.
Brian Carter Cellars 2011 Byzance Rhône-style Red Blend Columbia Valley $34 91 points
Grenache (56%) takes the lead on this blend, which also includes Syrah, Mourvèdre, Counoise and Cinsault. It offers aromas of celery salt, coffee and dark berries. The palate brings fruit flavors that display the best this vintage has to offer—richness without excessive weight. The finish persists. Editor’s Choice
Brian Carter Cellars 2012 One Boushey Vineyard Sangiovese Yakima Valley $50 90 points
Spice, licorice, coffee, herb and gunsmoke aromas are followed by tart, vibrant cranberry and cherry flavors. This wine shows a lot of delicacy, balance and restraint, with the oak occasionally getting a bit out front. The variety doesn’t always show through but the wine delivers a lot of enjoyment.
Brian Carter Cellars NV One Upland Vineyard Touriga Nacional Snipes Mountain $50 89 points
Examples of this variety are rare in the state. Aromas pop with heaping amounts of fresh flowers and orange peel that are reminiscent of freesia in their intensity. The coffee and blue-fruit flavors are smooth and sultry, showing pleasing depth.
Browne Family Vineyards 2014 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $30 87 points
Vanilla, coconut and toast aromas are vibrant and out-front, followed by tropical fruit. This wine is full bodied with a viscous, almost oily feel that persists through the finish. It offers some good things, but the variety gets lost in the style.
Burnt Bridge 2013 Cove Cuvée Red Blend Columbia Valley $25 88 points
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot, all from Burgess Vineyard. The aromas display each variety in turn, with notes of high-toned herbs followed by plum and dried cherries. Tart flavors show a focus on acid, and are far more elegant in style than most wines from this vintage.
Burnt Bridge 2013 Pont Brûlé Rhône-style Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $35 88 points
Grenache (38%) takes the lead followed by Mourvèdre (34%) and Syrah, with the fruit coming from Seven Hills and Les Collines vineyards. Blueberry pie, herb and spice aromas are followed by extracted blue and black-fruit flavors that bring some warmth along with them.
Burnt Bridge 2013 Coyote Canyon Vineyard Syrah Horse Heaven Hills $35 89 points
Assorted blue fruit, coffee, green tea and barrel-spice aromas lead to full-bodied fruit flavors that carry a touch of warmth.
Burnt Bridge 2013 Les Collines Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $35 89 points
Hailing from one of the state’s premier Syrah sites, this wine leads with aromas of berry, coffee, chicory and violets. The flavors are supple, backed by lightly grainy tannins.
Buty 2013 Conner Lee Vineyard Merlot-Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley $45 90 points
While Merlot makes up the majority of this blend, the Cabernet Franc seems in the lead, with aromas of leafy green herbs, bell pepper, flowers and savory notes. The feel is silky and polished, showing richness and deftness with a finish that lingers. Some warmth holds it back.
Buty 2012 Rediviva of the Stones Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $60 91 points
A unique blend of Syrah (78%), Cabernet Sauvignon (13%) and Mourvèdre, this low-alcohol wine (for the vintage and region) offers aromas of high-toned dried herbs, earth, smoked meat, smoke and white pepper. The citrusy fire-pit flavors are elegant and show persistence. It’s a unique expression of the area that should do well on the dinner table.
Canoe Ridge 2014 The Expedition Pinot Gris Horse Heaven Hills $15 85 points
This wine is all about feel, with light aromas of soda water leading to off-dry, broad-feeling flavors that go down easy.
Canoe Ridge 2012 Cherry Street Reserve Red Blend Horse Heaven Hills $25 91 points
This blend of Syrah (58%), Merlot (33%) and Malbec (9%) offers immediate appeal, with ready-to-go aromas of raspberry compote, mocha and cranberries. The polished red-fruit flavors show depth. Editor’s Choice
Canoe Ridge 2014 The Expedition Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $15 83 points
Muscat gummy and herb aromas are followed by dry tropical fruit and ale flavors that are lightly styled. Drink now.
Castillo De Feliciana 2014 Estate Vineyard Albariño Walla Walla Valley $24 87 points
The aromas of flowers and freshly cut pear, melon and starfruit are bright and fresh. This wine is dry and thick in feel with abundant citrus-rind flavors. There’s enjoyment to be had but it gets bogged down in the middle.
Castillo De Feliciana 2013 Estate Vineyard Malbec Walla Walla Valley $45 89 points
The oak (two-thirds new French and American) leads, with aromas of cocoa, cinnamon and spice followed by plum. The palate shows an elegant styling but with good intensity to the flavors.
Charles & Charles 2014 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $14 87 points
The pear and almond-butter aromas are quite light. The palate reveals more, with an elegant, textured feel and a finish that lingers.
Charles & Charles 2014 Riesling Yakima Valley $13 87 points
A new offering from this partnership, this wine brings aromas of jasmine, lime and dried Nestea Ice Tea. It tingles the palate with lightly spritzy, off-dry lemon and peach flavors with a floral finish.
Chateau Rollat 2011 Edouard Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $62 91 points
Aromas convey cedar, savory herb, earth, black licorice and cherry. The dark flavors are reserved in style but still display richness, supported by fine-grained tannins.
Chateau Rollat 2011 Rollat Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $38 86 points
The fig, licorice and spice aromas seem somewhat dried out and tired. The cherry and cranberry flavors are smooth, with the tannins showing some grit. Drink now.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2013 Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $18 90 points
Aromas of barrel spice, vanilla, dill and blue-black fruit are bright and focused. The plum and barrel flavors show depth and a sense of texture, with lingering flavors. This wine is not typically Cabernet but it offers much appeal.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2014 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $11 86 points
Pear, butter and spice aromas lead to tingly, broad-feeling flavors that are straight down the fairway. Best Buy
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2012 Cold Creek Vineyard Merlot Columbia Valley $30 90 points
Aromas of cedar, vanilla, raspberry, coffee, herbs and barrel spice are followed by concentrated fruit flavors backed by firm tannins. It’s a delicious example of the variety.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2013 Indian Wells Merlot Columbia Valley $18 88 points
Barrel aromas of vanilla, coconut and toast are at the fore followed by luxurious coffee and plum flavors that linger. Grainy tannins back it all up.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2012 Indian Wells Red Blend Columbia Valley $18 88 points
This wine is equal parts Syrah and Merlot (43% each), with the balance a smattering of other varieties. The coffee and berry aromas seem faint while the palate delivers all of the plush fruit flavors this vintage has to offer.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2014 Dry Riesling Columbia Valley $9 87 points
Bright aromas of lime, white flowers, pear and white peach are followed by bone-dry, lively fruit flavors. It’s a winner by itself but will also shine on the dinner table. Best Buy
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2013 Syrah Columbia Valley $15 90 points
Notes of olive, herbs, flowers, orange peel, gravel, meat, coffee and light barrel spices leap up on a wine that shows a lot of aromatic complexity. The fruit and savory flavors are plush and full in feel followed by a lingering finish. There’s a whole lot of wine delivered for this price. Best Buy
Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen 2008 Single Berry Select Riesling Columbia Gorge $200 95 points
A full seven years old, this wine is amber in color. Aromas of dried apple and orange peel, honey and brown sugar fill the glass. It’s supremely rich, honeyed and layered, showing exquisite depth and balance as well as exceptional length.
