Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for July 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.
The July issue contains a strong set of releases from Gramercy Cellars. While the winery’s Rhone-style wines always dazzle (Gramercy 2013 The Third Man Grenache Columbia Valley $42, 92 points; Gramercy 2013 The Deuce Syrah Walla Walla Valley $54, 93 points), its Cabernet Sauvignon (Gramercy 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $48, 93 points) is impossible to ignore. Additionally, some of the best values out there can be found in the winery’s Lower East series (Gramercy 2013 Lower East Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $28, 92 points; Gramercy 2013 Lower East Syrah Columbia Valley $28, 93 points).
Chris Peterson at Avennia continues a strong track record with the winery’s new Bordeaux blend releases (Avennia 2013 Sestina Columbia Valley $65, 93 points; Avennia 2013 Gravura Columbia Valley $35, 92 points; Avennia 2013 Valery Columbia Valley $50, 91 points). Peterson is also the hand behind the latest thrilling Cabernet from Passing Time (Passing Time 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $75, 93 points).
Eight Bells has long been known for its Red Willow Syrah and deservedly so (Eight Bells 2013 8 Clones Red Willow Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $35, 92 points) but not to be missed is a Bordeaux-style blend coming out of a section of Red Willow Vineyard that David Lake designed (Eight Bells 2012 David’s Block Red Willow Vineyard Yakima Valley $35 92 points).
Finally, Woodward Canyon is the Old Faithful of Washington Chardonnay, consistently crafting top tier wines whether the vintage is cool, such as 2011, or hot, such as 2014. Their latest offering does not disappoint (Woodward Canyon 2014 Chardonnay Washington $44 91 points).
Armstrong Family 2013 Four Birds Columbia Valley $25 90 points
Merlot makes up nearly two-thirds of this blend with the balance Cabernet Franc. Brooding dried herb, cocoa and dark fruit aromas lead to rich but well-balanced black-fruit flavors backed by a firm core of tannins.
Armstrong Family 2013 David’s Folly Columbia Valley $36 90 points
Blending Cabernet with 33% Petit Verdot might seem like folly indeed but it works on this wine. The aromas of flowers, vanilla and spice are quite reticent while the dark fruit flavors pack a well-balanced punch, with firm tannins and spritely, mouthwatering acids capturing the attention.
Armstrong Family 2013 Fronk Columbia Valley $28 90 points
A blend of Cabernet Franc (80%) and Petit Verdot, this is a perfumed wine with high-toned aromas of violets, herbs, baking spices, pencil eraser, barrel notes and plum. The flavors are broad in feel, with bright acidity that stitches it all together nicely.
Auclair 2013 Right Blend Artz Vineyard Red Mountain $39 91 points
A blend of Merlot (73%), Cabernet Franc (24%) and Petit Verdot, it rises from the glass with aromas of cedar, flowers and red and black fruit. The black-fruit flavors are dense but deft, with firm tannins backing them up.
Auclair 2013 Left Blend Artz Vineyard Red Mountain $48 89 points
Allspice, ginger, Red Vines and red-fruit aromas are out front on this Cabernet Sauvignon (80%) dominant wine. The palate possesses weight and suppleness to the mouthfeel, with lightly grainy tannins providing the frame.
Auclair 2013 Artz Vineyard Cabernet Franc Red Mountain $42 91 points
With a healthy whack of Merlot (22%), this drinks a bit more like a Bordeaux blend than a varietal wine. It enchants with aromas of high-toned herbs, coffee, toasty oak and red cherry. The cherry and black fruit flavors are layered and tightly wound, with a pleasing mouthfeel. The tannins need time to unwind.
Avennia 2013 Sestina Columbia Valley $65 93 points
More brains than brawn, the focus on this understated Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant blend is on old vines, with fruit coming mostly from early ’70s and ’80s Dionysus, Bacchus and Red Willow vineyard plantings. The earth, black cherry, peppercorn, currant and dried herb aromas start out tightly coiled. The flavors have laser-focused purity and a compelling sense of balance, with plenty of subtleties. It’s all about nuance.
