Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for July 2018. 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. Read instructions on how to find Washington wine reviews at Wine Enthusiast here.
132 wines reviewed in the July issue of Wine Enthusiast. Avennia has (deservedly) gotten a lot of attention for its Bordeaux-style wines. However, the winery’s Rhone-style offerings are also not to be missed (Avennia 2015 Justine Columbia Valley $38, 92 points).
Old vine Chenin Blanc is quickly disappearing in Washington, with only 30 acres remaining when there were close to 200 just a few short years ago. Wines like the Block Wines 2016 Old Vine Gnarl Block Rothrock Vineyard Chenin Blanc Yakima Valley ($20, 90 points) bear witness to how truly sad the loss of these vines is.
Gramercy Cellars keeps humming along making top quality wines (Gramercy 2015 The Deuce Syrah Walla Walla Valley $54 92 points; Gramercy 2015 L’Idiot du Village Mourvèdre Columbia Valley $42 92 points). While best known for their Rhone offerings, the Cabernet Sauvignons are both high quality and show the variety’s more subtle side (Gramercy 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $50, 91 points; Gramercy 2014 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $95, 92 points).
Kevin White Winery continues to offer high quality and value (Kevin White 2015 DuBrul Vineyard Red Blend Yakima Valley $40, 92 points). Their nano-produced first offering of Grenache (Kevin White 2015 Pionnier Boushey Vineyard Red Blend Yakima Valley $35, 94 points) is one of the wines of the vintage.
Year in, year out, Mike Januik at Novelty Hill makes some of the state’s best Sauvignon Blanc (Novelty Hill 2016 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $20, 91 points).
Meanwhile, Sleight of Hand Cellars continues to hit home runs with its offerings from Stoney Vine Vineyard (Sleight of Hand 2015 Psychedelic Stoney Vine Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $60, 94 points).
The value side is all about rosé this month. Check out the Underground Wine Project 2017 And Why Am I Mr. Pink? Rosé Columbia Valley ($13, 89 points); Charles & Charles 2017 Rosé Columbia Valley ($12, 90 points); and Renegade 2017 Rosé Columbia Valley ($12, 89 points).
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Airfield Estates 2016 Dauntless Bordeaux-style Red Blend Yakima Valley $18 87 points
This wine is principally Merlot (62%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), with the rest pinches of Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Expressive aromas of huckleberry, jalapeño pepper, cherry and wood spice lead to sweet plump fruit flavors, with lightly grainy tannins providing support. It’s enjoyable but comes off as quite green.
Airfield Estates 2016 Chardonnay Yakima Valley $15 87 points
The aromas jump up, with notes of lemon zest, cream and white peach that lead to rounded melon and stone fruit flavors. It brings appeal.
Airfield Estates 2015 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $30 88 points
Aromas of tire rubber, green pepper, blackberry and sweet barrel spice are followed by ripe fruit flavors that finish a bitter touch. The tannins dry out the finish.
Airfield Estates 2017 Sauvignon Blanc Yakima Valley $15 88 points
The aromas pop, with notes of green flower, bountiful citrus peel, fresh herb, kiwi and scooped honeydew melon. The broad feeling but lighter styled kiwi flavors bring appeal, with a pink-grapefruit snap on the finish.
Airfield Estates 2015 H. Lloyd Miller Founders Series Bordeaux-style Red Blend Yakima Valley $50 87 points
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 66% of this wine, with the balance 23% Merlot along with smidgens of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. The aromas bring notes of roasted green pepper, raspberry, clove and cherry, leaning into the green. The dry lighter-styled palate shows more of the same, along with a quite smoky finish. The tannins bring some astringency.
Airfield Estates 2015 Hellcat Red Blend Yakima Valley $28 87 points
This wine is a blend of Tempranillo (81%) and Syrah. Aromas of pencil eraser, cherry, sweet herb and spice are followed by a tight core of fruit flavors with a smoky finish. Firm, lightly grainy tannins provide support.
Airfield Estates 2015 Bordeaux-style Red Blend Yakima Valley $18 87 points
Principally Cabernet Sauvignon (57%) and Merlot (33%) it is finished off with Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. In this red cocoa, cherry, herb, flower and tire-rubber aromas are followed by soft plump-feeling fruit flavors. The tannins bring a slightly gritty feel.
Aluvé 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $48 86 points
The aromas and flavors bring notes of sliced green pepper, cherry, herb and baking spice. There’s interest but it all doesn’t seem fully ripe and the concentration appears a bit light.
Aluvé 2015 Estate Menozzi Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $52 87 points
Oak aromas are at the fore, with notes of vanilla and baking spice taking over, along with a light meaty note. The palate shows more of the same, with lighter-styled cranberry flavors working to get to the surface. The fruit seems overmatched for the oak.
Auclair 2015 Right Blend Artz Vineyard Bordeaux-style Red Blend Red Mountain $38 88 points
This wine is two-thirds Merlot, with the balance Cabernet Franc. The aromas bring notes of golden raisin box, cedar, anise, mineral and cherry, seeming a bit dried out. The palate offers a fine sense of structure.
Auclair 2015 Left Blend Artz Vineyard Bordeaux-style Red Blend Red Mountain $48 88 points
Three-quarters Cabernet Sauvignon, with the balance Cabernet Franc (19%) and Merlot, aromas of plum, dried cherry, smoke, golden raisin and dried herb lead to slightly sweet-seeming fruit flavors backed by highly structured acid and tannins. There are lots of good things going on but the fruit seems ever so slightly desiccated.
