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Washington Wine Report is an independent publication focused on bringing Washington wine to you and bringing you to Washington wine. Our goal is:
  • To help you select Pacific Northwest wines at a variety of price levels
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Sean P. Sullivan

2019 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

Wine Enthusiast Reviews for August 2019

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for August 2019. 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 GuideSee 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.

134 wines reviewed in the August issue of Wine Enthusiast. Here are some of the standouts.

In just a few short years, Passing Time has established itself as one of the top producers of Cabernet Sauvignon in Washington. The 2016 releases are at the top of their class, beautiful out of the gate but also offering profound aging potential (Passing Time 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $8094 pointsCellar SelectionPassing Time 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $8093 pointsCellar SelectionPassing Time 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $8092 pointsCellar SelectionPassing Time 2016 Columbia Valley $5592 pointsCellar Selection).

Executive winemaker Chris Upchurch has made his mark in Washington wine over the decades at DeLille Cellars. However, his personal, vineyard-specific project, Upchurch Vineyard, also demands attention. The 2016 wines is one of the wines of the vintage (Upchurch 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $75 94 pointsCellar Selection). 

I wrote recently on my Facebook page about the 2016 Dowsett Family Riesling. The 2017 vintage of this wine, reviewed here, is another extremely strong offering from this vineyard (Dowsett Family 2017 Aunt Diane’s Vineyard Riesling Columbia Gorge $16 90 points). For those looking for a dry style, high acid, well-priced Riesling, look no further.

I also mentioned on Facebook this week Quintessence Vineyard, which has produced some extremely high quality wines since the first vines went into the ground in 2010. If you want a primer on what Quintessence is all about, check out the Mark Ryan 2016 Water Witch Red Mountain ($5892 points). Mark Ryan Winery has made a strong investment in this vineyard, and tasting the Water Witch it’s obvious why. Quintessence has all the makings to become one of the top Cabernet Sauvignon sites in Washington.

We don’t see a whole lot of Cabernet Sauvignon coming out of the Rocks District. Due to arcane labeling laws, we see even fewer using the actual Rocks District designation. Currently, only wineries located in Oregon are able to use this appellation designation, despite it being a sub-appellation of the Walla Walla Valley where over a hundred Washington wineries are located (more technically, only wines that are “fully finished” in Oregon can use the Rocks District on the label). Oregon-based Laelaps gives a great look at the variety from this area (Laelaps 2016 The Rocks Cabernet Sauvignon The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater $50 90 pointsEditor’s Choice).

On the value side, Milbrandt Vineyards delivers a high quality Merlot from the 2017 vintage (Milbrandt 2017 Merlot Columbia Valley $17 91 pointsEditor’s Choice). The Nine Hats 2016 Red Blend Columbia Valley ($2091 pointsEditor’s Choice) is an extremely high quality wine to find at this price level.

Enjoy!

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Board Track Racer 2017 The Chief Columbia Valley $28 88 points
This wine is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (80%), with the rest Merlot (18%) and Cabernet Franc. Red apple skin, cherry, gun smoke, dark chocolate and barrel spice aromas lead to full-feeling fruit flavors. There’s a lot to like.

Bota Box NV Riesling Washington $18 85 points
Light aromas of green apple and soda water lead to lightly styled, medium-sweet fruit flavors. Soda water notes cap it off. It’s a quaffer.

Callan 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $40 87 points
This wine is 100% varietal, with all of the fruit coming from Quintessence Vineyard. Aromas of gardenia, ripe cherry, barrel spice and herb are followed by soft raspberry and cherry flavors. It needs more structure to stand it all up.

Callan 2015 Founders Reserve Red Mountain $42 87 points
Aromas of dried cherry, game and golden raisin lead to somewhat washed out seeming flavors. It all seems a bit dried out.

Cathedral Ridge 2016 The Last Best Wife Petit Verdot Columbia Valley (OR) $48 80 points
Aromas of apple, sawdust and spice lead to light fruit and game flavors that paint around the edges. Cranberry flavors finish it.

Cathedral Ridge 2015 Rusty Red Blend Columbia Valley (OR) $44 80 points
Aromas of peppermint, barnyard, dried cherry and licorice lead to light Band-Aid flavors.

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2016 Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $18 89 points
The aromas bring notes of macerated cherry, exotic spice, dusty earth, dried herb, vanilla, mushroom and dried black currant. Dense blue and black fruit flavors follow, with a firm lick of tannins backing it up.

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $50 88 points
Aromas of green herb, coffee ground, black fruit and clove lead to dark fruit flavors backed by slightly gritty-seeming tannins. Chocolate notes linger on the finish. There are good things here, but they don’t all seem in harmony at present, with the barrel influence showing prominently.

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2016 Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot Horse Heaven Hills $24 86 points
Aromas of coffee, herb, sawdust and raspberry lead to medium-plus-bodied dark fruit flavors. One wants a bit more oomph or structure.

Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen 2017 Eroica Riesling Columbia Valley $20 91 points
Light aromas of flower, wet slate, lime and peach lead to off-dry fruit flavors. Vibrant acidity heightens the appeal. This wine still seems to be in its shell but has all of the stuffing. Editor's Choice 

Chester-Kidder 2015 Red Blend Columbia Valley $60 87 points
Vanilla, baking spice, cocoa and dark fruit aromas are followed by plump, ripe fruit and barrel flavors. Dry tannins back it up. The oak influence seems overweighted to the fruit that’s in the glass, and the fruit a bit desiccated

Columbia Winery 2016 Malbec Red Mountain $38 88 points
The aromas of raspberry jam, graphite, dried orange peel and green herbs bring a sense of purity. Ripe cranberry flavors follow, focused in the middle.

Descendant 2015 Les Collines Vineyard Malbec Walla Walla Valley $38 91 points
In this 100% varietal coming from a hot vintage, the aromas intrigue, with notes of dark plum, tar, soil, orange peel, gummy bear and flower. Ripe, balanced, palate-coating fruit flavors follow, showing a lovely sense of depth. It has a big yum factor along with a dazzling sense of purity. Editor's Choice

Descendant 2015 Belle Columbia Valley $36 88 points
Aromas of cherry gummy bear, assorted dried and fresh herb, medicine and spice lead to plump, ripe, slightly candied fruit flavors. The warmth of the vintage shows, but there are still good things happening. It finishes warm.

Descendant 2015 Les Collines Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $33 88 points
Baking spice, black cherry, licorice and gummy bear aromas are out front. Full-bodied fruit flavors follow, with the tannins showing a lightly grainy feel. The vineyard seems hard to find.

Descendant 2015 Grenache Horse Heaven Hills $30 88 points
Light aromas of cherry, raspberry candy and herbs lead to soft, pure fruit flavors. A fruity note carries on the finish.

Descendant 2015 Sibling Revelry Washington $18 88 points
Grenache makes up 60% of this wine, with the rest Syrah. Grilled asparagus, fire pit, violet and plum aromas are followed by pillowy soft fruit flavors. It provides a lot of appeal.

Double Canyon 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $25 87 points
Spice, high-toned herb and plum aromas lead to restrained fruit flavors. It’s pleasant but seems a bit innocuous, with the concentration at times not all there.

Dowsett Family 2017 Aunt Diane’s Vineyard Riesling Columbia Gorge $16 90 points
Made from vines planted in 1980, this wine has aromas that enchant, with vibrant notes of lime leaf, botrytis, honeysuckle and white peach. Just a tiny hair off-dry, fruit flavors follow, with tart, bracing acidity backing it up. Acid hounds, this one’s for you. Editor's Choice

Dowsett Family 2017 Gewürztraminer Columbia Gorge $14 87 points
Appealing aromas of rose petal, ginger, pink grapefruit and lychee lead to dry, broad-feeling fruit flavors. A lightly smoky finish caps it off.

Dusted Valley 2016 Tall Tales Stoney Vine Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $62 91 points
Aromas of grilled green asparagus, cigar box, brown stem and parsley are out front, followed by notes of olive, fire pit, smoked meat and tapenade. The stem influence is primary at present. Soft, plump fruit and savory flavors follow, coating the palate. It displays a charming sense of balance, though the style gets in front of the vineyard at times.

Dusted Valley 2017 Squirrel Tooth Alice Stone Tree Vineyard Wahluke Slope $45 90 points
A blend of 71% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 14% Mourvèdre; the aromas for this young release wine leap up, with notes of huckleberry, dark plum, peppery spice, pot roast and dried flower. Rich, ripe, high-octane fruit flavors follow. It packs a hefty punch while displaying a lovely sense of purity. The tannins bring some grip. A lightly smoky finish caps it off.

Dusted Valley 2016 Mourvèdre Walla Walla Valley $45 88 points
Orange peel, citrus zest and potpourri aromas are at the fore, with blue fruit notes behind them. Sweet-seeming flavors follow, bringing a sense of richness. The aromas and palate don’t entirely sync up, but there are interesting things here.

Dusted Valley 2016 Stone Tree Vineyard Petite Sirah Wahluke Slope $45 88 points
Aromas of asphalt and matchstick start out in the lead, followed by flavors of blue fruit that display a sense of ripeness but still freshness. A big lick of tannins backs it up. Perhaps some additional time in the bottle will tie it all together.

Feather 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $65 91 points
This wine is 100% varietal. Aromas of dark roasted coffee, dried herb, exotic spice and plum lead to ripe, velvety fruit and barrel flavors with firm tannins backing it up. Dark chocolate notes linger on the finish. Yum. Best after 2025 with a long life beyond that. Cellar Selection

Five Star Cellars 2014 Malbec Walla Walla Valley $38 91 points
Designated bottles of this variety are a rarity in the valley. Aromas of baking spice, plum, vanilla and cherry lead to soft, smooth, palate-coating fruit and barrel flavors. Fruit and barrel play equal parts. It should have a long life in front of it.

Five Star Cellars 2014 Syrah Walla Walla Valley $36 89 points
Aromas of dark roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate and black fruit are followed by blueberry and blackberry flavors. Smoked meat notes linger on the finish. It brings a pleasing sense of liveliness, especially considering the warmth of the vintage, mixing fruit and barrel.

