Wine Enthusiast reviews for December 31, 2020

Catching up on Wine Enthusiast scores, I’ll start with the December 31st issue and move backward as quickly as I can. 111 wines reviewed in this issue.

A while back I wrote about Liminal Wines, a new project from Marty Taucher and Chris Peterson at Avennia, using fruit from WeatherEye Vineyard at the top of Red Mountain. The scores for the inaugural reds are in the December 31st issue. These are extraordinary wines. While the first releases sold out quickly, these are wines well worth seeking out and considering jumping on the winery’s mailing list (Liminal 2018 High Canyon Series WeatherEye Vineyard Grenache Red Mountain $75, 97 points, Editor's Choice; Liminal 2018 Vineyard Series WeatherEye Vineyard GSM Columbia Valley $60, 96 points, Cellar Selection; Liminal 2018 Block Highlight Series Block 16 WeatherEye Vineyard Syrah Columbia Valley $60, 96 points, Cellar Selection). 

Year after year, decade after decade, DeLille Cellars has produced exceptional wines. The reds reviewed below are all more than worthy of your attention as usual, but I want to highlight here two of the winery’s white wines here. 

Roussanne is a bit player in Washington, with most wineries blending it with other varieties. DeLille, meanwhile, has long made a varietal Roussanne from Red Mountain – red wine country. The 2019 DeLille Roussanne is the best example of this variety I have ever had from Washington and is also one of the best white wines I’ve ever had from the state period. Everything lines up: complex aromatics to balance, depth, and purity. It drinks best with a slight chill and only ramps up with time open (DeLille 2019 Roussanne Red Mountain $35, 95 points, Cellar Selection). 

Meanwhile the winery’s 2019 Chaleur Blanc is another winner (25th Vintage Columbia Valley $35, 92 points, Cellar Selection). Like many Washington whites from this vintage, it has a somewhat sleeker profile with plenty of verve. The wine is terrific out of the gate but always does exceptionally well with time in the cellar.

Woodinville’s Lobo Hills continues to make some great reds that punch well above their weight class (Lobo Hills 2017 Right Bank Blend Columbia Valley $20, 91 points, Editor’s Choice; Lobo Hills 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $25, 90 points, Editor’s Choice). 

I wrote elsewhere about the 2018 Luke wines. As noted there, these are much higher quality, more serious wines than are typically found at a $25 price point. Give them a short decant to see them at their best. Of note, the winery has also added two reserve wines to its portfolio that are knockouts (Luke 2018 Reserve Syrah Wahluke Slope $45, 94 points, Editor's Choice; Luke 2018 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $60, 93 points, Cellar Selection; Luke 2018 The Companion Red Blend Columbia Valley $22, 92 points, Editor's Choice; Luke 2018 Merlot Wahluke Slope $25, 92 points, Editor's Choice; Luke 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $25, 92 points, Editor's Choice; Luke 2018 Syrah Wahluke Slope $25, 92 points, Editor's Choice). 

Two words for the 2018 Gorman Winery "Devils" - get some (Gorman 2018 The Devil You Know Columbia Valley $30, 92 points, Editor's Choice; Gorman 2018 The Devil You Don’t Know Red Blend Columbia Valley $30, 91 points, Editor's Choice). Also don't miss the Gorman 2018 Zachary’s Ladder Red Blend Red Mountain ($35, 92 points, Editor's Choice). 

Winemaker and owner Brian Grasso at Structure Cellars has always excelled making high quality, food friendly, well-priced reds. The winery’s 2018 Rhône releases, however, take things to another level and are some of the best Washington values on the shelves today (Structure 2018 Bauhaus Syrah Columbia Valley $30, 93 points, Cellar Selection; Structure 2018 The Newel Red Blend Columbia Valley $28, 92 points, Editor's Choice; Structure 2018 Foundation Syrah Columbia Valley $35, 92 points, Editor's Choice; Structure 2018 Spire Merlot Yakima Valley $25, 91 points, Editor's Choice; Structure 2017 Red Willow Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $35, 91 points). 

Yakima Valley’s Airfield Estates has made its mark by offering exclusively estate grown wines. Their 2018 vintage offerings provide some terrific value (Airfield Estates 2017 Reserve Syrah Yakima Valley $30, 91 points; Airfield Estates 2018 Dauntless Yakima Valley $18, 90 points Editor's Choice; Airfield Estates 2016 Reserve Merlot Yakima Valley $30, 90 points; Airfield Estates 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $18, 90 points, Editor's Choice). 

I wrote a while back on the Washington Wine Report Facebook page about the Betz Family 2018 Rhône-style wines. They are all high quality, but I will highlight a few here. The 2019 Bésoleil might well be the winery’s best to date and each vintage of the Domaine de Pierres gets better and better (Betz Family 2018 Bésoleil Columbia Valley $48, 94 points, Editor's Choice; Betz Family 2018 Domaine de Pierres Syrah Walla Walla valley $62, 93 points, Editor's Choice; Betz Family 2018 La Côte Patriarche Red Willow Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $62, 93 points, Cellar Selection). 

Finally, for those looking for value, you can’t do better than the 2019 Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling. It’s as good an offering of this wine as the Chateau has made (Chateau Ste. Michelle 2019 Riesling Columbia Valley $9, 91 points, Best Buy). 

