Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for May 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.
85 wines reviewed in the May issue of Wine Enthusiast.
Cool vintage or warm vintage, great vintage or challenging vintage, Woodinville’s Avennia just keeps making top quality wine. I have never seen them miss. The Avennia 2016 Gravura Columbia Valley $40 (92 points, Editor’s Choice) and Avennia 2016 Justine Yakima Valley $40 (91 points, Cellar Selection) only extend the winery’s winning streak. Among the things I love about Avennia’s wines is that they can always be enjoyed now but also in many cases offer profound aging potential. In winemaking, that’s the holy grail.
Winemaker Mari Womack at Damsel Cellars is quickly making a name for herself with delicious wines at affordable prices (Damsel 2015 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Syrah Columbia Valley $30, 90 points). The winery’s red blend is one of the best values of the year, a wine where when I looked at the price, I literally said out loud, “Wow!” You will too (Damsel 2016 Red Blend Columbia Valley $18 90 points, Editor’s Choice).
The 2016 vintage sees Sleight of Hand Cellars return to Funk Vineyard after a short absence. It has been missed and is another bullseye for the winery (Sleight of Hand 2016 Funkadelic Funk Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $60 93 points, Editor’s Choice).
Soos Creek always makes delicious, age-worthy, well-crafted wines that punch well above their weight class. The latest example is their Soos Creek 2015 Sundance Columbia Valley ($25, 91 points, Editor’s Choice).
I’ve written before about the challenges of the warm 2015 vintage, while at the same time noting that plenty of high quality wines were produced. Sparkman Cellars threads the needle with two tasty examples (Sparkman 2015 Ruby Leigh Columbia Valley $55, 91 points; Sparkman 2015 Ruckus Syrah Red Mountain $52, 90 points).
I wrote on my WWR Facebook page a while back about the J. Bookwalter 2018 Winter Rosé Nouveau. This is all Pinot Noir made in nouveau style and released the third Thursday of November. It’s assuredly long gone now but look for this early sign of the 2019 vintage this fall. If the rest of the 2018s look like this, we’ll be in great shape (J. Bookwalter 2018 Winter Rosé Rosé Nouveau of Pinot Noir Walla Walla Valley $25 90 points, Editor’s Choice).
For Wine Enthusiast, I also cover Idaho wine, and there are a number of impressive wines from Idaho producers in this issue. They include: Bitner 2017 Riesling Snake River Valley ($17, 90 points, Editor’s Choice); Huston 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon-Petite Sirah Snake River Valley ($44, 90 points); Huston 2017 Chicken Dinner White Blend Washington ($16, 89 points, Editor’s Choice).
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Avennia 2016 Gravura Columbia Valley $40 92 points
A blend of 48% Cabernet Sauvignon and 41% Merlot make up the majority of this wine, with the balance Cabernet Franc. With fruit coming from a who’s who of vineyards, the aromas draw you into the glass, with notes of dried herb, flower, thyme, cherry and graphite, showing a sense of delineation and detail that heightens the appeal. Exquisitely balanced fruit flavors follow. Bittersweet chocolate notes linger on the long finish. It brings a sense of gracefulness but has enough structure to reward some time in the cellar. Editor’s Choice
Avennia 2016 Justine Yakima Valley $40 91 points
Grenache makes up 56% of this wine, with the balance 32% Mouvèdre and 12% Syrah. Brooding aromas of black pepper, cherry and raspberry lead to quite ripe, full-bodied, soft, sultry blue and black fruit flavors that carry through the finish. It needs time to be fully appreciated. Best after 2023. Cellar Selection
Bitner 2017 Riesling Snake River Valley (ID) $17 90 points
The aromas are vibrant, with notes of apricot, tangerine peel and flower. It drinks off-dry, with bright acidity, exquisite balance and a lengthy finish. Delicious stuff. Editor’s Choice
Bitner 2016 Riesling Snake River Valley (ID) $17 86 points
Perfumed apricot, herb and flower aromas lead to off-dry, medium-bodied fruit flavors that persist on the finish.
Bitner 2015 Estate Tempranillo Snake River Valley (ID) $33 84 points
Light in color, with aromas of tire rubber, black olive, seaweed, hay and wet oak leading to lighter-styled fruit flavors with a grip of tannins. There are some interesting things to be found, but it doesn’t all come together.
