Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for May 2016. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read additional information on how I review wines here. All of these reviews are freely available on-line at the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide. There is also a freely available Wine Enthusiast Tasting Guide app. See previous Wine Enthusiast reviews re-published in this space here. Search Wine Enthusiast‘s on-line database here.
In the May issue, Charles Smith (K Vintners, Charles Smith, Wines of Substance, Charles & Charles) shows command of the top tier (Charles Smith 2012 Royal City Syrah Columbia Valley $140, 96 points; K Vintners 2012 Cattle King Syrah Snipes Mountain $70, 95 points), mid tier (K Vintners 2013 M.C.K. Motor City Kitty Syrah Washington $35, 91 points) and entry level. In terms of the latter, you won’t find a better Cabernet for $15 than the Substance 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $15 (90 points). Or, if looking for a Cab-based blend, again, it’s near impossible to beat the Charles & Charles 2014 Post No. 35 Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah Columbia Valley ($14, 91 points). These are two of the best value wines to come out of the state this year.
May also saw a strong set of releases from Two Vintners. In particular, the Two Vintners 2013 Make Haste Cinsault Yakima Valley ($20, 93 points) and Two Vintners 2013 Boushey Vineyard Grenache Yakima Valley ($30, 93 points), both of which represent outstanding values. Moving up the price ladder a bit, the Two Vintners 2013 Some Days Are Stones Stoney Vine Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley ($45, 93 points) also provides value as most wines from the Rocks District run north of $50.
Kerloo Cellars also has a strong set of new wines, particularly the Kerloo 2013 Stone Tree Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope ($50, 93 points) and Kerloo 2013 Stone Tree Malbec Wahluke Slope ($40, 93 points). At the entry level is the winery’s first release from its SoDo Cellars label, the SoDo 2014 Wingman Rhône-style Red Blend Washington ($15, 91 points). As I’ve noted previously, I haven’t seen a better value come out of Washington in the last year.
The wines from Kevin White Winery also continue to provide exceptional value, with the Kevin White 2013 La Fraternité Red Blend Yakima Valley ($28, 92 points) and Kevin White 2013 En Hommage Syrah Yakima Valley ($28, 90 points).
Finally, EFESTE continues to produce winning whites (Efeste 2013 Lola Chardonnay Ancient Lakes $35, 91 points) and reds (Efeste 2012 Big Papa Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $60 93 points. Check ‘em out.
:Nota Bene 2013 Miscela Red Blend Columbia Valley $25 89 points
Cabernet Sauvignon (68%) takes the lead, with Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec rounding it out. High-toned aromas of graphite, herbs, black cherry, espresso and barrel spices lead to tart flavors that are lighter in style, with the tannins providing some grip.
:Nota Bene 2012 Arianses Vineyard Red Blend Wahluke Slope $30 88 points
This wine is half Cabernet Sauvignon, with the balance Merlot (20%), Cabernet Franc (18%) and a healthy dollop of Petit Verdot. Aromas of green herbs, fresh flowers, soil and barrel spice lead to dark cherry flavors backed by grainy tannins.
:Nota Bene 2012 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Blend Red Mountain $40 87 points
Half Cabernet Sauvignon with the rest Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this wine opens with aromas of fresh herbs, fig, barrel spice and dark fruit. The palate brings some astringency, needing some food to tame it.
:Nota Bene 2012 Cabernet Franc Yakima Valley $25 85 points
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc coming from Dineen (75%) and Ciel du Cheval vineyards. Barnyard, cherry, pencil box and spice aromas are followed by lightly styled game, dried cherry and medicine cabinet flavors.
:Nota Bene 2012 Heart of the Hill Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $40 89 points
This 100% varietal wine provides a perfect spot to explore this up-and-coming vineyard. Aromas of herbs and barrel spice are all high toned, with the fruit still seeming locked up. The sweet black-fruit flavors provide significantly more generosity, with the lightly dry tannins bringing some grip. Pair it with a juicy steak and it will surely unfold.
:Nota Bene 2012 Heart of the Hill Malbec Red Mountain $25 86 points
This is the winery’s first bottling of Malbec from this up-and-coming vineyard. Woodspice, cedar and mushroom aromas are followed by seemingly dried-out cherry flavors that trail toward the finish.
:Nota Bene 2012 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Merlot Red Mountain $35 87 points
Aromas of game, vanilla, anise and woodspice are out in front of plump red-fruit flavors backed by grainy, dry tannins. Drink now.
:Nota Bene 2012 Heart of the Hill Vineyard Mourvèdre Red Mountain $30 88 points
The aromas offer notes of dill, dark fruit, pepper, vanilla and woodspice. The flavors are tart and full bodied, bringing some heat on the finish.
:Nota Bene 2012 Una Notte Rhône-style Red Blend Columbia Valley $30 88 points
Grenache makes up nearly three-quarters of this blend, with the rest Syrah and Mourvèdre. Bright raspberry, cranberry, rose hip and white pepper aromas lead to elegant yet high octane fruit flavors that taper toward the warm finish.
:Nota Bene 2012 Syrah Columbia Valley $25 89 points
With significant amounts of Mourvèdre (15%) and Grenache (8%) blended in, this drinks more like a GSM than a Syrah. Cranberry, herb and woodspice aromas are followed by tart, sleek fruit and smoke flavors that linger.
:Nota Bene 2012 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Syrah Red Mountain $40 87 points
Cedar, herb, mushroom and woodspice aromas are followed by tart cranberry and flavors that show some astringency. The wood gets out front.
