Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for June 2019. 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. 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.
69 wines reviewed in the June issue of Wine Enthusiast.
They include some superb values from the 2017 vintage from Dusted Valley’s Boomtown label. On the white side, the Boomtown 2017 Pinot Gris Columbia Valley ($19, 90 points, Editor’s Choice) delivers, showing a lovely sense of acidity. There’s also a compelling look at the 2017 vintage for red wines, (Boomtown 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $19, 90 points; Boomtown 2017 Syrah Columbia Valley $19, 89 points). Meanwhile Dusted Valley’s Stained Tooth Syrah consistently delivers at a more than reasonable price (Dusted Valley 2016 Stained Tooth Syrah Columbia Valley $36, 91 points).
Master blender Brian Carter of Brian Carter Cellars shows off his skills with the Brian Carter 2017 Oriana White Blend Yakima Valley ($25, 90 points, Editor’s Choice).
Eternal Wines makes a lovely Syrah co-fermented with Roussanne (Eternal 2016 Eternal Foundation Syrah Walla Walla Valley $59, 91 points). With the success that Reynvaan Family Vineyards has had with Syrah with a pinch of Roussanne, I’m surprised more Washington wineries aren’t exploring the use of Roussanne with Syrah.
On the value side, the Charles and Charles 2018 Rosé is a rollicking, fruit-filled pink that is a sure crowd pleaser (Charles & Charles 2018 Rosé Columbia Valley $15, 90 points, Best Buy).
For anyone interested in Washington wine – and if you are perusing this I assume that you are – Hard Row to Hoe’s 2016 Cabernet Franc is required reading (Hard Row To Hoe 2016 Burning Desire Estate Glacier Gravels Vineyard Cabernet Franc Lake Chelan $55, 90 points, Editor’s Choice). Coming from vines planted at the winery’s organically farmed vineyard planted in 2005, it delivers.
What can I say about Kevin White Winery that I haven’t said before? Year in and year out, they are the best quality-to-price ratio wines in Washington. Never more so than with the winery’s ‘Blue Label’ wine made from declassified barrel. This wine disappeared in a blink as it always does. If you see it on the shelf, do not hesitate (Kevin White 2017 Yakima Valley $20, 92 points).
An increasing number of Washington winemakers are making sparkling wines, and two wines from Morell-Peña continue to show the potential (Morell-Peña 2017 Blanc de Blancs Methode Champenoise Zero Dosage Sparkling Blend Columbia Valley, $45, 92 points, Editor’s Choice; Morell-Peña 2017 Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Blend Columbia Valley $45, 90 points).
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Aeris 2017 Pinot Noir Oregon $17 88 points
The aromas leap up, displaying appealing notes of peppermint candy, strawberry, forest floor, mesquite, cinnamon stick and herb. There’s a lovely sense of poise on the palate, followed by a lightly smoky finish. There’s plenty of enjoyment to be had.
Aubichon Cellars 2016 Reserve Grenache The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater $50 88 points
Lighter in color, with aromas of freshly squeezed Satsuma orange, raspberry and potpourri that lead to quite lightly styled fruit flavors. The concentration is light, but what is there intrigues.
Boomtown 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $19 90 points
There’s no mistaking the variety, with its aromas of dried and fresh herb, along with notes of cherry and plum. Full-bodied black currant flavors follow, with plentiful cocoa accents throughout. A grip of tannins pulls it together. It’s a lot of wine for the money. Give it some time to open.
Boomtown 2017 Pinot Gris Columbia Valley $19 90 points
Aromas of white peach, lemon balm, citrus and wet stone are followed sleek, citrusy flavors that extend on the long, lemon rind-filled finish. The acid balance kicks it up a notch. Editor’s Choice
Boomtown 2017 Syrah Columbia Valley $19 89 points
The aromas on this young release wine pop, with notes of blueberry and huckleberry pie, with the light, silky-smooth palate showing more of the same. It has a lovely sense of brightness and freshness, and the variety is unmistakable. For those looking for value, look no further.