Avennia 2013 Gravura Columbia Valley $35 92 points
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot make up nearly equal parts of this blend, with the balance Cabernet Franc (9%). Coming from a who’s who of vineyards that includes Bacchus, Red Willow, Klipsun and Boushey, it offers nuanced, supremely well balanced aromas of spice, dried herb, raspberry and blackberry. The palate delivers on all of this promise with succulent yet still reserved red and black fruit flavors that show purity, focus and impeccable balance that kicks it up a notch. Editor’s Choice
Avennia 2013 Valery Columbia Valley $50 91 points
This blend is mostly Merlot (86%) along with Cabernet Franc, with the fruit coming from two of the state’s top sites, Boushey and Champoux. Initially brooding raspberry compote, graphite and dried herb aromas are followed by supple, tart fruit and coffee flavors that sail on the finish. The balance is impeccable. It charms with its subtleties rather than its power, but make no mistake, it charms.
Betz Family 2013 Clos de Betz Columbia Valley $57 91 points
This wine is a blend of Merlot (63%), a whopping 22% Petit Verdot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of smoke, cedar, dried herbs, licorice, pencil lead, crushed flowers and red and black berries are followed by soft, plump fruit flavors. It brings an undeniable warm vintage appeal but with a compelling sense of elegance and balance.
Betz Family 2013 Père de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $75 91 points
Aromas of dried herb, bay leaf, spice, dried flowers and dark fruit are followed by tart, spritely cranberry and cherry flavors. It possesses a real sense of freshness and elegance.
Bridge Press 2013 XL Vineyard Cabernet Franc Walla Walla Valley $30 91 points
This wine hails from a new vineyard region high above famed Seven Hills. Baking spice, cocoa and herb aromas are followed by focused black-fruit flavors, with espresso and vanilla notes that linger. It captures the attention.
Bridge Press 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $35 92 points
Cocoa, vanilla, baking spice and green herb aromas are followed by concentrated, palate-coating black cherry and barrel spice flavors that show a deft touch. Coffee notes persist on the finish.
Bridge Press 2012 Merlot Walla Walla Valley $25 88 points
Spicebox, dark raspberry, vanilla and toasty oak aromas are followed by reserved, well constructed fruit flavors that taper toward the finish.
Canoe Ridge 2014 The Expedition Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $16 86 points
Plum, spice and sweet herb aromas lead to rounded blue-fruit flavors surrounded by dry, astringent tannins that are unyielding.
Canoe Ridge 2012 Estate Grown Block 6 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $41 86 points
Medicine cabinet, coconut, woodspice and red apple aromas lead to simultaneously sweet and tart cherry and cranberry flavors supported by drying tannins. It doesn’t all come together, with the wood showing prominently throughout.
Canoe Ridge 2014 Reserve Chardonnay Horse Heaven Hills $25 88 points
Equal parts Wallula and Canoe Ridge vineyard fruit, the aromas offer expressive notes of melon, flowers, jasmine and peach. The palate is textured and full, but the flavors at times seem a bit diluted. It shows some heat on the back end.
Canoe Ridge 2012 Estate Grown Blocks 10, 11 & 12 Merlot Columbia Valley $41 88 points
Aromas of coffee, vanilla, woodspice and red fruit are at the fore. The cranberry and cherry flavors are quite sweet, backed by astringent tannins. The oak dominates at times.
Columbia Winery 2013 Tempranillo Horse Heaven Hills $35 89 points
Baking spice, vanilla, woodspice and dark fruit aromas are followed by sweet cherry and cranberries flavors supported by firm, lightly gritty tannins. There are lots of good things going on but the tannins need time to settle.
Den Hoed 2012 Andreas Wallula Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $80 91 points
The aromas start out quite brooding, opening to reveal notes of green pepper, vanilla, wood spice, powdered cayenne and dark cherry. The flavors are lithe and polished, with cherry, vanilla and coffee interweaving throughout to an extended finish. It comes off as oak heavy but still impresses.