Co Dinn 2013 Painted Hills Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $60 91 points
The first red release from this new winery, this wine brings aromatic suggestions of vanilla, spice, plum and herb. Balanced red and black fruit flavors are sumptuous yet sleek with a finish that lingers.
Co Dinn 2013 Roskamp Vineyard Block Two Syrah Snipes Mountain $50 93 points
Coming from a single vineyard block and aged in neutral oak, this wine delivers varietal and site specificity. The dark-fruit flavors are layered and come in waves, showing great intensity along with exceptional balance, with a finish that lingers. It’s an impressive inaugural release.
Columbia Crest 2014 H3 Chardonnay Horse Heaven Hills $15 87 points
Vanilla, toast and stone-fruit aromas are followed by light, elegantly styled flavors that show persistence. It comes off as a bit faint but what’s there is pleasing.
Columbia Crest 2013 Reserve Grenache Horse Heaven Hills $35 89 points
Aromas of coffee, gravel and boysenberry are followed by pillowy-soft fruit and barrel flavors. It displays delicacy and nuance.
Columbia Crest 2013 Reserve Malbec Horse Heaven Hills $35 90 points
Barrel aromas of clove, vanilla and woodspice are followed by purple fruit and herb flavors. This wine shows a sense of finesse, with the mouthfeel contributing much of the appeal.
Columbia Crest 2013 Grand Estates Red Blend Columbia Valley $12 88 points
Half of this wine is Merlot, with the rest Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Blueberry, coffee and vanilla aromas are followed by sultry plum flavors speckled with barrel accents before a mocha-flavored finish. Best Buy
Columbia Crest 2013 Les Chevaux Red Blend Horse Heaven Hills $15 87 points
Merlot and Syrah make up the bulk of this wine, with the remainder pinches of Viognier and Cabernet Franc. Fresh flower, plum and milk chocolate aromas are followed by appealing sweet fruit and barrel flavors.
Columbia Crest 2013 Reserve Syrah Horse Heaven Hills $35 85 points
This wine shows unusually prominent aromas and flavors of dried rice that are followed by wilted flowers, dried leaves, cocoa and dark fruit. It doesn’t all come together.
Columbia Winery 2013 Limited Release Cabernet Franc Horse Heaven Hills $35 90 points
Herb and flower aromas mix with notes of coffee and dark fruit. The licorice and black-fruit flavors show intensity, with a lick of tannins in the background.
Columbia Winery 2013 Limited Release Tempranillo Horse Heaven Hills $35 89 points
Light aromas of vanilla, coconut, exotic spices and blue fruit are followed by plump, tart fruit flavors and firm, somewhat astringent tannins. There are a lot of good things going on but the tannins need to be tamed.
Cougar Crest 2010 Anniversary Cuvée Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $40 86 points
Aromas of birthday cake, fig, tobacco, soy and shitake take this lead on this blend that seems advanced. Flavors are tart and silky, with slightly gritty tannins. Drink now.
Cougar Crest 2012 Estate Grown Malbec Walla Walla Valley $35 85 points
This wine comes in with a low, unheard-of (in Washington) 12.2% alcohol. The aromas offer reticent and unusual notes of wheat, lemongrass, tobacco, vanilla and herbs while the flavors are tart and supple. It doesn’t seem outright underripe but comes off as faint.
Cougar Crest 2012 Dedication Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $20 86 points
Coming in at a strikingly low alcohol for the vintage, the fruit in this blend doesn’t seem to have fully ripened, with strong aromas of freshly sliced jalapeño along with leafy herbs. The flavors are tart and elegant, broadening on the finish.
Cougar Crest 2010 Estate Grown Syrah Walla Walla Valley $38 89 points
This wine is five years old and is starting to show its age. Aromas of dried tobacco, tomato leaf, mesquite and vanilla are followed by velvety-feeling fruit flavors that show a pleasing persistence. Drink now.
ded.reckoning 2013 Cutlass Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $20 89 points
The aromas of cigar box, lemon peel, woodspice and green herbs are distinctive. The palate brings tart, spritely acids, sultry fruit flavors and firm, somewhat blocky tannins. It needs to be on a dinner table to show its best.
Ded.Reckoning 2008 No. 11 Klipsun Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $35 87 points
Aromas of dried cherry, vanilla, Red Vines, woodspice and cocoa show some volatility. The pit fruit and cinnamon flavors pack a punch, backed by firm, gritty tannins.
ded.reckoning 2013 Flintlock Merlot Yakima Valley $20 88 points
While unusual for the variety, the herb, lemon and orange zest, berry, green pepper and asphalt aromas provide intrigue. The fruit flavors are plump but light, showing good length. This wine provides enjoyment, though Merlot wouldn’t be a first guess.
Dowsett Family 2014 Aunt Diane’s Vineyard Riesling Columbia Gorge $16 88 points
Perfumed aromas offer notes of white flowers, mineral and pink grapefruit. The flavors are dry and elegantly styled with a lingering finish. It will drink well at the dinner table.
Dumas Station 2012 Cuvee No. 439 Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $44 91 points
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, this wine leads with aromas of barrel spices, graphite, cassis and black licorice. It’s full flavored, with a core of blackberry and barrel-spice notes that glide on the finish.
Dumas Station 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $38 91 points
This generous wine pulls no punches with aromas of pencil lead, vanilla, fig and blackberry that are followed by rich dark-fruit flavors speckled with oak accents throughout. Fruit and barrel sail on the finish.
Efeste 2014 Oldfield Estate Rosé Yakima Valley $20 91 points
This is the inaugural release from the winery’s estate site, which sits next to famed Boushey Vineyard. A pale salmon color, it’s a field blend of Mourvèdre and Grenache, redolent with aromas and flavors of strawberry, orange peel and spice, along with mouthwatering acidity that ties it all together. It’s thoroughly delightful. Editor’s Choice
Elevation Cellars 2011 Monolith Red Blend Columbia Valley $38 88 points
This blend is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon with the rest Merlot and a pinch of Malbec. Woodspice aromas and flavors take the lead followed by an assortment of red and black-fruit flavors that seem a bit dried out. The tannins bring some grit.
Elevation Cellars 2010 Monolith Red Blend Columbia Valley $36 88 points
Barrel aromas of vanilla and spice are initially in the lead on this Cabernet Sauvignon (71%) dominant blend along with blistered red pepper. The palate offers reserved cherry and herb flavors, bright acidity and grainy tannins.
Elevation Cellars 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $27 89 points
Reserved aromas of flowers, anise, plum and barrel spice lead to compact fruit and tannins with mouthwatering acids. Give it time to open up.
Elevation Cellars 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $45 88 points
Fruit and barrel vie for attention on the aromas. The black licorice and spice flavors seem compact, with the tannins bringing some astringency. It needs time in the cellar to come into its own.
Elevation Cellars 2011 Merlot Columbia Valley $25 88 points
All varietal, this wine leads with an unusual assortment of aromas that include anise, smoke, cigar box, vanilla and ripe blackberry. The flavors are tart and compact with a grainy feel. It provides intrigue but the variety seems to get lost.