Avennia 2015 Gravura Columbia Valley $38 91 points
This wine is near equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, with the balance Cabernet Franc. Coming from a who’s who of vineyards, the aromas are expressive, with notes of leafy dried herb, graphite, raspberry, cherry, toast, scorched earth, dark coffee and mineral. The palate shows an assortment of sweet red- and black-fruit flavors that display an exquisite sense of balance and polish. It’s a superb value with a long life ahead of it. Editor’s Choice
Avennia 2015 Justine Columbia Valley $38 92 points
This wine is 55% Grenache, 32% Mourvèdre and 13% Syrah, coming from Upland, Heart of the Hill and Oldfield respectively. Somewhat lighter in color, the aromas start out brooding with notes of raspberry, high-toned dried herb, mineral, pomegranate and cherry emerging over time. Ripe in style reflecting the warm vintage it comes from, the palate is packed full of red- and blue-fruit flavors that have a seamless feel with generous spice and herb accents throughout. It shows a lovely sense of purity on the fruit-filled finish. Editor’s Choice
Betz Family 2015 Possibility Red Blend Columbia Valley $35 90 points
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (41%), Syrah (39%), Petit Verdot (15%) and Merlot, the aromas are fruit forward, with notes of raspberry compote and plum along with thyme and other herbs. The palate is chock-full of plump fruit flavors backed by soft tannins.
Betz Family 2015 Clos de Betz Columbia Valley $60 91 points
This wine is a blend of 75% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot. Somewhat lighter in color, the aromas bring notes of cedar, raspberry, cherry, thyme, pencil eraser, flower and exotic spice. The palate shows restraint and finesse, especially considering the warmth of the vintage. It’s a pretty, understated wine that should cellar well.
Betz Family 2015 Père de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $75 92 points
Appealing aromas of bay leaf, cherry, herb, bittersweet chocolate, incense and spice are followed by an action-packed palate, loaded with sweet, polished, elegant fruit flavors. Well-integrated tannins provide support. All about sophistication and delicacy, it shows a remarkable amount of freshness and focus considering the warmth of the vintage. Anise and currant notes linger on the finish. Best after 2026 with a very long life in front of it. Cellar Selection
Block Wines 2016 Old Vine Gnarl Block Rothrock Vineyard Chenin Blanc Yakima Valley $20 90 points
Old-vine Chenin Blanc is rapidly slipping away in Washington as growers rip out vines for more profitable varieties. It’s a shame as it can excel here, as this wine shows. Coming in at an almost unheard of alcohol level for the state, aromas of poached pear, apple, lees, citrus and spice are followed by bone-dry, sleek, tart flavors with a lemony finish. The acids are downright racy. It needs some food alongside it to be properly appreciated but it delivers. Editor’s Choice
Block Wines 2015 Block 1 Discovery Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $55 90 points
This wine, which is 100% varietal, saw no new oak, and was aged for 21 months in 500 liter, once-used puncheons. The aromas are bright, with notes of black-cherry meats, fresh and dried herb, scorched earth, whole green pepper and anise. The palate is lighter styled, wound up initially, with the fruit surrounded by tightly wrapped tannins, framed by bright acidity. It needs a bit of time to settle in but it has all of the stuffing.
Board Track Racer 2016 The Chief Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $28 89 points
This is an early Cabernet release from the 2016 vintage. Aromas of vanilla, huckleberry, herb and spice are followed by juicy ripe blue-fruit flavors that lead to a silky finish that carries. It doesn’t necessarily scream Cabernet but the appeal is hard to ignore.
Board Track Racer 2015 The Shift Red Blend Columbia Valley $28 86 points
This wine is mostly Syrah (88%) finished off with Mourvèdre. Unusual, not entirely appealing aromas of barbeque sauce, smoked ribs and medicine cabinet lead to flat-seeming fruit flavors.
Board Track Racer 2016 The Vincent Bordeaux-style Red Blend Columbia Valley $20 88 points
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up just about two-thirds of this wine, with the balance Merlot and Malbec. Blue fruit, anise, herb and spice aromas are at the fore. The palate boasts soft fruit flavors that linger on the finish.
Board Track Racer 2016 The Vincent Chardonnay Columbia Valley $15 88 points
The aromas bring fresh notes of lemon zest and yellow apple. The palate is full bodied and lightly creamy in feel, with roasted corn notes on the finish.
Bridgman 2016 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $12 84 points
Aromas of canned corn and spice lead to medium-bodied but light-seeming fruit flavors with metallic accents and a sweet finish. It doesn’t all work.
Bridgman 2016 Riesling Columbia Valley $13 87 points
There’s no mistaking the variety, with its aromas of honeysuckle, ripe peach and jasmine. It drinks off dry, with easy-drinking stone-fruit flavors that drop off a bit on the back half.
Burnt Bridge 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $45 86 points
With fruit coming from Les Collines Vineyard, aromas of green pepper, tire rubber, baking spice and cherry are followed by slightly sweet-seeming fruit flavors. Soft tannins provide support. It doesn’t all come together.
Cana’s Feast 2013 Two Rivers Bordeaux-style Red Blend Columbia Valley $18 86 points
This blend of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot comes from various vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills and Red Mountain. Aromas of raspberry jam, cranberry, tire rubber and cherry are followed by lighter-styled cranberry flavors that show a sense of restraint. Herb and raspberry flavors linger on the finish.
Cana’s Feast 2013 Slide Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $45 87 points
Aromas of green wood, green herb, tire rubber, baking spice, mint and cherry lead to medium-bodied fruit flavors that dip in the middle. Orange-peel notes linger on the finish. It wants a bit more acid and tannin structure to stand it up.
Charles & Charles 2017 Rosé Columbia Valley $12 90 points
This wine is a pretty, pale-salmon color. Aromas of strawberry bubblegum, herb, tropical fruit and citrus peel lead to dry fruit flavors, full of papaya, guava and pink-grapefruit notes with a tart finish. It flat-out delivers. Best Buy
Co Dinn 2015 French Creek Vineyard Chardonnay Yakima Valley $45 89 points
This wine comes from 35-year-old vines. Aged on lees for 17 months with 100% malolactic fermentation, aromas of clarified butter, lees, peach, cream, corn silk and spice are followed by medium-bodied fruit flavors that show a pleasing sense of elegance, despite the warmth of the vintage. The lees influence seems a bit intense.
