Wine Enthusiast Reviews for November 2020

Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for November 2020. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read information on how I review wines here. Read about the Wine Enthusiast rating system here. Read about how to interpret my scores hereAll 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.


117 wines reviewed in the November issue of Wine Enthusiast.

If there were a Washington Cabernet Sauvignon Hall of Fame, Mike Januik (Januik WineryNovelty Hill) would surely have an entire wing dedicated to him. Few in the state show such clear mastery of the variety (Januik 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $40, 92 points, Editor’s Choice; Januik 2017 Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $55, 92 points, Editor’s Choice; Januik 2017 Weinbau Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $40, 91 points; Januik 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $30, 91 points, Editor’s Choice; Novelty Hill 2017 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $30, 90 points). Oh, and Mike's son Andrew is making a name for himself with Cabernet too (Andrew Januik 2017 Stone Cairn Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $40, 92 points, Editor’s Choice).    

But let’s not forget Januik’s facility with white wines, with his Chardonnay consistently at the top of the class and also a superb value (Januik 2018 Cold Creek Vineyard Chardonnay Columbia Valley $30, 91 points, Editor’s Choice; Novelty Hill 2018 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Chardonnay Columbia Valley $23, 92 points, Editor’s Choice). Other recent offerings include delicious examples of Sauvignon Blanc (Novelty Hill 2019 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $20, 90 points; Januik 2019 Sagemoor Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $20, 91 points, Editor’s Choice); Roussanne (Novelty Hill 2019 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Roussanne Columbia Valley $23, 90 points); and Viognier (Novelty Hill 2019 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Viognier Columbia Valley $23, 90 points).

One of the joys of following Washington wine over the years is watching people’s dreams become reality, and so it is with Syncline Winery. For many years, James and Poppie Mantone have spoke of wanting to make wines with “crunchy red fruit” from their estate vineyard in the Columbia Gorge. Their 2018 Steep Creek Ranch wine is exactly that. It is a stunning, unique, classically Syncline wine (Syncline 2018 Estate Grown Steep Creek Ranch Red Blend Columbia Gorge $60, 93 points, Editor’s Choice). The winery’s Cinsault is also outrageously delicious (Syncline 2018 McKinley Springs Vineyard Cinsault Horse Heaven Hills $40, 93 points, Editor’s Choice).

But don’t miss out on the current Syncline whites, which are some of the best the winery has made (Syncline 2019 Bloxom Vineyard Grüner Veltliner Columbia Valley $25, 92 points, Editor’s Choice; Syncline 2019 Boushey Vineyard Picpoul Yakima Valley $25, 92 points, Editor’s Choice; Syncline 2019 Boushey Vineyard Grenache Blanc Yakima Valley $30, 90 points).

Speaking of white wines, Rôtie Cellars has long captivated red wine lovers with its Northern and Southern Blends, along with its Grenache and Mourvèdre. However, if you haven’t had the pleasure of trying the winery’s whites, get thee hence. They are some of the most thrilling, distinctive white wines being made in Washington right now (Rôtie Cellars 2019 Southern Walla Walla Valley $32, 92 points, Editor’s Choice; Rôtie Cellars 2019 Northern Walla Walla Valley $32, 92 points, Editor’s Choice; Rôtie Cellars 2019 Grenache Blanc Washington $32, 92 points, Editor’s Choice).

Michael Savage at Savage Grace continues to make singular wines. Cabernet Franc as a white wine? Yes (Savage Grace 2019 Blanc Franc Red Willow Vineyard Cabernet Franc Yakima Valley $24, 91 points, Editor’s Choice). Red Willow Cabernet Sauvignon with no new oak? Yup (Savage Grace 2016 Red Willow Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $42, 91 points, Editor’s Choice). The winery’s 2018 Dineen Malbec meanwhile is transcendent (Savage Grace 2018 Dineen Vineyard Côt Rattlesnake Hills $30, 93 points, Editor’s Choice). I would be remiss not to mention the Copeland Cabernet Franc (Savage Grace 2018 Copeland Vineyard Cabernet Franc Rattlesnake Hills $30, 92 points, Editor’s Choice).

Washington doesn’t make a lot of Semillon period let alone vineyard-designated bottles. These two wines from new Walla Walla producer Itä are attention getters, a study in comparison and contrast, with one fermented and aged in neutral oak and the other in stainless steel. The bright acid of the 2019 vintage frames them both (Itä 2019 2 of 2 Les Collines Vineyard Sémillon Walla Walla Valley $25, 91 points, Editor’s Choice; Itä 2019 1 of 2 Les Collines Vineyard Sémillon Walla Walla Valley $25, 91 points, Editor’s Choice).

While winemaker Jamie Brown stepped away from Waters Winery and 21 Grams in 2020, his work remains, and two upcoming releases are some of the very best wines to come out of the 2016 vintage (Waters 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Washington $50, 94 points, Editor’s Choice; 21 Grams 2016 Washington $125, 94 points, Editor’s Choice).

Since establishing itself in Washington, Canvasback has established itself largely on the strength of its Cabernet Sauvignon. Quietly, however, the winery is making some captivating, distinctive, dry-style Riesling (Canvasback 2019 Riesling Columbia Valley $30, 91 points).

