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Reviewed Wineries

Wine Enthusiast Reviews for December 1 2017

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for December 1, 2017. 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. Read instructions on how to find Washington wine reviews at Wine Enthusiast here.

67 reviews in the December 1, 2017 issue. Enjoy!

14 Hands 2016 Pinot Gris Washington $10 87 points
Aromas of pear, cantaloupe and apple are followed by broad, dry fruit flavors, with a spritzy finish. There’s not much complexity, but the wine goes down easy and is very varietal. Best Buy

Alder Ridge 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $30 87 points
Aromas come off as quite green, with notes of jalapeño pepper and garden herb mixed with cherry and vanilla. The palate brings broad cherry flavors. It provides appeal but the aromas and flavors seem a bit disconnected and the greenness proves distracting.

Apex 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $36 86 points
The aromas are bright, with notes of vanilla and cherry. In contrast. the palate comes off as light. This is a simple, straightforward quaffer, with cranberry notes persisting on the finish.

Ashan 2016 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay Columbia Valley $25 91 points
Aromas of candy corn, spice and almond butter are followed by full-bodied, tropical-fruit flavors that show a pleasing sense of richness and intensity. It’s a delicious example of the variety, with a lingering finish. Editor's Choice

Auclair 2014 Heart of the Hill Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $45 88 points
Barrel influences takes over aromatically, with notes of wood, toast and dark chocolate in front of golden raisins, with the fruit seeming somewhat dried out. The palate brings tart cranberry and cherry flavors that show a sense of liveliness. Good things are going on but the aromas and palate seem a bit disconnected at present.

Bieler Family 2016 Daisy Pinot Grigio Washington $13 87 points
Aromas of ripe apple, sliced pear and white flowers lead to tart, lighter-side-of-medium-bodied fruit flavors. Spices notes fill out the finish. It delivers easy-drinking enjoyment and is very varietal.

Bontzu 2016 Pinot Gris Walla Walla Valley $25 87 points
Aromas bring notes of beeswax, lees and lemon. The palate is medium bodied and creamy in feel, backed by zippy acidity. The variety isn’t entirely distinct but, despite this, it delivers appeal.

Bontzu 2014 Carmenère Walla Walla Valley $45 89 points
There’s no mistaking the variety here, with its notes of red chili pepper and green pepper along with snuffed-out cigar. The palate is broad and generous but still shows elegance, with its cherry and spice flavors. It’s an intriguing example of the variety.

Bontzu 2015 Reserve Grenache Walla Walla Valley $60 90 points
The aromas are alluring, with notes of stem, dried herb, white pepper, cigar box and raspberry. The palate is chock-full of raspberry flavors that show a pleasing purity, and the finish lingers, showing just a touch of heat.

Bontzu 2014 Syrah Walla Walla Valley $45 85 points
The aromas bring notes of medicine cabinet and Band Aid that seem a bit untoward. Flavors are tart and lighter in style, narrowing toward the finish.

Bontzu 2016 Viognier Walla Walla Valley $25 85 points
The aromas seem a bit off, with volatile notes along with lees, orange peel and peach. The palate is lightly creamy but still somewhat lean in style, not able to hold all of the flavors together.

Browne Family Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley $36 87 points
Aromas of cocoa, vanilla, coconut and herb are at the fore, with a green note lurking in the background. The barrel flavors are out front on the palate as well, with the tannins seeming a bit gritty and dry. It’s a bit hard to discern the variety.

Browne Family Vineyards 2016 Heritage Chardonnay Columbia Valley $22 87 points
Aromas bring notes of white flowers, candlewax and summer squash, showing no overt new-oak influence. The palate is medium bodied, delivering easy-drinking appeal.

Browne Family Vineyards 2014 Petit Verdot Columbia Valley $36 89 points
Coming from Waterbrook Estate, Blackrock and Summit View vineyards, this offers high-toned aromas, with notes of flower, soil and bittersweet chocolate. The palate is full of bold flavors backed by lively acidity and firm, slightly dry tannins. It’s a high-quality example of the variety, though it could use some steak to tame the tannins.