Den Hoed 2012 Marie’s View Wallula Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $80 89 points
This is the first vintage of this wine to be labeled as a Cabernet Sauvignon as opposed to a red wine. It brings aromas of fresh jalapeño, herb and cherry. The cherry and plum flavors are rich and layered, backed by tightly coiled tannins.
Deuce 2012 Reserve Syrah Walla Walla Valley $40 86 points
The oak is far out in front, with the aromas of vanilla, dill and freshly hewn wood making it difficult to find the fruit. Cranberry flavors struggle to get to the surface. It’s technically well made but the barrel treatment completely overrides any sense of the variety.
DiStefano 2012 Sogno Columbia Valley $38 90 points
Though not labeled as such, this could be a varietal Cabernet Franc (80%). Dried herb, tobacco and wood spice aromas lead to well balanced, expressive dried black cherry flavors that stretch out on the finish. The aromas and flavors don’t quite sync up but it still brings a lot of appeal.
DiStefano 2012 Domenica Columbia Valley $38 89 points
This wine is mostly Merlot along with equal parts Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of barrel spices, red cherries, dried and fresh herbs and toast are followed by plump cherry and cranberry flavors, brightened by tart, puckering acidity that needs time to fully integrate. Drink from 2019 and beyond.
DiStefano 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $38 90 points
The variety is unmistakable, with aromas of toast, coffee, spice, fragrant herbs and black currant that announce themselves. The cherry flavors are elegant, tart and reserved with lightly chalky tannins backing them up.
Dumas Station 2012 Minnick Hills Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $60 87 points
Reserved aromas of ripe red apple, cherry, dried herbs and spice are followed by quite ripe black fruit flavors speckled with vanilla and cocoa notes. It doesn’t all come together perfectly but still provides interest.
Dumas Station 2013 Merlot Walla Walla Valley $32 89 points
The vanilla, coffee, red apple and hay aromas are initially quite light and not fully in sync. The red fruit flavors are rich and full, pulling no punches.
Dumas Station 2013 Cow Catcher Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $24 87 points
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot make up three-quarters of this blend, with the balance Petit Verdot and Syrah. The aromas of herb, barrel spice, fig, dried fruit and vanilla are reserved while the red- and black-fruit flavors are rich but deft, with the tannins providing some heft. It seems a bit more evolved than its age might suggest.
Dunham 2014 Shirley Mays Chardonnay Columbia Valley $25 87 points
The spice, peach, cream and corn on the cob aromas bring appeal. The flavors are silky and sleek, pulling toward the lemony finish.
Dunham 2014 Lewis Estate Vineyard Riesling Columbia Valley $20 88 points
The aromas bring generous notes of botrytis, chamomile, flowers, peach, ale and green apple. It drinks off dry, with well-balanced stone fruit and floral flavors that linger.
Dunham 2014 Four Legged White Blend Washington $15 86 points
Somewhat subdued white flower, lime and peach aromas are followed by medium-sweet stone-fruit flavors. It goes down easy.
Eight Bells 2012 David’s Block Red Willow Vineyard Yakima Valley $35 92 points
This wine is a blend of all six Bordeaux varieties, with Cabernet Sauvignon (56%), Malbec (18%) and Cabernet Franc (10%) in the lead. The aromas offer pleasing complexities of toast, earth, fresh herbs, red and black fruit, flowers and plum. The elegant palate brings a lovely sense of balance, purity and texture that keeps the attention high straight through the coffee-filled finish. Editor’s Choice
Eight Bells 2013 8 Clones Red Willow Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $35 92 points
This is a perfumed wine, with aromatic notes of raspberries, kirsch, flowers, smoked meat, orange peel and blue fruit, with the Viognier blended in (4%) showing itself. The raspberry and cranberry flavors are lush and focused, showing a dazzling sense of purity that carries through the finish. It only lengthens its stride on the second day open. Editor’s Choice
Figgins 2015 Riesling Walla Walla Valley $30 90 points
Appealing aromas of whole lime, flowers and apricot lead to bone-dry but generous stone fruit flavors with plenty of hang time on the finish. It brings a lot of finesse.
Grace Lane 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $15 87 points
The aromas of black currant, black cherry and plum announce this warm vintage wine. The flavors are plump and easy drinking, trailing slightly toward the finish.