Columbia Winery 2016 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $14 86 points
This is mostly varietal with a splash of Pinot Gris, Viognier and other varieties that occasionally show themselves. Aromas of lemon curd, cut apple, vanilla, flower and talc lead to soft pear and apple flavors with a lightly oily feel.
Columbia Winery 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $16 87 points
High-toned smoke, char, baking spice, berry and herb aromas are followed by plentiful currant, plum and vanilla flavors, with a crème de cassis finish. The tannins are surprisingly soft for the variety.
Columbia Winery 2015 Merlot Columbia Valley $16 86 points
Lighter in color, the aromas bring unusual notes of seaweed, cherry, wet penny and exotic spice. The palate is full of ripe raspberry and red-cherry flavors with a short finish. If the aromas and flavors sync up, it might move up a notch or two.
Columbia Winery 2015 Vision Red Blend Columbia Valley $NA 88 points
This wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Aromas of plum, raspberry jam, white pepper and barrel spice lead to full-bodied fruit flavors. Raspberry and plum notes linger on the slightly candied finish.
Columbia Winery 2015 Cabernet Franc Horse Heaven Hills $0 87 pointsCaramel, cherry, plum, green pepper, herb, black pepper, tire rubber and wood spice are followed by sweet plump strawberry and plum flavors. It’s an unusual offering of this variety.
Doubleback 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $97 91 points
This wine is a blend of fruit from estate sites McQueen, Bob Healey and Lefore along with Pepper Bridge. The aromas draw you into the glass, with notes of high cacao chocolate, spice, bay leaf, dried flower, cassis, raspberry, herb and cherry, showing pleasing complexities. The black-currant, cherry and spice flavors coat the palate, bringing a sense of richness but still restraint and vibrancy.
Doubleback 2016 Chardonnay Walla Walla Valley $75 89 points
Chardonnay is an extreme rarity in the valley, with this example coming from Kenny Hill Vineyard in the Mill Creek area. Aged in 35% new French oak and 15% concrete tulips, aromas of freshly peeled tangerine, citrus, ripe peach and honeysuckle lead to medium-bodied fruit flavors, with vibrant tangerine and stone-fruit notes on the finish. Much more reminiscent in some respects to a Viognier, it’s a unique example of this variety and region that shows promise.
Dumas Station 2014 Merlot Walla Walla Valley $32 89 points
Aged in just 30% new oak, the aromas offer appealing notes of vanilla, red raspberry, cedar and cocoa. The flavors are plump, soft and pure, pulling up ever so slightly on the vanilla-filled finish.
Dumas Station 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $38 89 points
This blend of fruit from Minnick Hills and Birch Creek vineyard was aged in 40% new American and French oak. Aromas of green wood, spice, vanilla, black cherry, herb and plum lead to a sweet, fruitful palate. The concentration tapers a bit toward the finish, which is filled with vanilla notes. It seems a little green.
Full Pull & Friends 2012 Olsen Vineyard Grenache Yakima Valley $34 89 points
Lighter in color, the aromas pop, with notes of green olive, potpourri, green herb and orange peel. The flavors bring a light, elegant styling, providing a lot of interest but not fully delivering on the aroma’s promise. Citrus flavors linger on the finish. It’s a pretty interpretation of this variety.
Gramercy 2015 The Third Man Grenache Columbia Valley $36 92 points
This wine is three-quarters Grenache, balanced by Syrah (15%), Mourvèdre (5%) and Carignan. Lighter in color with a reddish tinge, dried and fresh herb, raspberry, plum, dried orange-peel, smoked-meat and mineral aromas are at the fore, bringing a delightful sense of purity. The palate is all about delicacy of the red-fruit flavors, showing a reserved styling. An extended juicy finish caps it off.
Gramercy 2015 The Deuce Syrah Walla Walla Valley $54 92 points
A blend of fruit from Forgotten Hills and Les Collines using 85% whole cluster, the aromas leap up, with notes of fresh parsley, plum, heaping amounts of fresh and dried herb, violet and cured meat showing a lot of nuance. The smoked-meat and red-fruit flavors are reserved in style, bringing a strong sense of tannic structure that needs time to fully settle in. Best after 2022.
Gramercy 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $50 91 points
Aromas of dried herb, raspberry, moist earth and pencil lead are followed by soft elegant red- and black-fruit flavors. It shows a very pretty, understated styling, with a fine sense of acidity backing it up. Raspberry flavors linger on the finish. There’s a wonderful sense of freshness to it, and it has a very long life in front of it. Cellar Selection
Gramercy 2014 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $95 92 points
On the winery’s third reserve designated Cabernet, aromas of freshly tilled soil, dried herb, red and black cherry, graphite and crushed rock are followed by reserved fruit flavors with a fresh cranberry finish. Lip-smacking tightly wound tannins provide support. The structure is impressive. It needs time to show its stuff. Best after 2026, but it should have 20 years of excellent drinking in it. Cellar Selection
Gramercy 2014 Syrah Columbia Valley $36 91 points
This wine is a blend of Oldfield and Minnick vineyards in the Yakima Valley and Forgotten Hills and Old Stones in Walla Walla Valley. Aromas of red and black raspberries, anise, olives, smoked meat, high-toned herb and flower are followed by pure, textured red-fruit flavors that dance across the palate. It’s a pretty expression of the variety.
Gramercy 2015 John Lewis Syrah Walla Walla Valley $85 93 points
All Les Collines Vineyard from blocks 36 and 46 with 100% whole cluster, the aromas stop you in your tracks, with notes of freshly chopped parsley, cured meat, potpourri, olive, violet and crushed rock. The palate is full of light tart herb and smoked-meat flavors backed by hefty tannins that need a good bit of time to resolve. It brings a sense of freshness and vibrancy, needing significant time in the cellar to be fully appreciated. Best from 2026–2031. Cellar Selection
Gramercy 2017 Olsen Vineyard Rosé Columbia Valley $25 90 points
Cinsault (44%) makes up the largest percentage of this wine, followed by Grenache (31%) and Syrah. A pretty pale-salmon color, the aromas are light, with notes of herb and strawberry that are followed by tart, nuanced fruit and herb flavors that possess a lovely feel.