Elevation Cellars 2014 Imperium Riesling Columbia Valley $17 88 points
Bright aromas of freshly rubbed lime leaf, ripe peach and herbs lead to off-dry tangerine and stone-fruit flavors, perked up by tart acidity.
Elevation Cellars 2014 Sauvignon Blanc Wahluke Slope $22 87 points
This wine all comes from Rosebud vineyard and is blended with 17% Sémillon. Bright aromas of lees, pineapple, fig and lemon are followed by tart, full-bodied flavors with mouthwatering acidity.
Elevation Cellars 2013 Black Peak Tempranillo Wahluke Slope $38 88 points
Fruit mixes with barrel, with aromas of plum, coffee and exotic spices along with a kiss of vanilla. This wine is richly flavored, with the tannins bringing some astringency and dryness.
Five Star Cellars 2009 Stellar Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $48 91 points
A blend of all five Bordeaux varieties with Cabernet (70%) and Merlot (18%) taking the lead, this wine offers aromas of vanilla, leather, Red Vines, dried fruit and cherry cordial, with barrel influences out front. The red and black-fruit flavors are tart and generous, with a steely spine of tannins backing them up. It’s in a sweet spot. Drink up.
Five Star Cellars 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $36 90 points
Reticent aromas of herbs, cherry, barrel spice and green pepper lead to elegant, soft-feeling cherry and dark chocolate flavors backed by grainy tannins. It’s a very pretty expression of the variety.
Five Star Cellars 2012 Merlot Walla Walla Valley $34 90 points
The mocha, spice and dark raspberry aromas seem quite locked-up at present. The red and black fruit flavors meanwhile show subtlety and depth.
Five Star Cellars 2012 Sangiovese Walla Walla Valley $30 91 points
Brooding aromas of pomegranate, strawberry and spice lead to tart cranberry and raspberry flavors that display exceptional balance, detail and length, with high-wire acidity. Editor’s Choice
Five Star Cellars 2012 Syrah Walla Walla Valley $34 91 points
The aromas of dark plum and blackberry display purity and freshness. Elegant flavors show depth and finesse, with a lingering finish. It’s a very pretty expression of the variety.
Force Majeure 2013 Estate Grown Force Majeure Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $90 92 points
Cabernet’s signature herb aromas are on full display, riding high above notes of mineral, licorice, barrel spices and dark fruit. The black-fruit flavors are tart, layered and velvety in feel, surrounded by firm tannins that need time in the cellar to unwind. It has the legs to go the distance. Best after 2022. Cellar Selection
Force Majeure 2013 Estate Grown Force Majeure Vineyard Syrah Red Mountain $70 92 points
The aromas of ground granite, dark raspberries, plum and pencil lead have not yet fully unfurled but still offer immediate allure. Flavors are saturated and layered, with the tannins providing some heft. It’s a serious wine that provides a whole lot of enjoyment and that should benefit from time in the cellar.
Force Majeure 2014 Estate Grown Viognier Red Mountain $45 91 points
Aromas of honeysuckle, peach, mineral and barrel spice are expressive and provide detail. This wine is full bodied and rich, yet exceptionally well balanced, with a finish that lingers.
Frost Bitten 2014 Ice Riesling Yakima Valley $13 88 points
Aromas of white flowers, tangerine, honey and ginger are vibrant on this cryo-frozen wine. The flavors are sweet, tapering toward the finish.
Full Pull & Friends 2013 Bacchus Vineyard Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley $34 90 points
Aromas offer an assortment of high-toned black licorice, woodspice and dark-cherry notes. The rich black-fruit flavors reflect the warm vintage while staying in balance.
Full Pull & Friends 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $34 89 points
Already six years old, this wine offers aromas of black licorice, dried cherry, vanilla, clove and abundant wood spices. The flavors of black fruit, licorice and barrel spice intertwine and carry through the finish. The wood is a bit out front at times but the wine still delivers a lot of enjoyment.
Full Pull & Friends 2011 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $23 90 points
This négociant-style wine offers immediate appeal. Aromas of lemon, candle wax, mineral, lees and toast are followed by lively, sleek citrus flavors. This was a banner vintage for Washington whites and this wine is batting cleanup.
Full Pull & Friends 2013 Red Willow Vineyard Merlot Yakima Valley $34 90 points
Raspberry, licorice and dark-fruit aromas lead to plump, fleshy fruit flavors. It’s an unabashedly warm-vintage wine that brings a lot of drinking pleasure.
Full Pull & Friends 2013 Angela’s Vineyard Syrah Red Mountain $34 90 points
Jammy blackberry, huckleberry and spice aromas lead to a full-flavored palate. There’s no mistaking the warm vintage and warm region this wine comes from. Give it time to open up.
Gamache 2012 Vineyard Select Reserve Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley $40 90 points
Woodspice, herb and coffee aromas vie for attention on this blend of Champoux (60%) and Ciel du Cheval vineyard fruit. The black-fruit flavors show a good sense of balance that lingers through the long, mesquite-accented finish.
Gamache 2012 Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley $25 88 points
Vanilla, licorice, herb and woodspice aromas are followed by slightly gritty-feeling cranberry flavors. This wine is interesting, but it doesn’t all come together.
Gamache 2012 Vineyard Select Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $50 90 points
Champoux and Ciel du Cheval vineyards each make up 40% of this wine, with the balance coming from Gamache. It’s locked-up tightly at present with earth, tar, cherry, high-toned herb and barrel-spice aromas leading to focused black-fruit flavors that display elegance and persistence. Give it time to open up.
Gamache 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $30 86 points
From a cool vintage, this wine shows aromas of bell pepper, fresh and dried herbs, and raspberries. The fruit and savory flavors are light and tart, with cranberry-like acidity and a tight core of tannins that needs time to unwind.
Gamache 2011 Estate Grown Malbec Columbia Valley $30 89 points
Aromas of blue and purple fruit mix with notes of dried thyme and black pepper. The flavors are tart and elegant, showing a good sense of balance and restraint, with a finish that lingers.
Gamache 2011 Merlot Columbia Valley $25 88 points
Brooding aromas of coffee, vanilla and herbs lead to elegantly styled fruit flavors that taper toward the finish.
Gamache 2014 Estate Grown Riesling Columbia Valley $15 86 points
Pear, almond and toast aromas lead to dry, elegant fruit and lees flavors. It’s a uniquely styled offering of the variety.
Gamache 2013 Estate Select Gamache Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $20 83 points
Aromas of butter and vanilla overwhelm any sense of the variety. The oak remains out-front on the palate, which seems broad but lacks the acidity to hold it together.
Gamache 2014 Viognier Columbia Valley $20 85 points
The variety seems to get lost in the aromas, with light notes of lees, stone fruit and almond. This wine is full in feel, with elegant peach flavors.
Genoa 2012 Danforth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $37 90 points
The pencil lead, herb and vanilla aromas start out light and elusive. The black-cherry flavors, in contrast, are expressive, showing a good sense of balance and length.
Genoa 2012 Leeway Reserve Boushey Vineyard Merlot Yakima Valley $33 88 points
Vanilla, coconut shavings, earth and dark-fruit aromas are followed by full-bodied fruit and barrel flavors. It delivers enjoyment, but the variety seems to get lost in the oak.