On the value side, the Dunham Cellars Three Legged Red has never tasted better than it does in the 2018 vintage (Dunham 2018 Three Legged Red Blend Washington $19, 91 points). Similarly, J. Bookwalter’s Notebook is always a value standout, but the 14NV offering takes it to another level (J. Bookwalter NV Notebook 14NV Red Blend Columbia Valley $15, 90 points, Best Buy). Meanwhile the Readers Cabernet offers unadulterated hedonism (J. Bookwalter 2018 Readers Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $28, 91 points, Editor’s Choice).

Without further ado.

* * *

21 Grams 2016 Washington $125 94 points
Like many wines from this vintage, and certainly every vintage of 21 Grams, this is more about the future than the present. With the heart of this wine Cabernet from Cold Creek Vineyard, the aromas offer notes of spice, bittersweet chocolate, coffee, assorted herb, graphite and gravel. The palate is soft and silky in texture, with a core of coffee, cherry and herb notes that only become more rich as the wine opens. The finish goes on endlessly. Bright acidity and firm tannins keep it all in focus. It’s a classic. Don’t touch it until at least 2027, and it will drink well for an easy decade beyond that. Editor’s Choice

21 Grams 2015 Washington $125 92 points
Coming from the state’s hottest vintage on record, the fruit seems ever so slightly dried out on the aromas, with notes of dried cherry in front of herb, bittersweet chocolate and spice. The palate brings a reserved but rich styling, with dry chocolate and cherry notes. There’s a pleasing sense of acidity, despite the warmth of the vintage. Give it a few years in the cellar.

Abeja 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $60 92 points
Aromas of barrel spice, coffee, cherry, bittersweet chocolate, graphite and sautéed herb are followed by textured cherry and chocolate flavors. There’s a pleasing sense of brightness to the acidity and deftness to the rich, creamy coffee and bright cherry flavors that keep the interest high. Plenty of tannic structure holds it all together. Coffee notes linger on the finish. It’s far from a big bruiser and needs some time to all integrate but brings and abundance of rewards. Best after 2026 with a very long life beyond that. Editor’s Choice

Abeja 2016 Heather Hill Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $68 92 points
The aromas offer notes of coffee, pink peppercorn, cedar, bittersweet chocolate, sautéed herb, barrel spice, coffee and dark cherry. There’s a pleasingly open texture to the coffee and cherry flavors. Lightly grainy tannins provide support. Give it a few years in the cellar for them to smooth out, and it will deliver. Editor’s Choice

Abeja 2018 Chardonnay Washington $45 90 points
The aromas offer notes of toast, barrel char and stone fruit. The palate brings a ripe peach flavor that maintains a sleek profile out of the gate, filling out over time.

Abeja 2017 Merlot Columbia Valley $50 88 points
Char, coffee, chocolate and whiffs of tire rubber are out front. Cherry and chocolate bar flavors follow. It hasn’t integrated at present.

Andrew Januik 2017 Stone Cairn Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $40 92 points
Brooding aromas of cherry, scorched earth, herb and bittersweet chocolate are followed by plump, ripe cherry flavors backed by tannins that are combed to a fine sheen. Bright acidity accents it all. It’s a delicious offering of the variety. Editor’s Choice

Andrew Januik 2017 Lady Hawk Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $50 92 points
Coffee, cherry, chocolate, scorched earth and herb aromas lead to focused, fruitful cherry and chocolate flavors. The bright acidity of the vintage keeps the interest way up. Editor’s Choice

Andrew Januik 2017 Los Molinos Columbia Valley $60 90 points
Grenache comprises 60% of this wine, with the rest Syrah (22%) and Mourvèdre. Aromas of vanilla, raspberry, coffee and dried herb lead to fruit and barrel flavors that bring a sense of texture that heightens its appeal. It exhibits the fresh acidity of the vintage.

Battle Creek 2018 Reserve Chardonnay Willamette Valley $42 90 points
The aromas boast notes of corn silk, pumpkin spice, candy corn, peach and whiffs of pineapple. The palate shows an exquisite sense of balance, with the fruit flavors heightened by lemony acidity.

Battle Creek 2019 Winemaker's White Blend White Blend Willamette Valley $28 90 points
The aromas pull you into the glass, with notes of wet stone, satsuma and dried rose petal. It drinks off dry, with a pleasing sense of tension between the stone fruit and citrus flavors and a compelling mouthfeel. A flavorful finish caps it off.

Battle Creek 2018 Reserve Pinot Noir Rosé Willamette Valley $26 88 points
A very pretty pale peach color, the aromas bring notes of wilted flower, smoke, dried rose petal and cherry. Smoky notes linger on the finish.

Battle Creek 2019 Unconditional Blanc Pinot Noir Oregon $28 87 points
Fruit forward aromas of tangerine, tropical fruit and pear lead to lightly smoky pear flavors. It’s interesting but doesn’t seem entirely settled.

Canoe Ridge 2018 The Expedition Red Blend Horse Heaven Hills $15 88 points
The aromas are fruit forward, with notes of plum, freshly peeled satsuma and flower, with the palate showing more of the same. It’s a pleasantly fruity wine, with satsuma aromas and flavors the driver.

Canoe Ridge 2019 Limited Edition Cinsault Canyon Vineyard Ranch Rosé Yakima Valley $22 86 points
The aromas offer notes of toast, vanilla, baking spice and strawberry, showing a lot of barrel influence. The palate shows more of the same. The wood gets in the way.