Without further ado. 

* * * 

Ad Lucem 2016 Day Star Slide Mountain Vineyard Red Blend Columbia Valley $42 88 points
This is a blend of Tempranillo (38%), Touriga Nacional (37%) and Syrah. The aromas intrigue, with notes of pencil eraser, herb and saddle leather. Like many wines from this vintage, the palate is sleek in feel, with bright acidity. Drink now. 

Airfield Estates 2017 Reserve Syrah Yakima Valley $30 91 points
The aromas offer notes of orange oil, smoked meat, medicine, fresh herb and dark fruit. An assortment of sleek-feeling orange-peel, plum and savory flavors follow, with the orange notes showing prominently at present. Coffee flavors linger on the finish. 

Airfield Estates 2018 Dauntless Yakima Valley $18 90 points
This Right Bank-style blend offers aromas of dark raspberry, black currant, toast and fresh herb aromas. Plum, raspberry and cherry flavors follow. There is a lot to like. Best after 2022. Editor's Choice 

Airfield Estates 2016 Reserve Merlot Yakima Valley $30 90 points
Aromas of raspberry jam, plum, garden greens and spice are followed by garden-herb and red-fruit flavors wrapped up in a whole lot of tannic structure. Give it plenty of time to open up. 

Airfield Estates 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $18 90 points

Subtle aromas of matchstick, cherry and herb lead to plentiful black-currant, plum and herb flavors brightened by tart acids. It hasn’t come out of its shell yet but has the stuffing to excel when it does. Editor's Choice 

Airfield Estates 2017 Runway Yakima Valley $32 89 points
The volume is turned up on this wine, with ripe fruit aromas and flavors full of black fruit. Grainy tannins back it up. There are interesting things happening, but they don’t all entirely come together. 

Airfield Estates 2017 Founders H. Lloyd Miller Yakima Valley $50 88 points

The aromas aren’t ready to reveal themselves, with notes of dark cherry, orange peel and barrel spice. Full-bodied, lightly smoky flavors follow, with mesquite notes on the finish. The tannins give a firm, slightly astringent squeeze. It’s bunched up at present. Give it some time in the cellar to stretch out. 

Airfield Estates 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Yakima Valley $15 88 points

Guava, pineapple and citrus aromas lead to light lemon flavors that hang on the finish. There are good things happening, but the flavors are light in concentration. 

Airfield Estates 2017 Merlot Yakima Valley $18 88 points
The aromas bring notes of plum, tar and black licorice. The flavors paint around the edges, offering lightly medicinal flavors and a smoky finish that trails. 

Aquilini 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Red Mountain $35 90 points
The aromas are light, with notes of herb, citrus and whiffs of tropical fruit. Full-bodied guava, kiwi and pineapple flavors lead to a warm finish. 

Ashan 2019 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay Columbia Valley $NA 91 points
The aromas are pleasing, with notes of ripe, cut pineapple, fig and almond. Rich pineapple and other tropical-fruit flavors follow, bringing density and balance. It shows the variety’s riper, fuller side. 

Be Human 2018 Merlot Columbia Valley $16 88 points
The aromas suggest notes of cigar leaf, dried herb and cherry. The flavors are restrained, showing nuance. 

Betz Family 2018 Bésoleil Columbia Valley $48 94 points

Grenache makes up 46% of this wine, with Mourvèdre and Counoise each accounting for 24% and the balance being Syrah. With the majority of the fruit coming from Olsen Vineyard in Yakima Valley, the aromas explode from the glass, with notes of raspberry, smoked meat, huckleberry and white pepper. The palate has dense, textured, layered fruit flavors but still remains fleet of foot. There is a compelling sense of freshness and texture to it. It’s a complete dazzler. Editor's Choice 

Betz Family 2018 Domaine de Pierres Syrah Walla Walla valley $62 93 points
The aromas offer notes of iron, firepit, stem, Mandarin orange and black olive—classically Rocks District. The firepit and other savory flavors are intense, bringing textural richness, lingering on the finish. It’s the winery’s most complete and captivating offering from the Rocks to date. Editor's Choice 

Betz Family 2018 La Côte Patriarche Red Willow Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $62 93 points
The heart of this wine is fruit from the original 1986 plantings at this vineyard, the first Syrah vines in the state. The aromas pop, with notes of mulberry, huckleberry, dark plum, leather, fresh clove, spice and dark fruit. Full fruit flavors follow, bringing tannic heft that augurs well for its longevity. Best after 2025. Cellar Selection 

Betz Family 2018 La Côte Rousse Syrah Red Mountain $62 92 points
Cofermented with 6% Viognier, the aromas are lifted, with notes of boysenberry pie, fresh flower and orange peel. It’s a mouthful of blue- and purple-fruit flavors, showing impressive freshness and deftness for this warm appellation. 