Genoa 2012 Flying Colors Super Tuscan-Style Red Blend Columbia Valley $29 89 points
Half Cabernet with the rest Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Mourvèdre and Petit Verdot, this wine opens with aromas of sweet barrel spices followed by dried red and black fruit. The palate is fruit-forward and flavorful, bringing you back for another sip.
Genoa 2012 Traveler Sangiovese Columbia Valley $29 88 points
Barrel aromas of vanilla, coconut, coffee and spice mix with black cherry on a wine that displays a whiff of volatility. The flavors are full and lush, with the Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) and Merlot (10%) helping to flesh it all out. The variety gets lost in the style but it delivers enjoyment.
Genoa 2013 Danger Buoy Sangiovese Walla Walla Valley $24 88 points
Sangiovese from this appellation is quite a rarity. This one offers aromas of vanilla, coconut and dark cherries that are followed by full-bodied fruit and barrel flavors. The variety gets lost in the oak but it still brings appeal.
Genoa 2012 Mainstay Sangiovese Red Mountain $29 87 points
The aromas of sage and other herbs are subdued, accented by vanilla and other barrel spices. In contrast, the cherry and dark-berry flavors are rich and concentrated. The disconnect between the two seems jarring but time might bring them together.
Genoa 2014 Tell-Tale Super-Tuscan-Style White Blend Columbia Valley $19 86 points
A blend of near-equal parts Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, this wine brings aromas of overripe pear and apple and toasted grapenuts that lead to dry, lightly fruit flavors. It’s a straightforward quaffer.
Genoa 2014 Springline White Blend Columbia Valley $19 86 points
An unusual blend of Viognier (50%), Chardonnay (19%), Sauvignon Blanc (19%) and Pinot Grigio, this wine offers reserved aromas of ripe banana that lead to stone fruit and citrus flavors that drink a hair off dry. The varieties don’t entirely mesh but it still brings enjoyment.
Hightower 2012 Reserve Red Blend Red Mountain $55 89 points
This wine could be labeled a Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes up 83% of the blend, with the rest Merlot. The aromas of fruit leather, dried blackberry, black licorice and medicine cabinet are bright, though they seem considerably more evolved than the wine’s age might indicate. The black-fruit flavors display a sense of balance that carries through the finish. Drink now.
Hightower 2013 Malbec Red Mountain $40 86 points
The Cabernet Franc blended in (24%) tussles with the Malbec on the aromas, with notes of green herbs, lemon twist, plum and barrel spice that don’t seem in harmony. The reserved flavors seem more united, showing a sense of elegance.
Hogue 2013 Genesis Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $16 88 points
Pleasing aromas of cocoa, bittersweet chocolate, dried herbs and plum lead to black-currant flavors that display a reserved styling. A light grip of tannins provides the frame.
Hogue 2014 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $10 87 points
Peach, tropical fruit and mineral aromas lead to broad, ripe fruit flavors, with toast accents. It doesn’t bring much complexity but provides plenty of appeal. Best Buy
Hogue 2013 Genesis Merlot Columbia Valley $16 90 points
Aromas of huckleberry, herbs and spice are fresh and focused. The fruit flavors are concentrated, with a supple feel and soft tannins. It displays a good sense of balance. Editor’s Choice
Hogue 2014 Late Harvest Riesling Yakima Valley $10 87 points
The aromas of jasmine, honeysuckle, ripe peach and botrytis are bright. The mouthwatering stone-fruit flavors are sweet and persist, with white flowers on the finish. Best Buy
J. Bookwalter 2013 Conflict Conner-Lee Vineyard Red Blend Columbia Valley $60 90 points
A blend of Merlot (60%), Cabernet Sauvignon (35%) and Cabernet Franc, this wine brings aromas of dried leaves, coffee, green pepper and black cherry. The blackberry and licorice flavors are full bodied, showing depth and lingering on the warm finish.
J. Bookwalter 2013 Protagonist Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $60 90 points
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 95% of this wine, with the balance Syrah. It seems reductive out of the gate, making it a challenge to get at the black-cherry aromas. The dark fruit, fig and herb flavors are full in feel, seeming slightly dried out and backed by surprisingly soft tannins for the variety.
J. Bookwalter 2013 Foreshadow Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $45 88 points
High-toned aromas of herbs, dark coffee, blue fruit and orange peel are followed by saturated black-fruit flavors.
J. Bookwalter 2013 Foreshadow Merlot Columbia Valley $42 90 points
The Malbec (17%) and Syrah (6%) in the blend make themselves known, with aromas of dark plum and peppery spices plus a toasty top note. Plump in feel, the flavors trail slightly toward the finish.
L'Ecole No. 41 2014 Luminesce Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Grown Bordeaux-style White Blend Walla Walla Valley $22 91 points
Equal parts Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc, this wine offers aromas of kiwi, spice and citrus that provide nuance and appeal. It’s textured and full in feel, stretching out on the finish. Editor’s Choice
L'Ecole No. 41 2014 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $25 90 points
This wine is a blend of Evergreen, Schmitt and Oasis vineyards. It displays a mixture of butter, tropical fruit and red-apple aromas that lead to creamy feeling flavors and a drawn-out finish that impresses.
L'Ecole No. 41 2014 Sémillon Columbia Valley $15 88 points
Blended with 20% Sauvignon Blanc, this wine starts out somewhat aromatically brooding, with notes of melon and toast. It brings plenty of texture and richness, with a creamy feel and a warm finish.
La Rata 2012 Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $70 94 points
This is the inaugural release from Elizabeth Bourcier, assistant vigneronne at Cayuse Vineyards. A unique blend of Grenache (60%) and Cabernet Sauvignon, it clearly comes from The Rocks, with the aromas of black olive, peat, fire pit, raspberry and herbs popping. The smoked meat and savory flavors show elegance, depth, detail and restraint, with a finish that sails. It’s a subtle, sublime wine that makes a statement. Editor’s Choice
Laelaps 2013 Seven Hills Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $44 91 points
Aromas of cranberry, raspberry, rose hips and green herbs are all high-toned. The red-fruit flavors are elegantly styled and fresh in feel, backed by soft, plump tannins. It shows hang time on the finish. This is a very pretty wine and a unique expression of the variety and vineyard.
Les Trouvés 2013 Rhône-style White Blend Washington $18 90 points
A blend of Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier, this wine offers restrained aromas of spice, almond and flowers. The palate shows a good sense of texture and tension as well as length.
Maryhill 2012 Proprietor’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $40 87 points
Two-thirds of this wine comes from McKinley Springs Vineyard with the rest from Kiona and Les Collines. Coffee, pencil lead, barrel spice and high-toned herb aromas lead to full-bodied coffee and cherry flavors. The tannins show some grit and grip.
Maryhill 2014 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $15 86 points
Aromas of toast and corn on the cob are followed by stone-fruit flavors that show equal parts fruit and barrel. The concentration at times seems a bit wanting and tied-up in the middle.