Cedar River Cellars 2015 Watershed Merlot Columbia Valley $30 86 points
This wine is 100% varietal, with all of the fruit coming from Burgess Vineyard. The aromas bring unusual, not entirely harmonious notes of green pepper, savory herb, dark cherry and Robitussin. Soft fruit flavors follow, needing more structure to stand them up. It doesn’t all mesh.
Cedar River Cellars 2016 Ava’s Crush Barrel Select Cabernet Sauvignon Rattlesnake Hills $38 85 points
The aromas are light and hard to tease out initially, with faint notes of cherry and spice that open up to reveal plentiful green pepper and garden herb accents. Somewhat lighter-styled fruit flavors follow, with the concentration not all there. Dried tobacco notes linger on the finish.
Cedar River Cellars 2016 It’s a Long Way Barrel Select Cabernet Franc Yakima Valley $40 85 points
All of the fruit for this 100% varietal wine comes from Two Blondes Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills. Plum, blackberry, baking spice and green notes are followed by medium-bodied fruit flavors. It needs a bit more tannic structure to pull it all together.
Cedar River Cellars 2015 Bella Bella Barrel Select Syrah Columbia Valley $38 85 points
Not entirely harmonious mesquite, menthol, blueberry pie and blackberry aromas lead to somewhat lighter styled blue fruit and medicinal flavors. It doesn’t all work.
Cedar River Cellars 2015 Bella Bella Syrah Columbia Valley $34 85 points
All of the fruit for this wine comes from Burgess Vineyard. Unusual, not entirely harmonious aromas of blueberry, syrup, licorice, smoke and vanilla bean lead to flavors that show more of the same. The concentration starts out light, particularly in the middle, fleshing out a bit over time. Menthol notes linger on the finish. It’s an unusual offering.
Cedar River Cellars 2017 Reservoir Barrel Select Chardonnay Yakima Valley $33 84 points
Fruit for this wine comes from the Melody Lynne Vineyard. Aromas of vanilla and crayon lead to medium-bodied fruit flavors. The oak completely overrides the fruit.
Charles & Charles 2015 C2 Malbec Columbia Valley $45 92 points
This wine comes from Northridge Vineyard, one of the state’s premier vineyards. Blended with 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, vibrant aromas of ripe plum, licorice, dried herb and baking spice lead to full-bodied, well-balanced fruit flavors that carry on the finish. There’s great enjoyment overall, and the tannic structure helps give a sense of gravitas.
Cinder 2017 Dry Viognier Washington $23 88 points
Fruit for this typically Snake River Valley designated wine comes from Washington due to a 2017 Idaho freeze. Generous aromas of peach, orange essence and flower are followed by bone-dry fruit flavors, with peach notes lingering on the finish.
Cinder 2016 Syrah Snake River Valley (ID) $30 88 points
Aromas of cherry, blueberry syrup, vanilla and high-toned herb are followed by a textured, drawn out palate full of blue fruit and vanilla flavors. It has a nice yum factor.
Clone 7 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $14 86 points
Aromas of green and jalapeño pepper are at the fore, with dark fruit following. Plentiful, but lighter-styled black currant flavors follow. It comes off as a bit underripe but still brings easy drinking appeal.
Clone 7 2017 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $13 86 points
Aromas of lemon, white peach and spice are followed by sleek but slightly viscous fruit flavors. It’s a straight down the fairway offering of the variety.
Clone 7 2017 Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $9 86 points
This wine carries light aromas of apple skin and herb. The medium-bodied palate is viscous in feel, with creamy fruit flavors to help round out the experience. Best Buy
Clone 7 2016 Red Blend Columbia Valley $13 85 points
This is all Syrah in a red blend label. Baking spice, macerated plum and cherry aromas lead to quite lightly styled fruit flavors. The concentration is light, but what’s there is pleasant.
Clone 7 2016 Merlot Columbia Valley $11 84 points
Aromas of plum, baking spice and sugared currant are followed by quite lightly styled fruit flavors. The concentration isn’t all there.
Clone 7 2017 Pinot Grigio Columbia Valley $10 84 points
Quite closed up apple aromas are followed by smoky, medium-bodied flavors. It doesn’t all work.
Damsel 2015 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Syrah Columbia Valley $30 90 points
The aromas are light, with notes of dark fruit and herb. Ripe, full-bodied fruit flavors follow. The tannins give a light squeeze at first, loosening their grip over time.