Canvasback 2019 Riesling Columbia Valley $30 91 points
This wine still hasn’t fully settled in, showing reduction initially. Behind it are aromas of lime and wet slate. The palate brings mouthwatering, electric acidity to the supremely flavorful lemon-lime flavors. Decant if drinking in the immediate term.

Canvasback 2019 Rosé Walla Walla Valley $30 89 points
There’s plenty to chew on on the aromas, with notes of pear, citrus, strawberry and cream. Broad, heavy feeling strawberry flavors. It gets a bit bogged down through the middle, but the acid picks it back up.

Canvasback 2017 Grand Passage Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $84 88 points
Aromas of whole orange and orange zest are followed by notes of dried black currant and cherry, with the fruit seeming ever so slightly desiccated. The palate shows more of the same, along with a zip of acidity. It is all a strange mix.

Castle Rock 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $11 88 points
Plum, dried herb, gravel, smoke and raspberry aromas are out front. There’s a pleasing quality to the red fruit flavors that deliver above their price. Best Buy

Castle Rock 2018 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $10 85 points
Aromas of flower, char and apple carry to the medium-bodied palate. It’s a straight-forward easy drinker. Best Buy

Cavatappi 2019 Pinot Grigio Columbia Valley $13 90 points
The aromas are light, with notes of freshly cut yellow apple and pear followed by sleek, pleasing, fruit forward flavors that bring a bright sense of acidity. Acid and freshness are the drivers. Pair it with scallop ceviche with generous amounts of lime. Best Buy

Cavatappi 2015 Maddalena Red Willow Vineyard Nebbiolo Yakima Valley $32 88 points
Examples of this variety are rare in the state. The aromas offer notes of barrel spice, tire rubber and cherry. The palate is lightly creamy in feel with a firm sense of tannic structure and a whole lot of acidity that this variety brings. The barrel influence is a little too overt, but the rest is lovely.

Cavatappi 2015 Molly’s Cuvée Red Willow Vineyard Sangiovese Yakima Valley $25 88 points
The barrel spice, leather, dried cranberry, tire rubber and dried herb aromas show typicity. There’s a pleasant brightness to the tart fruit flavors and firm tannins, backed by lively acidity. There’s an Old World sensibility to it, and it will be best enjoyed at the dinner table. Pair it with grilled lamb chops with a cranberry/cherry glaze.

Dunham 2018 Three Legged Red Blend Washington $19 91 points
The nose of this wine is loaded with aromas of savory herb, raspberry and cherry. The palate brings lush, fruit-forward flavors that deliver a big impact. It’s currently tight in tannins and bright in acidity, but has impressive stuffing for a wine at this price. Give it a short decant if drinking in the near term.

Dunham 2016 XXII Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $50 91 points
The coffee, cherry, dark chocolate, vanilla, mushroom and fresh herb aromas provide appeal. The palate brings juicy, plentiful cherry and barrel spice flavors, with brawny tannins backing it all up. Coffee notes linger on the finish. It has a nice yum factor and a long life in front of it.

Dunham 2017 Trutina Columbia Valley $29 89 points
Merlot (54%) makes up over half of this wine, with the rest Cabernet Sauvignon (42%) and bits of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The aromas are a bit reductive out of the gate, with notes of tire rubber followed by dark roasted coffee bean, woodspice, vanilla, savory herb and raspberry. The flavors are a mixture of fruit and barrel, with the former exhibiting notes of mushroom and savory herb.

Dunham 2019 Rosé Columbia Valley $20 88 points
A pretty pale peach color, this wine shows some reduction out of the gate that distracts. Behind that are notes of melon and strawberry. An acid driven palate follows. It hasn’t all come together at present.

Dunham 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $22 88 points
This wine is still settling in, with reductive notes up front. Beyond that are notes of banana, pear, citrus and herb. Passion fruit and citrus flavors follow with a strong acidic streak. It’s hard to get a sense of where it’s going at present.

Dunham 2017 Lewis Estate Vineyard Riesling Columbia Valley $19 88 points
Diesel, lime and green apple aromas are followed by sleek fruit flavors backed by tart, racy acidity. The acidity is lifted but it seems evolved for its age.

Elephant Seven 2018 Yellow Bird Vineyard Grenache Walla Walla Valley $30 91 points
Blended with 20% Syrah, the aromas pull you into the glass, with notes of raspberry, thistle, blue fruit and dried herb. Full feeling, ripe, textured fruit flavors follow. A pleasing snap of acidity stitches it all together. Editor’s Choice

Elephant Seven 2018 River Rock Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $42 90 points
The aromas pop, with notes of blueberry pie, dark raspberry, fresh roasted coffee bean and spice. Ripe, rich blue fruit flavors follow, showing the soft, velvety feel of the Rocks District sub-appellation. It’s a hedonistic offering of the variety, more fruitful than many from this area.

Elephant Seven 2018 Cosmic Reflection Yellow Bird Vineyard Walla Walla Valley $20 88 points
This wine is a blend of half Mourvèdre and half Syrah. The aromas bring notes of raspberry, cranberry, white pepper and tire rubber, not seeming to have fully settled in. The palate is restrained in style, pulling up on the finish. Perhaps some time will tie the pieces together.