Fortuity 2017 Viognier Yakima Valley $24 88 points
This is the inaugural release of this wine from this newcomer. Appealing aromas of peach, lime and minerality lead to sleek, dry, tart fruit flavors. It’s a strong start that eschews the often ponderous route this variety can take, choosing instead deftness.

Fortuity 2017 Chardonnay Yakima Valley $28 87 points
Aromas of lemon balm, baking spice and yellow apple are followed by medium-bodied, textured fruit flavors that dip in the middle.

Genoa 2015 Flying Colors Tuscan-style Red Blend Columbia Valley $29 88 points
Sangiovese makes up just under half this wine, with the balance Syrah (32%), Cabernet Sauvignon (19%) and a pinch of Merlot. Aromas of tar, leather, vanilla, earth, cranberry and baking spice are followed by a palate packed full of burly, almost rustic tannins. There are good things going on but the tannins are a bit difficult to get around at present.

Genoa 2015 The Boom Tuscan-style Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $36 88 points
In this Cabernet Sauvignon blended with 18% Sangiovese, vanilla, baking spice, leather, cranberry and earth aromas lead to full-feeling dark fruit flavors with a warm finish. The tannins have a slightly scratchy feel.

Genoa 2017 Springline White Blend Columbia Valley $22 88 points
This is a blend of Viognier (50%), Chardonnay (20%), Sauvignon Blanc (20%) and Pinot Grigio, and it shows the best of each. The aromas intrigue, displaying notes of melon, lime, apricot and lemon balm. Rounded, fruit-filled flavors follow.

Genoa 2016 Danger Buoy Sangiovese Walla Walla Valley $24 87 points
The aromas suggest notes of baking spice, caramel, menthol and cherry. Medium-bodied, tangy flavors follow, with grainy tannins providing support. It’s a delightful pizza wine.

Genoa 2015 Crosswind Tuscan-style Red Blend Red Mountain $42 87 points
Sangiovese makes up 60% of this wine, with the balance Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Subdued aromas of baking spice, vanilla, dried dark fruit, game and earth are followed by full-bodied cranberry flavors. The tannins give a dry lick.

Genoa 2015 Leeway Winemaker’s Reserve Red Blend Red Mountain $44 87 points
Cabernet Sauvignon (50%) and Syrah (38%) make up most of this wine, with the rest Sangiovese and Merlot. Vanilla, baking spice, green herb and black cherry aromas lead to tart cherry and cranberry flavors that paint around the edges. A (quite) warm finish caps it off.

Genoa 2014 Mainstay Sangiovese Columbia Valley $44 87 points
In this 100% varietal, baking spice, vanilla and anise aromas are in front of notes of black fruit. Full-bodied, rich, extracted fruit flavors follow. It packs a hefty punch.

Genoa 2015 Ketch Tuscan-style Red Blend Red Mountain $42 87 points
Syrah comprises 63% of this wine, with the balance Merlot (25%) and Sangiovese. Vanilla extract, baking spice, green wood and cherry aromas lead to ripe, full-bodied black fruit flavors. The tannins give a dry squeeze. A warm finish caps it off.

Genoa 2015 Danforth Heart of the Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $44 86 points
In this 100% Cabernet wine, vanilla bean, coconut flakes, game, cherry, sawdust and licorice aromas lead to subdued, somewhat dried out seeming fruit flavors. It doesn’t all work.

Genoa 2014 Ketch Tuscan-style Syrah Red Mountain $42 86 points
Syrah makes up three-quarters of this wine, with the rest Merlot and Sangiovese. Aromas of vanilla, baking spice, coconut, dried cranberry and dark cherry are followed by full-bodied fruit flavors backed by a dry grip of tannins. It seems quite evolved for a wine its age.

Genoa 2015 Full Keel Red Mountain $33 84 points
Aromas of green herb, game, vanilla and raisin lead to fruit and game flavors that trail on the finish.

Gilbert Cellars 2015 Left Bank Horse Heaven Hills $22 88 points
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (57%), Merlot (38%) and Petit Verdot; plum, spice, licorice, tire rubber and cocoa powder aromas are followed by tart, full-bodied fruit and smoke flavors with a warm finish. The acidity seems sharp edged for the vintage, softening somewhat with a bit of time open.

Gilbert Cellars 2014 Allobroges Columbia Valley $24 87 points
Syrah (44%) and Grenache (38%) make up the bulk of this wine, which is finished off with Mourvèdre. Brooding aromas of plum, blueberry compote, Robitussin, cranberry and spice lead to saturated, palate-coating fruit flavors. It possesses a lovely feel, though the fruit seems somewhat desiccated.

Gilbert Cellars 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $32 87 points
Aromas of raspberry jam, black cherry and licorice lead to front-loaded, ripe fruit flavors that trail toward the finish. It seems to have a hole in the middle, threaded with medicinal notes.

Gilbert Cellars 2016 Malbec Horse Heaven Hills $30 86 points
Red apple skin, ripe blackberry, orange peel and herb aromas lead to sweet, tacky-seeming fruit flavor, with the tannins showing some astringency. It doesn’t all hang together.

Gilbert Cellars 2018 Riesling Columbia Valley $20 86 points
Green apple, lime and watermelon Jolly Rancher in-the-wrapper aromas lead to off-dry stone fruit and soda water flavors. It doesn’t seem to have fully settled in.