Damsel 2016 Red Blend Columbia Valley $18 90 points
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up half of this wine, with the rest 40% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Franc. Aromas of dark plum, blue fruit, herb and spice are followed by well-balanced flavors, with red fruit on the finish. It’s a pretty wine with a big yum factor and also an outstanding value. Editor’s Choice
Damsel 2016 The Fates Boushey Vineyard Washington $36 89 points
Grenache makes up just over two-thirds of this wine, with the balance Syrah (25%) and Mourvèdre. The aromas are reticent, with subdued notes of raspberry, blueberry and white pepper. There’s a pleasing sense of elegance to the palate, with the flavors trailing slightly toward the finish.
Damsel 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $38 88 points
Aromas of herb, smoke, plum and barrel spice are at the fore, with notes of dried dark cherry emerging over time. Soft, initially lighter-styled fruit flavors follow. It’s an elegant expression of the variety with good things going on if they all stitch together and open up.
Gunpowder Creek 2017 Caleb Foster The Greatest Hits Alder Banks Vineyard Pinot Noir Walla Walla Valley $25 89 points
Pinot Noir is an extreme rarity in the valley, with this vineyard located up Couse Creek. Aromas of herb, cherry and a whiff of mesquite are followed by strawberry flavors that paint around the edges initially, fleshing out over time. It brings a sense of acidity that piques the interest, requiring some food alongside it to be fully appreciated.
Hedges 2015 Estate Grown and Bottled Red Mountain $30 88 points
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up just over half of this wine, with the balance mostly Merlot and Syrah along with pinches of other varieties. Aromas of cherry meats, vanilla, wood spice and game lead to medium-bodied, well-balanced fruit flavors. A tart finish caps it off
Howlin Owl NV The Frivoler Red Blend Columbia Valley $17 88 points
Aromas of raspberry, cranberry and herb are followed by medium-bodied, tart, lively fruit and barrel flavors. There’s a lot to like.
Howlin Owl NV The Frochard Brut Rosé Sparkling Blend Columbia Valley $17 88 points
Strawberry, herb and cherry are followed by bright, lively fruit flavors. Enjoy it as an aperitif.
Huston 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon-Petite Sirah Snake River Valley (ID) $44 90 points
This wine is equally split between these two varieties. Intriguing aromas of ash, cigar box, dark cherry and herb lead to ripe, full-bodied fruit flavors. A silky feel heightens the interest.
Huston 2015 Merlot Snake River Valley (ID) $27 90 points
The aromas bring appeal, with notes of raspberry, cocoa and spice. Ripe, well-balanced fruit flavors follow. It’s a spot-on example of the variety that impresses start to finish. Editor’s Choice
Huston 2017 Chicken Dinner White Blend Washington $16 89 points
Riesling and Muscat make up the majority of the wine. The aromas pop, with notes of ripe peach, flower and tangerine. Just off-dry stone fruit flavors follow, with lemon pith notes on the finish. It brings a pleasing sense of fruit intensity—a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Editor’s Choice
Huston 2016 Malbec Snake River Valley (ID) $29 89 points
This wine is sourced from Parma Extension, Sawtooth and Williamson’s vineyards. Fruit tones are at the fore, with aromas of blueberry pie and plum, along with spice and herb accents. Medium-bodied blue-fruit flavors follow on the palate. It shows a lot of finesse and detail, with an appealing sense of purity and balance.
Huston 2017 Chicken Dinner Rosé Washington $19 88 points
Aromas of strawberry and cherry are followed by plentiful mountain strawberry and kiwi flavors. It brings unabashed appeal.
Huston 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Snake River Valley (ID) $32 86 points
Aromas of dried tobacco, herb, cherry cola and spice are followed by full fruit flavors with a soft sense of texture and light structure for the variety.
Idilico 2015 Garnacha Yakima Valley $20 88 points
Aromas of raspberry candy, cranberry preserve and herb are followed by ripe, plump, fruit-driven flavors that have a pleasing yum factor. Pair it with pizza.
Idilico 2015 Monastrell Columbia Valley $20 88 points
Aromas of black pepper, cherry and cola are followed by broad fruit flavors that still retain a sense of elegance. It has a very pretty feel.
Idilico 2017 Albariño Yakima Valley $15 87 points
Aromas of lemon balm and candlewax lead to medium-plus-bodied fruit flavors. It seems a bit weighty, getting bogged down at times.
Idilico 2015 Reserva Tempranillo Yakima Valley $30 86 points
The color shows a bit of bricking. Char, dried tobacco and spice aromas are followed by somewhat lighter styled fruit, game and barrel flavors.