Itä 2019 2 of 2 Les Collines Vineyard Sémillon Walla Walla Valley $25 91 points
Fermented and aged in neutral oak, the aromas are light initially, with notes of wet rock, fig and spice. The palate brings a sense of creamy texture yet remains sleek, with lemony acidity stitching it together. It’s as much about feel as flavor, with acid in the driver’s seat. Editor’s Choice

Itä 2019 1 of 2 Les Collines Vineyard Sémillon Walla Walla Valley $25 91 points
Fermented and aged in stainless steel, aromas of fig, talc and lemon are followed by focused, sleek flavors and tart, lemony acidity. It’s a wonderfully acid driven offering of this variety. Editor’s Choice

Itä 2019 Les Collines Vineyard Rosé of Primitivo Walla Walla Valley $25 88 points
A pretty pale salmon color, the aromas offer notes of lees and baked bread, reminiscent of the autolytic notes of a Champagne. There’s a lot of texture to the fruit and lees flavors. It’s equal parts intrigue and delivery, with the aromas holding it back a bit.

J. Bookwalter 2018 Readers Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $28 91 points
The fruit for this wine comes from older blocks at top-notch vineyards. Appealing aromas of black cherry, craisin, dried herb, barrel notes and spice lead to big black-fruit flavors. It’s a flat out delicious, hedonistic wine. Editor’s Choice

J. Bookwalter 2018 Suspense Conner-Lee Vineyard Columbia Valley $60 91 points
Cabernet Franc makes up 83% of this wine, with the rest Merlot. Char, whole green pepper, green herb and black cherry aromas lead to full bodied, palate coating, rich fruit flavors. Polished tannins back it up. It shows the variety’s more savory side while still bringing heft. Best after 2025.

J. Bookwalter NV Notebook 14NV Red Blend Columbia Valley $10 90 points
There’s a lovely sense of purity to the blue fruit aromas of this wine, which are accented by notes of herb, whole green pepper, coffee and cherry. The palate delivering more of the same, with a coffee note linger on the finish. There’s a whole lot of quality and value to be had. Best Buy

J. Bookwalter 2018 Readers Merlot Columbia Valley $28 89 points
Fruit for this wine comes from older blocks at Conner Lee and Dionysus vineyards. Aromas of wild raspberry and plum are followed by ripe, sweet, fresh fruit flavors that show a pleasing sense of purity.

Januik 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $40 92 points
The aromas are pleasing, with notes of bittersweet chocolate, spice, dried herb and cherry. It brings a mouthful of chocolate and cherry flavors, supported by the brawny tannins that this appellation is known for. The pillowy mouthfeel ups the appeal. Give it some time in the cellar or decant. Editor’s Choice

Januik 2017 Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $55 92 points
Aromas of cocoa, bittersweet chocolate and scorched earth are followed by soft, plush feeling cherry and chocolate flavors that are in vivid focus. It lingers on the finish. Editor’s Choice

Januik 2017 Reserve Columbia Valley $65 91 points
Dark berry, spice, slate, coffee and cherry aromas are followed by bountiful cherry and chocolate flavors. Juicy, with lovely acidity, it will only benefit from additional time in bottle and will have a long life ahead of it.

Januik 2017 Weinbau Vineyard Cabernet Franc Wahluke Slope $35 91 points
Raspberry, chocolate and herb aromas are out front. Plump, fleshy fruit and barrel flavors follow, accented by bright acidity. It’s hard to resist.

Januik 2017 Klipsun Vineyard Merlot Red Mountain $35 91 points
Aromas of dark chocolate, raspberry and dried herb lead to well-proportioned fruit and barrel flavors. The tannins this vineyard is known for give a firm grip. Editor’s Choice

Januik 2017 Merlot Columbia Valley $25 91 points
Vanilla, cocoa, barrel spice, cherry and licorice aromas are followed by smooth, velvety cherry and chocolate flavors. Dark chocolate notes linger on the finish. It’s a classically Januik style wine, full of flavor and polish. It will only get better with time in bottle. Editor’s Choice

Januik 2018 Cold Creek Vineyard Chardonnay Columbia Valley $30 91 points
The aromas are bright in notes of pear, spice and apricot. Rounded flavors follow on the palate, showing precision and detail. A tart finish caps it off. Editor’s Choice

Januik 2019 Sagemoor Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $20 91 points
Ask Mike Januik what makes Washington Sauvignon Blanc so good and he gives a simple answer: the Sémillon. That’s the case here, with the variety making up 20% of the wine and showing itself. Aromas of fig and spice are followed by textured flavors and a lingering finish. Editor’s Choice

Januik 2017 Weinbau Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $40 91 points
Aromas of milk chocolate, dried herb, cherry and spice lead to plump cherry and chocolate flavors. It’s a one wine charm offensive.

Januik 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $30 91 points
The aromas bring immediate appeal, with notes of coffee, black cherry, cocoa, dried herb and mineral. There’s a pleasing sense of freshness and dexterity to the palate. It shows a lot of sophistication. Editor’s Choice

Januik 2017 Champoux Vineyard Merlot Horse Heaven Hills $40 90 points
Coming from a vineyard best known for its Cabernet, aromas of earth, graphite, chocolate and dark raspberry lead to dense fruit and barrel flavors. The acidity is heightened. As always with Champoux, the enjoyment is as much about feel and structure as flavor.