Gramercy 2015 L’Idiot du Village Mourvèdre Columbia Valley $42 92 points
A mixture of Olsen and Alder Ridge vineyards, this lighter-colored wine is brooding on first pour, with aromas of fresh parsley, crushed flower, dried herb, mineral, orange peel, smoked meat and raspberry emerging over time. The palate shows a fresh light styling, with a meaty peppery finish. It’s a very pretty expression of the variety, with an impressive sense of balance and sophistication. Editor’s Choice
Gramercy 2014 Inigo Montoya Tempranillo Walla Walla Valley $42 91 points
A blend of fruit from Gramercy Estate, Les Collines and Olsen vineyards, this wine was aged in a mixture of new and neutral American and French oak. The aromas are reserved, with notes of spice, raspberry, graphite and red cherry along with pleasing herb accents. The flavors show a lot of nuance and sophistication along with a tart finish laced with orange peel notes. Soft tannins provide support. It’s a winner.
Gravel Bar 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $20 86 points
Black raspberry, plum, herb, tart, mesquite and cherry aromas are followed by lightly smoky flavors that seem out of place. It doesn’t all come together.
Gravel Bar 2015 Alluvial Bordeaux-style Red Blend Columbia Valley $20 86 points
Cabernet Sauvignon (35%), Merlot (30%), Cabernet Franc (15%), Malbec and Petit Verdot make up this wine. Aromas of ripe black currant, cigar box, dried herb and black cherry are followed by lightly sweet, smoky fruit flavors. It brings a tacky feel.
Gravel Bar 2014 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $18 88 points
Aromas of cream, mandarin orange, custard, clarified butter, toast and spice are followed by lightly creamy fruit flavors that dance across the palate. It shows a nuanced touch.
Gravel Bar 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $46 86 points
The aromas bring notes of mesquite and fruit leather, seeming a bit dried out, with the palate showing more of the same. It doesn’t all work.
Helix by Reininger 2014 Pomatia Red Blend Columbia Valley $22 87 points
Syrah (39%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (36%) take the lead on this wine, with the balance Merlot (18%) and Cabernet Franc. The aromas bring appeal, with notes of plum, wheat and assorted dried herb. The flavors are plump in feel but still elegant, wanting a bit more tannic structure to fully stand them up. Blue-fruit flavors linger on the finish.
Idilico 2016 Albariño Yakima Valley $15 88 points
Coming from Dutchman Vineyard in the Yakima Valley, aromas of muscat, dried orange peel, honeydew melon rind and citrus are followed by full-feeling lightly spritzy tropical fruit flavors. It delivers appeal.
Kestrel 2013 Winemakers Select Series Tribute Red Blend Yakima Valley $45 85 points
This is an unusual blend of Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Mourvèdre and Sangiovese. The aromas bring notes of cranberry, raspberry, medicine cabinet and herb. The cranberry flavors are soft and reserved, with ground cranberry notes on the finish.
Kestrel 2014 Winemaker’s Select Series Malbec Yakima Valley $45 86 points
With all of the fruit coming from Kestrel Vineyard, aromas of baking spice, anise, cherry, medicine cabinet and plum lead to elegantly styled fruit flavors that taper toward the finish. It’s surprisingly dialed back considering the warmth of the vintage.
Kestrel 2013 Winemaker’s Select Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $45 87 points
The aromas are fresh, with notes of whole green pepper, dark cherry, cocoa and wisps of vanilla and other oak spices. There’s a lot of smoothness to the fruit flavors, which lean into the savory, with abundant green-pepper flavors that taper toward the cranberry and spice-filled finish.
Kestrel 2014 Winemaker’s Select Series Mourvèdre Yakima Valley $45 86 points
Sourced from Olsen Vineyard, this wine offers aromas of dried cherry, golden raisin and barrel spice. The fruit flavors are lighter in style, soft and palate coating, with bitter notes on the finish.
Kestrel 2014 Winemakers Select Series Co-ferment Syrah Yakima Valley $21 85 points
Cofermented with 7% Viognier, fresh flower, dried orange peel, black licorice, fruit leather and spice aromas are followed by restrained fruit flavors that pull up on the finish.
Kestrel 2014 Estate Syrah Yakima Valley $25 86 points
Unusual aromas of anise, peanut shell, orange peel, medicine cabinet and fruit leather lead to medium-bodied fruit flavors. It shows a pleasantly restrained styling.
Kestrel 2014 Falcon Series Estate Sangiovese Yakima Valley $25 84 points
Aromas of baking spice, vanilla, fruit leather and medicine cabinet lead to tart cherry and spice flavors, with the concentration a bit dilute. The variety seems hard to find.
Kestrel 2014 Falcon Series Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $25 85 points
Lighter in color, aromas of baking spice, anise, cherry lollipop, game and medicine cabinet lead to lighter-styled fruit flavors. It all seems a bit dried out.
Kestrel 2014 Falcon Series Merlot Yakima Valley $25 85 points
The aromas are light, with notes of baking spice, red currant, herb and tire rubber that seem a little unsettled. The plum flavors are light and fall a bit flat.
Kestrel 2013 Super Yakima Red Blend Yakima Valley $50 85 points
The anise, cranberry, cherry and spice aromas seem a bit dried out. The cranberry and raspberry flavors are soft and light, with medicinal flavors on the finish.