Indian Creek 2016 Reserve Monastrell Snake River Valley (ID) $26 88 points
Pale in color, with aromas that bring heaping amounts of black pepper, along with notes of herb, spice and a kiss of vanilla. It’s lighter in style, showing a pleasing sense of delicacy.
Indian Creek 2016 Merlot Snake River Valley (ID) $18 86 points
Light in color and showing some bricking, with aromas offering notes of candied cherry and cola. Medium-bodied but elegant fruit flavors follow. Drink now.
Indian Creek 2016 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Snake River Valley (ID) $30 85 points
The aromas are quite light and hard to tease out, showing a bit of herb, cranberry and cherry cola. Broad but still light, slightly sweet-seeming fruit flavors follow. Cranberry notes linger on the finish. Drink now.
Indian Creek 2016 Star Garnet Red Blend Snake River Valley (ID) $15 85 points
The color is light and shows some bricking. Faint aromas of red apple and spice lead to fruit flavors on the lighter side of medium bodied. Drink now.
J. Bookwalter 2018 Winter Rosé Rosé Nouveau of Pinot Noir Walla Walla Valley $25 90 points
This is the only wine I am aware of that is made in a nouveau style, with carbonic maceration and released the third Thursday of November. All made from Pinot Noir (Gamay is scarce in the state), the aromas bring bright, fruit-forward notes of strawberry and cherry. It’s made in a transparent style, showing a lot of purity, with nervy acidity backing it up. Editor’s Choice
Love That Red 2016 Zinyatta Zinfandel Columbia Valley $36 85 points
Raspberry jam, fruit leather and citrus aromas lead to full-bodied, quite sweet-seeming, high-octane fruit flavors that finish hot. It doesn’t all work.
Mt. Fury 2016 Merlot Wahluke Slope $17 87 points
Intriguing aromas of plum, high-toned herb and baking spice are followed by soft, generous fruit flavors. The concentration at times seems a little light, especially through the middle, but what’s there is nice.
Mt. Fury 2016 Chardonnay Ancient Lakes $16 85 points
Lemon curd, lees and spice aromas are followed by sleek stone fruit flavors. It seems a bit light, and the lees influence gets in the way at times.
Mt. Fury 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $19 85 points
Plum, herb and spice aromas are followed by elegantly styled fruit flavors. It brings appeal, but the fruit concentration is quite light.
Mt. Fury 2016 Red Blend Wahluke Slope $17 83 points
Lightly volatile aromas of blue fruit, spice, caramel and citrus are followed by a lighter styled palate. The concentration seems lacking.
Pomum 2015 Syrah Columbia Valley $32 88 points
Intriguing aromas of dark raspberry, incense, plum and anise lead to ripe fruit flavors that
up in the middle. A tart, cranberry-like, slightly medicinal finish caps it off. The warmth of the vintage shows.
Pomum 2016 Upland Vineyard Riesling Snipes Mountain $16 88 points
Bright aromas of ripe apple, flower, peach, lime and herb lead to just a hair off-dry, medium-bodied fruit flavors. Put it on the dinner table to see it at its best.
Pomum 2015 Shya Red Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $42 87 points
The 100% varietal, light herb, cherry and spice aromas lead to medium-bodied fruit flavors. The tannins bring some dryness and grit that softens a bit with time open.
Pomum 2015 Red Blend Columbia Valley $24 86 points
This wine is 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Cabernet Franc, 12% Malbec, 9% Petit Verdot and 4% Merlot. Aromas of plum, cherry, herb and cranberry lead to short-seeming cranberry flavors. It doesn’t all work.
Sawtooth 2016 Classic Fly Series Tempranillo Snake River Valley (ID) $30 88 points
Aromas of vanilla bean, coconut and ripe red apple are followed by soft-feeling fruit and barrel flavors, with caramel notes on the finish. The oak plays a prominent part in the show.
Sawtooth 2016 Trout Trilogy Syrah Snake River Valley (ID) $35 87 points
Aromas of raspberry, cocoa, plum, vanilla and spice are followed by ripe, sweet fruit flavors with vanilla laced throughout. The oak influence gets a bit in the way.
Scoria 2016 S Petit Verdot Snake River Valley (ID) $28 88 points
Aromas of plum, black currant and baking spice are followed by plump, plush, lively fruit flavors. It’s a well-made wine that delivers a lot of appeal.
