Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for December 2019. Wines are listed alphabetically by winery. Read information on how I review wines here. Read about the Wine Enthusiast rating system here. Read about how to interpret my scores 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.
106 wines reviewed in December in Wine Enthusiast.
Bainbridge Vineyards has been quietly making Puget Sound wines since 1977 when Gerard and Jo Ann Bentryn founded the winery. They released their inaugural wine in 1982 as Washington’s 84th bonded winery, with the Bentryns true pioneers in the industry. In 2013, the winery and vineyard were sold to a co-operative, with long-time employee Betsey Wittick heading up the grape growing and winemaking efforts.
Anyone growing grapes in western Washington would tell you it’s no easy venture, but the Bainbridge Vineyards wines are consistently delicious. They are also a good reminder of how spoiled we are in the Pacific Northwest.
I poured the Bainbridge 2017 Siegerrebe Puget Sound ($25, 90 points, Editor’s Choice) at a seminar in Texas last year. One of the people on the panel was a master sommelier who had never tried the variety before. Here it’s growing in our backyard for us to enjoy whenever we like. The winery also makes tasty Müller Thurgau (Bainbridge 2016 Müller-Thurgau Puget Sound $22 89 points) and Madeline Angevine (Bainbridge 2017 Madeleine Angevine Puget Sound $22, 89 points), highlighting western Washington’s cool climate characteristics.
Perhaps most impressively, the winery makes a quite successful Pinot Noir (Bainbridge 2016 Pinot Noir Puget Sound $36, 89 points). While Willamette Valley to the south has scads of world class Pinot, it must be remembered that part of what makes these wines so exceptional is that it’s a marginal climate for growing the variety. In western Washington, just a few hundred miles north, it is that much harder to pull off.
Overall, Bainbridge Vineyards is a must stop for any wine lover visiting Bainbridge, bringing a combination of long history, quality wines, and a compelling overall experience. More than forty years later, the winery is still leading the way in western Washington.
In other reviews, new releases from Avennia always merit attention. The current offerings include one of the winery’s new Lydian wines, which are aimed at hitting a lower price point but maintaining a high level of quality. They certainly hit the mark with the GSM (Avennia 2017 Lydian GSM Columbia Valley $25 92 points, Editor’s Choice). The new releases also include two high quality Syrahs, one from Boushey Vineyard (Avennia 2017 Arnaut Boushey Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $60, 92 points, Editor’s Choice) and one from Discovery (Avennia 2017 Le Corbeau Discovery Vineyard Syrah Horse Heaven Hills $50, 92 points, Editor’s Choice).
I wrote recently on my Facebook page about how L’Ecole No. 41 Winery’s white wines were often overshadowed by their reds and that this is a disservice to how good these wines are. The December reviews include the winery’s always compelling Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon blend (L’Ecole No. 41 2018 Luminesce Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Grown Sauvignon Blanc-Sémillon Walla Walla Valley $22, 91 points, Editor’s Choice) as well as a quality, well-priced Chardonnay (L’Ecole No. 41 2018 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $20, 89 points).
Speaking of white wines, Matthews consistently excels with its Sauvignon Blanc. The winery’s Columbia Valley offering is a blend of fruit from Laura Lee Vineyard on the Royal Slope and Boushey Vineyard in Yakima Valley, full of citrus zest, kiwi, and pink grapefruit aromas and flavors (Matthews 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $24, 91 points, Editor’s Choice). The Reserve brings additional heft and layers of complexity and will do well with some time in the cellar (Matthews 2018 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $34, 92 points, Editor’s Choice).
On the value side, check out the Bieler Family 2018 Daisy Pinot Grigio Columbia Valley ($12, 90 points, Best Buy). It’s a unique blend of Pinot Grigio, co-fermented with Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. The balance is impressive for a wine at this price.