Browne Family Vineyards 2014 Merlot Columbia Valley $36 88 points
Aromas are high toned and barrel-forward, with notes of vanilla, green wood and cocoa. The fruit is able to break through on the palate that shows a pleasing sense of balance.

Canoe Ridge 2014 Limited Edition Canyon Vineyard Ranch Cinsault Yakima Valley $36 87 points
This wine is a little green out of the gate, with notes of garden herbs and green flowers along with macerated cranberries and ripe blue fruit. The palate has a pleasing texture and sense of purity but ultimately the aromas are too distracting.

Canoe Ridge 2014 Limited Edition The Benches Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $42 87 points
Aromas of spice, macerated cherry, vanilla and blackberry lead to jammy, sweet-seeming fruit flavors. It provides easy-drinking appeal, with grainy tannins backing it all up.

Canoe Ridge 2014 Reserve Merlot Horse Heaven Hills $22 88 points
Aromas of toasty barrel spices, vanilla, cedar, high-toned herbs and plums lead to tart cranberry flavors. The tannins give a firm squeeze and this wine shows a bit of heat, but is otherwise appealing.

Canoe Ridge 2015 Reserve Chardonnay Horse Heaven Hills $22 88 points
A blend of fruit from Canoe Ridge and Wallula vineyards, this puts the oak (40% new French) at the fore. Aromas of vanilla and baking spice lead to buttery, creamy, full-fruit flavors. The oak and malolactic influence is not shy but it’s a good choice for those seeking that style.

Canoe Ridge 2015 The Expedition Merlot Horse Heaven Hills $16 87 points
With the fruit from equal parts The Benches and Canoe Ridge Vineyard, the addition of Syrah (9%) stands out on the aromas, with its notes of plum followed by vanilla and licorice. The palate is lightly sweet, with bunched-up tannins.

Canoe Ridge 2014 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $22 88 points
Aromas of garden herbs, cherry and bittersweet chocolate lead to medium-bodied fruit and barrel flavors. The tannins are quite firm and need some time (hopefully) to soften. The oak seems to get out front.

Canoe Ridge 2015 The Expedition Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $16 86 points
Light aromas offer notes of berry, herb, plum and whiffs of tire rubber. The palate comes off a bit green and sweet, with lightly gritty tannins providing support.

Cavatappi 2016 Sangiovese Columbia Valley $13 87 points
The aromas on this wine seem a bit candied, with notes of red currant, raspberry and cranberry. Flavors are fresh, with plenty of tart, puckering cranberry notes throughout. There’s not a lot of complexity, but it should fit in well at the dinner table, with the oak dialed way back and the acid up.

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2015 Ethos Reserve Chardonnay Columbia Valley $35 88 points
This wine is a bit reduced out of the gate, providing distraction from its aromas of burnt toast, apple, pear and spice. The palate is creamy in feel, with buttery flavors along with a lemony finish. If the reduction blows off it could move up a notch or two.

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2013 Ethos Reserve Syrah Columbia Valley $50 89 points
The aromas pop, with notes of fresh blueberry pie, sweet herb, dark-roasted coffee and spice. The palate doesn’t quite deliver on all those aromas, seeming a bit less bold than the nose suggests. Still, this wine is enjoyable, especially after it has time to open up.

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $10 88 points
The aromas are bright, with notes of guava, pineapple and citrus. The palate is lightly spritzy with plenty of grapefruit flavors that keep the interest high. Best Buy

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2015 Merlot Columbia Valley $15 89 points
Raspberry, cocoa, coffee and vanilla aromas lead to plump, focused fruit flavors. It’s both appealing and quite varietally correct. For those looking for a quality value Merlot, look no further.