14 Hands NV Brut Methode Champenoise Sparkling Blend Columbia Valley $12 89 points
Notes of apple, spice and brioche lead to tart citrus flavors. A lively mousse keeps the attention high. Best Buy
Balancing Act 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Washington $18 89 points
Aromas of high-toned cocoa, vanilla, coconut, pencil lead and baking spices lead to plentiful black fruit flavors, with a lick of grainy tannins backing them up. The barrel notes get out front at times but it still provides a lot of quality and value.
Balancing Act 2014 Chardonnay Washington $12 88 points
The yellow apple, melon and spice aromas are bright and inviting. The palate is fresh and clean, with broad, vibrant flavors playing nicely against a tart finish. Best Buy
Betz Family 2012 Le Parrain Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $135 93 points
A rare reserve-level Cabernet only made once before, this 100% varietal wine hails from esteemed Kiona and Ciel du Cheval vineyards. Char and dark roasted coffee aromas meld with notes of herbs, spice and black fruit. The flavors are dense, layered and concentrated, but also show finesse and detail, with the palate broadening out considerably over time. The tannins are polished but still tightly wound and will benefit from an extended period in the cellar. Best from 2022 to 2028 but has the stuffing to get there and beyond.
Buty 2014 Sémillon-Sauvignon-Muscadelle White Blend Columbia Valley $25 88 points
Sémillon (60%) makes up the majority of this blend followed by Sauvignon Blanc (22%) and Muscadelle. The aromas of wet stone, lees, orange rind and fresh flowers are light and elusive. The palate brings a sense of elegance and balance.
Buty 2014 Conner Lee Vineyard Chardonnay Columbia Valley $42 90 points
The aromas entice with notes of wet stone, honeysuckle, chamomile and stone fruit. The palate is generous in flavor and feel, showing a fine sense of balance.
Canvasback 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $40 90 points
The aromas of blue fruit, herbs and spice are initially under tight restraint. The flavors are full, with the tannins simultaneously firm and fine grained. It shows good length.
Charles & Charles 2014 Post No. 35 Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah Columbia Valley $14 91 points
Cabernet makes up three-quarters of this blend. Appealing aromas of dried herbs, blue fruit, coffee and spice lead to sweet, full-feeling cherry and plum flavors backed by a light grip of tannins. Best Buy
Charles Smith 2013 Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $20 88 points
Aromas of sugared plums, herbs and black currants lead to black- and blue-fruit flavors that are surprisingly soft. One misses the tannins Cabernet is known for but it makes up for it elsewhere.
Charles Smith 2013 Velvet Devil Merlot Columbia Valley $12 90 points
The aromas of herbs, pencil lead and blue and red fruit are forward, fresh and appealing. The flavors deliver on their promise, showing depth and balance uncommon for a wine this price. Best Buy
Charles Smith 2014 Kung Fu Girl Riesling Ancient Lakes $12 89 points
Lime leaf, white peach and mineral aromas rise up from the glass, with botrytis adding a grace note. The spritzy stone fruit flavors are off dry and show spot on balance. Best Buy
Charles Smith 2012 Royal City Syrah Columbia Valley $140 96 points
Green olive, green stem and fresh herb aromas are at the fore, with cured meat, peat, smoke and mineral notes close behind. The palate offers dense fruit and savory flavors that command attention, with smoked meat notes that just won’t quit. The balance and length are mesmerizing.
Charles Smith 2013 Boom Boom! Syrah Columbia Valley $15 88 points
The aromas of blue and red fruit are direct and appealing, with dried herbs providing a grace note. The currant flavors are plump with lightly grainy tannins backing them up.
Charles Smith 2013 Eve Chardonnay Washington $12 89 points
The apple, pear and spice aromas and flavors display freshness. There is no apparent new oak influence, putting the focus on varietal purity. The finish lingers. Best Buy
Cloudlift Cellars 2013 Panorama Red Blend Columbia Valley $26 88 points
Despite its varietal label, this drinks more like a blend with the Cabernet Sauvignon (11%) and Cabernet Franc (9%) showing themselves prominently. Coffee, flower, dried herb and red- and black-fruit aromas are followed by elegant, lightly creamy fruit flavors that carry through the finish.
Cloudlift Cellars 2014 Updraft White Blend Columbia Valley $18 86 points
The Sauvignon (64%) comes from Bacchus with the Sémillon from neighboring Dionysus. After starting out slightly reduced, fig and spice aromas lead to tart, lemon and tropical fruit flavors that need more cohesion and concentration to keep them together.
Cloudlift Cellars 2013 Ascent Cabernet Franc Horse Heaven Hills $28 89 points
Dark coffee, dried herb and whole green-pepper aromas mix with notes of cherry, black plum and vanilla. The black-fruit flavors are rich but still show a sense of elegance.
Cloudlift Cellars 2014 Lucy Rosé of Cabernet Franc Yakima Valley $14 86 points
A pretty pale salmon color is matched by aromas of strawberry and herbs that are light and delicate. The palate brings the suggestion of sugar with an elegant styling.
Cloudlift Cellars 2013 Halcyon Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $30 90 points
Tire rubber, herb and locked-up barrel spice notes are followed by bountiful yet elegant black fruit flavors that show a spot on sense of balance along with exquisite length. There’s no hiding the warm vintage it comes from but it shows the year well.
Cloudlift Cellars 2014 Bacchus Vineyard Chardonnay Columbia Valley $20 88 points
Aromas of char and toast are quite up front, though they smooth out over time and give way to lemon meringue. The tropical fruit, butter and spice flavors are broad and well balanced, with a creamy feel and a lingering finish. The oak gets out front, but there are good things going on.