Januik 2018 Bacchus Vineyard Riesling Columbia Valley $20 90 points
The aromas offer notes of flower, pear and lime leaf, initially seeming subdued but opening over time. The palate drinks bone dry, with the strong sense of acidity.

Januik 2017 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $45 90 points
The aromas are bursting with notes of cherry and chocolate, with dried herb and scorched earth notes backing it up. The palate is light and lithe, bringing a sense of freshness along with plenty of tannic heft.

Januik 2017 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Syrah Red Mountain $35 88 points
Vanilla, dark roasted coffee bean and medicine are followed by a palate backed by lightly grainy feeling tannins. The oak gets in the way.

Januik 2017 Champoux Vineyard Malbec Horse Heaven Hills $40 88 points
Bittersweet chocolate aromas are out front, followed by notes of cedar, dried herb and plentiful barrel spices. The palate doesn’t quite deliver on all of that promise, dipping in the middle before coming back together on the finish. There’s an impressive amount of tannic stuffing for the variety. Perhaps it will fill in over time.

Kontos 2016 Tate Les Collines Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $63 91 points
The aromas are barrel forward, with notes of vanilla and sweet baking spices in front of dark fruit. Ripe, hedonistic cranberry, cherry and barrel spice flavors follow. It’s a high octane interpretation of this vineyard, with the oak center stage.

Kontos 2016 Dorsey Baker Walla Walla Valley $55 91 points
This is an interesting blend of 34% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Malbec and 19% Petit Verdot. Aromas of vanilla, blackberry, sweet baking spices and anise show themselves, with the barrel influence primary. Ripe, opulent fruit and barrel flavors follow. It’s full throttle wine, made in a hedonistic style, with the acidity of the vintage keeping it in check.

Kontos 2017 Les Collines Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $47 91 points
The aromas are locked up out of the gate, with notes of sweet baking spices, vanilla and dark fruit. Fruit and barrel flavors intertwine on the palate. A pleasing sense of acidity keeps it all in focus. The emphasis on oak puts the vineyard in the background, but it’s a delightful, riper styled wine.

Kontos 2017 Baker Blend Summit View Vineyard Malbec Walla Walla Valley $55 90 points
The aromas offer notes of plum, blackberry, coffee, vanilla and sweet barrel spices. Ripe, rich flavors follow, interlaced with barrel spice and orange peel notes. The tannins give the firm handshake that this vineyard is known for. Some bottle time will serve it well. Best after 2024.

Kontos 2015 Caimbry Pepper Bridge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $63 88 points
Anise, prune, vanilla, dried herb and cherry cordial aromas lead to ripe, full bodied dried fruit flavors, speckled with barrel spices. Vanilla notes linger on the finish, with the tannins giving a firm squeeze. There are good things happening, but the fruit seems quite evolved.

Kontos 2017 Malbec Walla Walla Valley $47 88 points
Plum, satsuma, baking spice and cherry aromas are followed by center focused flavors. The bright acidity of the vintage helps keep the interest. It doesn’t all meld right now, but perhaps some time will bring it together?

L'Ecole No. 41 2019 Luminesce Estate Seven Hills Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon Walla Walla Valley $22 92 points
This wine is equally split between the two varieties. Pleasing aromas of pear, citrus, fig, mineral and herb are followed by rounded, textured flavors that lead to a warm finish. The acidity is heightened compared to recent vintages, making the flavors snap. Give it a few years in the cellar to see it at its best. Editor’s Choice

L'Ecole No. 41 2019 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $20 90 points
The aromas draw you into the glass, with notes of toast, corn silk, spice and peach. Full feeling stone fruit flavors follow. A pleasing sense of acidity ties it all together.

L'Ecole No. 41 2018 Syrah Columbia Valley $25 90 points
Blended with 18% Grenache and 2% Mourvèdre, this red offers aromas of dark raspberry, huckleberry and dried herbs on the nose. There’s a savory sense to the pillowy, soft flavors on the palate. It’s high octane but keeps it all in check.

MTR Productions 2014 Memory Found Syrah Walla Walla Valley $95 91 points
Given extended elevage and bottle age, the aromas are arresting, with notes of black olive, tar, smoke, berry, wet stone and dried herb. The palate is more reserved in style than the aromas suggest, showing a sense of grace and polish, particularly considering the warmth of the vintage. Olive notes linger on the finish.

Novelty Hill 2017 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Malbec Columbia Valley $28 92 points
Raspberry aromas jump out of the glass, along with notes of plum, whole orange, cigar box and herb. The palate is plush with plump chocolate flavors. It’s a complete delight, with more structure than is often seen on this variety.

Novelty Hill 2018 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Chardonnay Columbia Valley $23 92 points
Nuanced aromas of spice, poached pear and cardamom lead to well-balanced fruit flavors, accented by bright acidity. The finish carries. Editor’s Choice

Novelty Hill 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $26 91 points
Roasted coffee bean aromas are out front, followed by notes of toast, coffee and barrel spices. Fruit and barrel flavors intertwine on the palate. There’s a lot to like.

Novelty Hill 2017 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Syrah Columbia Valley $28 91 points
Appealing aromas of dark roasted coffee, black pepper, spice, raspberry and pot roast are followed by tart, energetic flavors brightened by lively acidity. The vintage truly shines through, with the wine a distinctly different style from recent offerings.