Looking for something on the sweeter side? I have just the thing. The Pacific Rim 2018 Sweet Riesling Columbia Valley ($10, 90 points) is perfumed with jasmine, orange blossom, and peach aromas. Sweet flavors follow with lively acidity to keep it all in balance. On the dessert side, take a look at the Frost Bitten 2018 Ice Riesling Yakima Valley ($15, 90 points, Best Buy), with its orange marmalade aromas and stone fruit flavors.
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Andrew Rich 2015 Celilo Vineyard Gewürztraminer Columbia Gorge (WA) $28 90 points
This wine comes from one the state’s premier white wine vineyards. Vibrant aromas of ginger, marmalade and candied pineapple are followed by sweet, rich flavors that carry on the long finish. The vineyard’s hallmark acidity stands it all up. Editor’s Choice
Avennia 2017 Lydian GSM Columbia Valley $25 92 points
This is the inaugural release of this entry-level offering from the winery. The aromas pop, with notes of raspberry, black pepper, blueberry, herb and braised meat. A textured, flavorful palate follows, bringing a sense of freshness. It’s an outrageous value. Editor’s Choice
Avennia 2017 Arnaut Boushey Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $60 92 points
Coming from one of the state’s premier Syrah vineyards, this wine has aromas of tilled soil, raspberry, mineral, dried herb, cigar leaf and blue fruit that show sneaky complexity. Medium-bodied but still elegant blue fruit flavors coat the palate, with a long, snappy finish upping the interest. Give it time to open up. Editor’s Choice
Avennia 2017 Le Corbeau Discovery Vineyard Syrah Horse Heaven Hills $50 92 points
Native fermented and aged in neutral oak, this wine has intoxicating, piercingly pure aromas of blueberry compote, sage and leaf that lead to an elegant palate showing a sense of refinement. Smoked meat notes linger on the finish. It’s a captivating example of the variety and appellation, revealing a sense of purity, delicacy and class. Editor’s Choice
Bainbridge 2017 Siegerrebe Puget Sound $25 90 points
This wine comes from one of two wineries sourcing grapes from Bainbridge Island in the only appellation west of the Cascade Mountains. Vibrant aromas of flower, lychee, ginger and grapefruit lead to a hair off-dry, flavorful palate with a drawn out finish. The acid balance is lovely. It’s a big-time winner. Editor’s Choice
Bainbridge 2016 Pinot Noir Puget Sound $36 89 points
Coming from the only appellation west of the Cascade Mountains and one of only two wineries making wines grown on Bainbridge Island, this wine has pleasing aromas of wild strawberry, dried grape stem, peppermint, whole Satsuma orange and sarsaparilla that lead to elegant, mouthwatering, transparent fruit flavors. It’s thoroughly delightful.
Bainbridge 2016 Müller-Thurgau Puget Sound $22 89 points
This wine comes from 38-year-old vines. Aromas and flavors of cut green and yellow apple and the underside of a pineapple are at the core. A sense of acidity stands it up straight. Pair it with corn salad in a lemon vinaigrette to see it shine.
Bainbridge 2017 Madeleine Angevine Puget Sound $22 89 points
The aromas intrigue with notes of whole pear, grass, cut apple and citrus. Medium-bodied, crisp, dry flavors follow. The lively acidity ups the interest. Pair it with seared halibut with a citrus coulis.
Bieler Family 2018 Daisy Pinot Grigio Columbia Valley $12 90 points
Inspired by the whites of northern Italy, this is a one-of-a-kind wine in the state: a co-fermentation of Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Moscato. Petroleum jelly, green apple, melon and a whiff of tropical fruit lead to bone-dry flavors that stretch out on the finish. A lively sense of acidity accents it all. Best Buy
Block Wines 2017 Golden Block Boushey Vineyard Grenache Yakima Valley $40 90 points
Pale in color, this wine has piercingly pure Mandarin orange, flower, raspberry, fresh tobacco and herb aromas, followed by medium-bodied flavors that captivate.
Block Wines 2018 Tauro Block Boushey Vineyard Sémillon Yakima Valley $20 88 points
This offering shows aromas of fig, pear and ale, not seeming entirely settled at present. Light, bright flavors follow, with the acid carrying it. The stuffing is good. Some time in bottle should serve it well.