Betz Family 2018 La Serenne Boushey Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $62 92 points
Blackberry, smoked meat, plum, dried herb and medicine aromas lead to expressive fruit flavors, with light Robitussin cough-syrup accents. It puts a premium on elegance. The most backward initially of the 2018 releases, it is tightly clenched at present. Best after 2025. Cellar Selection 

Cadence 2017 Tapteil Vineyard Red Mountain $45 93 points

Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 43% of this wine, with the rest Cabernet Franc (29%) and Merlot. The aromas pop, with notes of raspberry, flower, fresh herb, black currant and scorched earth. The palate is tightly coiled, packed full of bold tannin and bright acids. It’s a classic example of the vintage, region and this producer’s style. Best from 2024–2032. Cellar Selection 

Cadence 2017 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Mountain $45 93 points

Cabernet Franc (42%) is in the lead on this wine, with Cabernet Sauvignon (33%), Petit Verdot (17%) and Merlot following. Brooding aromas of black currant, anise, dried and fresh herb, scorched earth and boysenberry lead to a tightly packed, highly structured palate, with mouthwatering flavors. It will be timeless, but best after 2026. Cellar Selection 

Cadence 2017 Bel Canto Cara Mia Vineyard Red Mountain $60 92 points
Cabernet Franc (73%) makes up most of this wine, with the balance Merlot (18%) and Petit Verdot. The aromas aren’t ready to reveal themselves, opening to show notes of earth, flower and fresh herb. The flavors are textured, undulating across the palate. It brings a sense of intensity and freshness that is thoroughly captivating. Editor's Choice 

Cadence 2017 Camerata Cara Mia Vineyard Red Mountain $60 92 points
This is a rare 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from this producer. The aromas are compelling, with notes of scorched earth, flower and cherry, showing an unmistakable Cara Mia profile. A dense, structured palate follows. 

Cadence 2018 Coda Red Mountain $28 90 points
Cabernet Franc makes up 37% of this blend, with the rest Merlot (29%), Cabernet Sauvignon 23%) and Petit Verdot. The aromas are locked up on first pour, with notes of whole orange, raspberry, cherry and herb that show freshness. Soft, plush fruit flavors follow. It’s less overtly structure-driven than previous offerings, but still has plenty of longevity in it. Editor's Choice 

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2017 Artist Series Columbia Valley $65 91 points
Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for 56% of this wine, with the rest Merlot (39%) and smidgen of Malbec and Cabernet Franc. The aromas are brooding, with notes of barrel spice, dark chocolate, dried and black cherry. Creamy fruit and barrel flavors follow, showing an appealing texture. Coffee and raspberry notes linger on the finish. It’s a complete charmer. Editor's Choice 

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2019 Riesling Columbia Valley $9 91 points
The aromas intoxicate, with notes of white peach, lime, jasmine and flower. Off-dry leaning sweeter stone fruit and Nestea Lemon Iced Tea flavors follow, with a strong sense of acidity threading through it. The balance and intensity are exquisite. It’s everything one could want from this variety. Best Buy 

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2019 Cold Creek Vineyard Riesling Columbia Valley $16 90 points
The aromas are charming, with notes of lime leaf, white peach and wet rock. Just off-dry lemon iced tea flavors follow. It’s a lovely expression of the variety. Editor's Choice 

Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen 2012 Eroica Single Berry Select Riesling Columbia Valley $200 95 points
Compelling aromas of marmalade, honey, lemon and ginger lead to rich, mouthcoating, exquisitely balanced fruit flavors. The intensity is outrageous, but it’s the balance and endless finish that separates this wine—a true accomplishment of sheer enjoyment. Best after 2024. Cellar Selection 

Cymbal 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $35 91 points
Pear, citrus, kiwi and pineapple aromas are followed by full, fleshy tropical-fruit flavors, with plenty of acidity backing them up. There’s hang time on the finish. It’s an enchanting look at the variety’s fuller bodied side and will have a long life ahead of it. Best after 2022. Cellar Selection 

DeLille 2019 Roussanne Red Mountain $35 95 points
The aromas are intoxicating, with notes of apricot, sea shell and herb showing complexity. The flavors display texture, depth, purity, balance and length. The acid balance in particular is exquisite. It’s an accomplishment for this variety and for white wines in the state. It is delicious now but has a long life ahead of it. Best from 2022–2026. Cellar Selection 

DeLille 2017 Four Flags Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $70 93 points
This is a blend of fruit from Upchurch (30%), Ciel du Cheval (27%), Grand Ciel (24%) and Klipsun vineyards (19%). The aromas offer notes of sautéed dried herb, raspberry, dry chocolate and earth. Dense, fresh coffee and cherry flavors follow. It lingers on the finish, showing a pleasing sense of brightness. It drinks well now but seems to be immortal. Best after 2026. Cellar Selection 

DeLille 2016 Grand Ciel Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $160 93 points
The aromas offer notes of roasted coffee, cherry, black currant, scorched earth and plum. The flavors show restraint and sophistication, with plenty of stuffing. The acidity of the vintage brightens it. It has a very long life ahead. Best after 2026. Cellar Selection 

DeLille 2017 Chaleur Estate Red Mountain $85 93 points
Cabernet Sauvignon (65%) and Merlot (25%) make up the heart of this wine, with the rest Cabernet Franc (8%) and Petit Verdot. The aromas show complexity, with notes of barrel spice, plum, cherry, scorched earth, herb and licorice. Structured, rich fruit flavors with lively acids, big tannins and a hyperextended finish follow. It will have a very long life ahead of it. Best after 2027. Cellar Selection 