Kevin White 2015 DuBrul Vineyard Red Blend Yakima Valley $40 92 points
Coming from one of the state’s top vineyards, this wine is a blend of Merlot (52%) and Cabernet Sauvignon. The aromas pop, with achingly pure notes of raspberry, assorted dried herb, pie cherry, blueberry and spice. The palate shows finesse and grace, with silky fruit flavors and velvety tannins, with savory notes on a finish that won’t quit. It’s a flat-out gorgeous, exquisitely understated interpretation of this vineyard. Editor’s Choice
Kevin White 2015 Pionnier Boushey Vineyard Rhône-style Red Blend Yakima Valley $35 94 points
This blend of 90% Grenache, 5% Syrah and 5% Mourvèdre is a new offering from the winery. Lighter in color, the aromas are arresting, with notes of orange peel, raspberry, green olive, mineral, fresh chopped parsley, white pepper, herb, potpourri and whiffs of smoked meat. There’s a compelling sense of purity to the flavors and feel of the raspberry, cherry and meat notes along with a crazy-long orange peel, meat and raspberry-filled finish. It’s a complete knee buckler, all about delicacy. Best after 2022. Cellar Selection
Kevin White 2016 Rhône-style Red Blend Yakima Valley $20 90 points
A blend of 45% Syrah, 32% Grenache and 23% Mourvèdre, it brings notes of brambly berry, smoked meat, flower, strawberry, cherry, pomegranate and a whiff of black pepper. The flavors are full and juicy, generous and pure. Orange-peel notes linger on the finish. Best by 2021.
Komodo Dragon 2014 Red Blend Columbia Valley $19 87 points
This wine is 49% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 21% Syrah. The aromas offer notes of plum, herb and plentiful exotic spice, along with a whiff of tire rubber. The palate mixes lighter-styled blue- and black-fruit flavors that taper toward the finish.
L’Ecole No. 41 2017 Alder Ridge Vineyard Grenache Rosé Horse Heaven Hills $22 88 points
This vineyard-designated rosé brings aromas of strawberry, orange blossom and sweet herb. The palate is packed full of broad-feeling fruit flavors that deliver enjoyment.
L’Ecole No. 41 2015 Merlot Columbia Valley $25 88 points
This is a true pan-Washington Merlot, with fruit coming from nine vineyards across the state. Blended with a good whack of Cabernet Franc (13%) which reveals itself, baking-spice, plum, raspberry and herb aromas are followed by soft ripe fruit flavors, with the tannins pulled back. Herb and raspberry notes linger on the tart finish.
L’Ecole No. 41 2015 Perigee Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Grown Bordeaux-style Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $55 91 points
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 56% of this blend, with the balance Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. It’s locked up on first pour, with notes of barrel spice, dark chocolate, graphite, cassis, green herb and purple flower. The palate brings abundant cherry flavors backed by brawny, slightly astringent tannins. It shows a lot more tannic heft than this vineyard is often known for, needing significant time to settle in. Best after 2024.
L’Ecole No. 41 2015 Estate Grown Ferguson Vineyard Walla Walla Valley $65 93 points
This winery’s young estate vineyard is proving itself to be a special spot. This is a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 7% Malbec. The brooding aromas of dark cherry, cassis, fresh and dried herb, incense, luxurious oak spices (50% new French), mineral, pencil lead, flower and scorched earth lead to a flavorful but exceptionally well-balanced palate that shows sophistication. The tannins are highly structured but also bring a sense of polish. It has the stuffing to go the distance but needs significant time to settle in. Best from 2028–2034. Cellar Selection
L’Ecole No. 41 2015 Estate Grown Seven Hills Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $37 90 points
Aromas of raspberry jam, huckleberry and generous spice accents lead to full-bodied fruit flavors backed by soft tannins. It’s a rich, ripe charmer.
L’Ecole No. 41 2015 Syrah Columbia Valley $25 90 points
This wine is a blend of fruit from Seven Hills, Candy Mountain, Summit View, Bacchus and Stone Tree vineyards. Aromas of raspberry and blackberry jam are followed by ripe rich fruit flavors and a warm finish. There’s no mistaking the warm vintage that it comes from.
Lone Birch 2016 Pinot Gris Yakima Valley $12 85 points
The aromas offer notes of canned peach, apple and spice that are followed by off-dry fruit flavors. It’s a straightforward easy drinker.
Lone Birch 2017 Rosé Yakima Valley $12 87 points
Pale-peach colored, the aromas bring notes of herb and cherry candy. It drinks off dry, with broad-feeling fruit flavors. Best Buy
Lone Birch 2016 Riesling Yakima Valley $12 86 points
Orange blossom and ripe peach aromas are followed by straightforward off-dry flavors of stone fruit and orange. It delivers easy-drinking enjoyment.
Lone Birch 2016 Chardonnay Yakima Valley $12 89 points
Expressive aromas of freshly cut red apple, pear, white peach, star fruit, cantaloupe, white-grapefruit skin and flower lead to crisp spritely fruit flavors with a tart lemony finish. It brings a whole lot of enjoyment for the price. Best Buy
Manu Propria 2014 Ex Animo Red Willow Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $40 91 points
This is a side project from Mark Ryan winemaker Mike Macmorran, focusing on fruit from one of the state’s top vineyards. Blended with 8% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc, the aromas bring notes of sweet dried herb, dried leaf, pink peppercorn and black cherry, not fully ready to reveal their charms. The flavors are quite restrained, mixing fruit and savory notes with sneaky structure. It’s a very pretty expression of this variety that calls out to the Old World and should have a long life ahead of it. Editor’s Choice
Mark Ryan 2015 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $65 90 points
This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Klipsun, Ciel du Cheval, Red Willow and Phinney Hill vineyards, The aromas are high toned on first pour, with the notes of cherry, spice, pencil lead and bay leaf not quite ready to reveal their charms but showing nuance over time. The flavors are tart and dry, showing a classic styling along with fine-grained tannins. It needs a few years in the cellar to settle in and stretch out.