Cloudlift Cellars 2013 Zephyr G-S-M Columbia Valley $34 89 points
Syrah takes the lead on this blend followed by a healthy dose of Mourvèdre. It’s the latter that is initially evident, with generous white-pepper and meaty aromas followed by fresh flowers, raspberries and a touch of coffee. The red- and blue-fruit flavors show a fine sense of balance, with plenty of hang time on the finish.
Cloudlift Cellars 2013 Stratus Petite Verdot Yakima Valley $32 89 points
The aromas of lemon, soil and flowers are quite subdued. The flavors are restrained with impressive balance and the variety’s often burly tannins well tamed.
Copper Belt 2012 Rancher’s Red Blend Columbia Valley $20 89 points
Equal parts Syrah and Merlot (40%), this wine is finished off with Pinot Noir. Vanilla, baking spice, licorice, woodspice and cherry aromas lead to plump, tart cranberry flavors that linger. The wood is heavy at times, which is a shame as the balance of the fruit is spot on.
Copper Belt 2012 Syrah Columbia Valley $24 89 points
Aromas of freshly rubbed mint are followed by vanilla and just-hewn wood. The plum flavors are plump yet restrained, showing a fine sense of balance, with abundant oak accents surrounding them. The oak is far out front but there is still much to enjoy.
Covington 2012 Rough House Red Blend Yakima Valley $20 88 points
Merlot (55%) and Cabernet Franc (41%) make up the majority of this blend, which is rounded out by Petit Verdot. Aromas of dried red fruit, herbs and woodspice lead to elegant, zingy, dried cranberry and spice flavors that linger.
Covington 2011 Klipsun Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $60 88 points
This wine was aged for 30 months in new French oak before subsequently seeing time in bottle. It offers aromas and flavors of herbs, woodspice and red and black fruit, with firm tannins providing the frame.
Ded.Reckoning 2012 No. 12 Reserve Red Blend Red Mountain $40 89 points
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (61%), Merlot (25%) and Cabernet Franc, the aromas of spice, graphite, vanilla, and dried and fresh herbs are all high toned, with the fruit seeming subdued. The flavors are pitch-black, displaying the warmth of the vintage while keeping its heat in check.
DeLille 2013 D2 Red Blend Columbia Valley $45 91 points
This wine is principally Merlot (57%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (33%) along with pinches of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Dark fruit, fresh herb and abundant barrel-spice aromas are followed by bountiful, restrained black-fruit flavors that carry through the finish.
DeLille 2014 Chaleur Estate White Blend Columbia Valley $38 90 points
Sauvignon Blanc makes up three-quarters of this blend with the balance Sémillon. The aromas offer notes of herb, toast, nut oil and star fruit. The elegantly styled flavors of kiwi and spice are creamy in feel with a lingering finish.
DeLille 2012 Grand Ciel Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $160 91 points
All varietal, aromas of crushed rock, black licorice, barrel spice, green pepper, pink peppercorns and savory herbs lead to a well-balanced palate backed by firm, lightly grainy tannins. It needs time still to fully come together but has more than enough stuffing to go the distance.
DeLille 2013 Four Flags Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $69 90 points
A blend of Cabernet from Grand Ciel (31%), Ciel du Cheval (30%), Upchurch (28%) and Klipsun (11%) vineyards, wood spice aromas start out up front. The cherry flavors are light and elegant, with the tannins bringing some grip.
Doyenne 2013 AIX Red Blend Red Mountain $39 89 points
A blend of Syrah (59%) and Cabernet Sauvignon from mostly Upchurch and Ciel du Cheval vineyards, this wine offers reticent aromas of herbs, woodspice, mineral and dark fruit. The blackberry and black cherry flavors are plump and show a sense of balance, with slightly dry tannins providing some heft.
Doyenne 2013 Métier Rhône-style Red Blend Yakima Valley $46 91 points
Mourvèdre (39%) takes the lead, followed by Grenache (36%), Syrah and Cinsault. Pitch-black blackberry aromas are brightened by notes of raspberry jam, graphite and herbs that enchant the senses. It’s fruit forward and flavorful with a fine sense of balance and an undeniable, warm vintage appeal.
Doyenne 2014 Roussanne Red Mountain $37 88 points
The apricot and star fruit aromas start out quite reticent, with barrel notes providing accents. The vanilla and stone fruit flavors are full in feel and walk together through the finish.
Doyenne 2013 Signature Syrah Yakima Valley $45 89 points
A blend of fruit from near equal parts Ciel du Cheval, Grand Ciel and Boushey vineyards, this wine is aromatically brooding at present with notes of coffee, mineral, boysenberry and clove. The palate is more generous, with fruit and barrel flavors that walk hand in hand through the finish.
Dusted Valley 2012 BFM Red Blend Columbia Valley $53 88 points
This blend is 74% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. Locked up vanilla, herb and dark fruit aromas lead to high-octane dark-fruit flavors, with the heat providing some distraction.
Efeste 2012 Big Papa Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $60 93 points
All varietal, this wine is mostly Klipsun and Bacchus vineyards, with Kiona and Red Willow rounding it out. The aromas bring immediate appeal, with pure notes of black cherry, fresh and dried savory herbs and crushed granite, showing pleasing complexities. The palate is tightly wound, showing a fine sense of depth that is balanced by bright acid and firm tannins. The finish lingers. It’s a compelling example of the variety.
Efeste 2012 Final Final Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah Columbia Valley $30 90 points
Cabernet makes up just over half of this blend. Aromas of black cherries, herbs and minerals are followed by plush-feeling dark-fruit flavors and backed by firm tannins. Drink now.