Boomtown 2017 Red Blend Columbia Valley $19 88 points
The baking spice, vanilla, maple, red fruit and herb aromas are accented by a whiff of mesquite. Full-bodied, pillow-soft plum flavors follow, with a light grip of tannins providing support. There’s value to be had.
Boomtown 2017 Merlot Columbia Valley $19 86 points
Aromas of gun smoke, pencil eraser, vanilla, plum and wood spice lead to plump fruit and barrel flavors with a lightly gritty feel.
Brian Carter 2017 Oriana White Blend Yakima Valley $25 90 points
This wine is half Viognier, with the rest Roussanne (40%) and Riesling. The aromas pop, with notes of ripe peach, flower, orange rind and jasmine. A lovely sense of balance carries through the finish. Editor’s Choice
Brian Carter 2014 Solesce Columbia Valley $60 90 points
Cabernet Sauvignon (54%) and Merlot (24%) make up the backbone of this wine, with the balance Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. The aromas offer notes of jammy red and black fruit, along with pleasing spice and cedar accents. The palate shows a lovely sense of balance and finesse with a lingering finish.
Brian Carter 2015 1 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Mourvèdre Columbia Valley $85 88 points
Offerings of this variety from this vineyard are a rarity. Intriguing aromas of plum, black pepper, raspberry, game, herb and cranberry are followed by lighter-styled but still well-balanced pot roast flavors. Put it on the dinner table to see it at its best.
Brian Carter 2015 Opulento Dessert Wine Red Blend Yakima Valley $22 88 points
This wine is a blend of 44% Touriga Nacional, 33% Souzão, 15% Tinta Cão and 8% Tinta Roriz. The aromas are pulled back, with notes of blackberry, blue fruit and spice seeming a bit dried out. The palate boasts sweet, flavorful blue fruit notes. It brings plenty of pleasure.
Brian Carter 2014 Byzance Columbia Valley $38 88 points
Grenache makes up 54% of this wine, with the balance Syrah (24%), Mourvèdre (15%), Counoise (4%) and Cinsault. High-toned flower, herb, orange rind and red fruit are followed by lighter-styled, soft, supple fruit flavors. It’s a very pretty, understated wine.
Brian Carter 2014 Le Coursier Columbia Valley $40 87 points
Merlot makes up over half of this wine, with the balance Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and smidgens of Malbec and Petit Verdot. Strong aromas of toast and burnt tire start in the lead, mostly blowing off with time open. Spice, maple and black cherry notes follow. The light, elegant fruit flavors show a pretty sense of styling. Cocoa notes linger on the finish. It seems to be in an awkward spot at present.
Brian Carter NV 1 Upland Vineyard Graciano Snipes Mountain $85 87 points
Examples of this variety are rare in the state. Aromas of blackberry, cola and leather are accented by mineral tones. The flavors are soft and supple, with bitters on the finish.
Cathedral Ridge 2016 Reserve Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley (OR) $44 83 points
The aromas are off, with volatile notes along with green pepper and game lurking in the background. The palate is light and elegant, showing a pleasant sense of the variety.
Cathedral Ridge 2015 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley (OR) $48 81 points
Aromas of fruit leather, wet hay and medicine cabinet lead to lightly sweet fruit flavors. It doesn’t work.
Cedar + Salmon 2016 Walla Walla Valley $25 89 points
Cabernet Sauvignon (63%) is out front, followed by Merlot (27%) and Petit Verdot. Aromas of toast, anise, vanilla, cherry and spice lead to ripe, full-bodied pie cherry flavors, backed by a firm lick of tannins. There’s a lot to like, and if it settles in it could move up.
Cedergreen Cellars 2017 Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $17 89 points
Light aromas of mineral, herb and citrus are followed by bright, fuller-styled, well-balanced fruit flavors that carry on the finish. Pair it with food to see it at its best.