Mark Ryan 2016 Viognier Columbia Valley $30 88 points
A blend of fruit from Olsen and Red Willow vineyards, this offers aromas of orange blossom, ripe peach, toast and spice. The medium-bodied palate brings stone-fruit flavors that dip slightly in the middle, finishing bitter. This variety can be a difficult needle to thread, with this one not quite pulling it off.
Mark Ryan 2015 The Dissident Columbia Valley $38 90 points
This wine is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Coming from top quality vineyards, the aromas are exuberant, with notes of blackberry, bittersweet chocolate and toast along with dried herb and luxurious barrel accents. The black-fruit flavors coat the palate, showing depth and intensity along with a firm tannic spine.
Mark Ryan 2015 Long Haul Columbia Valley $55 91 points
This wine is mostly Merlot (84%), with the balance smidgens of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. With fruit coming from Quintessence, Red Willow, Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun and Olsen vineyards, the aromas leap up, with notes of toast, raspberry, earth, coffee bean, bittersweet chocolate and spice that show a lot of detail. The cherry and coffee flavors are polished and seamless in feel, lingering on the finish.
Mark Ryan 2015 Lonely Heart Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $95 92 points
This is 100% varietal. The fruit for this wine hails from Obelisco, Klipsun and Olsen vineyards. Almost completely closed up on first pour, it opens to reveal aromas of the blackest of cherry, crème de cassis, graphite, fresh herb and luxurious barrel spicing (88% new French). The flavors are rich and ripe but still reserved, showing a very appealing sense of balance, with the tannins combed to a fine sheen. An impressively long finish caps it off. It should have a long life ahead of it.
Mark Ryan 2015 Water Witch Bordeaux-style Red Blend Red Mountain $58 91 points
With all of the fruit coming from Quintessence Vineyard from vines planted in 2012 for the winery, this blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. The aromas start out high toned, with notes of generous barrel spice, assorted herb, black currant, graphite, scorched earth, cocoa and dark plum. The flavors are reserved in style, broadening over time, showing a lot of sophistication.
Mark Ryan 2015 Wild Eyed Syrah Red Mountain $48 91 points
Mostly coming from Angela’s and Ciel du Cheval Vineyard along with a dash of Olsen, the aromas exude notes of spice, orange peel, flower, olive, iron and huckleberry. The palate is chock-full of raspberry and blue-fruit flavors that persist on the finish. It’s a delicious ripe interpretation of this variety.
Mark Ryan 2015 Dead Horse Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $58 91 points
A blend of fruit from Quintessence, Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun and Obelisco vineyards, the aromas draw you into the glass, with notes of luxurious barrel spice, black-cherry meats, high-cacao chocolate, blackberry, high-toned herb, crème de cassis, dried earth, coffee and graphite. The palate is loaded with sweet cherry flavors that display a slightly linear styling at first, fleshing out a bit over time.
Mark Ryan 2016 Olsen Vineyard Chardonnay Yakima Valley $40 90 points
This is Mark Ryan’s first offering of this wine, coming from vines planted for the winery in 2013. A blend of three different clones, aromas of lees, peach, lemon curd and spice lead to creamy well-balanced flavors that lead to an impressively long finish. It’s equal parts promise and delivery.
Mark Ryan 2015 Little Sister Merlot Columbia Valley $75 88 points
This is a new offering from the winery. Almost all varietal with just a splash of Cabernet Franc (3%) coming from Quintessence and Red Willow vineyards, the aromas of toast, spice, cedar, black raspberry and dried herb aren’t entirely revealing. The palate seems a bit linear and wound up. Perhaps some time will flesh it out?
Maryhill 2014 Kiona Vineyards Merlot Red Mountain $42 86 points
Not entirely appealing aromas of green wood, macerated cranberry and cherry lead to wood-dominated fruit flavors (60% new French). The oak takes over the show, completely overwhelming the variety.
Maryhill 2016 Proprietor’s Reserve McKinley Springs Vineyard Roussanne Columbia Valley $18 87 points
Examples of this variety are a relative rarity in the state. Aromas of cinnamon, herb and pear lead to medium-bodied fruit flavors with slightly bitter finish.
Maryhill 2014 McKinley Springs Vineyard Petit Verdot Horse Heaven Hills $32 87 points
This wine is aged in 50% new oak. The aromas are of exotic barrel spice, herb, smoke, blackberry and cherry. They are followed by full-bodied compact fruit flavors backed by firm tannins and mouthwatering acidity. It needs some time to stretch its legs.
Maryhill 2016 Proprietor’s Reserve Oregon Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir Columbia Valley $36 86 points
Pale in color, the aromas bring notes of moss, caramel, sweet herb, peppermint, wood spice and strawberry. The flavors are quite light and elegant, lacking the concentration to fully deliver and seeming a little clunky.
Maryhill 2017 Rosé of Sangiovese Columbia Valley $16 85 points
Electric pink, the aromas deliver notes of cherry and mint. It drinks off dry, leaning sweeter with cranberry and cherry flavors throughout. It needs a bit more acidity to stand it up.
Maryhill 2014 Painted Hills Vineyard Tempranillo Columbia Valley $34 85 points
Aromas of brown sugar, strawberry, mint and wood spice lead to red-fruit flavors on the lighter side of medium bodied, with a grip of tannins and bitter notes on the finish. It’s an unusual offering of this variety.
Merry Cellars 2015 Petit Verdot Columbia Valley $38 89 points
Most of the fruit for this wine comes from Stillwater Creek Vineyard and saw no new oak. Aromas of black cherry, blackberry, dried herb and barrel spice lead to a full-bodied palate with a big blast of acidity and firm, slightly dry tannins. It needs some food alongside it to help tame it but brings appeal.
Merry Cellars 2015 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Syrah Columbia Valley $42 86 points
The aromas are high toned, with notes of spice, smoke, black licorice and dark fruit. The black-fruit flavors are more restrained in style than the listed alcohol might suggest, showing a soft texture, with bitters on the finish.