Novelty Hill 2017 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Grenache Columbia Valley $28 91 points
The aromas are fruit filled, with notes of whole raspberry, moss and grape stem. There’s a compelling sense of freshness and intensity to the palate. Peppery notes up the interest.

Novelty Hill 2017 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $30 90 points
The aromas aren’t yet ready to reveal their charms, with reserved notes of spice, herb, cherry and bittersweet chocolate. Soft fruit and barrel flavors follow. It takes time to get going, but it delivers.

Novelty Hill 2017 Merlot Columbia Valley $23 90 points
The coffee, dark chocolate, cherry and herb aromas bring appeal. Plump, rounded fruit and barrel flavors follow. Lightly grainy tannins provide support. Best after 2023.

Novelty Hill 2017 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Merlot Columbia Valley $28 90 points
Aromas of cocoa, barrel spice and dark raspberry are followed by smooth, sultry chocolate and red fruit flavors. It’s a charmer that shows the acidity of the vintage.

Novelty Hill 2017 Cascadia Columbia Valley $55 90 points
The aromas offer notes of milk chocolate, barrel spice, dried herb and cherry. Plentiful dark chocolate flavors follow. There’s a sense of vibrancy to the acids that contribute to its charm.

Novelty Hill 2019 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Roussanne Columbia Valley $23 90 points
Lemon balm, spice, herb and nori aromas lead to a palate that brings a pleasing amount of acidity. It’s equal parts intrigue and delivery. Best after 2021.

Novelty Hill 2019 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Viognier Columbia Valley $23 90 points
The aromas are bright, with notes of flower, pear, peach and honeysuckle. Ripe stone fruit flavors follow, with the acidity of the vintage keeping it all in check.

Novelty Hill 2019 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $20 90 points
Reticent aromas of apple, herb, and spice are followed by lightly creamy flavors backed with edgy acidity. It still seems in its shell but has good stuffing.

Novelty Hill 2018 Syrah Columbia Valley $23 89 points
Aromas of blueberry pie, tangerine peel and sweet barrel spices are followed by a palate that mixes equal parts fruit and barrel, with plentiful nougat notes on the finish. The oak plays a leading role in the show.

Novelty Hill 2017 Oxbow Columbia Valley $50 89 points
45% Grenache, 35% Syrah and 20% Mourvèdre, café au lait aromas are out front, followed by notes of spice, blueberry and fresh herb. The palate is light and creamy in feel, showing an interplay of fruit and barrel. It’s a bit bunched up at present.

Novelty Hill 2017 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Sangiovese Columbia Valley $28 88 points
The aromas offer notes of medicine cabinet, cherry and dark raspberry, not seeming entirely integrated. The tannins are bunched up at present. It’s hard to tell where it’s going.

Pacific Rim 2019 Sweet Riesling Columbia Valley $11 89 points
Bright aromas of tangerine peel, flower, dried rose petal and citrus are followed by sweet, full feeling citrus flavors and plenty of acidity. There’s a lovely sense of balance to it all. Dried rose petal notes linger on the finish. Best Buy

Pacific Rim 2019 J Riesling Columbia Valley $11 89 points
Exuberant aromas of orange rind, ginger and freshly peeled satsuma are followed by medium-sweet flavors and vibrant acidity. Rose petal notes linger on the finish. Best Buy

Pacific Rim 2019 Dry Riesling Columbia Valley $11 88 points
Generous aromas of honeysuckle, pear, dried rose petal and orange are followed by mandarin orange flavors and a floral finish. A dried rose note is a bit of distracting on the finish. Best Buy

Passing Time 2018 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $50 91 points
A new effort from this winery that has previously been Cabernet focused, the fruit for this wine comes from Conner Lee, Boushey and Kenny Hill Vineyards. The aromas command attention, with notes of corn silk, pumpkin spice, toast, candy corn and ripe peach. The palate is full bodied and rounded, redolent with stone and tropical fruit flavors. It’s a ripe offering of this variety. Editor’s Choice

Prospice 2017 Reserve Quintessence Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $80 92 points
Coming from an up-and-coming vineyard site, the aromas pop like a firecracker, with the notes of dried herb, black raspberry, earth and cedar commanding attention. The palate is lithe and fruitful, constructed around a frame of bright acids and firm tannins, with the fruit and herb flavors filling in over time. It’s a beauty with a very long life in front of it. Editor’s Choice

Prospice 2018 Resurgent Vineyard Cabernet Franc Walla Walla Valley $50 91 points
The aromas bring notes of flower, dried herb and cherry. The palate is all about tannin and acid structure at first, with the fruit filling in over time.

Prospice 2018 Alder Ridge Vineyard Mourvèdre Horse Heaven Hills $45 90 points
The aromas are unique for this variety, with notes of black raspberry, cranberry and maraschino cherry, also showing a bit of reduction. There’s a sensuous feel to the palate that dances lightly. It sticks around on the finish. A pleasing sense of acidity ups the interest. It should only get better with some additional time in bottle.