Cedergreen Cellars 2018 Viola Rosé Columbia Valley $16 88 points
This wine is a blend of Gamay and Cabernet Franc, producing a pretty pale copper color. Aromas of muscat gummy and herb lead to somewhat thick feeling fruit flavors. There are good things going on, but they seem to get a bit bogged down.
Charles & Charles 2018 Rosé Columbia Valley $15 90 points
Syrah (71%) makes up the backbone of this wine along with Cabernet Sauvignon (17%) and other Rhône varieties. An appealing pale-salmon color, this wine has bright watermelon, strawberry, kiwi and cherry candy aromas that lead to a tart pink-grapefruit flavor and mouthwatering acidity.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2016 Cold Creek Vineyard Chardonnay Columbia Valley $22 88 points
Aromas and flavors of vanilla, candlewax, custard and clarified butter are out front. Abundant peach notes follow. It seems a bit stylized but still has balance and appeal.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $15 86 points
Appealing aromas of leafy green herb and cherry lead to plump fruit flavors that paint around the edges. The concentration is light, particularly through the middle, but what’s there is pleasant.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2018 Rosé Columbia Valley $11 86 points
Its electric pink color is a bit darker than the style trending in the state. Bubblegum aromas are out front, followed by cherry and strawberry notes that also fill the palate. Kiwi flavors persist on the finish. It gets bogged down at times, but there is still plenty to enjoy.
Circle 66 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $39 88 points
Black currant, red apple, green pepper, cherry cordial and bittersweet chocolate aromas lead to plump, pleasing plum flavors. There’s a lot to like.
Claar 2015 Estate Grown and Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $22 88 points
The aromas bring notes of black fruit, fresh herb and barrel spice. Full-bodied dark fruit flavors follow, with the tannins bringing a dry, scratchy feel that softens a bit with some time open. There’s a lot of value to be had. Decant if drinking in the near term.
Drink Washington State 2016 Visit Wahluke Slope Carmenère Wahluke Slope $29 88 points
Intriguing aromas of savory herb, pine sap, Satsuma orange and red fruit are followed by soft, light, well-balanced fruit flavors with a pillowy feel. It’s intriguing.
Drink Washington State 2016 Welcome to Columbia Valley Chardonnay Columbia Valley $19 87 points
Initially funky aromas of lees and yellow apple lead to light, bright flavors. It doesn’t all come together but there are interesting things going on.
Dusted Valley 2016 Stained Tooth Syrah Columbia Valley $36 91 points
The aromas draw you into the glass, with notes of raspberry, tar, plum, orange rind, herb and spice. The flavors are lighter in style through the middle, surrounded by firmly wound tannins that soften over time. A lingering finish caps it off. Give it some time to open up and it delivers.
Dusted Valley 2015 V.R. Special Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $62 89 points
The cherry, herb and flower aromas enchant. Full-bodied, black as night flavors follow, wrapped up in firm, tightly wound tannins that come off as a bit dry. Give it some additional time in the bottle or an extended decant if drinking in the near term.
Dusted Valley 2015 Malbec Columbia Valley $44 88 points
The aromas intrigue, with notes of matchstick, dark fruit and tar. The flavors coat the palate from end to end, with a soft, pillowy feel. Lightly grainy tannins back it all up, finishing warm.
Dusted Valley 2015 BFM Dionysus Vineyard Columbia Valley $55 88 points
This could be varietally labeled as a Merlot (79%), finished off with Cabernet Sauvignon (17%) and Petit Verdot. The heat of the vintage seems to show, with aromas of ripe, slightly dried out seeming red fruit with spice accents. Full-bodied flavors follow, trailing toward the warm finish.
Eternal 2016 Eternal Foundation Syrah Walla Walla Valley $59 91 points
Fruit for this wine, which was cofermented with 5% Roussanne, comes from Winesap Vineyard. Dark fruit, purple fruit, herb, gravel, smoke and flower aromas are followed by full-bodied fruit flavors that show a pleasing sense of purity and a captivating mouthfeel. It’s delightful.