Grace Lane 2014 Riesling Yakima Valley $12 86 points
The aromas of flowers, peach and nectarine are quite bright. It drinks medium sweet with an open finish. Enjoy it as an apéritif.
Gramercy 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $48 93 points
You can almost just smell this wine and be completely satisfied: its earth, black currant, flower, vanilla and sandalwood aromas are so intoxicating. A further venture, however, is rewarded. The dark fruit flavors are dense and full yet still fresh and lively with a finish that sails. It’s a compelling example of Washington Cabernet that drinks beautifully now, but a few years (or more) in the cellar will be rewarded as well. Editor’s Choice
Gramercy 2013 Lower East Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $28 92 points
There’s no mistaking the variety, with plentiful aromas of fresh herb and cherry alongside vanilla and light barrel accents. The dark fruit flavors are supple with a mesmerizing texture and an exquisite balance that extends through the coffee-filled finish. The attention to detail throughout is impressive, especially for a wine at this price. Editor’s Choice
Gramercy 2013 The Third Man Grenache Columbia Valley $42 92 points
With healthy dashed of Syrah (19%) and Mourvèdre (5%), this wine drinks as much like a Rhone-style blend as a varietal wine. The aromas offer a very pretty balance of red and blue fruit, accented by generous amounts of black pepper, high-toned herbs and moist earth. The flavors have crystalline clarity, dancing lightly on the palate and ending with a coffee filled finish. It provides a lot of delicacy and nuance, only ramping up over time.
Gramercy 2013 John Lewis Syrah Walla Walla Valley $85 93 points
It’s the stem inclusion that shows itself first, with aromas of olive and herb in front of violets, red fruit, pepper, earth and whiffs of coffee and smoked meat. The flavors are reserved, supple and polished, with bright acids keeping it all in focus. It demands food alongside it to be properly appreciated.
Gramercy 2013 Lower East Syrah Columbia Valley $28 93 points
The aromas bring immediate appeal, with notes of brown stems, herbs, crushed flowers, smoked meat and black pepper. The flavors don’t disappoint, showing purity, focus and generosity with a spot-on sense of balance and a lengthy finish that kicks it up a notch. Give it time to open up. Editor’s Choice
Gramercy 2013 The Deuce Syrah Walla Walla Valley $54 93 points
The herb, violet, red fruit and mineral aromas start out light, with earth, smoked meat and black pepper notes lurking in the background. The fruit and savory flavors coat the palate with a pillowy soft texture, displaying an exquisite sense of balance. It’s hard to put the glass down but a grilled peppercorn steak pairing demands it.
Gramercy 2012 Inigo Montoya Tempranillo Walla Walla Valley $42 90 points
The spice, green herb, cedar, pepper and purple-fruit aromas are brooding and reserved, with a sprinkling of vanilla rounding it out. The elegant fruit and savory flavors show a fine sense of polish, with puckering tannins supporting it all. The focus is on elegance.
J. Bookwalter 2015 Old Vine Willard Vineyard Chenin Blanc Yakima Valley $NA 88 points
Aged in a mixture of concrete and stainless steel, this wine offers notes of melon, canteloupe and spice that intrigue. The just off-dry flavors are well balanced, possessing a textured feel.
J. Bookwalter 2013 Volume Three Red Blend Columbia Valley $100 91 points
All Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine offers reserved aromas of dried herbs, toffee and high-toned dark fruit. The black fruit flavors are full and generous but still elegant with a pronounced finish.
J. Bookwalter 2013 Chapter 6 Red Blend Columbia Valley $100 90 points
This wine is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (91%) along with pinches of Syrah and Merlot. The aromas of espresso, coffee grounds, fresh herbs and cherry pop, but don’t always seem entirely harmonious. The black fruit flavors are more reserved than the aromas might suggest but still deliver.
Kontos 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $38 90 points
Cocoa, vanilla and baking spice aromas intertwine with cranberry, black licorice, herb and dark fruit on a wine with a very distinctive aromatic profile. The cranberry and cherry flavors are quite soft for the variety, seeming a touch dried out at times but showing a pleasing sense of balance.