Maryhill 2012 McKinley Springs Vineyard Cinsault Horse Heaven Hills $26 87 points
Aromas of fresh raspberries, plum and spice provide intrigue, with some reductive notes providing a bit of distraction. The plum and spice flavors are broad in feel, needing more acidity to tighten them up.
Maryhill 2014 Viognier Columbia Valley $18 86 points
The pear, nectarine and floral aromas seem to lack clarity. This wine is full of stone-fruit flavors that bring a touch of sweetness and lead to a warm finish.
Maryhill 2012 Proprietor’s Reserve Zinfandel Columbia Valley $42 88 points
Toffee, exotic spice, vanilla, raspberry and cranberry aromas are backed by full-bodied fruit and barrel flavors. There’s a lot of fruit in the bottle but the oak seems to get in the way.
Mercer 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $20 87 points
Fruit and barrel mix on this wine, with aromas of mesquite, vanilla, spice and dark berries. The cherry flavors are wrapped in vanilla accents, with gritty tannins backing it all up.
Mercer 2014 Reserve Zephyr Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay Horse Heaven Hills $30 88 points
Tropical and stone-fruit aromas mix with notes of vanilla, cinnamon and other barrel spices. The palate is full bodied, with a rounded feel and a finish that carries. It shows some pleasing nuances.
Mercer 2013 Merlot Horse Heaven Hills $24 88 points
Barrel aromas of vanilla and graphite take the lead. The red-fruit flavors are ripe and jammy. There are plenty of good things going on but they don’t quite all come together.
Mercer 2013 Sharp Sisters Red Blend Horse Heaven Hills $24 88 points
Merlot and Syrah make up the majority of this blend. Aromas of cherry, coffee, pencil lead and barrel spices are initially light and elusive while the plum and vanilla and flavors are much more generous.
Mercer 2012 Reserve Ode to Brothers Rhône-style Red Blend Horse Heaven Hills $40 87 points
This is a blend of Syrah (41%), Grenache (31%) and Mourvèdre. Aromas of vanilla, coffee, game and spice are followed by fruit flavors that seem dried out. Drink now.
Mercer Canyons 2014 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $13 88 points
Pleasing aromas of butter, spice and apple lead to elegant, creamy-feeling flavors. It’s a very tasty, very varietally correct wine. Best Buy
Mercer Canyons 2014 Riesling Yakima Valley $13 84 points
Aromas of citrus, grape skin, peach and herbs are light for the variety. The tangerine flavors drink medium sweet, lacking clarity and concentration.
Milbrandt 2014 The Estates Evergreen Vineyard Chardonnay Ancient Lakes $22 89 points
This vineyard has already established itself as a premier Riesling site, but Chardonnay is increasingly gaining attention. Aromas of lees, mineral, toast and spice lead to an elegant but well-balanced palate, with flavors that linger.
Murray 2013 Syrah Red Mountain $20 88 points
Coffee, purple fruit and barrel-spice aromas lead to full-feeling blueberry and huckleberry-pie flavors. This wine offers a lot of immediate appeal.
Nine Hats 2013 Red Blend Columbia Valley $20 89 points
Cabernet Sauvignon (38%), Syrah (35%), Merlot (22%) and Sangiovese comprise this blend of declassified barrels. It displays aromas of mocha, barrel spices, dark berries and cranberry. The black-fruit flavors are ripe and generous, backed up by a firm lick of tannins.
North by Northwest 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $25 88 points
Aromas of dried herbs, bittersweet chocolate, coffee and cherry are varietal and lead to abundant woodspice accents. The palate offers lively acidity that frames the lithe yet sweet fruit flavors.
North by Northwest 2014 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $15 86 points
Light citrus and melon aromas lead to butter, lemon and tropical flavors. It’s straightforward and clean with a linear styling.
North by Northwest 2013 The Explorer Series Red Blend Columbia Valley $15 90 points
Aromas of coffee, toast, vanilla spice and dark fruit offer immediate appeal. The black-fruit flavors are ripe and generous, sticking around on the tart finish. Best Buy
North by Northwest 2014 Riesling Columbia Valley $15 88 points
Aromas of lime leaf and citrus lead to sleek, dry fruit flavors, speckled with lime notes on the finish. Pair it with shrimp ceviche.
North by Northwest 2012 Syrah Walla Walla Valley $35 87 points
Light volatile aromas distract from this blend of Seven Hills (75%) and Les Collines vineyards. The fruit flavors seem a bit leaner than expected and also somewhat dried out.
Noviello 2013 Brava Red Blend Red Mountain $48 89 points
This wine is half Cabernet Sauvignon, with the rest equal parts Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Golden raisin, medicinal notes and abundant barrel spice aromas lead to full but balanced flavors backed by grainy tannins.
Noviello 2014 French Creek Vineyard Chardonnay Yakima Valley $28 87 points
Aromas of banana, melon and lemon curd are bright and effusive. The tropical aromas carry on to the sleekly styled flavors that narrow toward the finish.
OS Winery 2013 Red Blend Yakima Valley $15 88 points
Unusual, high-toned aromas of green herbs, fresh flowers and pomegranate lead to smooth cherry and orange-peel flavors with abundant floral notes throughout. It provides lots of easy-drinking pleasure, though the floral notes at times seem overpowering.
OS Winery 2013 Sonas Cabernet Franc Yakima Valley $25 91 points
This wine explores the variety’s savory side, with aromas of fresh herbs, green pepper and dried tobacco followed by flowers and cherry. It brings suppleness and richness of flavor but also exceptionally well-balanced acidity with length to match, with cedar notes on the finish.
OS Winery 2013 Sonas Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $25 89 points
Despite coming from a warm vintage, this appealing, well-priced wine has plenty of acid to go with its sleek yet ripe fruit. The fresh herb and cherry aromas and flavors distinctly announce it as Cabernet, with smoke on the finish.
OS Winery 2013 Sonas Merlot Yakima Valley $25 88 points
High-toned aromas of raspberries, mint, nori and green herbs are followed by black-tea flavors and slightly gritty-feeling tannins. It brings appeal but the variety seems hard to find.
Ott & Murphy 2012 Grenache Rattlesnake Hills $27 88 points
This wine shows a lot of reduction that provides off-putting aromas. The strawberry and cranberry flavors are full and show pleasing purity and length. The disconnect between the aromas and flavors is substantial but some time in a decanter might sync them up.
Pacific Rim 2014 Riesling Columbia Valley $11 88 points
Mandarin orange, jasmine and honeysuckle aromas leap up. It drinks medium dry with a broad feel and a floral lift on the finish. The palate wants a bit more acid but this wine is appealing. Best Buy
Pamplin 2012 JRG Red Blend Columbia Valley $30 91 points
Cabernet Sauvignon (71%) makes up the majority of this blend, which also includes Merlot (25%) and pinches of Malbec and Petit Verdot. Complex aromas of potting soil, green pepper, graphite, herbs, blackberry, licorice and barrel spices are followed by focused black-fruit flavors with light coffee accents. Editor’s Choice
Pondera 2012 LTD Livin’ The Dream Red Blend Columbia Valley $42 89 points
A bottling commemorating the winery’s 10th anniversary, this Merlot and Cabernet-dominant blend offers aromas of barrel spices, dried herbs and Red Vines. The red-fruit flavors are supple in feel with a reserved styling.