Eternal 2015 Eternal Passion Reserve Red Blend Columbia Valley $69 88 points
This wine is equal parts Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon and Walla Walla Valley Syrah. The aromas pop, with notes of vanilla and baking spice, with the oak out front. Full-bodied, dark fruit flavors follow, with plenty of Mounds candy bar accents that lead to a warm finish. The oak influence is a bit intense at present, but the underlying fruit is nice.
Eternal 2016 Eternal Patience Roussanne Walla Walla Valley $39 87 points
This is a rare example of this variety from the valley. With all of the fruit coming from Cockburn Ranch, the aromas offer notes of almond skin, crayon, peach and clarified butter. Full-bodied, buttery flavors follow, showing some alcoholic bitterness on the finish. There are good things happening, but the alcohol seems out of balance.
Eternal 2016 Eternal Gratitude Merlot Columbia Valley $49 86 points
All the fruit for this wine comes from Gamache Vineyard. Soil, ground cherry, tangerine and herb aromas intrigue. The cranberry flavors are backed by tannins that give a light squeeze.
Gramercy 2015 Syrah Columbia Valley $36 92 points
Stem, violet, smoked meat, wet stone, Satsuma orange and herb aromas lead to smoked meat and other savory flavors that show knee-buckling purity, complexity and detail while retaining a sense of lightness. The pillowy mouthfeel only heightens the appeal. A long finish caps it off. It’s delicious. Editor’s Choice
Gramercy 2016 Les Collines Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $54 91 points
This wine comes in at an alcohol level almost unheard of for modern-day red wines in the state. The aromas are light on first pour, with notes of dark plum, blueberry, herb, violet, smoked meat and spice. Elegant fruit flavors dance on the palate, with a long, flavorful finish capping it off. The vineyard doesn’t initially jump out the way it often does, but it’s lovely. Give it plenty of time to open up.
Gramercy 2016 Estates Walla Walla Valley $70 90 points
A blend of 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, this is the inaugural release of this wine. Brooding aromas of baking spice, red apple, cherry and herb lead to sleek, sultry pie cherry flavors that are focused in the middle initially, broadening over time. A lovely sense of acidity provides the frame.
Gramercy 2016 The Third Man Grenache Columbia Valley $36 90 points
Blended with 13% Syrah and 12% Mourvèdre, this wine is pale in color, showing some bricking at the rim. The aromas are a bit hard to tease out, with notes of cranberry and spice showing over time. The palate is elegant and transparent in style, with plentiful strawberry and raspberry flavors. The concentration is light initially, fleshing out a bit over time. What’s there is lovely.
Gramercy 2016 Lower East Syrah Columbia Valley $25 89 points
Subdued aromas of black pepper, herb, game, violet and flower are followed by lightly styled fruit flavors. It’s a pretty offering of the variety.
Hard Row To Hoe 2016 Burning Desire Estate Glacier Gravels Vineyard Cabernet Franc Lake Chelan $55 90 points
Fruit for this wine comes from vines planted in 2005 at the winery’s organically farmed vineyard on the north shore of Lake Chelan, an area that has a geology distinct from the rest of the broader Columbia Valley. Unique aromas of porcini mushroom, peat, tobacco, cherry and crushed gravel lead to well-balanced fruit flavors that have a seamless feel. Many Lake Chelan wines show the area’s promise. This wine delivers. Editor’s Choice
Hood Crest 2016 Grenache Columbia Valley (OR) $36 88 points
Light in color and showing some bricking, this wine has aromas that offer notes of sandalwood, flower, white pepper, spice, herb and raspberry. Light, delicate smoked meat and spice flavors follow. This one is all about elegance and delicacy, but it brings both in abundance.
Hood Crest 2016 Petite Sirah Columbia Valley (OR) $42 87 points
There’s no question of the warm vintage that this wine comes from, with its aromas of black fruit, herb and anise. Jammy cranberry and cherry flavors follow, ending with a tart finish.
Hood Crest 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley (OR) $38 83 points
Aromas of potpourri, jalapeño and cranberry lead to tart, lighter-styled cherry and flower flavors.