Gilbert Cellars 2018 Rosé Wahluke Slope $18 84 points
This wine starts out as quite reduced, along with notes of soda water and smoke. Mouthwatering strawberry flavors follow.

Helix by Reininger 2015 Phinny Hill Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $30 87 points
The aromas bring heaping amounts of dried green pepper, along with raspberry, herb and pencil eraser. Plush, full-bodied cherry flavors follow. The tannins bring a dry grip. Give it time in the cellar to see if it comes around.

Helix by Reininger 2016 Sangiovese Columbia Valley $25 87 points
Fresh cranberry and raspberry aromas with dried herb and wet tin accents lead to full-bodied fruit flavors. Tart acidity ties it all together.

Helix by Reininger 2016 Pomatia Red Blend Columbia Valley $20 86 points
Aromas of tire rubber, plum, raspberry, flower and herb are followed by lithe, lively fruit flavors that paint around the edges. Firm tannins back it up. It should do well at the dinner table, particularly if the reduction blows off.

Helix by Reininger 2018 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Sangiovese Rosé Columbia Valley $19 86 points
This wine is a pretty bronze color with a tinge of peach. Light aromas lead to medium-bodied, textured fruit flavors. Lively acidity backs it up. It comes off as quite weighty, though the acidity is pleasant.

Helix by Reininger 2015 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Merlot Columbia Valley $22 86 pointsAromas of cranberry, raspberry jam and red currant are followed by ripe fruit flavors surrounded by slightly dry tannins. There’s no doubt it’s a (very) warm vintage wine.

Helix by Reininger 2018 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Chardonnay Columbia Valley $20 84 points
The aromas are subdued, with notes of tin and herb. The lightly spritzy palate falls flat, with the variety hard to find.

Kin & Cascadia 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $14 85 points
Underripe aromas of green pepper, garden herb and orange peel are at the fore, with abundant smoky accents. Mesquite flavors fill out the palate. The smoke influence is prominent.

Lachini 2016 La Bestia Puro Sangue Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $65 88 points
Aromas of black licorice, vanilla extract, cherry and spice lead to full-bodied cranberry and vanilla flavors. The oak influence (24 months in French) seems quite intense.

Lachini 2015 La Bestia Puro Sangue Red Mountain $65 85 points
Fresh herb, orange zest and spice aromas are followed by somewhat sweet, tangy fruit flavors. It’s an uncomfortable mix.

Laelaps 2016 The Rocks Cabernet Sauvignon The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater $50 90 points
Examples of the variety from this appellation are somewhat rare. The aromas show notes of bittersweet chocolate, peat, mortared dried herbs, smoke, brown spices, raspberry and cherry. The flavors dance lightly but show pleasing balance throughout. Char notes linger on the finish. Editor's Choice

Mark Ryan 2016 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $65 92 points
This wine is a blend of Klipsun and Red Willow Cabernet with a kiss of Olsen Petit Verdot. There’s no mistaking it was aged in expensive oak (21 months, 100% new French), with its aromas of spice, char and baking chocolate providing accent to cherry, herb and flower. The palate brings wound up tannins supporting plentiful fruit flavors. It will have a long, long life in the cellar. Best after 2025. Cellar Selection

Mark Ryan 2016 Water Witch Red Mountain $58 92 points
This wine is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (64%) and Merlot (26%), with all of the fruit coming from Quintessence Vineyard. The aromas are brooding, with notes of dried and fresh herb, cassis, bittersweet chocolate, graphite, cherry and red apple. Dark, dense, full fruit flavors follow, bringing a sense of richness but also subtlety, with a lingering finish capping it off. It’s as much about feel as flavor.

Mark Ryan 2016 Lonely Heart Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $95 92 points
This wine is 100% varietal, with all of the fruit coming from Obelisco and Klipsun vineyards. The aromas aren’t ready to reveal themselves at present. Dark cherry, black raspberry, spice, dark coffee and licorice notes lead to dark, dense fruit flavors, with a lively sense of acidity framing it all. It’s a fascinating wine, more about subtlety than strength. It should have a long life in front of it. Best after 2025. Cellar Selection

Mark Ryan 2016 Dead Horse Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $58 90 points
Aromas of char, dried herb, matchstick and cherry lead to chocolaty plum and cherry flavors that show a sense of polish. It’s surprisingly restrained considering the warmth of the vintage and appellation. Best after 2024, with a very long life beyond that. Cellar Selection

Mark Ryan 2016 The Dissident Columbia Valley $38 89 points
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up almost two-thirds of this wine, with Merlot a quarter and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Plentiful aromas of luxurious barrel spice, milk chocolate, char, green pepper, green herb, flower and dark cherry lead to well-balanced fruit flavors. It brings a lot of charm.

Maryhill 2016 Proprietor’s Reserve Gunkel Vineyard Barbera Columbia Valley $42 90 points
Fascinating cola, hard candy, cherry, plum, cedar box and freshly cut fennel aromas are followed by well-balanced fruit flavors, framed by lively acidity. It delights.