Browne Family Vineyards 2016 Site Series Pinot Noir Willamette Valley $30 91 points
Appealing aromas of forest floor, cigar leaf, toast, strawberry and sarsaparilla lead to palate-coating but still elegant red fruit flavors. A long finish carries it. It’s downright delicious. Editor’s Choice
Cameron Hughes 2016 Lot 628 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $18 88 points
Blackberry, plum and baking spice aromas enchant. Palate-coating, elegant fruit flavors follow, having a sense of presence. The concentration is a bit light at times, but it’s a pretty expression of the variety.
Cameron Hughes 2018 Lot 637 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $14 88 points
The aromas are effusive, with notes of plum, black currant, cocoa, green herb and baking spice. The palate is smooth and flavorful. The concentration isn’t all there in the middle, but what is there is lovely.
Cameron Hughes 2016 Lot 638 Petit Verdot Yakima Valley $15 87 points
Red apple, raspberry, mortared fresh herb, lemon and cherry cough drop aromas lead to fruit flavors that paint around the edges, but are missing in the middle. Have it with food to see it at its best.
Cameron Hughes 2016 Lot 622 Riesling Columbia Valley $12 85 points
Aromas of diesel, lime and lime leaf lead to medium-sweet ripe peach flavors, with the wine showing its age. It could use more acidity to prop it up.
Cameron Hughes 2016 Lot 660 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $25 83 points
Aromas of wet hay, dried raspberry and dried cherry are followed by lighter styled, gamy flavors. It ends with a medicinal note.
Canoe Ridge 2018 The Expedition Pinot Gris Horse Heaven Hills $15 89 points
Fresh, appealing aromas of apple, Bosc pear, flowers and heaping amounts of tropical fruit lead to full-feeling apple, kiwi, melon and pineapple flavors with a generous touch of sweetness. It delights.
Canoe Ridge 2016 Reserve Merlot Horse Heaven Hills $26 88 points
Pleasing aromas of raspberry, whole clove, barrel spice, apple and red cherry lead to somewhat lighter-styled, well-balanced red fruit flavors that bring a sense of freshness and extend on the finish. It’s a Merlot prototype.
Canoe Ridge 2018 The Expedition Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $15 87 points
Expressive aromas of pear, citrus, herb, pineapple and kiwi lead to full-feeling but somewhat lightly concentrated tropical fruit flavors. A pleasing sense of acidity connects it all together.
Canoe Ridge 2016 The Explorer Red Blend Horse Heaven Hills $22 87 points
Green herb, chocolate and cherry aromas are followed by ripe dark-fruit flavors. It could use a bit more acid and tannin structure to stand it up, but it’s pretty tasty all the same.
Canoe Ridge 2016 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $26 87 points
Aromas of cocoa, red apple skin and cherry cola are followed by quite ripe dark cherry flavors. It’s doesn’t all stitch together but still provides enjoyment.
Canoe Ridge 2017 The Expedition Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $15 87 points
There’s no mistaking the variety, with its aromas of plum, orange peel, black currant and plenty of green pepper, with the flavors showing more of the same. It’s soft and elegant in feel.
Canoe Ridge 2015 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $26 87 points
Brooding aromas of violet, orange, anise and cherry lead to a mouthful of pitch-black yet quite ripe fruit flavors and a lightly smoky finish. The tannins give a firm, assertive squeeze, requiring some food to tame them.
Canoe Ridge 2017 The Expedition Chardonnay Horse Heaven Hills $15 86 points
Aromas of lemon curd, butterscotch, lees and spice are followed by medium-bodied flavors that trail toward the slightly bitter finish. It’s a straightforward example of the variety.
Canoe Ridge 2015 Reserve Merlot Horse Heaven Hills $26 85 points
Raspberry, rubber band, red apple and anise aromas lead to lighter-styled fruit flavors. The concentration doesn’t seem all there.