Kontos 2012 Merlot Walla Walla Valley $26 91 points
Aromas of baking spice, vanilla and dark cherry are followed by lush, thoroughly delicious cranberry and pit-fruit flavors that persist, with soft, plump tannins backing them up. It’s a hedonistic example of the variety: equal parts fruit and oak and 100% delicious.
Kontos 2012 Alatus Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $38 92 points
This wine is 37% each Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with the rest split equally between Malbec and Syrah. Reticent aromas of vanilla and baking spices lead to full-feeling dark-fruit flavors, backed by lightly grainy tannins. The hang time on the finish is downright outrageous.
Kontos 2012 Progeny Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $50 91 points
This wine is two thirds Cabernet Sauvignon with the balance being Merlot (25%) and Syrah. Vanilla, cocoa and dark fruit aromas lead to rich, well balanced fruit and barrel flavors that linger on the finish.
Kontos 2013 Les Collines Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $40 91 points
Coming from one of the state’s premier Syrah vineyards, this wine starts out aromatically reserved before blossoming to reveal notes of dark raspberry, dried cranberry, woodspice, vanilla and anise. It shows the warmth of the vintage with concentrated, black-fruit flavors backed by a light squeeze of tannins followed by a lengthy finish. The oak plays prominently but it works.
L’Ecole No. 41 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $32 89 points
Cedar, toast, herb, vanilla, barrel spice and dark cherry aromas are in the lead on this 100% varietal wine. The dark-fruit flavors are sumptuous and rich, backed up by a firm squeeze of slightly scratchy tannins, with coffee on the finish.
L’Ecole No. 41 2013 Merlot Columbia Valley $28 91 points
A variety of top sites are blended together for this wine, including Seven Hills, Bacchus, Dionysus, Klipsun and Pepper Bridge. It offers bright aromas of raspberries and chocolate, with herb and floral accents. The palate is flavorful and full, delivering a lot of enjoyment, with the tannins adding some heft.
L’Ecole No. 41 2013 Syrah Columbia Valley $24 90 points
The Grenache (20%) blended in shows itself with its aromas of raspberry and spice complementing Syrah’s blue fruit. The flavors are full bodied and lush, pulling no punches but staying in balance.
Nelms Road 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Washington $25 89 points
Herb, black currant, blackberry and vanilla aromas followed by sweet plump dark cherry and coffee flavors with a squeeze of tannins. It provides a lot of immediate appeal.
Ott & Murphy 2012 Boushey Vineyard Malbec Columbia Valley $27 88 points
Coming from a vineyard best known for its Syrah, this wine intrigues with aromas of black pepper, wood spice, earth and dark fruit. The dark-fruit flavors bring a sense of depth and texture.
Ott & Murphy 2013 Boushey Vineyard Marsanne Columbia Valley $27 84 points
Volatility provides distraction from the almond and peach aromas. The palate dips in the middle and seems to need more oomph.
Ott & Murphy 2013 Double Bluff Columbia Valley $21 89 points
This wine is a blend of Grenache (44%), Counoise (36%), Syrah (10%) and Cinsault. Quite pale in color, it offers appealing aromas of raspberries and cranberries along with smoke. The flavors are light and lithe, putting a premium on purity, trailing slightly toward the finish.
Ott & Murphy 2014 Possession Rhône-style White Blend Columbia Valley $19 85 points
A blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier, the aromas of wheat and almond are quite light. The flavors are elegant and offer promise but lack the concentration to deliver it.
Ott & Murphy 2012 Boushey Vineyard Syrah Columbia Valley $27 89 points
Coming from one of the state’s top Syrah sites, this wine brings aromas of dark fruit, iron and coffee. The fruit flavors are sweet and well proportioned, pulling up toward the finish.
Ott & Murphy 2013 Tempranillo Horse Heaven Hills $27 87 points
The aromas bring high-toned, somewhat unusual notes of herbs, vanilla, toffee and tire rubber. The berry flavors are ripe, with nutty accents and a squeeze of tannins.