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2015 Indian Wells Merlot Columbia Valley $18 90 points
Barrel aromas are at the fore, with notes of vanilla, cocoa and milk chocolate out in front of blackberry and black cherry. The palate also mixes fruit and barrel, showing pleasing depth of flavors and intensity along with a silky texture.

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2016 Horse Heaven Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Horse Heaven Hills $15 90 points
Light aromas of herb, grass, papaya and kiwi lead to tart, spritely tropical-fruit flavors heightened by grapefruit accents. There’s no mistaking the variety and it’s appealing, with a drawn-out finish. Best Buy

Columbia Crest 2015 H3 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $15 87 points
Aromas of plum, stewed cherry, milk chocolate and vanilla are accented by notes of smoke. Fruit and barrel flavors intertwine on the palate, with fruit winning out on the finish that narrows a bit.

Columbia Crest 2016 Reserve Garnacha Blanca Yakima Valley $28 89 points
Quite pale in color, this wine offers well-defined aromas of apple, cantaloupe and pear. The palate has a textured feel and brings a pleasing sense of purity along with tart acidity. A winning offering of this seldom-seen variety, it should go particularly well at the dinner table.

Columbia Crest 2015 Reserve Chardonnay Horse Heaven Hills $26 90 points
Aromas of butter, vanilla, corn silk and tropical fruit lead to barrel-forward, oak-laden pineapple flavors that intertwine through the finish. For the style, it’s well done but the oak is pretty intense.

Columbia Crest 2016 Reserve Pinot Gris Yakima Valley $26 87 points
Vibrant aromas of cantaloupe, freshly cut pear and yellow apple are at the fore. While the palate is bone dry, it has a light spritz that seems out of place. It’s a shame as aromatically it delivers a lot of enjoyment.

Columbia Crest 2016 Reserve Late Harvest Muscat Canelli Columbia Valley $30 88 points
The aromas leap out of the glass, with notes of freshly peeled tangerine, white flowers, jasmine and honeysuckle. It drinks quite sweet but manages to stay in balance. It’s a delicious example of this variety. Enjoy it for dessert.

Columbia Crest 2016 Reserve Dry Riesling Yakima Valley $28 90 points
The aromas are exuberant, with notes of lime, orange zest, ripe peach and flowers. The palate, as advertised, is bone dry with stone-fruit flavors that show crystalline clarity and linger on the finish that features plenty of lime accents.

Columbia Crest 2015 H3 Merlot Horse Heaven Hills $15 88 points
Aromas of plum and blue fruit are accented by high-toned spices and milk chocolate. Flavors are soft, palate coating and poised, with blue-fruit flavors lingering on the finish. It doesn’t necessarily taste like Merlot but still brings plenty of appeal.

Desert Wind 2016 Estate Grown Chardonnay Wahluke Slope $15 86 points
The aromas bring light notes of corn husk and apple. This wine is broad in feel, with a lightly creamy texture full of roasted-corn flavors.

Desert Wind 2015 Estate Grown Ora Proprietary Red Blend Wahluke Slope $30 86 points
This is an unusual blend of principally Syrah, Malbec, Tempranillo and Souzao, along with bits of Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of cocoa, vanilla and green herb lead to tart cherry flavors that seem underripe. The finish comes up short.

Desert Wind 2015 Estate Grown Malbec Wahluke Slope $30 87 points
Green aromas are at the fore, with notes of underripe herb, mint, plum and spice. In contrast, the palate is full of spritely cherry and plum flavors. The aromas and flavors seem disconnected but it still brings intrigue.

Desert Wind 2015 Estate Grown Ruah Proprietary Red Blend Wahluke Slope $20 87 points
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Syrah, this offers high-toned aromas, with notes of green herb, cocoa and green pepper. The palate is chalky in feel, with the tannins seeming bunched up and dry. Cocoa notes linger on the finish. The greenness on the aromas is hard to get around.

Desert Wind 2015 Estate Grown Merlot Wahluke Slope $18 87 points
Aromas seem a bit locked up, with notes of plum, herb and cedar. The raspberry flavors similarly seem bunched up, with lightly dry tannins providing support. Vanilla flavors linger on the finish. The variety gets a bit lost.