Sleight of Hand 2016 Funkadelic Funk Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $60 93 points
This is the return of this Rocks District wine to the lineup after a several year absence. Aged 20 months in neutral oak, the aromas exude appealing notes of black olive tapenade, smoked meat, potpourri and fire pit. The palate shows exquisite balance, intensity and restraint to the fruit and savory flavors. A pleasing sense of freshness and a hyperextended finish cap it off. Editor’s Choice
Sleight of Hand 2016 Psychedelic Stoney Vine Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $60 91 points
Grilled and fresh asparagus, soot, wet rock, black pepper, black olive brine and herb aromas lead to light, elegantly styled fruit and savory flavors that bring a sense of delicacy. It’s a very pretty interpretation of this site—the winery’s most elegant to date.
Sleight of Hand 2014 The Illusionist Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $52 91 points
Dried herb, black cherry, dark fruit, coffee and spice aromas are followed by a palate that brings a sense of refinement for such a warm vintage. Best after 2020.
Sleight of Hand 2016 Levitation Syrah Columbia Valley $45 90 points
Most of the fruit for this wine comes from Lewis Vineyard, along with splashes from Les Collines and Ziggy Stardust. Aromas of plum preserve, jarred cherry, violet and dried stem lead to plush fruit flavors. It’s a bit more elegant than its alcohol level might suggest.
Sleight of Hand 2014 Archimage Columbia Valley $52 90 points
This wine is nearly equal parts Merlot (53%) and Cabernet Franc. The aromas start out reserved—it’s almost a strain to get at its notes of spice, plum, herb and cherry. The palate is considerably more giving, showing a pleasing sense of balance and length. Give it some time to open up, and it delivers.
Sleight of Hand 2016 Spiders From Mars Ziggy Stardust Block Syrah Walla Walla Valley $100 89 points
This is the winery’s first release from its block at Elevation Vineyard, a new, higher up planting by the north fork of the Walla Walla River. Reserved aromas of potpourri, black pepper, crushed basalt, raspberry and plum lead to light fruit flavors with a fresh lick of acidity. It’s equal parts intrigue and delivery.
Sleight of Hand 2015 The Illusionist Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $52 88 points
The aromas offer notes of herb, black fruit, graphite, cocoa, plum and spice. Compact, somewhat bunched up-seeming fruit flavors follow. It needs time to come together.
Sleight of Hand 2015 Archimage Columbia Valley $52 88 points
Cabernet Franc (57%) is in the lead on this wine, with the rest Merlot. Aromas of plum, green herb, green pepper and spice are followed by nuanced fruit and herb flavors that flesh out with time open.
Sleight of Hand 2016 The Enchantress Old Vine French Creek Vineyard Chardonnay Yakima Valley $28 88 points
Aromas of lemon curd, almond skin, apple and toast are followed by medium-plus-bodied fruit flavors that bring a sense of weight. Bright acidity backs it up.
Sleight of Hand 2016 The Sorceress Grenache Columbia Valley $45 88 points
Light in color, this is a blend of fruit from Upland, French Creek and Elevation vineyards. The aromas offer notes of cherry Jolly Rancher, white pepper, potpourri, blueberry and herb. Black and green olive notes emerge over time. Elegant, not fully concentrated fruit and savory flavors follow. Give it time to open up.
Soos Creek 2015 Sundance Columbia Valley $25 91 points
Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon make up nearly equal parts of this wine, which is finished off with a healthy dollop of Cabernet Franc. High-toned notes of dried herb, black cherry and bittersweet chocolate are followed by plump dark fruit flavors. Chocolate notes linger on the finish. It’s a bit bunched up at present but has the stuffing to go the distance. Best after 2021. Editor’s Choice
Soos Creek 2015 Vielles Vignes Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $50 90 points
This is the winery’s first old vine (Vielles Vignes) offering from this esteemed vineyard. The aromas show notes of assorted dried herbs along with black cherry. Dark fruit flavors follow, with the tannins bringing a bit of grip. Best after 2022.
Soos Creek 2015 Artiest Series #15 Columbia Valley $35 89 points
This wine is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (56%) and Cabernet Franc (40%), finished off with Merlot. Aromas of savory herb, dried herb, golden raisin, anise and cherry lead to well-balanced fruit flavors. The tannins give a slightly dry squeeze, needing some time to stretch their legs.
Soos Creek 2017 King Cab Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $18 88 points
Aromas of savory herb, green pepper, game, licorice and dark fruit lead to plump golden raisin and cherry flavors. It’s straight down the fairway.