DeLille 2017 Shaw Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $75 93 points
The aromas draw you into the glass, with notes of earth, dark cherry, flower, black currant and raspberry, showing a compelling sense of detail. The palate is dense, full of plum flavors, backed by tightly wound tannins and accented by bright acidity. Coffee notes linger on the finish. It’s hard to resist now but will only get better with time in the cellar. Best from 2026–2032. Cellar Selection 

DeLille 2017 Lot 3 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $75 93 points
All of the fruit for this wine comes from Klipsun Vineyard. The aromas pull you in, with notes of cherry, black currant, barrel spice, earth and whiffs of satsuma. Full-feeling dark-chocolate and cherry flavors follow, bring a sense of density and chewiness. It shows the vibrancy of the vintage, with compelling structure and impressive length. Editor's Choice 

DeLille 2017 D2 Columbia Valley $48 92 points
Merlot makes up two-thirds of this wine, with the rest Cabernet Sauvignon along with bits of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The aromas are unique, with notes of bittersweet chocolate, cedar, black tea, and raspberry. The palate is sleek in style, filling in over time, bringing a lovely sense of finesse and balance. Bright acidity ups the interest. Give it some time in the cellar to see it at its best. Editor's Choice 

DeLille 2018 Métier Columbia Valley $40 92 points
This delicious wine is a blend of Mourvèdre (50%), Grenache (28%), Syrah (20%) and Cinsault. The aromas bring notes of iron, earth, dried herb, flower and berry. The palate is pure, rich unadulterated hedonism, with superb length. Editor's Choice 

DeLille 2017 Harrison Hill Snipes Mountain $98 92 points
Two-thirds of this are Cabernet Sauvignon, with the rest Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Its pleasing aromas of roasted coffee bean, fresh savory herb, green flower and cherry are followed by light, elegant flavors. Toasty flavors linger on the finish. It’s a very pretty, elegant expression of this site with a very long life ahead of it. Best after 2027. Cellar Selection 

DeLille 2017 Doyenne Red Blend Yakima Valley $45 92 points

This is 60% Syrah and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. The aromas bring notes of brown spices, berry and barrel toast. The coffee and cherry flavors are sleek in feel initially, broadening with time open. 

DeLille 2017 Red Willow Malbec Yakima Valley $49 92 points
Coming from one of the state’s top vineyards, satsuma, orange-oil and plum aromas lead to palate-staining purple-fruit flavors. It’s a textbook example of what there is to love about this variety. Editor's Choice 

DeLille 2017 Red Willow Vineyard Yakima Valley $75 92 points
Cabernet Franc (54%) makes up over half of this wine, with the rest Merlot (32%) and Cabernet Sauvignon. The aromas are generous, with notes of barrel toast, fresh herb, raspberry, black currant and soil. Ripe, plush flavors follow, showing pleasing purity, freshness and length. Tasty now, it will have a long very life ahead. Editor's Choice 

DeLille 2019 Chaleur Blanc 25th Vintage Columbia Valley $35 92 points
With 69% Sauvignon Blanc and 31% Sémillon, this wine is still in its shell at present. It offers aromas of toast, nut oil, tropical fruit and lemon zest that need time to get going. The palate is all about sophistication, showing a pleasing sense of depth and polish, along with vibrant acidity. It has all the stuffing to excel in the cellar. Best from 2024–2029, with plenty of life beyond that. Cellar Selection 

DeLille 2016 Grand Ciel Syrah Red Mountain $75 91 points
The aromas suggest notes of iron, medicine and earth, along with dark berry. The palate has depth of flavor but with an acidic snap that ups the ante. 

DeLille 2017 Minuit Yakima Valley $54 91 points
Malbec makes up 70% of this wine, with the rest Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of satsuma, cedar, plum and herb lead to plump fruit flavors. It’s thoroughly enchanting. 

DeLille 2017 Signature Syrah Columbia Valley $46 91 points
Ciel du Cheval fruit makes up 71% of this wine, with the rest from StoneTree. Aromas of coffee, lavender, earth and assorted dried herbs are followed by a sleek but flavorful palate that shows the acidity of the vintage. Drink now. 

DeLille 2019 Rosé Columbia Valley $32 88 points
Grenache (47%) and Mourvèdre (45%) make up most of this wine, with the rest Cinsault. Pale-salmon colored edging slightly darker, the aromas bring notes of satsuma, cherry and watermelon. The palate is full bodied, seeming quite ponderous. There’s nice acid, but the wine still gets weighted down. 

Dixie & Bass 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $18 90 points
The aromas of this wine are ripe and fruitful, with blackberry and black cherry showing pleasing purity. There’s plenty of density and intensity to the flavors. Editor's Choice 

Doubleback 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla valley $99 92 points

This wine is a blend of fruit from McQueen, Lefore, Bob Healy, Seven Hills and Figgins vineyards. Vibrant aromas of char, dark chocolate, coffee, cherry and barrel spice lead to a pleasingly restrained palate, with a tart snap of acidity. It shows the variety’s sophisticated side. Best after 2025. Cellar Selection 

Doubleback 2017 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla valley $145 92 points
This is all McQueen and LeFore vineyard fruit. Coffee and barrel-spice aromas are in the lead at present. The palate is packed full of tannins and acid structure, with the fruit currently playing second fiddle. It needs time in the cellar for the oak to integrate. Best after 2026. Cellar Selection 