Efeste 2013 Lola Chardonnay Ancient Lakes $35 91 points
This wine entices with its nuanced aromas of mineral, spice, almond butter, lemon pith, tropical fruit and chamomile. The flavors are concentrated while still showing exquisite restraint along with pitch-perfect balance. The extended finish kicks it up a notch. Editor’s Choice
Efeste 2012 Upright Klipsun Vineyard Merlot Red Mountain $39 88 points
Reticent herb, mineral, barrel spice and red-apple aromas are followed by concentrated fruit flavors. The tannins this vineyard is often known for are kept well in check.
Francis Tannahill 2011 Dragonfly Gewurztraminer Washington $25 87 points
This wine starts out strongly reduced, making it a challenge to get at the pink grapefruit, lychee and spice aromas. The flavors drink just off dry, with high wire acidity. There are good things going on but the reduction is a challenge to overcome.
Gordon Estate 2014 Estate Grown Reserve Chardonnay Columbia Valley $28 88 points
The buttered popcorn and woodspice aromas are vibrant. The palate is all about texture and feel, with the spice and stone fruit flavors seeming an accent. The finish lingers. For those looking for a bold, buttery style, look no further.
Gordon Estate 2013 Estate Grown Malbec Columbia Valley $24 89 points
The aromas of leafy green herbs, plum and spice are vibrant and fresh. Its flavors are finesse-driven, soft and elegant, with tart acids backing them up. The variety is unmistakable. Put it on the dinner table to see it at its best.
Gordon Estate 2013 Estate Grown Petit Verdot Columbia Valley $30 89 points
Barrel spice, violet, tobacco and earth aromas are followed by blue- and purple-fruit flavors, with the tannins showing a surprising amount of softness and suppleness for the variety. It’s a mixture of intrigue and delivery, with a finish that glides.
Gordon Estate 2013 Estate Grown Tempranillo Columbia Valley $30 87 points
Orange peel, dill, herb and red-fruit aromas lead to elegant, soft, sultry feeling fruit and barrel flavors with a smoky finish. The oak gets a bit in front of the fruit but it still brings plenty of interest.
Hawkins Cellars 2013 Club Cuvee Mourvèdre Columbia Valley $34 87 points
The aromas offer notes of spice, dark cherry, medicine cabinet and shoe leather. The tart flavors trail toward the finish.
Hawkins Cellars 2013 Reserve Syrah Columbia Valley $34 89 points
Kiona Vineyard on Red Mountain provides the fruit for this wine, along with Chandler Reach in the Yakima Valley. Baking spice, clove and anise aromas are followed by light, tart red fruit flavors that trail slightly toward the spice filled finish.
Hawkins Cellars 2014 Syrah Columbia Valley $36 86 points
This wine has some off aromas, seeming to show some oxygen exposure, which distracts from its notes of orange peel and spice. The palate is considerably better but struggles to make up the difference.
Hawkins Cellars 2014 Barrel Select Viognier Columbia Valley $22 84 points
The aromas of herbs are surprisingly light. The stone fruit flavors are broad, with tart, lemony acids. The variety seems impossible for find.
Inconceivable 2013 After the Floods Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $25 91 points
High toned aromas of spice, herbs and sweet plum are followed by black currant and blackberry flavors. It brings undeniable appeal.
K Vintners 2012 The Klein Klein Vineyard Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $75 92 points
This wine is a blend of Merlot (41%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) and Cabernet Franc (29%). Aromas of raspberries, blackberries, barrel spices and red and black currant lead to a rich mouthful of power-packed fruit flavors that lead to a warm finish.
K Vintners 2012 Stoneridge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $45 91 points
Exploring the herbal side of the variety, this wine offers aromas of green herbs, pencil box, vanilla, barrel spice and cherry. The cherry and black fruit flavors are generous and appealing, lingering on the finish.
K Vintners 2013 The Boy Grenache Walla Walla Valley $50 93 points
Mostly Grenache (88%) along with Syrah from River Rock and Northridge vineyards respectively, this wine is notably pale in color. The aromas of dried brown stems, white pepper, clove, tangerine peel, plum, fresh flowers and pomegranate are expressive. The elegant flavors display delicacy and complexity, while showing exceptional polish and balance. It’s all about subtlety and nuance.
K Vintners 2012 Bronco Malbec Wahluke Slope $70 92 points
The aromas of dark plum, thistle and earth captivate the senses, with the variety unmistakable. The flavors coat the palate from end-to-end, lingering on the finish.
K Vintners 2012 Northridge Vineyard Merlot Wahluke Slope $45 89 points
The aromas of red currant, raspberry and cranberry are quite ripe, with cedar notes providing an accent. The palate is high octane with the fruit not quite having the intensity to match.
K Vintners 2012 The Creator Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $55 93 points
This wine is Cabernet Sauvignon (72%) and Syrah (30%), with the fruit hailing from both River Rock and Jack’s vineyards. Aromas of green herbs, peat, mineral, cherry and spice are followed by smoke, olive and other savory flavors. It shows polish and impeccable balance from start to finish.
K Vintners 2012 Charlotte Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $60 91 points
Mourvèdre (47%) and Grenache (37%) are in the lead on this wine with the balance Syrah, Counoise and Picpoul. The aromas of red and black fruit, brown stems, green olive, coffee and spice are initially faint while the tart red-fruit flavors bring a sense of delicacy and restraint.
K Vintners 2012 Guido Sangiovese Walla Walla Valley $45 91 points
The aromas of dried herbs, fresh tobacco, rose petals, mineral, cranberry and cherry fascinate. The palate brings pillowy soft red-fruit flavors that show a sense of vibrancy and delicacy. It drinks more like Grenache than Sangiovese but after a sip or two, who cares?