Joleté 2017 Pinot Gris Columbia Valley $19 90 points
Appealing aromas of freshly cut yellow apple and melon lead to full-feeling, plentiful pear flavors. The sense of texture heightens the appeal.
Kevin White 2017 Yakima Valley $20 92 points
A blend of 57% Syrah, 24% Grenache and 19% Mourvèdre, this wine is consistently one of the state’s best values, and this vintage does not disappoint. Referred to as the winery’s blue label wine with the fruit coming from declassified barrels, the aromas pop, with notes of blue fruit, herb, smoke and black pepper, with plenty of red fruit accents. Soft, layered flavors follow, loaded with plum, cherry and smoked meat. The purity is swoon-worthy. A long finish caps it off. Editor’s Choice
Kevin White 2016 Heritage DuBrul Vineyard Yakima Valley $40 91 points
Coming from one of the state’s top vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 59% of this wine, with the balance Merlot. The aromas offer notes of smoke, dried and fresh herb, fresh tobacco, pie cherry, cedar and spice. Elegant, supple fruit flavors follow. It’s a very pretty interpretation of this site.
Kiona 2016 Estate Bottled Reserve Red Mountain $50 87 points
This wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant blend from Heart of the Hill (69%) and Kiona Estate vineyards. The aromas offer notes of fruit leather, cherry, game and spice, seeming a bit dried out. Fruit and game flavors follow, backed by firm tannins.
Kiona 2016 Estate Bottled Heart of the Hill Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $75 87 points
Aromas of cough syrup, game, barrel spice and herbs are followed by ripe cherry flavors and abundant baking spice accents. Firm, wound-up tannins back it all up.
Maison Bleue 2016 Voyageur Syrah Walla Walla Valley $55 91 points
Fruit for this wine comes from the Les Collines, Stone Valley and Yellow Jacket Vineyards. The aromas leap out of the glass, with notes of raspberry, violet, plum, kirsch and garrigue. The flavors are light and poised, bringing a sense of freshness. The concentration is light, but what is there is beautiful and all about elegance. Give it time to open up. Editor’s Choice
Maison Bleue 2016 Graviere Stone Valley Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley (OR) $65 90 points
Fruit for this wine comes from vines planted in 2000—some of the oldest in the Rocks District. Beguiling aromas of orange rind, white pepper, plum and pomegranate lead to light, elegant flavors. It brings a sense of transparency and detail.
Maison Bleue 2016 Votligeur Viognier Walla Walla Valley $40 88 points
The aromas intrigue, with notes of dried apricot, apple and spice. The fruit flavors are light, coming up short on the finish.
Maryhill 2017 Semillon Columbia Valley $15 90 points
Aromas of corn husk, lemon balm, fig, herb and mineral lead to medium-plus-bodied fruit flavors that spread across the palate. The variety is unmistakable.
Maryhill 2015 Vineyard Series Les Collines Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $38 90 points
Aromas of smoked meat, Jolly Roger, cherry, flower and spice are followed by a textured, layered palate. It shows finesse and length, with caramel and other barrel flavors speckled throughout. The oak plays a prominent part in the show, somewhat overriding the vineyard, but there are still plenty of good things happening.
Maryhill 2015 Vineyard Series Art Den Hoed Vineyard Painted Hills Dolcetto Columbia Valley $46 89 points
The aromas offer enchanting notes of red cherry, tar, raspberry, herb, cranberry, spice and herb. The palate dances softly, with a sense of freshness and brightness that heightens the interest. A mouthwatering finish with caramel notes caps it off.
Maryhill 2015 Vineyard Series Elephant Mountain Vineyards Sangiovese Rattlesnake Hills $38 88 points
Aromas of cedar, red fruit and baking spice are followed by vanilla-filled flavors brightened by tart acidity leading to a warm finish. There are good things going on, but the oak gets out front, with the variety seeming a hard to find.