Ott & Murphy 2013 Elephant Mountain Vineyard Viognier Rattlesnake Hills $27 86 points
The lees and peach aromas are quite light considering the variety. The stone-fruit flavors are reserved and pleasant, but the variety seems to get lost.
Pacific Rim 2014 Hahn Hill Vineyard Chenin Blanc Yakima Valley $14 89 points
Aromas of the underside of a pineapple and freshly cut mango are followed by just off-dry, exuberant tropical fruit flavors. It’s a mouthful of fruit that goes down easy. Best Buy
Pacific Rim 2014 Vin de Glacièr Made with Organic Grapes Riesling Horse Heaven Hills $14 90 points
The aromas of jasmine, apricot and bountiful white flowers are exuberant. It’s richly sweet with honeyed flavors while maintaining a lovely sense of balance.
Pacific Rim 2014 Wallula Vineyard Dry Riesling Horse Heaven Hills $14 88 points
Ripe apple, freshly cut pear and spice aromas lead to bone-dry fruit flavors with a tart finish. The concentration seems somewhat faint, but it brings a sense of elegance and balance, with a finish that persists.
Pacific Rim 2014 Solstice Vineyard Riesling Yakima Valley $24 88 points
Aromas of Bosc pear, apple, diesel and apricot lead to elegant fruit flavors. It drinks just a hair off dry. The concentration seems a bit wanting but what’s there is well balanced.
Passing Time 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $75 93 points
Discovery Vineyard Cab makes up most of this wine, with just a splash of Champoux vineyard Franc to fill it out. Very pretty, very focused aromas of spice box, red and black fruit and herb are followed by a fruit-forward, shamelessly appealing yet still elegant, balanced palate that puts a premium on purity, with a well integrated structure surrounding it all. Editor’s Choice
Patterson 2013 BDX Columbia Valley $34 88 points
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (46%), Cabernet Franc (24%), Merlot (22%) and Malbec. Aromas of dark fruit and spice are followed by cherry and black-fruit flavors, backed by lightly grainy tannins.
Patterson 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $45 90 points
The cocoa, herb and woodspice aromas are still quite locked up. The black cherry flavors are more revealing, showing a pleasing tartness and sense of elegance.
Patterson 2015 Melange Blanc White Blend Columbia Valley $25 88 points
This blend of Chardonnay (44%), Viognier (39%) and Roussanne (17%) has surprisingly light aromas of melon, peach and straw leading to full-feeling, tingly stone-fruit flavors. It wants more aromatically but the palate delivers the enjoyment.
Piggyback 2012 Syrah Yakima Valley $32 90 points
The aromas of boysenberry jam, dried cranberry and herbs are light, with the oak pulled back. The flavors are tart and bright, showing depth and richness with sharp, bright acids keeping it all in focus. It stands up on its own but will show best at the dinner table.
Pondera 2012 SVS Number Two Stillwater Creek Vineyard Columbia Valley $45 88 points
This blend is principally Cabernet Sauvignon (48%), Cabernet Franc (23%) and Merlot (20%), with the balance Petit Verdot and Malbec. Appealing aromas of toast, barrel spice, vanilla, black cherry and herb lead to tart red- and black-fruit flavors that flow down the middle of the palate, with lightly grainy tannins supporting them.
Pondera 2013 Red Wine Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley $32 89 points
Dineen Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills provides the fruit for this wine. The aromas of baking spice, herb, vanilla and poblano pepper are light while the flavors are elegant and creamy in feel. Coffee flavors linger on the finish.
Pondera 2012 Red Wine Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $36 88 points
A blend of Stillwater Creek and Dineen vineyard fruit, aromas of assorted dried herbs, coffee and barrel spices intermingle. The dark-fruit flavors are elegant, polished and reserved, supported by lightly grainy tannins.