K Vintners 2012 Cattle King Syrah Snipes Mountain $70 95 points
The kirsch, cranberry, dried herb, pomegranate and barrel spice aromas are laser focused, with smoked meat notes providing accents. The black fruit flavors are über concentrated and dense. It’s wound tightly at first but when it opens up, it delivers.
K Vintners 2012 Klein Syrah Walla Walla Valley $70 94 points
Brooding dark fruit and stemmy herb and olive aromas lead to rich, extracted black fruit flavors with a warm, coffee filled finish. It delivers a powerful punch.
K Vintners 2012 The Beautiful Syrah Walla Walla Valley $50 93 points
Aromas of kirsch and spiced plum mix with smoked meat, blue fruit and assorted herbs, with the Viognier (4%) blended in adding a floral top note. The palate offers dense, layered blue-fruit flavors that glide on the finish. Best by 2020.
K Vintners 2012 The Hidden Syrah Wahluke Slope $70 93 points
Opening with aromas of fresh and dried herbs, this wine follows with notes of blackberry, flowers, and black currant, with smoked meat and black olives providing undertones. The black fruit flavors don’t hold back, packing a powerful punch.
K Vintners 2012 Morrison Lane Syrah Walla Walla Valley $45 93 points
Coming from 1984 plantings—the oldest in the valley—this wine beguiles, with restrained aromas of kirsch, wet stone and plum alongside high tone herb notes. The fruit flavors are layered, possessing a sense of vibrancy and length on the coffee and fruit filled finish. It shows great balance and persistence.
K Vintners 2012 River Rock Syrah Walla Walla Valley $45 92 points
Brooding aromas of cranberry and mulberry lead to rich fruit and mineral flavors that show exquisite balance and a lengthy finish. It’s rare to find a Rocks District wine so fruit filled—a real treat. Best before 2020.
K Vintners 2012 Rock Garden Syrah Walla Walla Valley $60 91 points
The aromas of crushed rock, smoke, ham hock, violets, red fruit and herbs are light but intriguing. The palate is elegant and restrained, coming in waves, with raspberries, smoked meat and mineral. It shows impeccable balance throughout and great length, winning on its subtleties rather than power.
K Vintners 2012 The Deal Sundance Syrah Wahluke Slope $35 91 points
Aromas of blackberry, black currant, cinnamon and dark plum lead to high toned herbal, green olive, licorice and barrel spice grace notes. The black fruit flavors are forward and concentrated, with smoked meat on the finish.
K Vintners 2013 M.C.K. Motor City Kitty Syrah Washington $35 91 points
Don’t be fooled by the Washington label. This is Yakima Valley fruit coming from a site next to esteemed Boushey Vineyard. Aromas of fresh herbs, brown stems, red fruit, graphite, bacon fat and orange peel lead to a mouthful of generous fruit flavors. The finish persists. Editor’s Choice
Kerloo 2013 Stone Tree Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $50 93 points
All varietal, the aromas of high-toned herbs and spice show promise but haven’t yet fully revealed their charms. The palate delivers concentrated yet restrained and balanced flavors that possess a captivating texture and a lengthy finish. It’s a commanding interpretation of the variety that shows great nuance. Editor’s Choice
Kerloo 2013 Upland Vineyard Grenache Snipes Mountain $40 91 points
Dried herb notes intermingle with raspberry, cranberry, moist earth, olive and spice on a wine that has yet to truly reveal itself aromatically. The palate is pillowy soft with elegant red-fruit and smoked-meat flavors that glide on the finish. It’s all about delicacy.
Kerloo 2013 Stone Tree Malbec Wahluke Slope $40 93 points
All varietal coming from two blocks of this vineyard, this wine dazzles with its strikingly pure aromas of plum, herbs and spice. The flavors don’t disappoint, coating the palate with velvety, restrained, exquisitely balanced fruit flavors that perfectly capture the essence of this variety. For those looking for a primer on Malbec in Washington, look no further. Editor’s Choice
Kerloo 2013 Les Collines Syrah Walla Walla Valley $40 92 points
This wine brings charming aromas of cracked pepper, smoked meat, dried herbs and crushed violets, with dark chocolate and mixed fruit lurking in the background. The green olive and other savory flavors are restrained, coating the palate with a soft, textured feel that shows precise balance. It demands attention without overwhelming.
Kerloo 2013 Les Collines Limited Release Syrah Walla Walla Valley $48 91 points
The dried herb and violet aromas are high toned, seeming locked up still. The floral and smoked meat flavors are elegant in style, backed by lightly grainy tannins and a flower filled finish. The focus is on delicacy and nuance, and it brings plenty of both.
Kerloo 2013 Stone Tree Vineyard Tempranillo Wahluke Slope $34 91 points
The spice, tobacco, clove and pencil eraser aromas still seem somewhat locked up. The dark-fruit flavors are well balanced with a pucker of tannins backing them up.
Kevin White 2013 La Fraternité Red Blend Yakima Valley $28 92 points
This wine is equal parts Grenache and Mourvèdre topped off with Syrah (8%). The aromas offer fascinating, focused notes of coffee, bacon fat, crushed gravel, spice and herbs. The blue-fruit flavors bring a sense of purity and delicacy, fleshing out over time. Editor’s Choice
Kevin White 2013 En Hommage Syrah Yakima Valley $28 90 points
Hailing from Olsen and Elephant Mountain vineyards, this wine brings black currant, huckleberry and dark plum aromas that smell pure and sweet. The black fruit and smoke flavors display a mixture of concentration and restraint.