Maryhill 2015 Vineyard Series Art Den Hoed Painted Hills Primitivo Columbia Valley $26 88 points
This 100% varietal, aged in two-thirds European and American oak, has aromas of blackberry and raspberry jam along with coconut accents, followed by ripe, full-bodied fruit leather flavors and a warm, cranberry and spice-filled finish. It’s a spot-on example of the variety.
Maryhill 2015 Vineyard Series Art den Hoed Vineyard Painted Hills Tempranillo Columbia Valley $42 88 points
In this 100% varietal, cocoa, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla and herb aromas lead to plentiful, well-balanced cherry and vanilla flavors. There’s a lot to like.
Maryhill 2015 Vineyard Series Northridge Vineyard Syrah Wahluke Slope $38 88 points
Aromas of flowers, green plants, black fruit and olive are followed by well-proportioned fruit flavors. The warmth of the vintage shows.
Maryhill 2015 Vineyard Series Kiona Vineyards Heart of the Hill Merlot Red Mountain $44 86 points
Plum, cranberry and cherry pie aromas are followed by a woody-seeming palate that finishes short. The oak influence is intense.
Morell-Peña 2017 Blanc de Blancs Methode Champenoise Zero Dosage Sparkling Blend Columbia Valley $45 92 points
This is the inaugural release of this wine, which was aged in concrete eggs. With all of the fruit coming from Solaksen Vineyard on the Royal Slope, compelling aromas of lemon, lemon balm and autolytic notes lead to bright, tart, racy flavors. The high-wire acidity provides the perfect frame and structure. It impresses. Put it on the dinner table to see it at its best. >
Morell-Peña 2017 Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Blend Columbia Valley $45 90 points
The inaugural release of this wine is all Pinot Noir coming from Solaksen Vineyard, hand-harvested and aged in concrete eggs. Bright aromas of raspberry, spice and baked bread lead to tart, fresh fruit flavors. It delights, with a mouthwatering finish.
Nirvana Wines 2016 Cabernet Franc Red Mountain $24 85 points
Aromas of game, Band-Aid, baking spice and cherry are followed by tart, puckering fruit flavors. The tannins bring a gritty feel. The variety seems hard to find.
Nirvana Wines 2015 Karma Red Mountain $38 83 points
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 60% of this wine, with the rest equal parts Cabernet Franc and Malbec. High-toned aromas of game and vanilla lead to fruit leather flavors. It seems quite evolved for its age.
Pamplin 2015 JRG Columbia Valley (OR) $30 91 points
Cabernet Sauvignon (86%) makes up most of this wine, with the balance Merlot. Aromas of spice, graphite and cherry are followed by initially subdued fruit and barrel flavors that emerge over time. It shows a sense of restraint and sophistication along with more freshness than is typically found in the vintage. Give it time to open up. Editor’s Choice
Pamplin 2016 Red I.Q. Columbia Valley $14 88 points
This wine is 53% Cabernet Sauvignon and 38% Merlot, with the balance Petit Verdot. Coming from various Horse Heaven Hills, Red Mountain and Walla Walla Valley vineyards, barrel aromas are out front initially, with notes of vanilla and spice along with red apple. Cherry and apple notes follow, with the palate showing more of the same.
R.J. Wines 2018 Beyond the Pale Unmarked Boushey Vineyard Syrah Rosé Yakima Valley $19 86 points
Though the wine has a very pretty pale peach color, the aromas and palate can’t live up to the promise, with the latter seeming thick and heavy. Leesy aromas are out front, with apple notes lingering on the finish.
Sola 2017 Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $15 90 points
Generous aromas of citrus, herb and tropical fruit are followed by lean, puckering, white grapefruit flavors. It brings a captivating sense of acidity along with a lengthy finish.
The Royal Bull 2015 Royal Bull($#!+) Red Blend Columbia Valley $NA 90 points
This wine is half Tempranillo and half Grenache, with the fruit coming from Lawrence and Stoneridge vineyards on the Royal Slope. Fascinating aromas of peat, moist earth, red fruit, orange essence and dried tobacco lead to elegantly styled fruit flavors. It’s equal parts intrigue and delivery.