Desert Wind 2015 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $18 86 points
The aromas bring notes of vanilla, green pepper, black tea, cherry and herb, and the palate delivers much the same. This wine comes off as a bit innocuous but is quite consistent throughout. It tapers on the finish.

Drumheller 2015 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $12 87 points
Aromas pop, with notes of starfruit, cantaloupe, apple, butter and spice. The palate is broad with a lightly creamy feel, speckled throughout with cardamom notes. Best Buy

Duck Pond 2016 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $12 87 points
Light aromas offer notes of apple and pear. The palate of thhis wine is cleanly made, showing no obvious new-oak impact. It’s a straight-down-the-fairway interpretation of this variety. Best Buy 

Dumas Station 2013 Minnick Hills Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $60 88 points
Aromas bring notes of vanilla bean, black cherry and cassis, along with light volatility. The palate packs a big punch of fruit and barrel flavors, with vanilla notes running high throughout, causing some distraction.

Dumas Station 2014 Cabernet Franc Walla Walla Valley $36 87 points
The cocoa, vanilla and black fruit are followed by a chocolaty, wood-forward palate that shows a bit of volatility. There are some good things going on but the oak (30% new French and American) seems to get in the way, making the varietal a bit hard to find.

Efeste 2016 Feral Sauvignon Blanc Ancient Lakes $20 90 points
Quite light aromas of talc, lemon zest and mineral along with whiffs of tropical fruit lead to sleek, bright, focused and lemony flavors backed by zippy acidity. It should shine paired with ceviche or oysters. Editor's Choice

Gorman 2015 The Devil You Know Red Blend Columbia Valley $28 91 points
This wine is a blend of Merlot (44%), Cabernet Sauvignon (34%), Malbec (17%), Cabernet Franc (3%) and Petit Verdot. Aromas are brooding, with notes of cocoa, bittersweet chocolate, cherry, herb and spice. The dark-fruit flavors are full bodied, rich and saturated, packing a hefty punch with a finish that sails. Editor's Choice

Gorman 2015 Old Scratch G-S-M Columbia Valley $25 88 points
This wine is 90% Syrah, with the balance Grenache (8%) and Mourvèdre. The aromas are reserved initially, with notes of blueberry pie, dark-roasted coffee and raspberry. The palate is surprisingly light for the aromas (and producer), with the finish seeming attenuated. The oak also comes off as a bit heavy.

Gorman 2015 The Devil You Don’t Know Red Blend Columbia Valley $28 92 points
Though not labeled as such, this could be a varietal Syrah (76%), with the balance Grenache (18%) and Mourvèdre. The aromas offer notes of dark-roasted coffee bean, smoke, orange peel, toast and huckleberry pie. The blue-fruit flavors are bold and full, delivering a mouthful of enjoyment that keeps you coming back for more. Editor's Choice

Gorman 2016 Old Scratch Chardonnay Columbia Valley $20 90 points
Aged six months in neutral French oak, this offers aromas of spice, pineapple and almond skin. Full bodied, the palate is redolent with tropical-fruit flavors. The mouthfeel dazzles, especially for a wine at this price. Editor's Choice

Gorman 2015 Old Scratch Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $28 88 points
This wine is aromatic, with notes of vanilla, plum, cherry and dark coffee. Flavors are big, bold and ripe, delivering hedonistic appeal that carries through the finish.

Pacific Crest 2015 McNary Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $19 86 points
Piercing green aromas are far out front, distracting from the notes of cherry and herb. The cherry flavors seem a bit attenuated.

Pacific Crest 2015 Centennial Trail Chardonnay Columbia Valley $17 88 points
Apple, pear and spice aromas lead to medium-bodied fruit flavors that manage to remain light on their feet. The finish seems a bit clipped but it still delivers enjoyment.