Gorman 2018 Evil Twin Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $65 93 points
An 80-20 blend, the aromas provide appeal, with notes of iron and other minerals along with plum and dark fruit. Dense, layered, rich blue- and black-fruit flavors follow, with plenty of tannins providing the scaffolding. It’s a hedonistic delight, made in this producer’s trademark power-packed style. Editor's Choice 

Gorman 2017 Albatross Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $80 93 points
All varietal and aged in 100% new French oak, the aromas offer notes of ripe black cherry, incense and char. Rich, intense fruit flavors follow. It’s a big hammer of a wine, bringing power like only this producer can bring it. Toast notes linger on the finish. Editor's Choice 

Gorman 2018 Zachary’s Ladder Red Blend Red Mountain $35 92 points
It seems that 2018 was a bountiful vintage, and this wine offers its cornucopia of fruit. Cherry- and raspberry-gummy aromas are followed by plump, rounded fruit flavors that show impressive depth, layering and plenty of structure to support it all. Editor's Choice 

Gorman 2018 The Devil You Know Columbia Valley $30 92 points
A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, its barrel aromas are out front initially, with notes of coffee and baking spice followed by cherry. Plentiful pit-fruit flavors follow, showing a lovely sense of balance. It’s thoroughly delicious. Editor's Choice 

Gorman 2018 The Devil You Don’t Know Red Blend Columbia Valley $30 91 points
Like many wines from this producer, this one puts an emphasis on hedonism, and it brings plenty of it. Plum, coffee, mineral, nougat and cassis aromas lead to ripe, intense but still-balanced fruit flavors that pack a big punch. Editor's Choice 

Gorman 2017 The Bully Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $50 91 points
Blended with 8% Petit Verdot and aged in 90% new French oak, this wine’s roasted coffee-bean and dark-chocolate aromas are up front, followed by notes of cherry liqueur. Plentiful, sensuous chocolate and cherry flavors follow, lingering on the finish. It shows both the vintage and the winery’s hedonistic style. 

Gorman 2018 Sleeping Giant Boushey Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $60 90 points
Coming from one of the state’s top Syrah sites, aromas of spice, dark fruit and sugared plum lead to raspberry flavors that are more restrained than the aromas might suggest. It shows the riper side of the variety. 

Gorman 2018 Old Scratch Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $31 90 points
Aromas of blue fruit, dried herb, barrel spice and graphite lead to plentiful plum flavors. A fresh lick of acidity keeps it all in focus, despite the high labeled abv. There’s plenty of tannin to back it up. 

Gorman 2017 The Pixie Syrah Red Mountain $45 89 points
Aromas of barnyard, hay and berry lead to fruit and savory flavors that are more sleek and center focused than the norm for this producer. As with many wines from this vintage, there is a pleasing acidic snap. 

H3 2018 Red Blend Horse Heaven Hills $15 90 points
Like many wines from this vintage, this one packs a fruit-filled wallop. Toast, coffee and blueberry aromas give way to ripe, plush plum flavors that bring a sense of seamlessness. It’s a whole lot of wine for the money. Best Buy 

H3 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Horse Heaven Hills $15 90 points
Appealing aromas of grass, green pepper, guava and citrus lead to crisp, tart, lemony flavors. It’s everything there is to love about this variety at a terrific price. Best Buy 

H3 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $15 88 points
The aromas offer barrel-forward notes of baking spice and vanilla in front of cherry. The reserved blue-fruit and spice flavors show pleasing balance. 

H3 2017 Merlot Horse Heaven Hills $15 87 points
The oak has a strong influence on the aromas and flavors, with notes of vanilla, baking spice and coconut. It seems under-fruited for the oak impact. 

H3 2019 Rosé Horse Heaven Hills $15 87 points
There’s just a tinge of color to this wine. Cherry and watermelon aromas lead to broad, slightly fat-feeling flavors that get bogged down. 

House of Bones 2018 Celilo Vineyard Chardonnay Washington $45 93 points

The aromas bring notes of muscat, pumpkin puree and lemon curd, not fully in harmony initially but melding together over time. It’s medium weight and flavorful, with the vibrant acidity and mineral notes that this vineyard brings. Don’t touch it now. Best after 2024. Cellar Selection 

Lady Hill 2016 Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley $38 90 points
There’s a pleasing sophistication to this wine, with its aromas of flower, herb and cherry. Like many wines from this vintage, the flavors are light and the tannins are bunched up at present, but there will be good things there when they stretch out. Best after 2022. 

Lady Hill 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $38 89 points
The aromas suggest notes of graphite, bittersweet chocolate, cigar box, anise, flower and dark cherry. Soft, reserved flavors follow. It needs more tannin structure to fully stand it up but it’s an enjoyable expression. 