Soos Creek 2015 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Mountain $40 88 points
Cabernet Sauvignon (57%) makes up most of this wine, with the rest nearly equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Aromas of dried and fresh herb, barrel spice, anise and black fruit are followed by plump black cherry flavors. The tannins seem a bit dry out of the gate. If they settle in, there’s good stuffing.
Sparkman 2015 Ruby Leigh Columbia Valley $55 91 points
A blend of 56% Merlot and 22% Cabernet Franc make up the majority of this wine, with the balance equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. The aromas start out high toned, with notes of dried herb, raspberry, cherry and licorice. Plump, juicy fruit flavors follow. It brings appeal and freshness for such a warm vintage.
Sparkman 2015 Ruckus Syrah Red Mountain $52 90 points
The aromas are reserved, showing notes of raspberry, plum, fresh herb and crushed rock, along with kisses of flower. The palate brings ripe dark fruit flavors, with the warmth of the vintage on display.
Sparkman 2015 Kingpin Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $65 89 points
Inviting aromas of cocoa, vanilla bean, coffee, flower, herb and graphite lead to a palate that paints around the edges. The tannins bring a firm grip. The wood seems prominent out of the gate. Give it some time to integrate.
Sparkman 2015 Stella Mae Columbia Valley $55 89 points
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up over two-thirds of this wine, with the rest Malbec and Petit Verdot. The aromas seem wound up out of the gate, with notes of graphite, vanilla, cherry and licorice. Ripe, saturated roasted coffee bean and cherry flavors follow. The oak gets out front of the fruit at times.
Sparkman 2017 Birdie Riesling Columbia Valley $18 87 points
The aromas are quite light for the variety, with notes of jasmine, lime and flower that take some time to tease out. It drinks dry with a slight bitter note on the finish. The variety seems a bit hard to find.
Ste. Chapelle 2016 Open Air Snake River Valley (ID) $22 88 points
The aromas are closed up out of the gate, with notes of herb, bittersweet chocolate, graphite and barrel spice. The flavors are light and fresh, painting a bit around the edges but bringing a pleasing sense of acidity. Put it on the dinner table to see it at its best.
Ste. Chapelle 2017 Special Late Harvest Riesling Snake River Valley (ID) $12 86 points
Aromas of peach, honeysuckle and herb are followed by sweet, sugary apricot flavors. It needs some more acidity to pull it together.
Telaya 2016 Turas Red Blend Snake River Valley (ID) $32 86 points
Dark plum aromas are at the fore, along with notes of tire rubber and spice. The palate falls a bit flat, with the concentration wanting. Caramel notes linger on the finish.
Three of Cups 2016 L’Astre Syrah Walla Walla Valley $30 88 points
This wine is a blend of fruit from Les Collines and Riviere Galets vineyards. Brooding aromas of dark fruit, plum and herb lead to full-bodied black fruit flavors. The warmth of the vintage is on display.
Va Piano 2016 Rosebud Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $95 92 points
The aromas bring immediate appeal, with notes of dried herb, barrel spice and black fruit. Rich but well-balanced fruit flavors follow along with a lengthy finish. It has a nice yum factor. Some time in the cellar will be rewarded. Best after 2023, with a long life in front of it. Cellar Selection
Va Piano 2016 Stoney Vine Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $65 91 points
Hailing from the Rocks District, with aromas that pop with notes of green herb, green olive, fire pit, flower and charcuterie, leaning hard into the savory. Light, palate coating flavors follow.
Va Piano 2016 DuBrul Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $95 90 points
Locked up on first pour, this wine opens to reveal aromas of the blackest cherries, cedar and spice, with the warmth of the vintage on display. Rich, hedonistic dark fruit flavors follow, surrounded by a lot of structure. It’s a power-driven interpretation of this vineyard. Best by 2024.
Va Piano 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $50 90 points
Appealing green herb, plum, green pepper, dark fruit, bittersweet chocolate and spice aromas lead to dark fruit flavors that show a sense of balance and restraint. It shows a touch of astringency but also polish, with barrel notes lingering on the finish.
Va Piano 2015 Syrah Walla Walla Valley $50 88 points
The aromas are quite light, making you lean into the glass to get at the notes of cigar box, herb and tire rubber. The palate shows more generosity, with a lovely sense of balance. If the two sync, it could move up.
Va Piano 2016 Les Collines Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $65 88 points
This wine comes from one of the valley’s premier Syrah sites. Raspberry and cherry aromas lead to fruit flavors surrounded by an astringent feel. The vineyard seems hard to find. Perhaps some time in bottle will soften its edges.
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