Merry Cellars 2015 Merlot Columbia Valley $40 86 points
Aromas of currant, dark plum, herb and spice are followed by light elegant fruit flavors, with the extraction pulled back. It finishes with strangely tart cranberry flavors that distract.
Merry Cellars 2015 Crimson Bordeaux-style Red Blend Columbia Valley $32 86 points
Cabernet Sauvignon (39%) and Merlot (28%) make up the majority of this wine, with the rest equal parts Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. With all of the fruit coming from Stillwater Creek, the aromas bring notes of cherry, plum, cedar, herb and spice. The flavors are ripe and full in feel, sweet with a slightly tart, bitter finish.
Merry Cellars 2014 Seven Hills Vineyard Carmenère Walla Walla Valley $36 87 points
Raw, sliced banana pepper, ground black-pepper, cinnamon and green-herb aromas lead to plump front-loaded cherry and pepper flavors that don’t entirely stay together throughout. Cranberry notes linger on the finish.
Merry Cellars 2014 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Mourvèdre Columbia Valley $48 85 points
Aromas of baking spice, dark cherry, green pepper and spice lead to smoky mesquite flavors. It finishes lemony tart.
Merry Cellars 2014 Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley $48 87 points
Vanilla, baking spice, sliced green-pepper and dried cherry aromas are followed by ripe sweet cherry and herb flavors. It finishes with a tart plum and vanilla-filled finish. Bitter notes linger.
Merry Cellars 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $48 85 points
Most of the fruit for this wine comes from Seven Hills Vineyard (85%), with the rest from Stillwater Creek. Barrel-forward aromas of cocoa, vanilla, baking spice and black licorice are out in front of dark cherry. The palate brings a cranberry-tart flavor, with slightly astringent tannins and a smoky finish.
Novelty Hill 2016 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $20 91 points
Blended with 16% Sémillon, pleasing aromas of kiwi, lemongrass, candle wax, citrus, lees and poached pear lead to the full-bodied, textured palate. It shows an exquisite sense of balance along with a fig-filled finish. Editor’s Choice
Numbskull 2016 G-S-M Columbia Valley $32 88 points
Mostly Syrah (82%) along with pinches of Grenache (12%) and Mourvèdre (6%), the aromas leap up, with notes of boysenberry pie, herb, fresh flower and raspberry. The flavors are lighter styled, missing in the middle, with a blue-fruit-filled finish.
Numbskull 2016 Bordeaux-style Red Blend Columbia Valley $38 88 points
Though not labeled as such, this could be a varietal Merlot (78%), with the balance Cabernet Sauvignon (18%) and Petit Verdot. Exuberant aromas of raspberry compote, toast, green herb and flower lead to plentiful red- and black-fruit flavors, with a toasty finish. It runs a bit hot.
R.J. Wines 2017 Beyond the Pale Boushey Vineyard Syrah Rosé Yakima Valley $22 88 points
A light electric pink, the aromas bring notes of watermelon bubblegum, cherry and strawberry. It drinks dry with medium-bodied slightly fat-feeling fruit flavors, with grapefruit notes on the finish.
Renegade 2017 Rosé Columbia Valley $12 89 points
A blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Cinsault, it shows just a tinge of salmon-copper color. The aromas bring notes of guava, strawberry, pink grapefruit, watermelon and spice. There’s just a touch of sweetness, making it all go down easy. Kiwi flavors linger on the finish. A veritable cornucopia of fruit, it brings a whole lot of enjoyment and value. More please. Best Buy
Sleight of Hand 2017 Magician’s Assistant Rosé of Cabernet Franc Yakima Valley $18 90 points
Pale peach in color, this wine brings vibrant aromas of spice, herb, sour cherry, bubblegum and strawberry. The flavors are sleekly styled with mouthwatering acidity. It impresses.
Sleight of Hand 2016 The Spellbinder Red Blend Columbia Valley $20 88 points
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (55%), Cabernet Franc (26%), Syrah (12%) and Merlot. Aromas of huckleberry, plum, fresh herb, green pepper and black currant are followed by lighter-styled, easy-drinking blue- and black-fruit flavors. Green-pepper notes linger on the finish.
Sleight of Hand 2016 The Conjurer Bordeaux-style Red Blend Columbia Valley $28 89 points
This early release from this vintage is a blend of 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Cabernet Franc, 22% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot. The aromas lean into the green, with notes of savory fresh herb along with flower, plum, cherry, black currant and spice. Plush ripe blue- and black-fruit flavors provide appeal.
Sleight of Hand 2015 Levitation Syrah Columbia Valley $45 89 points
Lewis Vineyard makes up the majority of this wine (70%), with the rest coming from Les Collines. The aromas seem locked up on first pour, with notes of ripe raspberry, flower and dried herb. The palate is more generous, with soft lush fruit flavors and silky tannins. It finishes warm.
Sleight of Hand 2015 Psychedelic Stoney Vine Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $60 94 points
Somewhat lighter in color, the aromas are expressive, with notes of cigar box, green and black olive, fresh parsley, funk, grilled asparagus, wet stone, ember, black pepper, prosciutto and fresh herb, leaning hard into the savory. The palate shimmers with intensity, packed with sleek but rich, incredibly flavorful flower, earth and smoked-meat notes that persist on the long olive and smoked-meat filled finish. It’s a stunner. Editor’s Choice
Sleight of Hand 2015 Sorceress Grenache-Syrah Columbia Valley $45 89 points
The Grenache (60%) comes from Upland Vineyard with the Syrah from Les Collines. The aromas are unusual, with notes of peanut shell, dried and fresh tobacco, flower, green olive, cherry and herb. The palate brings more of the same, delivering a sense of heft along with sweet fruit flavors on the finish. It’s an unusual wine. Not for all tastes.