Liminal 2018 High Canyon Series WeatherEye Vineyard Syrah Red Mountain $75 97 points
Coming from a canyon high up on Red Mountain and aged in 18% new French oak, the aromas pull you into the glass, with notes of mulberry, blackberry, kirsch, earth, crushed rock, coffee and bacon fat. There’s depth, intensity, richness, layering, polish, and texture to the palate. The finish is endless. This wine has it all, with the impressive balance, intensity, acidity and length separating it far out front. It sings from the top of Red Mountain. Best after 2026. Cellar Selection 

Liminal 2018 High Canyon Series WeatherEye Vineyard Grenache Red Mountain $75 97 points
The first thing one notices about this wine is the depth of color for the variety. Coming from the Amphitheater block, the aromas pop in notes of black raspberry, rose petal, pomegranate and crushed rock. Red and black fruit flavors undulate across the palate, showing deftness, richness and detail. The finish goes on as long—longer even than one cares to count. Throughout it all, it retains a sense of balance and freshness. It’s a yardstick against which future Washington Grenache will be measured. Editor's Choice 

Liminal 2018 Vineyard Series WeatherEye Vineyard G-S-M Columbia Valley $60 96 points
Fruit for this inaugural wine comes from a new site up and over the top of Red Mountain and down onto the north side. Grenache makes up 42%, followed by Mourvèdre (38%) and Syrah. The aromas bring notes of pomegranate, mulberry, crushed rock, savory herb and black pepper. It’s a big mouthful of a wine, rich, layered and intense, with earthshaking intensity and plenty of tension. There’s impressive tannin and an abundance of acidity to enliven it all. The fruit-filled finish seems near endless. It’s a new benchmark for Rhône-style blends in Washington. Best after 2025. Cellar Selection 

Liminal 2018 Block Highlight Series Block 16 WeatherEye Vineyard Syrah Columbia Valley $60 96 points
Fruit for this wine comes from the highest block currently planted on Red Mountain, north facing at the top of the ridge, outside the AVA boundaries. Aged in 25% new French oak, it’s the most brooding of the winery’s inaugural releases, with notes of dried herb, blackberry, coffee and clove. It’s dazzling in its intensity and layering, saturating the palate from end to end while still showing fleetness of foot. Packed full of tannin and acid, it absolutely sails on the finish. The balance is exquisite. Best after 2025. Cellar Selection 

Lobo Hills 2017 Right Bank Blend Columbia Valley $20 91 points

This is Merlot blended with Cabernet Sauvignon (18%) and Cabernet Franc (9%).Coffee, cherry and herb aromas are followed by a pleasingly reserved style. Coffee notes linger on the finish. Editor's Choice 

Lobo Hills 2017 Roth Rock Farm Chenin Blanc Yakima Valley $22 91 points

The aromas intrigue, with notes of muscat gummy, mineral, toasted grape nuts and whiffs of tropical fruit. It’s rounded in feel, with an exquisite sense of tension that the acid ratchets up through the finish. 

Lobo Hills 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Yakima Valley $18 91 points
The aromas are expressive, with notes of gooseberry, kiwi, underripe pineapple and lemon zest, and are thoroughly compelling. The palate shows a lovely sense of restraint and freshness to the richly textured kiwi flavors. Mouthwatering acidity enlivens it all. Editor's Choice 

Lobo Hills 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $25 90 points
Blended with both Malbec (13%) and Merlot (12%), this wine’s roasted coffee-bean, scorched earth, herb and raspberry aromas lead to fruit and barrel flavors that have a pleasing acidic lift. It will have a very long life ahead of it. Editor's Choice 

Lobo Hills 2017 Lonesome Springs Ranch Cabernet Franc Yakima Valley $30 90 points

This is a 100% varietal wine. Lighter in color than the norm for this variety, it offers aromas of spice, flower, licorice and raspberry. The palate shows sophistication and elegance. Editor's Choice 

Lobo Hills 2015 StoneTree Vineyard Syrah Wahluke Slope $30 88 points
The aromas bring notes of manure, licorice, berry and whiffs of oak spice. Especially considering the warmth of the vintage, the palate is surprisingly reserved, trailing on the finish. 

Lone Birch 2019 Estate Grown Pinot Gris Yakima Valley $12 89 points

Bright aromas of pear and cantaloupe lead to fleshy kiwi, papaya and other tropical-fruit flavors. It’s a cornucopia of fruit, with a zing on the finish tying it together. Best Buy 

Lone Birch 2018 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $13 89 points
This wine shows much of what there is to love about the 2018 vintage: a mouthful of plush, expansive fruit flavors, with plenty of acidity to back them up. One would like more aromatically from this quiet wine, but the palate delivers plenty. Best Buy 

Lone Birch 2018 Estate Grown Syrah Yakima Valley $13 88 points
Showing some reduction initially, the aromas suggest notes of char, black raspberry and gravel. The palate is deft and up front, trailing a bit toward the finish but overall showing good balance. There’s plenty of value to be had. Best Buy 

Lone Birch 2017 Estate Grown Red Blend Yakima Valley $13 87 points
The aromas are unusual, with notes of seaweed, umami and orange peel. Lighter styled, quite smoky flavors follow, with the tannins giving a light squeeze. 