Pondera 2012 Stiletto Red Blend Columbia Valley $42 88 points
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (52%), Petit Verdot (25%) and Malbec. Aromas of violets, herbs, plum, vanilla and mesquite are followed by palate-coating fruit flavors, with firm, slightly dry tannins and bright acids.
Pondera 2011 Cuvée Red Blend Columbia Valley $19 88 points
Aromas of dried herbs intertwine with dill, vanilla and other barrel spices on this blend. The cranberry flavors have a tart zing, with slightly drying tannins providing the frame.
Pondera 2012 Passion Red Stillwater Creek Vineyard Red Blend Columbia Valley $38 87 points
This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah shows quite a bit of volatility. Herb and dried red cherry lead to plush, full fruit flavors with a light grip of tannins and oak accents on the finish.
Pondera 2012 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Syrah Columbia Valley $38 90 points
Aromas of raspberry, coffee, herbs, smoke and baking spices are austere on the nose. The fruit and barrel flavors are bright and tart, showing a lot of polish, detail and length.
Ross Andrew 2013 The Huntsman Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $15 89 points
Herb and barrel spice aromas are light, with a high-toned berry top note. The black-fruit flavors are smooth and sultry. You want more from the aromas but the flavors quickly compensate.
Ross Andrew 2013 Glaze Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $15 88 points
Blackberry and black-currant aromas are fresh and bright, with herbal notes providing accents. The sweet flavors are plump and fruit-forward. This wine doesn’t provide a lot of complexity but brings plenty of easy-drinking pleasure.
Seven Falls 2012 GPS Stonetree Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $40 90 points
With the vineyard’s GPS coordinates emblazoned prominently on the bottle, this 100% varietal wine leads with aromas of blue and black fruit, with high-toned herb and graphite accents. The dark-fruit flavors are rich but maintain their balance, with a finish that lingers.
Seven Falls 2014 Chardonnay Wahluke Slope $20 85 points
Barrel aromas of vanilla and woodspice are out front and lead to light, elegant fruit and barrel flavors that vie for attention through the finish.
Seven Falls 2014 GPS Jones Vineyard Rhône-style White Blend Wahluke Slope $40 85 points
Light aromas of almond, fresh-cut red apple and spice lead to restrained fruit flavors. The concentration seems lacking.
Seven Falls 2013 GPS Jones Vineyard Zinfandel Wahluke Slope $40 90 points
Barrel notes of sweet spices, vanilla and coconut are up front on this wine followed by lush, full-bodied cherry and raspberry flavors. Fruit and barrel flavors linger in harmony on the finish.
Seven Hills 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $30 91 points
The aromas of cedar, fresh dark berries, thyme, garden herbs and flowers provide instant appeal, with woodsy accents following. Lively plum and raspberry flavors back them up, with fine-grained tannins and barrel accents speckled throughout.
Seven Hills 2013 McClellan Estate Vineyard Petit Verdot Walla Walla Valley $35 91 points
It’s rare to find a pure varietal example that all comes from a single site. This one offers aromas of flowers, moist soil, purple fruit and exotic spice followed by a dense, almost impenetrable palate that offers freshness and length. It’s a standout example of the variety. Editor’s Choice
Sinclair Estate Vineyards 2013 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $28 91 points
The aromas of lees, citrus, almond, melon, apple, spice and butter draw you into the glass. This wine brings a dazzling sense of texture, with fruit and spice flavors dappled throughout. Editor’s Choice
Sineann 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $30 89 points
Aromas of cigar box and dried herbs are light and elusive. The palate yields plenty of tart cherry and cranberry flavors and a light grip of tannins.
Sineann 2013 Abondante Red Blend Columbia Valley $24 90 points
This wine blends varieties that includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot. It offers fruit-forward aromas of raspberries and plum accented by herbs and flowers. Ripe and full-bodied flavors carry through the smoky finish.
Sineann 2014 Celilo Vineyard Gewurztraminer Columbia Gorge $18 88 points
Nuanced rose water, pink grapefruit, ginger and lychee aromas are followed by off-dry fruit flavors and a floral finish. The feel and flavors win you over but the wine wants a little more acid to pull itself together.
Sineann 2014 Grüner Veltliner Columbia Gorge $18 89 points
This variety is an extreme rarity in the state, with only a small handful of bottlings made. This one offers aromas of herbs, spice and green apple skin that carry through to the palate, which drinks just off dry.
Siren Song 2013 La Vie Est Belle Estate Grown Pinot Noir Rosé Lake Chelan $25 86 points
This wine is pale salmon in color with aromas of pear and lees. It drinks dry with savory flavors of smoke and spice that linger. It’s a unique offering from the appellation.
Siren Song 2013 The Muse Brut Blanc de Noirs Méthode Champenoise Estate Grown Sparkling Blend Lake Chelan $45 89 points
Aromas of brioche, strawberry and citrus are fresh in style. The citrus and smoke flavors are light and lively, broadening at the finish.
Sleight of Hand 2013 The Sorceress Grenache Columbia Valley $60 93 points
A mixture of Stoney Vine (70%), Upland (20%) and Les Collines vineyard fruit, this wine displays reserved aromas of crushed violets, dried orange peel, brown stems, gravel, smoke and peat. Then sweet raspberry and savory flavors float like a magic carpet, showing exceptional length. It’s an elegant, compelling expression of the variety. Editor’s Choice
Sleight of Hand 2014 The Spellbinder Red Blend Columbia Valley $20 90 points
This blend is 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot and 18% Cabernet Franc. It appeals with aromas of dried herbs, plum, mocha and flowers that are followed by lush fruit flavors that linger. It’s a delicious pleaser.
Sleight of Hand 2013 Psychedelic Stoney Vine Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $60 95 points
The winery’s first release off its estate vineyard in The Rocks offers expressive, captivating aromas of peat, dried flowers, fire pit, herbs, grilled asparagus, funk and green olive. The flavors are sweet, sumptuous and rich, showing depth and detail. It’s a knockout. Editor’s Choice
Sleight of Hand 2013 Levitation Syrah Columbia Valley $45 93 points
Reserved aromas of cherry, chocolate, thistle, moist earth and dark berry lead to red and black fruit flavors that are sumptuous, rich and layered. It brings immediate appeal but also offers plenty of cellaring potential—a complete delight that appeals on multiple levels. Editor’s Choice
Soos Creek 2012 Sundance Red Blend Columbia Valley $20 91 points
This wine is almost 50% Cabernet Sauvignon with the rest near-equal parts Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The aromas convey mocha, toast, green herbs, dark cherries and spice, while the palate provides lithe, seamless raspberry and cranberry flavors that are impeccably balanced and brightened by tart acidity.
Soos Creek 2012 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Blend Red Mountain $40 91 points
Hailing from one of the state’s most esteemed vineyards, this wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (42%), Merlot (33%) and Cabernet Franc. Jammy aromas of red and black fruit and licorice lead to plush but well-balanced flavors that linger.
Soos Creek 2012 Palisades Red Blend Columbia Valley $25 90 points
Mostly Merlot with a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon (11%), this wine hails from Bacchus, Ciel du Cheval and Elephant Mountain vineyards. It’s immediately appealing, with aromas of toasty spices, herbs and red fruit followed by plump but well-balanced fruit flavors.