Cloudveil 2018 Pinot Gris Oregon $13 89 points
The aromas pop, with notes of kiwi, flowers and nectarine. Off-dry drinking kiwi and pineapple flavors follow, with enough acidity to stand it up straight. It’s a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. Best Buy
Cloudveil 2017 Pinot Noir Oregon $17 88 points
Pale in color even for a Pinot with a touch of bricking, the wine has aromas offering notes of sarsaparilla, peppermint, mushroom and cherry. The palate is light and nuanced, with juicy acidity. It’s a pretty, well-priced interpretation of the variety, better suited for the dinner table than to stand on its own.
Cloudveil 2018 Rosé Oregon $15 88 points
Aromas of strawberry, watermelon and cherry lead to a hair off-dry, medium-bodied flavors. It’s a sure-fire crowd-pleaser, with tart acidity stitching it together.
Frost Bitten 2018 Ice Riesling Yakima Valley $15 90 points
Apricot jam, ripe peach and orange marmalade aromas are followed by sweet, plentiful stone fruit flavors that bring a vibrant sense of acidity that kicks it up a notch. It delivers a whole lot of quality and value.
Full Pull & Friends NV Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature Chardonnay Columbia Valley $20 88 points
Pear, brioche, ale and whole lemon aromas lead to dry flavors that bring a pleasing sense of acidity.
Gravel Bar 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $15 88 points
Aromas of plum, fresh herb and green pepper are out front on the nose. The palate is light and elegant in structure, making it a solid choice for the dinner table.
Gravel Bar 2016 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $0 87 points
Aromas of roasted corn on the cob, cinnamon and vanilla with melted butter notes lead to fuller-feeling flavors. Lemony acidity runs throughout. The oak plays a prominent role, with varied results.
Ican NV Rosé Horse Heaven Hills $7 86 points
Coming in resealable 375 ml cans, this rosé offers effusive aromas of cherry Jolly Rancher and watermelon. Full-feeling, just off-dry flavors follow.
Ican NV Chardonnay Horse Heaven Hills $7 86 points
Packaged in a resealable can, this wine offers aromas and flavors of roasted corn on the cob, butter and peach. It’s straightforward yet enjoyable.
J. Bookwalter 2017 Double Plot Conner-Lee Vineyard Chardonnay Columbia Valley $48 90 points
Toast, pineapple and barrel spice aromas are out front. Full-bodied, palate-coating flavors follow along with a warm finish. It’s a no-holds-barred style. For those looking for a big, rich, ripe, toasty Chardonnay, this one’s for you.
J. Scott Cellars 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $40 89 points
Baking chocolate, cherry cordial, green herb and anise aromas are at the fore. Plump, upfront flavors follow, with the tannins bringing a bit of grit. Give it time to settle in.
Julia’s Dazzle 2018 Pinot Gris Columbia Valley $18 87 points
Watermelon, cherry Jolly Rancher and bubblegum aromas lead to full-feeling sour cherry flavors. It’s a bit weighty feeling but still delivers plenty of appeal.
Klipsun 2016 Klipsun Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $150 89 points
This is the inaugural release from this site from Terlato, which purchased the esteemed vineyard in 2016. The Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with 10% Merlot and Syrah and aged 20 months in 100% new oak, and the aromas offer notes of raspberry jam and dried cherry, seeming a bit desiccated. Ripe, jammy but still reserved-seeming fruit flavors follow. The tannins are a bit bunched up at present. Give it some time in the cellar.
Komodo Dragon 2016 Red Blend Columbia Valley $16 90 points
This wine offers aromas of red plum, herb, tobacco and cherry on the nose. Plump, dark-fruit flavors carry the palate, supported by enough structure to hold it all together.
L’Ecole No. 41 2018 Luminesce Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Grown Sauvignon Blanc-Sémillon Walla Walla Valley $22 91 points
Sauvignon Blanc takes the lead in this vintage, making up 55% of the blend. Aromas of fig, spice, corn husk and herb emerge on the nose. The palate is considerably more giving, with a creamy feel to the fig and spice flavors that lead to a warm finish. Editor’s Choice
L’Ecole No. 41 2018 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $20 89 points
Enchanting aromas of lemon, sweet spice, lees and green apple lead to rounded flavors that show a sense of balance and restraint. It’s a spot-on example of the variety and a superb value.