Luke 2018 Reserve Syrah Wahluke Slope $45 94 points
Blackberry and other dark-fruit aromas meld with notes of smoked meat, coffee and mineral. The palate packs a big wallop of rich, layered black-fruit flavors, with plenty of tannic structure to provide support. It’s a power-packed, hedonistic delight. Editor's Choice 

Luke 2018 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $60 93 points

Highly regarded StoneTree Vineyard is the dominant fruit source for this wine. Coffee, dried herb and black-cherry aromas lead to a palate that brings a whole lot of seriousness to it. It’s rich and dense, full of tannic heft. Give it time to stretch its legs—and drink it at a cool temperature—to see it at its best. Best after 2025. Cellar Selection 

Luke 2018 The Companion Red Blend Columbia Valley $22 92 points
This is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and equal parts Merlot and Syrah. Plum, raspberry, chocolate and cherry aromas lead to an explosion of blue- and red-fruit flavors on the palate. There is dazzling freshness, a spot-on sense of balance and plenty of acid and tannin structure. Editor's Choice 

Luke 2018 Merlot Wahluke Slope $25 92 points
The aromas pop, with notes of dark raspberry, chocolate and cherry, showing a bright sense of varietal purity. Ripe, full-bodied, layered fruit flavors follow, with the acidity bringing a lot of freshness and exquisite balance. It lingers on the finish. Delicious and fruit filled, with plenty of structure, it’s hedonism at its best—a surefire crowd pleaser. Give a short decant if drinking in the near term. Editor's Choice 

Luke 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $25 92 points
Aromas of fresh raspberry, bittersweet chocolate and dried herb pop on the nose. The palate is ripe, delicious, fruit filled and lip-smacking, displaying a lot of density, intensity and texture. Give this beauty a short decant if drinking in the near term. Editor's Choice 

Luke 2018 Syrah Wahluke Slope $25 92 points
Aromas of black raspberry, scorched earth and pomegranate lead to rich fruit flavors. It’s a no holds barred, rich, intense Syrah. Decant if drinking in the near term. Editor's Choice 

Luke 2019 Chardonnay Ancient Lakes $22 91 points
All of the fruit for this wine comes from Evergreen Vineyard. Aged in third-fill barrels and neutral oak with 50% malolactic fermentation, the aromas of apple, pumpkin and talc are plentiful. The palate is bright and fresh, with lemony flavors. It brings texture and tension. Editor's Choice 

Paplow 2016 Boushey Vineyard GSM Yakima Valley $NA 88 points
Grenache makes up 57% of this wine, followed by near equal parts Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault along with a dollop (6%) of Viognier. The aromas bring notes of black pepper, manure, flower and an assortment of red and black fruit. Full-feeling flavors follow, with the acids offering freshness. 

Procedo 2016 Credente Red Willow Vineyard Red Blend Columbia Valley $42 88 points
Sangiovese makes up 56% of this wine, with the rest Cabernet Sauvignon (22%), Merlot (11%) and Cabernet Franc. Light aromas of cherry cough drop, flower and herb are followed by fruit flavors, with good acids and a firm backbone of tannin. 

Proper 2018 Estate Syrah Walla Walla valley $65 91 points
This wine could only come from one place, with its aromas of wet rock, savory herb, flower, plum, orange rind and olive brine. The palate shows a sense of deftness to the fruit and savory flavors, along with the Rocks District’s plush feel. 

Roaming Dog 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $13 88 points
Spice and cherry aromas lead to lightly sweet dark-fruit flavors. It’s a pleasant easy drinker. Best Buy 

Roaming Dog 2018 Red Blend Columbia Valley $13 88 points
The aromas offer notes of boysenberry and huckleberry. Plush, palate-coating flavors follow, showing impressive balance. It’s a lovely, fruit-filled wine. Best Buy 

Rôtie Cellars 2018 Dre Mourvèdre Washington $65 91 points
All of the fruit for this 100% varietal wine comes from Upland Vineyard on Snipes Mountain. It’s chock-full of aromas of freshly ground black pepper, along with fresh and dried herb. The palate has an acidic snap, with plentiful black-pepper accents. Tasty stuff. Editor's Choice 

Rôtie Cellars 2017 Homage Washington $65 91 points
Mourvèdre makes up 70% of this wine, with the rest Syrah (20%) and Grenache. Aromas of black pepper, smoked meat, blue fruit and herb lead to a palate that shows more of the same and brings a sense of liveliness. Olive notes linger on the finish. Pair it with grilled lamb. 

Rôtie Cellars 2018 Little G Grenache Washington $65 90 points

The aromas intrigue, with vivid notes of freshly peeled orange along with gravel and red fruit. Orange-peel and smoked meat flavors follow. It’s a very pulled-back offering of the variety, interesting though a bit one-note at times. 

Structure 2018 Bauhaus Syrah Columbia Valley $30 93 points

A blend of Wallula (60%) and Stillwater Creek fruit, the aromas are captivating, with notes of dark raspberry, bramble and herb that show a piercing sense of purity. The flavors are dazzling, showing intensity and depth but also elegance and balance. Coffee notes linger on the finish. It’s a frankly delicious wine, but it’s the structure—and the quality at this price—that impresses most. Best after 2023 with an extremely long life ahead of that. Cellar Selection 

Structure 2018 The Newel Red Blend Columbia Valley $28 92 points
This is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Syrah. Its fresh garden-herb, flower stem and cherry aromas are out front. The fruit flavors are palate coating, showing pleasing density and intensity. Editor's Choice 

Structure 2018 Foundation Syrah Columbia Valley $35 92 points
This blend of Stillwater Creek, Wallula and Red Willow fruit is everything there is to love about this variety: compelling aromatics and great depth of flavor. Alluring aromas of flower fresh, chopped parsley, boysenberry, smoked meat and medicine lead to full-bodied layered flavors. Though delicious now, it appears it will be near eternal. Editor's Choice 

Structure 2018 Spire Merlot Yakima Valley $25 91 points
The aromas bring notes of whole orange, sweet flower, raspberry and plum. Plush plum and pomegranate flavors follow. Coffee notes linger on the finish. It brings a pleasing sense of texture, freshness and terrific staying power. Editor's Choice 

Structure 2017 Red Willow Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $35 91 points
This wine comes from one of the state’s top Syrah sites. Compelling aromas of dark raspberry, bramble, smoked meat and medicine lead to plentiful, lightly tacky-feeling fruit flavors. The acid of the vintage drives it, and it shows an impeccable sense of balance. Drink in the near-ish term. 