Maryhill 2016 Vineyard Series Elephant Mountain Vineyard Carmenère Rattlesnake Hills $46 90 points
Aromas of whole and sliced green pepper, dusty cherry and herbs are followed by lush, soft, palate-coating fruit flavors livened by a snap of acidity. Chocolate notes linger on the finish. It’s a lovely example of the variety.

Maryhill 2017 Proprietor’s Reserve McKinley Springs Vineyard Roussanne Horse Heaven Hills $22 89 points
Lightly styled aromas of seashell and saline lead to ripe, rounded flavors, with plenty of spice accents. Spice notes linger on the finish. It provides a lot of intrigue.

Maryhill 2017 Winemaker’s White Blend Columbia Valley $16 86 points
The aromas are light, with notes of lemon pith, candlewax and wet herb. Just off-dry, medium-bodied fruit flavors follow. It’s not entirely harmonious.

Maryhill 2018 Rosé of Sangiovese Columbia Valley $17 85 points
Electric pink in color with a watermelon tinge, strawberry and cherry aromas lead to broad off-dry fruit flavors.

Milbrandt 2017 Merlot Columbia Valley $17 91 points
Plush red fruit, herb and eucalyptus aromas lead to scrumptious fruit flavors. It possesses a compelling sense of balance—a superb value that brings a sense of purity not always seen at this price. Editor's Choice

Milbrandt 2015 The Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $26 88 points
The aromas pop, with notes of overripe raspberry, black cherry, macerated cranberry, vanilla and green pepper. Ripe dark fruit flavors follow, with the tannins giving a firm handshake. Drink now.

Milbrandt 2018 Rosé Columbia Valley $13 88 points
A very pretty peach color; the aromas pop, with notes of watermelon, strawberry, hard candy and rhubarb. Rounded, just off-dry kiwi flavors follow, with tart acidity backing it up. It brings a lot of appeal. Best Buy

Milbrandt 2015 Sentinel Northridge Vineyard Wahluke Slope $50 88 points
Cabernet Sauvignon (70%) and Merlot (27%) make up the majority of this wine, with a splash of Petit Verdot finishing it off. It pushes the edges of overripeness, with aromas and flavors of brewed coffee and cherry. Firm tannins back it up.

Milbrandt 2018 Estate Grown Pinot Grigio Ancient Lakes $13 88 points
Petroleum jelly, flint, Muscat gummy and green apple aromas are followed by tart, lively kiwi flavors. It provides a lot of value and appeal. Best Buy

Milbrandt 2018 Family Grown Riesling Ancient Lakes $13 88 points
Lime zest, ginger, white peach, botrytis and flower aromas are followed by dry citrus and stone fruit flavors backed by lively acidity. Put it on the dinner table to see it shine. Best Buy 
Milbrandt 2015 Single Vineyard Series Northridge Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $42 87 points
Overripe cherry, dried herb and spice aromas are followed by full-bodied black fruit flavors backed by a firm grip of tannins. It runs hot, with the volatiles seeming a bit amped.

Milbrandt 2017 The Estates Viognier Wahluke Slope $24 87 points
Aromas of creamsicle, ripe peach, crayon and flower lead to quite ripe, full-bodied stone fruit flavors. It runs warm.

Milbrandt 2018 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $13 87 points
Aromas of petroleum jelly, herb and red apple skin lead to plentiful stone fruit flavors. It’s straight down the fairway.

Milbrandt 2018 Sweet Katherine Riesling Ancient Lakes $13 87 points
Jasmine, lime, honeysuckle and ripe peach aromas lead to quite sweet, nectarous fruit flavors. It goes down easy.

Milbrandt 2015 Single Vineyard Series Clifton Hill Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $42 87 points
The aromas are unusual, with notes of berry, gummy bear, Twizzler and spice. Quite ripe, extracted black fruit flavors follow, with the tannins a bit gruff. The warmth of the vintage shows.

Milbrandt 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $17 86 points
Aromas of cocoa, plum, green pepper and matchstick lead to somewhat smoky flavors. Gruff tannins back it up.

Nine Hats 2016 Red Blend Columbia Valley $20 91 points
This wine is half Cabernet Sauvignon, with the rest equal parts Merlot and Syrah, each of which expresses itself. Clearly coming from high-end fruit, bright, fresh aromas of cranberry, dark plum and black currant, and raspberry lead to ripe, full-bodied blueberry and blackberry flavors that pack a punch. The tannins give a firm squeeze. A chocolaty finish caps it off. It’s a whole lot of wine for the money. Editor's Choice

Nine Hats 2017 Pinot Gris Columbia Valley $14 89 points
Subdued aromas of apple, candlewax and lemon curd lead to rounded, full fruit flavors with a kiss of smoke on the finish. The balance is spot-on, as is the sense of acidity. Best Buy

Nine Hats 2017 Riesling Columbia Valley $14 89 points
The aromas announce themselves with bright notes of lime zest, ripe peach, honeysuckle and jasmine. Medium-sweet fruit flavors follow, with nervy acidity backing them up. Best Buy

Nine Hats 2015 Syrah Columbia Valley $25 89 points
Pleasing aromas of boysenberry, dried orange peel and earth draw you into the glass. Fresh, focused fruit flavors follow. It shows a pleasing amount of deftness considering the warmth of the vintage.