Sparkman 2014 Darkness Syrah Yakima Valley $62 91 points
A blend of fruit from the esteemed Boushey and Olsen vineyards, initially reserved aromas of blackberry, blue fruit, barrel spice, herb and whiffs of olive lead to full-bodied fruit flavors that coat the palate. It doesn’t hold back, showing the ripeness of the vintage.
Sparkman 2014 Kingpin Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $65 90 points
This wine is a blend of fruit from Klipsun, Kiona and Obelisco vineyards, along with a touch from Olsen in the Yakima Valley. The aromas are high toned, with notes of baking spice, assorted dried herb and cherry. The pit-fruit flavors are ripe and polished, with a warm finish.
Sparkman 2015 Preposterous Malbec Red Mountain $38 88 points
A blend of fruit from Klipsun and Angela’s vineyards aged in 17% new French oak, cherry, black raspberry, baking spice, anise and dark fruit aromas are followed by focused dark-fruit flavors with a citrusy finish. The tannins give a gentle squeeze.
Sparkman 2014 Stella Mae Columbia Valley $55 88 points
Cabernet Sauvignon (67%) makes up most of this wine, with the rest Malbec (22%) and Petit Verdot. The aromas bring notes of cherry, raspberry, cinnamon, vanilla, green wood and spice. The palate shows a sense of ripeness and appeal, still seeming bunched up.
Sparkman 2014 Ruby Leigh Columbia Valley $55 86 points
This wine is principally Merlot (56%) and Cabernet Franc (22%), with the balance equal parts Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. The aromas bring notes of vanilla, spice, freshly hewn wood and dried coriander, with the barrel influence (only 56% new French) seeming way out front. The flavors are lighter in style, with the oak winning the day.
Sparkman 2017 Pearl Sauvignon Blanc Yakima Valley $22 89 points
This wine is a blend of fruit from Oasis, Gamache and Olsen vineyards and was aged half in stainless steel with the rest in neutral barrels. It’s a bit reduced out of the gate, opening up to reveal kiwi, citrus, pineapple and herb aromas. The bountiful tropical fruit flavors delight.
Sparkman 2016 Lumiere Chardonnay Columbia Valley $32 89 points
It’s a bit hard to get at this wine’s aromas of cream, stone fruit, toast, char, fig and spice on first pour. The palate is considerably more expressive, with broad, nuanced peach and spice flavors that lead to a warm finish.
Sparkman 2016 Apparition White Blend Yakima Valley $24 87 points
This wine is mostly Roussanne (70%), with the balance equal parts Marsanne and Grenache Blanc, with the fruit coming from Olsen and Boushey vineyards. Lemon verbena, grape-nut, peach and apple aromas lead to broad stone-fruit flavors.
Temporal 2015 Temp Tempranillo Washington $20 88 points
This is all Dineen Vineyard (Rattlesnake Hills) fruit, aged in a mixture of neutral and twice-filled French oak barrels—a rare look at this variety in the state without overt oak influence. Aromas of pencil eraser, gummy bear, tobacco and spice are followed by plentiful dried and fresh tobacco flavors that show a reserved styling.
Tertulia 2015 Whistling Hills Estate Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $40 88 points
The aromas are light and a bit difficult to tease out, with notes of red and blue fruit, tire rubber, herb and spice. The palate is lighter in style with a tart blue-fruit-filled finish.
Tertulia 2015 Elevation Estate Vineyard Cabernet Franc Walla Walla Valley $45 88 points
This wine comes from a newly explored area of this appellation near the North Fork of the Walla Walla River. Aged for 22 months in one-third new French oak, plum, jalapeño, cinnamon, cranberry, mineral and wood-spice aromas lead to soft, elegant, lightly styled cranberry flavors. It provides intrigue.
Tertulia 2014 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $45 87 points
Being 100% varietal, baking spice, dried savory herb, dried tobacco and cherry aromas are followed by plump lighter-styled fruit flavors, with red-fruit and black-tea notes on the finish. The tannic structure is surprisingly light for the variety.
Tertulia 2017 Estate Rosé Walla Walla Valley $20 86 points
This wine is 47% Syrah, 33% Mourvèdre and 20% Tempranillo. Pale-salmon colored with a pink tinge, the aromas bring notes of reduction, bubblegum, citrus and strawberry. The sleek strawberry and orange flavors deliver enjoyment.
Tertulia 2015 Riviere Galets Estate Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $40 87 points
Aromas of raspberry candy, fresh flower, dried orange peel, herb, smoked meat and tire rubber are followed by soft fruit flavors that coat the palate, then taper. Orange-peel notes linger on the finish.
Underground Wine Project 2017 And Why Am I Mr. Pink? Rosé Columbia Valley $13 89 points
A very pretty pale-salmon color, this blend of Sangiovese and Syrah brings exuberant aromas of strawberry bubblegum, honeydew melon and pink-grapefruit peel. It drinks dry with plenty of strawberry and grapefruit flavors that persist on the finish. Best Buy
Underground Wine Project 2015 Idle Hands Red Blend Red Mountain $30 90 points
A joint project between winemakers Trey Busch and Mark McNeilly, this wine is almost all Syrah. The aromas are exuberant, with note of huckleberry, plum, smoked meat, baking spice, orange peel, cinnamon and raspberry. Bountiful fruit flavors coat the palate, bringing a pleasing sense of purity and more restraint than this warm appellation and vintage might suggest. Best by 2021.
Underground Wine Project 2015 Devil’s Playground Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $30 88 points
Aromas of cocoa, raspberry, plum, blueberry and wood spice lead to lighter-styled plum and herb flavors with fine-grained tannins. Spice flavors taper on the finish. It’s an enjoyable easy drinker but hard to peg the variety or appellation.
William Weaver 2016 Tattoo Girl Rosé Columbia Valley $13 87 points
Pale salmon in color, light aromas of watermelon and cherry pie are followed by lightly sweet-seeming strawberry and cherry flavors with a dry finish. It’s a straightforward easy drinker.