Structure 2019 Oculus Viognier Columbia Valley $25 90 points
Expressive aromas of apricot, flower and jasmine are followed by full-bodied, plentiful stone-fruit flavors. It’s weighty, but with ample acidity to keep it tied together. 

Virtue 2018 Sincerity Syrah Columbia Valley $25 93 points
All of the fruit for this wine comes from Wallula Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills. The aromas pop, with notes of freshly chopped parsley, whole tangerine, fresh boysenberry and smoked meat. Rich, layered flavors follow. It brings intensity and depth, but there is still plenty of freshness. But it’s the purity and lengthy finish that captivate. 

Virtue 2018 Enthusiasm Grenache Columbia Valley $26 92 points
All of the fruit for this wine comes from Thunderstone Vineyard on the Royal Slope, and is fermented as whole berries, with extended maceration. The aromas aren’t fully ready to reveal their charms on first pour, but they eventually open to reveal notes of chopped parsley, black pepper and pure berry. The palate is full of grace and polish, ramping up in intensity over time, with a lingering finish. It has the stuffing to go the distance. Editor's Choice 

Virtue 2018 Fortitude Columbia Valley $24 92 points

This is 48% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Malbec, with fruit coming from Olsen and Solaksen vineyards. The aromas are compelling, with notes of raspberry, dried herb, plum and cherry, showing mesmerizing purity. Full, achingly pure flavors follow, with knee-buckling texture. It’s an end-to-end delight. Editor's Choice 

Virtue 2018 Unity GSM Columbia Valley $24 92 points
Syrah makes up 48% of this wine, with the rest 32% Mourvèdre and 20% Grenache. With fruit coming from Wallula, Des Etes Long, and Thunderstone vineyards and seeing only second-fill and neutral oak, the aromas are light but intriguing, with notes of smoked meat, medicine, fresh parsley, plum and berry. It’s beautifully textured but still sleek and velvety in feel, showing exquisite polish, structure and a long finish. It’s gorgeous stuff at a can’t-be-beat price. Editor's Choice 

Virtue 2018 Vitality Malbec Columbia Valley $25 92 points
All of the fruit for this 100% varietal wine comes from Solaksen Vineyard on the Royal Slope. Aged in second-fill and neutral oak, the aromas are brooding initially, with notes of cherry, plum, orange oil and dried herb, showing a sense of purity. The flavors are expressive and focused, showing density and richness. Editor's Choice 

Virtue 2018 Charisma Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $28 91 points
Fruit for this wine comes from Olsen and Solaksen vineyards. Seeing no new oak, the aromas are pulled back, with notes of herb, anise, fresh black currant and plum. Exquisitely pure dark-fruit flavors follow. It’s a window into a pure expression of the variety, absolutely delicious. Editor's Choice 

Virtue 2018 Authenticity Merlot Yakima Valley $26 91 points
Though not labeled as such, this is all single-vineyard Olsen Merlot. Roasted coffee-bean aromas are out front initially, followed by notes of herb and raspberry. Smooth fruit and barrel flavors follow, showing depth and structure. The barrel influence shows more prominently than other inaugural offerings from the winery, smoothing out over time, but it still impresses. Drink from 2022 to 2030. Cellar Selection 

Virtue 2018 Temperance Cabernet Franc Horse Heaven Hills $26 91 points
Fruit for this 100% varietal wine comes from Destiny Ridge Vineyard. Brooding cigar-box, dried herb and cherry-licorice aromas lead to fruit flavors that show a lovely sense of purity, depth and freshness. Editor's Choice 

Waterbrook 2019 Pinot Gris Columbia Valley $13 87 points
As much about feel as flavor, this wine is a bit reductive out of the gate. Beyond that are medium-bodied apple favors that bring some heft on this otherwise neutral-seeming wine. 

Waterbrook 2018 Mélange Founder’s Red Blend Columbia Valley $16 87 points
Subdued aromas lead to flavors that seem a bit muddled. It’s somewhat off-step with the vintage. 

Waterbrook 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $13 86 points
Aromas of dried rose petal and herb lead to flavors that fall a bit flat, looking for a hook to hang the hat on. Tart acidity lingers on the finish. 

Waterbrook 2019 Sangiovese Columbia Valley $13 86 points

An appealing pale-salmon color, this wine shows a significant amount of reduction out of the gate. The palate is light and bright, with a pleasing zip of acidity. 

Picture at top by Richard Duval Images. 

Sean P. Sullivan

No comments:

Post a Comment

Instagram