Soos Creek 2012 Terrible Beauty Red Blend Columbia Valley $25 90 points
Though labeled as a red wine, this could just as easily be labeled as Cabernet at 91%, and it drinks like one. Spice, herb, coffee and black-cherry aromas are followed by plump fruit flavors that show purity and depth, trailing ever so slightly toward the finish.
Soos Creek 2012 Champoux Vineyard Red Blend Horse Heaven Hills $40 89 points
Equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with the balance (6%) Cabernet Franc, this wine leans into the savory with abundant leafy herb, flower and plum aromas that are followed by supple, flavorful earth and tart cherry flavors. The palate delivers but the aromas don’t seem to match up.
Soos Creek 2012 Stampede Pass Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley $30 91 points
Hailing from Slide Mountain and Dineen vineyards, this wine charms with aromas of flowers, toast, clove, cardamom and anise. The pillowy-feeling flavors show richness, depth and detail. Editor’s Choice
Stottle 2012 Big Eddie Red Blend Columbia Valley $35 89 points
Merlot (55%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (40%) make up the majority of this wine with the balance Malbec. Vanilla, barrel spice and dark-fruit aromas are followed by saturated black-fruit flavors that linger. The oak gets a bit out-front but the wine still has much to offer.
Stottle 2012 Doc Stewart Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $34 88 points
Cocoa, toffee and dried-herb aromas are followed by soft-feeling cherry flavors with a tart finish, with fruit and barrel not seeming entirely meshed. The tannins have a slow attack but sneak up on the finish.
Stottle 2012 Elerding 6 Prong Malbec Horse Heaven Hills $33 89 points
Blue-fruit aromas intermingle with vanilla and other barrel spices. The coffee and plum flavors are full and supple in feel, followed by a tart finish. The wood seems a bit primary but the fruit and feel is still hard to ignore.
Stottle 2012 Hombre Red Blend Columbia Valley $32 88 points
A unique blend of Tempranillo (54%), Malbec (33%) and Mourvèdre, this wine leads with aromas of vanilla, coconut and woodspice followed by blue and black fruit. The dark-fruit flavors are restrained in feel with barrel notes on the finish. It brings enjoyment but the wood seems very primary.
Stottle 2013 Red Blend Columbia Valley $19 88 points
This wine is an unusual blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (40%) with the rest Sangiovese, Syrah, Merlot and Mourvèdre. Aromas of fresh raspberries, cranberries and toast lead to fleshy red and black-fruit flavors that skirt the edges.
Stottle 2012 Elerding 6 Prong Syrah Horse Heaven Hills $32 88 points
Café au lait, ash and caramel aromas are followed by full-feeling dark-fruit flavors that lose their cohesion on the back half but still provide persistence.
Stottle 2012 Tempranillo Columbia Valley $30 88 points
Toast, coffee, vanilla, dill and other wood spices are far out-front on the aromas. They vie for attention on the palate as well, never seeming to marry with the fruit while still providing enjoyment.
Stottle 2013 White Blend Yakima Valley $18 88 points
This wine is mostly Viognier (78%) blended with Roussanne. Pear, melon and almond aromas are followed by full-bodied flavors with abundant tangerine and floral accents.
Swick 2014 Terre Brûlée Grenache Columbia Valley $22 90 points
This inaugural release displays dialed-back aromas of pencil eraser and dried herbs that need a bit more lift. The palate puts a premium on purity of expression along with a tart lick of acid and cinnamon notes on the finish. If the aromas and flavors sync up further, this young wine moves up a notch.
Syncline 2014 Boushey Vineyard Grenache Blanc Yakima Valley $25 90 points
The starfruit, mineral and pear aromas provide plenty of intrigue. The broad, fresh style delivers, with lemony acidity that draws out the finish.
Syncline 2013 Grenache-Carignan Horse Heaven Hills $25 92 points
This is the only blend in Washington State where these two varieties play near-equal parts. Coming from a mixture of McKinley Springs and Alder Ridge vineyards, it offers aromas of brambly raspberries and herbs that lead to strikingly pure flavors and a texture that weakens the knees. An extended finish caps it off. Editor’s Choice
Syncline 2013 Mourvèdre Columbia Valley $30 91 points
The fruit for this wine comes nearly equally from Red Mountain and Horse Heaven Hills (Alder Ridge, Force Majeure and Heart of the Hill vineyards). Jammy raspberry and plum aromas lead to rich, full flavors. It brings plenty of fruit-filled appeal, though the variety’s wild side seems tamed.
Syncline 2013 McKinley Springs Vineyard Syrah Horse Heaven Hills $30 93 points
Fermented 40% whole cluster in concrete cubes, this stunning wine provides intensely pure aromas of red and black fruit, flowers and herbs. The dark-fruit flavors are exquisite and fresh with an extended finish. Editor’s Choice
Syncline 2013 Boushey Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $35 92 points
Immediately arresting with its aromas that suggest mineral, sappy raspberries and blackberries, this wine surprises with its tart, supple fruit flavors. Its purity and acidity making it best suited for the dinner table.
Syncline 2014 Grüner Veltliner Columbia Gorge $20 90 points
Aromas of peppery spices, hay and apple lead to dry, sleek flavors, high-wire acid and a citrus-rind-filled finish. Try it with shellfish.
Tamarack Cellars 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $36 92 points
Still seeming to need time to open up and stretch its legs, this wine offers high-toned aromas of graphite, caramel, vanilla and plum. It’s full and plush in feel with tart fruit flavors and a finish that glides. Editor’s Choice
Tucannon 2012 Barrel Racer Red Blend Columbia Valley $27 87 points
A blend of near-equal parts Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Merlot topped off with a pinch of Petit Verdot, this wine exhibits aromas of barrel spices, dried herbs and cherry, showing whiffs of volatility. The flavors are soft and pure, lingering on the finish.
Tucannon 2012 Red Fusion Red Blend Columbia Valley $29 85 points
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc (60%), Merlot (15%), Syrah (15%) and Petit Verdot. Aromas of smoke, herbs, cedar and mushroom show some volatility. The cranberry and cherry flavors are light and elegant.
Tucannon 2012 Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley $32 83 points
The aromas of herbs and cherry are light, showing volatility. Flavors are light and elegant.
Tucannon 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $35 85 points
Aromas are light but show oxygen exposure along with barrel spice. The cherry and herb flavors are simultaneously plump and elegant.
Tucannon 2014 Cabernet Franc Rosé Columbia Valley $18 80 points
This wine is a medium cherry-red color, with some bricking. The volatiles are quite high and lead to off-dry cherry flavors.
Tucannon 2012 Syrah Walla Walla Valley $40 83 points
Herb and spice aromas mix with volatile notes. The flavors are light and elegant, but seem a bit faint.
Washington Hills 2013 Chardonnay Washington $9 85 points
Aromas of red apple, pear and tangerine are bright. The palate doesn’t offer much complexity but offers easy-drinking pleasure. Best Buy
Wilridge 2013 Upland Vineyard Barbera Snipes Mountain $20 90 points
Bottlings of this variety and also this appellation are scarce in the state. This one has reserved aromas of red and blue fruit along with whiffs of spice. The plump, tangy flavors show a pleasing purity, trailing a bit toward the finish. Try it with pasta with a red sauce.