Nine Hats 2015 Merlot Columbia Valley $25 88 points
Spice, dark coffee grounds, dried flower, black licorice and candied cherry aromas lead to ripe, dense, full-bodied black fruit flavors backed by burly tannins. A warm finish caps it off. It comes off as quite ripe.

Nine Hats 2015 Malbec Columbia Valley $25 87 points
The asphalt, raspberry and baking spice aromas are all high toned. The palate is full bodied, mixing fruit and barrel. A warm finish caps it off.

Nine Hats 2016 Sangiovese Columbia Valley $25 87 points
Aromas of tire rubber, cranberry, clay and cherry are followed by ripe, soft fruit flavors that seem somewhat missing in the middle. Still, it goes down easy.

Nine Hats 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $20 86 points
Aromas of plum, blueberry, vanilla, orange rind and spice lead to light creamsicle flavors. It’s pleasant, though the variety seems impossible to place.

Northstar 2016 Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $50 92 points
Merlot (51%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (47%) make up the heart of this wine, which is finished off with Cabernet Franc. Principally from Anna Marie and Spring Valley vineyards, inviting aromas of plum, currant, vanilla, black raspberry, black cherry and spice lead to soft, palate-coating fruit flavors that show compelling balance. Firm tannins that need some time back it up. It brings a sense of freshness and intensity that delights. Best after 2023. Cellar Selection

Northstar 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $40 90 points
Fresh herb, dark coffee, plum, graphite, green herb and vanilla aromas lead to ripe, hedonistic, but nicely balanced fruit flavors. A grip of tannins backs it up.

Northstar 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $55 90 points
Aromas of ripe black cherry and cigar box are followed by well-balanced fruit and barrel flavors. It displays a sneaky sense of acid and tannins structure that keeps the interest high. Editor's Choice

Northstar 2016 Merlot Columbia Valley $41 89 points
The aromas are pleasing, with notes of plum, baking spice, vanilla and herb. Soft, plump but light fruit flavors follow, displaying a sense of elegance and appeal. The barrel influence plays a big part in the show but plays it well.

Northstar 2016 Premier Merlot Columbia Valley $80 88 points
The aromas are brooding, with notes of dark raspberry, medicine, coffee, graphite, cola, herb and cocoa powder. Ripe, dense, slightly dried out seeming fruit flavors follow. Firm tannins back it all up. It all seems a bit desiccated

Pambrun 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley (OR) $70 90 points
This wine smells like a bowl of fruit, with notes of raspberry and cherry with accents of yogurt and herb. Soft, elegant fruit flavors follow. Those looking for a big, bold Cabernet should look elsewhere. This one is all about elegance and grace.

Pambrun 2016 Chrysologue Walla Walla Valley (OR) $65 88 points
This wine is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Cherry, yogurt and dried herb aromas lead to medium-bodied fruit flavors. The tannins give a light squeeze. It’s all about elegance and refinement.

Pambrun 2016 Merlot Walla Walla Valley (OR) $60 88 points
Aromas of red cherry, raspberry, mint and spice are followed by plentiful fruit flavors, with light vanilla accents. It’s a pretty interpretation of the variety.

Passing Time 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $80 94 points
Predominantly Discovery and Champoux vineyard fruit, the aromas intrigue, with notes of scorched earth, cassis, cherry, bay leaf and whiffs of green pepper. There’s an exquisite sense of balance, intensity, density and granularity to the palate, with chocolaty flavors on the finish. One of the wines of the vintage, it has a long life in front of it. Best from 2025 to 2030. Cellar Selection

Passing Time 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $80 93 points
Klipsun (52%) and Red Mountain Vineyard (26%) fruit make up the backbone of this wine. Fresh and dried savory herb aromas are at the fore, followed by notes of pencil lead, spice, bay leaf, chocolate and black fruit. Rich, ripe, layered fruit flavors follow, backed by brawny tannins and a long finish. A highly structured wine, it needs some time to stretch its legs, but it has the stuffing to go the distance. Best after 2025, with a very long life beyond that. Cellar Selection

Passing Time 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $80 92 points
Fruit for this wine comes from Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge and Figgins Estate vineyard. Dried and fresh herb, gun smoke, plum and barrel spice aromas lead to full, textured, drawn out fruit flavors that show great length. Slightly chalky, very tightly wound tannins back it up. Best after 2024. Cellar Selection

Passing Time 2016 Columbia Valley $55 92 points
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 63% of this wine, with Merlot and Petit Verdot each making up 16%. Cabernet Franc finishes it off. It is locked up out of the gate, with brooding notes of pitted black cherry, barrel spice, purple flowers, savory herb and graphite that reveal themselves over time. Dark, full fruit flavors follow, with the tannins giving a firm grip. A lingering finish follows. It has the stuffing to go the distance. Best after 2025, but this wine will thrive as long as you want to hold on to it. Cellar Selection

Reininger 2016 Pepper Bridge Vineyard Malbec Walla Walla Valley $58 88 points
In this 100% varietal, the aromas offer notes of plum, vanilla, baking spice and a whiff of tire rubber. Ripe, rich fruit and barrel flavors follow. The tannins bring a lightly grainy feel.