Rôtie Cellars 2019 Southern Walla Walla Valley $32 92 points
Viognier (65%) is on the lead on this wine, followed by Roussanne (20%) and Marsanne. The aromas pull you into the glass, with notes of lemon balm, wet rock and white flower. The flavors bring plenty of intensity and texture, backed by live wire acidity. In keeping with the vintage and producer, it’s an impressively restrained offering of these varieties. Editor’s Choice

Rôtie Cellars 2018 Southern Blend Washington $48 92 points
Grenache makes up 70% of this wine, with the rest Syrah (20%) and Mourvèdre. The aromas pop, with notes of cracked pepper, mountain strawberry, fresh satsuma peel, flower, blueberry and stem. The palate brings a supreme amount of delicacy but also a sneaky richness. It sails on the satsuma filled finish. The purity is mesmerizing. Editor’s Choice

Rôtie Cellars 2019 Northern Walla Walla Valley $32 92 points
This wine is about two-thirds Marsanne and one third Roussanne. The aromas draw you into the glass, with notes of pear, nectarine, sea shell, fig and flower. The palate is sleek, tart and focused, with racy, mouthwatering acidity and a pleasing depth of flavor. Editor’s Choice

Rôtie Cellars 2019 Grenache Blanc Washington $32 92 points
This wine hasn’t fully settled in on first pour, but once it does it shows?aromas of wet stone, talc and lemon are followed by a sleek, puckering palate with lemony acidity. The acid is outrageous. Editor’s Choice

Rôtie Cellars 2019 85% Mourvèdre 15% Grenache Rosé Washington $22 90 points
Strawberry aromas out front on this pretty pale peach colored wine, followed by notes of wet stone. The palate brings a lot of weight and flavor intensity but with more than enough acidity to pull it off.

Savage Grace 2018 Dineen Vineyard Côt Rattlesnake Hills $30 93 points
The achingly pure aromas of wild strawberry, ground rock, earth, spice and herb are arresting. The palate brings all that and more, with notes of herb, and spice that show delicacy, purity and restraint along with a whole lot of acidity. This is as far from a cocktail wine as it gets and needs food alongside it to be fully appreciated. Paired it with grilled lamb chops. Editor’s Choice

Savage Grace 2018 Copeland Vineyard Cabernet Franc Rattlesnake Hills $30 92 points
The aromas are arresting, with notes of fresh raspberry, strawberry, cranberry, whiffs of manure and dried herb that show vitality. The palate starts out light and delicate, drinking like an elegant Pinot Noir, with vivid, pure flavors, filling out over time. It’s a very pretty expression of the variety, with a strong emphasis on purity. Best after 2023. Editor’s Choice

Savage Grace 2019 Blanc Franc Red Willow Vineyard Cabernet Franc Yakima Valley $24 91 points
A one-of-a-kind wine in the state, aromas of whole green pepper, herb and citrus are followed by tart, acid driven green pepper and herb flavors. It’s downright lipsmacking. Editor’s Choice

Savage Grace 2016 Red Willow Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $42 91 points
The aromas intrigue, with notes of scorched earth, moss, ember, tobacco, herb and raspberry. The palate brings restrained raspberry flavors with intensity and freshness. It’s a unique, compelling offering of the variety. Editor’s Choice

Savage Grace 2019 Red Willow Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Yakima Valley $24 90 points
The aromas fascinate, with notes of sweet herb, wet slate and kelp. The palate is sleek but flavorful, with a strong sense of acidity. Pair it with briny oysters for a transcendent experience.

Sleight of Hand 2019 The Magician Evergreen Vineyard Riesling Ancient Lakes $18 89 points
Aromas of mineral, dried rose petal, citrus and dried herb lead to just off dry Nestea flavors. There are lots of good things happening but the components aren’t all entirely in harmony.

Sleight of Hand 2019 The Magician’s Assistant Blackrock Vineyard Rosé Yakima Valley $18 87 points
Darker in color than recent vintages, this is a weighty interpretation of rosé, where the palate gets quite bogged down with heavy fruit flavors. The aromas offer interest but can’t make up the difference.

Syncline 2018 McKinley Springs Vineyard Cinsault Horse Heaven Hills $40 93 points
Initially locked up, the aromas open to reveal notes of wild strawberry and other red berries followed by achingly pure soft, layered red fruit flavors. It’s a knee buckler with an exquisitely long finish, drinking like a bowl of fresh fruit. Editor’s Choice

Syncline 2018 Estate Grown Steep Creek Ranch Red Blend Columbia Gorge $60 93 points
This wine is a blend of 48% Mondeuse, 28% Syrah, 14% Grenache and 10% Gamay Noir. The aromas aren’t ready to reveal their charms at first, with light notes of dried herb, raspberry, crushed flower, mineral and cranberry that open over time. The flavors are medium bodied, tart, puckering and focused. Firm but polished tannins back it up. It brings a vibrant sense of acidity seldom seen in the state on red wines, along with a pleasing rusticity and plenty of crunchy red fruit. It’s a statement wine for this appellation. Editor’s Choice

Syncline 2019 Bloxom Vineyard Grüner Veltliner Columbia Valley $25 92 points
Intriguing aromas of herb, slate, pear and lentil are followed by broad, textured feeling flavors that linger on the finish. It shows pleasing complexities along with the vibrant acidity of the vintage. Editor’s Choice

Syncline 2019 Boushey Vineyard Picpoul Yakima Valley $25 92 points
The aromas offer alluring notes of lemon zest, white flower and crushed rock. The medium bodied palate brings a zing of tart, puckering, lemony acidity that is the hallmark of this lip-stinging grape. It’s an acid lovers light. Pair it with shrimp ceviche with lime and jalapeño. Editor’s Choice

Syncline 2016 Scintillation Blanc de Blanc Chardonnay Columbia Gorge $50 91 points
Coming from Rainmaker, this is a vineyard change for this wine. The aromas bring notes of baked bread and citrus. The palate is light and crisp, with the acid driving it. It’s a very cleanly styled sparkler. Editor’s Choice

Syncline 2019 Rosé Horse Heaven Hills $25 90 points
Mourvèdre makes up 40% of this wine, with the rest Cinsault (33%) and Grenache. Pale peach in color, this wine brings aromas of strawberry, whole tangerine and watermelon range. The palate is somewhat weighty in feel but with enough acid to pull it off.