Margas 2014 Poetic Pinot Pinot Gris Yakima Valley $20 82 points
Medium salmon colored and lightly bricked, it’s aromatic with notes of strawberry, orange peel and brown sugar. The smoky flavors bring a touch of sugar with the alcohol showing prominently.
Matteo 2014 Chenin Blanc Red Mountain $50 88 points
Aromas of spice, lees and ripe pear are followed by creamy feeling tropical fruit flavors, with pineapple in the lead. It doesn’t quite all come together but provides plenty of intrigue.
Matteo 2011 Red Merlot Columbia Valley $40 85 points
This Merlot-centric wine brings aromas of herbs, soy and dried raisins, seeminlyg a bit past it prime. The flavors are lightly and the tannins seem dried out. Drink now.
Merry Cellars 2013 Seven Hills Vineyard Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley $46 87 points
The aromas explore this variety’s savory side, with notes of green herbs and dill followed by vanilla, char, burnt coffee and green wood. The palate shows flavors of char and game, with the tannins seeming gritty.
Merry Cellars 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $48 87 points
Aromas of freshly cut wood, pickling spices, vanilla dark cherry lead to plentiful black-fruit flavors, supported by lightly astringent tannins. There are good things underneath but the wood gets in the way.
Merry Cellars 2013 Seven Hills Vineyard Carmenère Walla Walla Valley $36 91 points
This vineyard is a premier site for this variety, taming the mean, green aromas and flavors it can be associated with. Aromas of peppery spices, green herbs and cherry are followed by soft, sultry dark fruit flavors that show exquisite balance and length.
Merry Cellars 2013 Seven Hills Vineyard Malbec Walla Walla Valley $46 90 points
Aromas of fresh dill and other green herbs leap up from the glass. The plum flavors are pure and persistent. It’s a unique expression of the variety.
Merry Cellars 2013 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Merlot Columbia Valley $34 89 points
Aromas of vanilla and baking spice are followed by ample red fruit and spice flavors. The acids are tart, giving the wine a zing.
Merry Cellars 2013 Petit Verdot Columbia Valley $46 90 points
Vanillla, baking spice and dried herb aromas are at the forefront. The dark-fruit flavors are dense, supported by lively acids and firm but well integrated tannins. It’s a delicious example of the variety.
Merry Cellars 2013 Crimson Red Blend Washington $28 91 points
Vanilla and baking-spice aromas mix with notes of leafy green herbs, black licorice, char and dark fruit. The tart black-fruit and herb flavors flavors show concentration and depth, with the tannins polished to a fine sheen. Fruit and barrel play near equal parts.
Pamplin 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $50 92 points
High-toned blackberry and dried herb aromas mix with barrel spices, still seeming quite locked up. The flavors are tart, dark and reserved, showing depth and exceptional polish. It’s a very pretty offering of this often bold variety, a thinking person’s wine and one for the cellar. Best after 2020. Editor’s Choice
Plumb Cellars 2010 Damn Straight Red Blend Columbia Valley $40 90 points
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up just over half of this blend with the rest Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Vanilla and cocoa aromas are out in front of herb, black licorice and dark fruit. The dark-fruit and woodspice flavors are refined and show a sense of depth, elegance and balance that captures the attention.
Plumb Cellars 2011 Damn Straight Red Blend Columbia Valley $36 89 points
This blend offers reserved aromas of cedar, dried herbs and cranberries, vanilla and woodspice. The dark-fruit and spice flavors are retrained and elegant, possessing a sense of balance.
Plumb Cellars 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $39 88 points
Blackberry, cigar box, vanilla bean and black-licorice aromas are out front, with savory herbs in the background, becoming more prominent over time. The dark-fruit flavors are elegant in style and linger on the smoky finish.
Plumb Cellars 2012 Plumb Crazy Red Blend Columbia Valley $18 88 points
This wine is two-thirds Syrah with the balance Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. Reticent aromas of vanilla, woodspice, cigar box and plum lead to elegantly styled fruit and barrel flavors that trail toward the finish.
Plumb Cellars 2012 Estate Sangiovese Walla Walla Valley $34 88 points
Varietal offerings are a rarity in this appellation. This one brings aromas of dill, woodspice and vanilla, with the focus on the barrel. The tart red cherry flavors are silky smooth, gliding on the finish.
Plumb Cellars 2012 JKII Estate Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $26 89 points
The blackberry jam, green olive, smoked meat, dried herb, gravel, flower and orange peel aromas provide plenty of interest and intrigue, though a tire rubber note distracts. The black fruit and savory flavors coat the palate with a supple feel that brings depth.
Plumb Cellars 2014 Afternoon Delight Estate Viognier Walla Walla Valley $22 83 points
This wine starts out quite reductive, with sulfurous aromas that provide significant distraction. The flavors are light and show a pleasing elegance but can’t make up the difference.
Silver Totem 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $19 88 points
Quite green out of the gate, the aromas display notes of savory herbs, cedar and spice, with a reduced note that blows off. The plum and dark-fruit flavors are tart and elegant with dry tannins that don’t seem to have fully ripened. It has potential at the dinner table but doesn’t quite stand up on its own.
Skyfall 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $14 88 points
This variety’s signature dried- and fresh-herb aromas are on full display, with light barrel spices in the background. The palate brings lightly sweet plum and currant flavors that provide appeal.
Skyfall 2013 Merlot Columbia Valley $14 88 points
Raspberry, herb and sugared-plum aromas are followed by easy-drinking red-fruit flavors that show a sense of balance that keeps the interest high.