Reininger 2016 Mr. Owl’s Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $58 87 points
Raspberry, herb, orange peel, flower and barrel spice aromas are out front. Medium-plus-bodied fruit and barrel flavors follow. It has a pleasing sense of acidity. Dry tannins round it out.

Reininger 2018 Birch Creek Vineyard Semillon Walla Walla Valley $32 86 points
Aromas of whole lime and fresh herb lead to lightly textured fruit flavors. The concentration doesn’t seem all there.

Ryan Patrick 2018 Naked Chardonnay Columbia Valley $12 89 points
The aromas are light, with notes of vanilla bean and lemon balm. There’s a lovely sense of balance and texture to the palate. It provides a lot of quality and value. Best Buy

Ryan Patrick 2017 Patrick Reserve Sagemoor Vineyards Chardonnay Columbia Valley $35 89 points
Aromas of vanilla, pear, wood spice and yellow apple lead to rich, full-bodied fruit and barrel flavors that bring a sense of balance. The oak plays a prominent part, but if you are looking for a rich, oak-driven style, look no further.

Ryan Patrick 2016 French Creek Vineyard Chardonnay Yakima Valley $35 88 points
This wine comes from a vineyard that has established itself as a top site for this variety. Aromas of custard, barrel spice and freshly cut apple are followed by full-bodied flower and stone fruit flavors. It comes off as a bit ponderous and weighty, with the oak out front.

Ryan Patrick 2017 Crescent Cuvée Reserve White Blend Columbia Valley $35 88 points
A blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Picpoul, with aromas of apricot and spice followed by medium-bodied fruit flavors, with zippy acidity backing it up.

Ryan Patrick 2018 Rosé Columbia Valley $15 87 points
Aromas of sour cherry, citrus rind and herb lead to off-dry kiwi and papaya flavors. It goes down easy.

Ryan Patrick 2017 Rock Island Chardonnay Columbia Valley $20 87 points
Subdued aromas of yellow apple, vanilla and spice lead to medium-bodied custard flavors. It doesn’t all seem in harmony.

Ryan Patrick 2018 Olsen Brothers Vineyard Riesling Yakima Valley $12 87 points
Aromas of white flower, lime, botrytis and ripe peach lead to medium-sweet Nestea iced tea flavors. It’s a straightforward quaffer with enough acidity to stand it up straight. Best Buy

Ryan Patrick 2017 Redhead Red Blend Columbia Valley $15 87 points
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 59% of this wine, with the rest three Rhône varieties along with a pinch of Malbec. Vibrant aromas of freshly chopped green herbs, hot pepper, smoke and orange zest lead to lighter-styled fruit flavors. A smoky finish caps it off.

Saggi 2016 Red Blend Columbia Valley $55 91 points
Sangiovese (60%) is at the heart of this blend, which is filled out by Cabernet Sauvignon (29%) and Syrah. The aromas intrigue, with notes of plum, char, vanilla and anise. The full-bodied palate mixes fruit and barrel, showing a sense of poise.

Sequel 2016 Syrah Columbia Valley $60 89 points
Yakima Valley fruit (Boushey and Den Hoed Grandview) make up the backbone of this wine, which is rounded out by Bacchus, The Benches and Dionysus vineyards. The aromas present notes of char, dark roasted coffee bean, boysenberry, blackberry and a whiff of orange peel. Full-bodied fruit flavors follow, painting broadly around the edges and more lightly in the middle.

SMAK 2018 Summer Pinot Gris Rosé Columbia Valley $16 87 points
There’s just a tinge of color to be found here. Tart cherry, strawberry and whole watermelon aromas lead to dry, quite spritzy fruit flavors. It brings a pleasing sense of acidity, along with a broad feel.

SMAK 2018 Fall/Winter Syrah Rosé Columbia Valley $19 86 points
This is mostly Syrah (85%), along with Counoise, Mourvèdre and Sauvignon Blanc with partial malolactic fermentation and three months of lees stirring. Light aromas of cherry and yogurt lead to dry, medium-bodied fruit flavors, with tart acidity backing it up. It’s interesting.

SMAK 2018 Spring Rosé Walla Walla Valley $16 85 points
Pale copper in color, it smells like a sparkler, with aromas of lees, baked bread and spice. Quite tart fruit flavors follow, with the acids bringing some sharp edges.

Sparkman 2015 Evermore Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $100 91 points
Plantings from the early 1970s and ’80s make up this 100% varietal wine. Char, wet coffee grounds, dark chocolate, mushroom, cherry and herb aromas lead to full-bodied, sensuous fruit and barrel flavors, with the mouthfeel bringing much of the appeal. The barrel influence is primary at present. Best after 2024. Cellar Selection

Sparkman 2017 Wonderland Grenache Columbia Valley $35 90 points
Light in color and showing a bit of bricking; the aromas intrigue, with notes of white pepper, garrigue, orange zest and red fruit. The flavors bring a sense of richness and intensity, with a warm, lingering, fruit and savory finish capping it off.