Syncline 2019 Boushey Vineyard Grenache Blanc Yakima Valley $30 90 points
The aromas intrigue, with notes of orange twist, fig and citrus. The palate is broad down the middle, lighter along the edges, fleshing out over time. Lively acidity keeps it all in focus.

Tamarack 2017 Firehouse Red Blend Columbia Valley $20 90 points
Appealing aromas of plum, toast, smoke, spice and cherry carry the nose. The palate brings plump, ripe fruit and barrel flavors tied together by a zip of acidity. It’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Editor’s Choice

Tamarack 2018 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $20 90 points
Appealing aromas of pear, tangerine and papaya are followed by broad orchard-fruit flavors on the palate. A zing of acidity ups the interest. It’s a pleasing interpretation of the variety, with the oak dialed way back.

Tamarack 2016 Merlot Columbia Valley $28 87 points
Aromas of toast, coffee, tire rubber, medicinal cabinet and spice are followed by lighter styled coffee and black cherry flavors backed by lightly grainy tannins. It doesn’t all fit together.

Upchurch 2017 Counterpart Red Mountain $50 93 points
Merlot makes up 65% of this wine, with the rest Cabernet Sauvignon. Assorted dried herb aromas are out front initially, followed by notes of milk chocolate, coffee, graphite, raspberry and scorched earth that take time to get going. There’s a pleasing sense of freshness to the velvety red fruit flavors. Firm, tannins back it up. It shows a lot of sophistication for this oft brawny appellation but still has more than enough tannic heft to reward time in the cellar. Best from 2027 to 2033. Editor’s Choice

Upchurch 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $75 93 points
The aromas are locked up out of the gate, with notes of pink peppercorn, spice, fresh herb, raspberry and dark cherry. The flavors are dense and rich, with the tannins polished to a fine sheen and more than enough acidity to keep it all in focus. It’s a prototypic Red Mountain wine, full of class and tannic brawn, with the acidity of the vintage upping the interest. It will have an exceedingly long life in front of it. Best after 2029. Editor’s Choice

Upchurch 2018 Southwest Facing Dick Boushey Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Yakima Valley $36 92 points
Aged in concrete egg for 14 months, the aromas explode from the glass, with notes of gooseberry, mango, herb, citrus and papaya. The palate is a taste sensation of full bodied tropical fruit flavors with more than ample acidity to stitch it all together. A warm finish completes it. It’s a delicious, warm site offering of this variety. Editor’s Choice

Upchurch 2017 LTL Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $30 89 points
Aromas of struck match, cherry, plum and char are followed by plump plum and vanilla flavors. It brings the appellation’s hefty tannic structure. There are good things happening, but they aren’t all settled.

Waters 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Washington $50 94 points
This 100% varietal wine offers aromas of chocolate, mushroom, cedar, dried herb, cherry, dried lavender and umami—a unique profile for a Washington Cabernet. The palate is action packed in a rich, textured cherry flavor that coats the palate from end to end, lingering on the coffee-filled finish. Best from 2027–2033. Editor’s Choice

Waters 2018 Waterstone Syrah Walla Walla Valley $60 93 points
All of this wine comes from fan trained, third leaf fruit, and it’s both promise and delivery. The aromas draw you into the glass, with notes of blueberry, whole orange, wet stone and smoked meat, very pretty and fruit forward. Full feeling, voluptuous smoked meat, berry and savory flavors follow. Many wines from the Rocks sub-appellation are all savory. This one brings plenty of that but also an abundance of fruit. Editor’s Choice

Waters 2017 Interlude Washington $22 92 points
Cabernet Sauvignon (79%) makes up the majority of this wine, with the rest Merlot. The aromas bring an assortment of charming fresh herb, raspberry, whole green pepper, flower, black currant and cherry notes, displaying a sense of freshness. There’s a dazzling purity to the rich but cranberry tart fruit flavors, with compelling acid and tannin structure. Pair it with roasted pork loin with a cranberry glaze. Editor’s Choice

Waters 2018 Waterstone Cabernet Franc Walla Walla Valley $60 91 points
Fruit for this wine comes from third leaf, fan trained vines—a long held dream realized for the winery. The aromas are arresting, with notes of plum, ash, sliced green pepper and satsuma. It coats the palate with notes of ember, cherry and herb, with the velvety, high pH feel of the Rocks District sub-appellation of the valley. Smoke notes linger on the finish. It’s a unique offering of the variety for the state.

Waters 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Washington $50 91 points
The aromas are exuberant, with notes of crushed black cherry, black licorice, cedar and dried herb. The palate is densely packed with fruit and firm tannins with a gauzy feel. It needs a bit of time to unwind.

Image by Richard Duval. 

Sean P. Sullivan

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