Pamplin 2014 Red I.Q. Columbia Valley $14 90 points
This wine comes from top sites Canoe Ridge Estate, Champoux, Seven Hills and Wallula. An intriguing blend of 43% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Petit Verdot and 17% Malbec, it offers high-toned aromas, with notes of toasty spice and herb in front of raspberry and cherry. Supple and well balanced, the fruit flavors show poise and length. Best Buy

Pendulum 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $17 88 points
Cocoa, raspberry and dark-chocolate aromas are followed by chocolaty barrel flavors that persist on the finish. There’s enjoyment to be had but the oak seems a bit out front.

Sagelands 2015 Riverbed Red Blend Columbia Valley $10 87 points
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up two-thirds of this wine, with the balance Malbec and Syrah. Vibrant aromas of plum, spice and herb are followed by plush, lightly sweet, palate-coating fruit flavors backed by grainy tannins. It finishes sweet, delivering plenty of easy-drinking appeal. Best Buy

Walla Walla Vintners 2012 Cut Bank Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $60 88 points
Coming from the winery’s estate vineyard high up in Upper Mill Creek, this wine is starting to show a bit of age, offering aromas of anise, dried cherry, green pepper and cigar ash. Equal parts dark and green, the flavors come off a bit disjointed, with bell-pepper notes on the finish.

Walla Walla Vintners 2012 Cut Bank Estate Vottavo Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $60 91 points
A blend of Sangiovese (42%), Merlot (32%), and Cabernet Sauvignon, this is one of the first wines coming off the estate vineyard located next to the winery. A full five years old, it’s starting to show a touch of age aromatically, with notes of bittersweet chocolate, dried cherry and dried herb along with sliced green pepper. The palate shows the brightness of acidity that this region of the valley is known for, heightening the fruit flavors and stretching out the finish.

Washington Hills 2015 Riesling Washington $10 86 points
Dried apricot, jasmine, flower, herb and peach aromas are followed by medium, sweet fruit flavors that can’t quite sustain their intensity but still bring appeal. Best Buy

Washington Hills 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Washington $10 85 points
Fruit-forward aromas of blueberry, orange peel and spice lead to medium-bodied fruit flavors. It’s respectable, though it’s near impossible to peg it as Cabernet. Best Buy

Waterbrook 2014 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $23 88 points
This 100% varietal wine hails from Blackrock, Mirage and Summit View vineyards. Barrel notes of cocoa, vanilla and coconut are at the fore, along with notes of dried cranberry and cherry. The palate is full bodied, with luscious fruit and barrel flavors that provide appeal.

Waterbrook 2015 Syrah Columbia Valley $13 88 points
Pleasing aromas of marionberry, cocoa and spice are followed by lightly styled but still palate-coating fruit flavors. A velvety texture heightens the appeal, with fruit and barrel flavors lingering on the finish. Best Buy

Waterbrook 2016 ICON Viognier Columbia Valley $25 87 points
Aromas of butterscotch, pear, peach, flowers and spice are followed by full-bodied stone-fruit flavors. It brings a fair amount of heat along with it but is certainly varietally correct.

Waterbrook 2014 Reserve Merlot Columbia Valley $23 88 points
Coming from a mixture of Mirage and Blackrock vineyards, this wine offers aromas of baking spice, vanilla and dark fruit. These are followed by full-bodied black-cherry and spice flavors along with gritty tannins. It dips a bit in the middle and the oak seems a bit heavy, but it still delivers enjoyment.

Waterbrook 2015 Merlot Columbia Valley $13 86 points
Aromas of vanilla, cocoa and woodspice are at the fore. The palate starts out broadly but then trails as it moves toward the finish. This wine doesn’t entirely come together.

Waterbrook 2014 Reserve Malbec Columbia Valley $23 88 points
Coconut, vanilla and spice aromas are at the fore, with the fruit seeming a bit dried out. The black-plum flavors show pleasing depth, with baking-spice flavors speckled throughout. The wood is primary but it’s still appealing.


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