Sparkman 2017 Wilderness Red Blend Columbia Valley $25 88 points
Hard candy, cherry, herb, fresh orange and plum aromas are out front. Soft, supple fruit flavors follow. It has a lovely mouthfeel and sense of acid balance that heightens the appeal. A lingering, warm finish caps it off.

Sparkman 2017 As You Wish Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $50 88 points
The aromas intrigue, with notes of pink grapefruit, lemon-lime soda, kiwi and candied mango. Full-bodied, broad, textured kiwi and pineapple flavors follow, leading to a warm finish.

Sparkman 2017 Lumiere Chardonnay Columbia Valley $32 86 points
Aromas of burnt toast, almond skin and char lead to ripe, full-bodied peach and char flavors. A warm, somewhat bitter finish caps it off.

Swiftwater 2016 Proprietary Red Blend Columbia Valley $50 91 points
This wine is tight as a drum right now, with the aromas not ready to reveal their charms. Whiffs of dark chocolate, spice, vanilla and black cherry lead to broad-feeling fruit flavors focused on the edges. Quite burly tannins back it up. Give it significant time in the bottle or an extended decant.

Temporal 2016 Temp Tempranillo Washington $20 88 points
Cherry pit, raspberry, cranberry and herb aromas lead to tart, tangy, fruit flavors. The tannins give a firm squeeze. Pair it with food to see it at its best.

Tero Estates 2013 Windrow Windrow Vineyard Walla Walla Valley (OR) $45 88 points
Coming from a vineyard that’s home to the valley’s oldest commercial plantings, this wine is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 6% Malbec. Dried herb, bittersweet chocolate, pencil lead, anise, caraway seed and spice aromas lead to fruit and barrel flavors that focus primary around the edges. It needs more structure to stand it up.

Tero Estates 2014 Old Block Windrow Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley (OR) $57 88 points
A 100% varietal, this comes from the oldest commercial Cabernet Sauvignon plantings in the valley. High-toned aromas of dried herb, barrel spice, vanilla and cherry lead to soft, chocolaty fruit flavors with a Port-like quality.

Townshend 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $15 83 points
Aromas of medicine cabinet, dried cherry, dill and raisin are followed by fruit and game flavors that paint around the edges. Vanilla notes linger on the finish.

Townshend 2016 Merlot Columbia Valley $15 82 points
Barrel spice, sawdust, green pepper and game aromas are followed by sweet, dried out seeming fruit flavors.

Upchurch 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $75 94 points
The aromas are locked up at first, displaying notes of earth, dark cherry and spice. Dense, focused, structured fruit flavors follow. One of the wines of the vintage. Don’t go near this one until at least 2024. It will have a long life in the cellar beyond that. Cellar Selection

Upchurch 2016 Counterpart Red Mountain $50 91 points
Merlot makes up just under two-thirds of this wine, with the rest Cabernet Sauvignon. Dried cranberry, black cherry and dusty earth aromas lead to ripe, lively fruit flavors. Grainy, slightly green-seeming tannins back it up. It has good stuffing but needs some time to soften and pull together. Best after 2023.

Upchurch 2016 LTL Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $30 89 points
This is the inaugural release of this winery’s LTL—Larger Than Life—wine. The aromas are closed up out of the gate, with brooding notes of black cherry, blackberry, cranberry and spice. Sweet, ripe flavors follow that paint around the edges, with firm, slightly dry tannins providing support. Some additional time in the bottle should serve it well.

Warr-King 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $38 88 points
Aromas of dark chocolate, spice, red apple and raspberry lead to ripe but well-constructed flavors. A warm finish caps it off. It carries a lot of heat, but there are good things behind it.

Warr-King 2016 Descendant Washington $36 87 points
Cabernet Franc makes up just over two-thirds of this wine, with Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot filling it out. Ripe raspberry, overripe red apple and tar aromas are followed by ripe, center-focused fruit flavors. The aromas and palate don’t entirely sync up.

Warr-King 2016 Grand Rouge Red Mountain $38 86 points
This wine is equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of coffee, red cherry and licorice lead to ripe fruit flavors. Grainy tannins back it up.

Warr-King 2016 Barrel Select Stillwater Creek Syrah Columbia Valley $38 84 points
The aromas are light, with notes of rose hips, red apple skin and vanilla. Ripe, high-octane vanilla and butterscotch flavors follow. The oak influence seems intrusive and the alcohol out of balance.

Waters 2018 Prelude Washington $32 90 points
A blend of 55% Roussanne from Gamache Vineyard and 45% Viognier from Waterstone Vineyard, the wine has an aroma redolent with notes of honey-drizzled ripe peach, marzipan, apricot, wet stone and flower. Rich, expressive full-bodied fruit flavors follow, possessing a lovely sense of texture. A warm finish caps it off.

Waters 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Washington $50 89 points
This 100% varietal has aromas of tomato leaf, heaping amounts of black licorice, pencil shavings and celery stalk that lead to full-bodied, supple black fruit flavors. It comes off as riper in style than the norm for the winery but still brings appeal, with a soft, silky feel.

Image by Richard Duval

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See my Washington Wine Report Tasting Note Database. Read an explanation of the fields here. FINAL UPDATE 6/13/2015. See current Wine Enthusiast reviews here.

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