Wilridge 2013 Estate Wilridge Vineyard Barbera Naches Heights $35 86 points
The raspberry and cranberry aromas seem to show a touch of oxygen exposure. It’s a pity, because the tart, lush flavors bring appeal.
Wilridge 2013 Mélange Noir Estate Wilridge Vineyard Red Blend Naches Heights $40 90 points
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc (33%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) and Merlot (20%) topped off with Malbec and Petit Verdot. It brings aromas of leafy herbs and dark brewed coffee that lead to easy-drinking flavors that persist.
Wilridge 2013 Doc Stewart Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $20 88 points
This young wine still seems to be in its shell, with a whiff of matchstick along with herb aromas. The cherry flavors are light and tart with a supple feel. Try it with food to see it at its best.
Wilridge 2014 Crawford Vineyard Chardonnay Yakima Valley $18 87 points
The aromas of tennis ball and chalk are light and brooding while the flavors are broad and creamy in feel. It doesn’t all quite come together but still provides plenty of appeal.
Wilridge 2013 Angiolina Vineyard Malbec Yakima Valley $20 88 points
Plummy aromas are light and subtle. The palate is tart, lithe and flavorful with the oak seeming dialed back, putting the focus on the freshness of the fruit. Put it on the dinner table to see it shine.
Wilridge 2014 Estate Dessert Wine Wilridge Estate Vineyard Muscat Blanc Naches Heights $30 81 points
This wine is listed at 19.5% alcohol and it smells every bit of it. Alcohol aromas overwhelm any sense of the variety and provide a burn to the floral flavors.
Wilridge 2013 Clifton Vineyard Nebbiolo Wahluke Slope $20 88 points
Pale in color, this wine offers faint aromas of strawberry, flowers and spice. The cranberry flavors are light, fresh and focused. It’s best suited to the dinner table.
Wilridge 2013 Estate Wilridge Vineyard Nebbiolo Naches Heights $30 87 points
Pale in color, this wine offers fresh aromas of cranberry, herbs and red currant. The palate brings elegant flavors with a zing of cranberry-like acidity. It will be best at the dinner table.
Wilridge 2014 Dessert Wine Estate Wilridge Vineyard Pinot Gris Naches Heights $40 84 points
Red apple, spice and honey aromas lead to medium-sweet fruit flavors. It brings some appeal but the concentration doesn’t seem all there.
Wilridge 2014 Vintage Estate Dessert Wine Wilridge Vineyard Red Blend Naches Heights $20 84 points
This wine is an unusual blend of Touriga (38%), Tinto Cão (20%), Tempranillo (18%), Petit Verdot (15%) and Souzão. Alcohol aromas show prominently along with dark fruit. The fruit flavors seem dried out, juxtaposed by the sweetness of the wine, with the tannins having a real sense of grip.
Wilridge 2014 Crawford Vineyard Riesling Yakima Valley $18 87 points
This wine is a straightforward, easy sipper with aromas and flavors of lilac and citrus. It drinks a hair off dry, with pink-grapefruit flavors throughout.
Wilridge 2013 Estate Wilridge Vineyard Sangiovese Naches Heights $35 87 points
Aromas of black pepper are prominent and are followed by notes of dark plum that display purity. The palate is reserved in style, yet the fruit tones linger on the finish. It’s hard to place the variety but it still brings plenty of appeal.
Wilridge 2013 Sangiovese Columbia Valley $20 85 points
Some oxygen exposure seems to peek through on the aromas along with notes of blue fruit and herbs. This wine is lightly flavored with a gritty feel to the tannins and the oak dialed back.
Wilridge 2013 Estate Wilridge Vineyard Syrah-Mourvèdre Naches Heights $35 87 points
Syrah (79%) takes the lead on this blend. The blue-fruit aromas seem a touch oxidized—a shame as this wine otherwise shows pleasing purity and persistence.
Wilridge 2013 Estate Wilridge Vineyard Zweigelt Naches Heights $35 90 points
This variety is extremely rare in Washington. Fruit-forward aromas of cranberry, cocoa powder and herbs are followed by tart, appealing flavors that linger.
Wind Rose 2012 Barbera Columbia Valley $28 90 points
Aromas of cranberry and berry are fresh and juicy. The flavors are tart and supple, showing depth and length. It’s delicious in its own right but will shine on the dinner table.
Wind Rose 2013 Lonesome Springs Ranch Malbec Yakima Valley $20 88 points
Aromas of gunsmoke, tire rubber, ripe plum and garden herbs seem unsettled but still offer appeal. The palate is über-restrained in style, with the oak and alcohol pulled way back, putting the focus on its freshness and vibrancy. Give it a decant and put it on the dinner table to see it at its best.
Wind Rose 2013 Sangio Red Wine Lonesome Springs Ranch Sangiovese Yakima Valley $22 87 points
Strawberry, herb, orange peel and mocha aromas are subdued and show some reduction. The palate possesses tart acidity and chalky tannins with a mocha and citrus-filled finish.
Wind Rose 2012 Bravo Rosso Red Blend Washington $20 90 points
An unusual blend of Primitivo, Barbera, Nebbiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine displays light aromas of raspberries, cherries and herbs that take some time to tease out. The fruit flavors are ripe and ample, with bright, tart acidity providing the frame. Pair it with food to see it at its best. Editor’s Choice
Woodinville Wine Cellars 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $50 92 points
The aromas of coffee, chocolate and exotic spices are brooding. Flavors are concentrated and layered, showing a good sense of texture and a light grip of tannins. The oak needs time to fully integrate.
Woodward Canyon 2012 Estate Reserve Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $79 94 points
This blend is near-equal parts Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon along with a healthy dollop of Petit Verdot (18%). It shows a mix of fruit and savory elements, with notes of potting soil, green coffee bean, mocha, fresh herbs, licorice, generous barrel spices and red and black fruit—showing more with each swirl. The fruit and chocolate flavors are dense and rich, with bright acids and a firm core of tannins. The balance is spot-on and the finish lingers. It drinks beautifully now but you can expect it to age for another 20 years. Cellar Selection
Woodward Canyon 2013 Merlot Columbia Valley $52 93 points
Woodspice and vanillin are out in front on the aromas followed by mocha, raspberry and dark fruit. The palate brings lush, concentrated flavors and a lingering finish. It drinks beautifully now sbut should have a long life ahead of it. Editor’s Choice
Woodward Canyon 2013 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon Washington $99 94 points
Barrel notes of vanilla and spice take the lead in this aromatically brooding wine, followed by dried herbs and dark fruit. The flavors are pitch black, coating the palate from end to end with layers of fruit, tannins to go the distance and a graphite-filled finish that lingers. It will drink best from 2020–2027. Cellar Selection
Woodward Canyon 2013 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon Washington $59 92 points
The variety quickly announces itself with aromas of dark cherry and dried herbs followed by generous barrel accents. The black-fruit flavors are rich but maintain balance, with a persistence that impresses.