Skyfall 2014 Pinot Gris Columbia Valley $12 85 points
Reduced aromas provide significant distraction at the outset, with floral and tropical notes fighting to get to the surface. The palate doesn’t entirely stay together, as if the wine can’t make up its mind which way it wants to go. White grapefruit flavors come through on the finish.
SoDo 2014 Wingman Red Blend Washington $15 91 points
This wine is mostly Grenache (70%) along with Mourvèdre and Syrah. The aromas of raspberry and peppery spices are light and pure. The red-fruit and plum flavors are elegant yet sumptuous in feel, with the oak pulled back. It’s unabashedly appealing and a great value to boot.
Stakes Race 2013 Syrah Columbia Valley $45 91 points
Herb aromas mix with notes of blue and black fruit and sweet barrel spices on the nose, showing smoked meat in the background. The dark fruit flavors are broad in feel and linger on the finish.
Substance 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $15 90 points
Abundant dried and fresh herb aromas are followed by notes of black currant and blackberry. The palate brings full-feeling black-fruit flavors that provide instant appeal. It’s a crowd pleaser. Best Buy
Substance 2013 Super Sauvignon Blanc Washington $25 87 points
Tightly reduced aromas make it difficult to isolate the citrus, herb and mineral notes. It’s a shame as the tart, lively nut oil and pineapple flavors are quite enjoyable.
Tamarack Cellars 2012 Sagemoor Vineyards Reserve Red Blend Columbia Valley $50 92 points
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (58%), Merlot (33%) and Cabernet Franc. Each show themselves in turn, with aromas of high-toned herbs, spice box, pencil lead, cherries and flowers. The tart cherry flavors are still tightly wound, showing balance, focus and persistence. The finish lingers. Best consumed after 2018.
Tamarack Cellars 2012 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Reserve Red Blend Red Mountain $50 91 points
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Cabernet Franc (30%) and Merlot, this wine seems a little green out of the gate, with aromas of herbs, cocoa, vanilla, black licorice, woodspice and black fruit. The fruit flavors display the warmth of this region, with the tannins providing some heft, stretching out over time.
Tamarack Cellars 2013 Seven Hills Vineyard Reserve Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $50 91 points
Cabernet Sauvignon (64%) takes the lead followed by equal parts Merlot and Petit Verdot. It’s the latter that shows itself first, with aromas of potting soil and flowers followed by woodspice and green herbs that seem a bit locked up. The plum and cherry flavors are plump and appealing, showing a fine sense of balance and a finish that won’t quit. Give it time to open up.
Tamarack Cellars 2011 Tapteil Vineyard Reserve Red Blend Red Mountain $50 89 points
This cool-vintage blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc brings light aromas of woodspice, and dried and fresh herbs, with dark cherries lurking in the background. The acids are bright and tart, while the tannins bring some grit, with coffee flavors lingering on the finish. It needs time to come together.
Tamarack Cellars 2014 Firehouse Red Blend Columbia Valley $18 89 points
A tribute to the art of blending, this wine is a mix of 10 different varieties with none making up even a third of the blend. It leads with aromas of plummy blue fruit, smoke, vanilla and herbs followed by plump fruit flavors and lightly grippy tannins.
Tamarack Cellars 2013 Syrah Columbia Valley $28 90 points
Berry, herb and baking spice aromas lead the nose. The palate brings fleshy plum, cherry and coffee flavors that linger on the finish. This wine provides great easy-drinking appeal.
Tamarack Cellars 2013 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Syrah Red Mountain $40 89 points
Dark-blue fruit, thyme, sweet barrel spices and mineral aromas lead to pitch-black fruit flavors that show the warmth of the vintage but retain their balance. The tannins provide some pucker.
Telaya 2013 Sruth Boushey Vineyard Red Blend Yakima Valley $27 88 points
Merlot and Cabernet Franc make up the majority of this blend. The aromas of dried herbs, pencil lead, cherry and spice are subdued while the palate brings a somewhat elegant style, with the tannins seeming a bit bunched up.
Two Vintners 2013 Legit Red Blend Columbia Valley $30 88 points
This wine is just over three-quarters Cabernet Sauvignon with the rest Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot. Aromas of black currant, woodspice and a violet top note are followed by plentiful black-fruit flavors supported by firm tannins that need time to stretch their legs.
Two Vintners 2013 Sal May’s Discovery Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $55 91 points
This is a Cabernet prototype from an up-and-coming vineyard. The brooding aromas of anise, cassis and barrel spice seem quite locked up at present. The black cherry and fine grained, highly structured tannins show an exquisite sense of balance that persists through the finish.
Two Vintners 2013 Make Haste Cinsault Yakima Valley $20 93 points
This is a rare, 100% varietal Cinsault from Olsen Vineyard that saw only neutral French oak, and it’s hard to imagine a more pure representation of the variety. Aromas of tart red fruit and flowers with high-toned stem accents are followed by piercingly pure, elegantly styled fruit and savory flavors that undulate across the palate. The balance is exquisite. It stands up beautifully on its own but will truly sing at the dinner table. Pair it with lamb. Editor’s Choice
Two Vintners 2013 Boushey Vineyard Grenache Yakima Valley $30 93 points
This vineyard is best known for its Syrah but Grenache also shines, as evidenced by this compelling bottle. The aromas pop with complex notes of flowers, brown stems, mineral, smoke, raspberries, peppery spice and the vineyard’s signature earthy funk. The palate shows delicacy, precision and detail, with a lightly meaty, peppery finish that lingers. It’s a completely captivating expression of the variety with balance that downright dazzles. Editor’s Choice
Two Vintners 2012 Pepper Bridge Vineyard Merlot Walla Walla Valley $32 88 points
The somewhat prominent herb aromas don’t seem varietal. The red-fruit flavors are considerably more germane, though the tannins come off as a bit sticky.