Pursued by Bear 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $65 93 points
The aromas of cocoa, vanilla, coconut and dried herbs are still quite locked up, with the oak out front. The cherry flavors are dense, plush and layered, with vanilla and other barrel spices speckled throughout. It provides plenty of immediate appeal but will only benefit from some time in the cellar; best after 2019. Cellar Selection
Pursued by Bear 2012 Baby Bear Syrah Columbia Valley $60 90 points
Coming from two area standouts—Lewis and Phinny Hill vineyards—this wine shows appealing aromas and flavors of shaved coconut, Mounds Bar, cherry and baking spices. The barrel influence is prominent but it largely stands up to it.
Rôtie Cellars 2013 Homage Washington $48 91 points
Mourvèdre makes up three-quarters of this blend, with the balance Syrah and Grenache. Garrigue, spice and raspberry aromas lead to rich, focused plum flavors that put a premium on purity. Smoked meat and savory flavors intertwine on the finish. Editor’s Choice
Rôtie Cellars 2013 Southern Blend Washington $48 91 points
This wine is three-quarters Grenache with the balance Syrah (15%) and Mourvèdre. Quite light aromas of raspberries, wood spice, herbs and spice are followed by strikingly pure, creamy-feeling red-fruit flavors that persist on the finish. One wants more aromatic generosity but the palate’s appeal is hard to ignore.
Rôtie Cellars 2014 Southern White Washington $32 90 points
Half Viognier with the rest equal parts Marsanne and Roussanne, it’s aromatically expressive with notes of lime zest, honeysuckle, almond and white peach. The palate is flavorful yet delicate, showing an exquisite sense of balance that carries through the lingering finish. It’s subtle but if you pick up its nuances, there are plenty to find.
Rôtie Cellars 2014 Northern White Washington $32 88 points
This wine is all Marsanne fermented and aged in stainless steel. Aromatically reserved notes of almond, lees and candle wax lead to medium-full, well-balanced flavors that linger.
Sagelands 2014 Riesling Columbia Valley $9 85 points
The aromas of ripe peach, honeysuckle and jasmine are bright. It’s medium sweet and finishes with a floral soap flourish. It needs more acid to stand it up but goes down easy. Best Buy
Savage Grace 2014 Underwood Mountain Vineyard Riesling Columbia Gorge $21 89 pointsReserved green apple, lees, flower and mineral aromas lead to off-dry green apple and stone fruit flavors. The acidity gives the palate some snap.
Script 2012 Stage Right Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley $45 91 points
Hailing principally from Two Blondes Vineyard, the aromas of cocoa, savory herbs, pencil shavings, anise and spice are followed by fruit flavors so soft and plush you just want to sink into them. The finish lingers. It explores the variety’s more savory side.
Script 2012 Exordium Weinbau Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $55 90 points
The aromas of black fruit, vanilla and high-toned spice are brooding but display a sense of purity. The flavors are lighter styled, tart and supple, with bitters on the finish. Far from a big brawny bottle, it explores the variety’s nuance.
Script 2012 Turning Point Two Blondes Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $55 90 points
Savory herb, fresh tobacco, dark cherry and anise aromas lead to elegant, pitch black fruit flavors. It brings plenty of outright appeal but should truly reveal its charms at the dinner table.
Seven Hills 2013 Ciel du Cheval Vintage Red Mountain $45 91 points
This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (42%), Merlot (30%), Petit Verdot (14%) and Cabernet Franc. Complex aromas of toast, green herbs, fig, citrus, flowers and clove lead to rich but reserved flavors, with the tannins seeming bunched up. Give them time to stretch out. Best after 2020.
Seven Hills 2013 Klipsun Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $45 91 points
Brooding aromas of spice, mineral, green herb, cedar, cherry and a minty top note lead to sweet yet elegant black fruit flavors and firm, burly tannins that need time to stretch their legs. Best after 2020. Cellar Selection
Seven Hills 2013 Seven Hills Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $45 90 points
All varietal, the aromas come off as a bit green, with notes of leafy fresh herbs, green tea, cedar and spice that haven’t yet fully blossomed. The dark fruit flavors are generous while showing restraint and balance.
Seven Hills 2013 Seven Hills Vineyard Merlot Walla Walla Valley $40 91 points
Though Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc each make up just 3% of this wine, they seem to show themselves aromatically, with herb and floral notes that provide the backdrop for Merlot’s cocoa and cherry. The red fruit flavors are plump and juicy, backed by bright acid that leads to a long, fruit filled finish. It doesn’t always come off as completely varietal but it’s nearly impossible to resist all the same.
Tertulia 2012 Sobra Walla Walla Valley $24 88 points
Merlot makes up three quarters of this wine with the rest Cabernets Franc (17%) and Sauvignon. The Franc shows itself, with aromas of lightly leafy herbs that are followed by tire rubber, anise, vanilla and cherry. The cranberry and cherry flavors are sweet, with rustic tannins backing them up.
Tertulia 2012 Phinny Hill Vineyard Carmenère Horse Heaven Hills $40 89 points
There’s no mistaking the variety, with the hallmark aromas of jalapeño pepper, cayenne and herbs. The ample cherry flavors are sweet, with the tannins bringing some graininess.
Tertulia 2013 Estate Vineyards Syrah Walla Walla Valley $35 89 points
A blend of the winery’s Whistling Hills and Riviere Galets vineyards, this wine brings aromas of funk, coffee, tire rubber, blue fruit and smoke. The cranberry and cherry notes are sweet and full flavored, hanging on the finish.
Tertulia 2012 Whistling Hills Estate Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $35 87 points
Viognier (10%) announces itself first with aromas of flowers and orange peel that are followed by smoke, leather and spice on a wine that has yet to fully reveal itself. The cranberry and cherry flavors are full in feel, tapering toward the finish.
Three of Cups 2013 Le Bateleur Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $40 87 points
Herb, red apple, copper penny and dark cherry aromas are followed by sweet, full dark cherry flavors. The tannins are firm, needing some time to soften.
Three of Cups 2013 Le Chariot Red Blend Red Mountain $28 85 points
This wine is half Syrah with the rest equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. Aromas of wet copper penny and herb are followed by sweet blue fruit flavors supported by firm tannins. The varieties seem to tussle.
Three of Cups 2013 Le Justice Yakima Valley $32 87 points
Grenache and Mourvèdre (40% each) are the primary components in this blend with Syrah filling out the rest. It offers unusual aromas of orange peel, lemon and herbs that lead to plentiful raspberry and tart cranberry flavors with a soft mouthfeel that brings appeal.
Two Vintners 2013 Lola Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $30 90 points
This wine is just under two-thirds Syrah with the balance Cabernet Sauvignon. The first vintage to bear this appellation designation, it offers reserved aromas of stems, high-toned herbs and minerals that lead to a sultry, savory, full-flavored palate. It still seems quite closed at present but brings plenty of intrigue.
Waterbrook 2014 Melange Founder’s White Blend Columbia Valley $13 87 points
This wine is a blend of seven varieties with Riesling, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer making up the bulk. It starts out reduced before opening to reveal aromas of white flowers, jasmine, lychee and peach. The palate drinks off dry, with a panoply of fruit flavors that provide plenty of easy-drinking pleasure.
Woodward Canyon 2013 Estate Barbera Walla Walla Valley $29 89 points
This 100% varietal wine offers aromas of coffee, mixed berries, spice, pencil eraser and herbs. The tart fruit flavors are generous and full, leading to cranberry flavors that carry on the finish. The oak seems primary but it still brings enjoyment.
Woodward Canyon 2013 Charbonneau Walla Walla County $89 92 points
A blend of just over two-thirds Cabernet Sauvignon along with Merlot (26%) and Petit Verdot (7%), this wine beguiles with its brooding aromas of spice, toffee, dark fruit and scorched earth. The flavors are layered, bringing a real sense of gravitas along with a compelling mouthfeel and sense of balance. The black-fruit flavors linger. It’s all about finesse.
Woodward Canyon 2014 Chardonnay Washington $44 91 points
This wine is near equal parts Celilo and Estate vineyards. Nuanced aromas of toast, pear, apple, straw and spice are followed by flavorful, yet still restrained stone fruit and spice flavors with a zip of acidity. It’s a very pretty, very beautiful expression of the variety. Editor’s Choice