Two Vintners 2013 Some Days Are Stones Stoney Vine Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $45 93 points
Coming from The Rocks District, the herb, green stem, black olive, peat, wet stone and floral aromas are expansive. The potpourri and savory flavors are broad in feel and exquisitely balanced, capped off by a long finish. Stunning stuff. Editor’s Choice
Two Vintners 2013 Some Days Are Diamonds Syrah Horse Heaven Hills $45 91 points
The aromas of high-toned dried herbs, sage, olive, spice and dark cherry provide allure, with the use of stems apparent. The flavors are supple and polished, showing a deft touch. The finish is lengthy.
Two Vintners 2013 Stonetree Vineyard Zinfandel Wahluke Slope $30 92 points
A consistent standout for this winery, the new vintage does not disappoint. Jazzy and jammy red-fruit and spice aromas are followed by rich, plump, beautifully balanced fruit flavors followed by an extended finish. It only ramps up over time. It’s a prototype of the variety and about as good as it gets from the state. Editor’s Choice
Upchurch 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $68 92 points
The aromas of herbs, dark fruit and graphite are brooding and wound up on first pour. The palate is highly structured with plentiful black-fruit flavors that show exquisite balance and a finish that carries into the distance. Its best days are far in front of it. Enjoy after 2018. C
Va Piano 2013 DuBrul Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $95 92 points
This wine is quite locked up at present, with barrel notes of cocoa and vanilla in front of high toned dried herbs, black cherry and dusty earth. The flavors are elegant yet rich, tart and fresh with bright acids and an extended finish. Though the wood occasionally gets a bit out front, it’s a very pretty expression of the variety that needs time to fully stretch its legs. Best after 2018 or give it a long decant.
Va Piano 2014 French Creek Vineyard Chardonnay Yakima Valley $40 89 points
The melon, pear, tropical fruit and almond butter aromas are bright and effusive, while the flavors are considerably more delicate and subdued, showing a lovely sense of nuance and tension. It doesn’t quite all come together but provides plenty of intrigue.
Va Piano 2013 Les Collines Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $65 92 points
Coming from one of the state’s premier Syrah vineyards, the aromas of violets, dried herbs, brown stems and smoked meat pop. The fruit and savory flavors show an exquisite sense of balance that persists through the extended finish.
Va Piano 2013 Portteus Vineyard Syrah Rattlesnake Hills $65 91 points
Aromas of tilled soil, herbs, flowers, olive, black pepper and orange peel lead to fresh, elegant smoked meat flavors with spot on balance. It’s a unique expression of the variety from the state that keeps you coming back for more.
Va Piano 2013 Lewis Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $65 90 points
The cherry, herb and barrel spice aromas are quite brooding at present. The fruit flavors are all about elegance of expression, showing pleasing complexities and plenty of hang time on the finish.
Vino 2013 Pinot Grigio Ancient Lakes $12 87 points
Light mineral and lemon-rind aromas are followed by dry, tart flavors. It should shine on the dinner table. Best Buy
Waterbrook 2014 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $13 87 points
Aromas of freshly cut pear, apple and almond butter mix with assorted spices. The flavors are elegant in style, pulling up toward the finish. It provides easy drinking enjoyment.
Waterbrook 2013 Reserve Malbec Columbia Valley $24 89 points
Clove, vanilla and other spice aromas are followed by full-feeling fruit flavors which are backed by soft, velvety tannins. It offers much to enjoy.
Waterbrook 2014 Malbec Columbia Valley $14 88 points
This wine offers aromas of clove and woodspice, with blue-fruit notes in the background. The flavors showing pleasing density and weight, shortening up on the finish.
Waterbrook 2014 Merlot Columbia Valley $14 87 points
Barrel notes of spice, vanilla, caramel and herbs lead to red- and blue-fruit flavors, with the tannins showing some astringency. Merlot wouldn’t be a first guess but it still brings appeal.
Waterbrook 2014 Pinot Gris Columbia Valley $13 86 points
The wilted flower and candied fruit aromas are light. The palate has a broad, textured feel, with a touch of sugar on the finish.
Waterbrook 2014 Reserve Riesling Columbia Valley $16 89 points
Bright aromas of apricot, pear, botrytis and jasmine are followed by medium-sweet stone-fruit flavors, backed by vibrant acidity.
Waterbrook 2014 Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $13 86 points
Aromas of gooseberry are out in front of kiwi and pineapple. The flavors are fleshy in feel, sweetened by a touch of sugar.
Waterbrook 2014 Syrah Columbia Valley $14 87 points
The aromas of plum, blackberry, vanilla, dried herbs and spice provide intrigue. The blue- and black-fruit flavors are linear in style but deliver enjoyment.
Whispering Tree 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $10 82 points
Volatile aromas provide significant distraction. The black- and blue-fruit flavors are easy drinking but can’t provide enough counterbalance.
Whispering Tree 2013 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $10 87 points
Aromas of lees and baked apple lead to lightly viscous feeling sweet fruit flavors that linger. It’s a crowd pleaser. Best Buy
Whispering Tree 2013 Merlot Columbia Valley $10 89 points
Cocoa and spice aromas mix with red currant and plum. The palate is elegant in style and brings a fine sense of balance and appeal to the mouth. Best Buy
Whispering Tree 2014 Riesling Columbia Valley $10 87 points
The green apple, apple skin and flower aromas pop. The off-dry peach flavors keep you coming back for more. Best Buy