Marion-Field 2016 The Harrison Pinot Noir Willamette Valley $30 91 points
The aromas draw you into the glass, with notes of peppermint candy, cigar leaf, cherry and sarsaparilla. Fuller-styled cherry and spice flavors follow. Orange rind notes linger on the finish. It’s a rich interpretation of the variety that delivers.
Maryhill 2016 Elephant Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Franc Rattlesnake Hills $38 88 points
Cocoa, plum, green herb and cherry aromas lead to fuller-feeling dark-fruit flavors. Dark chocolate notes linger on the finish. There’s a lot to like.
Maryhill 2016 Vineyard Series Kiona Vineyards Heart of the Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $51 88 points
Aromas of black currant, spice, cocoa and green herb are followed by somewhat lighter-styled flavors that deliver appeal. Grainy tannins back it up. It captures the vintage well.
Maryhill 2016 Proprietor’s Reserve Elephant Mountain Vineyard Syrah Columbia Valley $38 87 points
Aromas of cocoa, baking spice and dark plum lead to quite ripe, dark-fruit and barrel flavors that don’t hold entirely together throughout.
Maryhill 2016 Proprietor’s Reserve Tavolo Rosso Red Blend Columbia Valley $38 87 points
This wine is a blend of 62% Sangiovese, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot. Subdued aromas of rose hips, raspberry and barrel spice lead to lighter-styled red cherry and herb flavors. A tart finish follows, with the acidity piquing the interest but seeming unusual given the amount of alcohol.
Maryhill 2016 Proprietor’s Reserve Zinfandel Columbia Valley $46 87 points
The aromas are vibrant, with notes of orange peel, raspberry and cherry meat. Sweet, rich, front-loaded flavors follow, painting around the edges with the alcohol poking through.
Maryhill 2016 Vineyard Series Les Collines Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $46 87 points
This 100% Cabernet hails from a vineyard best known for its Syrah. Its aromas offer notes of black cherry, spice, tire rubber and heaping amounts of fresh and dried herbs. The palate is evenly spaced, with the tannins providing a bit of grit.
Maryhill 2016 Proprietor’s Reserve Sangiovese Columbia Valley $38 86 points
Quiet aromas of red fruit and spice lead to lighter-styled cranberry flavors that seem a bit washed out. It’s pleasant but comes off as innocuous, with the variety hard to discern.
Maryhill 2016 Clifton Hill Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $42 86 points
Fresh herbs, cherry liqueur and pencil eraser aromas lead to sweet, bunched up, center focused fruit flavors. The tannins show some grit.
Maryhill 2016 Vineyard Series McKinley Springs Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $46 86 points
The aromas are reticent, with notes of flower, black cherry, barrel spice and graphite. The flavors are dense and tightly wound, backed by assertive tannins.
Maryhill 2016 McKinley Springs Vineyard Cinsault Horse Heaven Hills $42 85 points
Aromas of barrel spice, coffee and raspberry lead to very light red fruit flavors that bring quite a bit of alcohol. Cranberry and coffee flavors linger on the finish. The concentration is quite light.
Maryhill 2016 Vineyard Series Indira Elephant Mountain Vineyards Horse Heaven Hills $46 83 points
Quite pale in color, this 58% Cinsault and 42% Counoise blend has aromas of tire rubber and other reductive notes at the fore, making it hard to get at the fruit. On the palate, oak overtakes any varietal flavor, with butterscotch lingering on the finish.
Maryhill 2016 Vineyard Series Eagle Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $42 83 points
Aromas of smoke, raspberry jam, herb and tire rubber lead to light, dilute-seeming flavors. Coffee notes linger on the finish.
Matteo 2016 Ice Wine Semillon Wahluke Slope $40 92 points
All coming from Rosebud Vineyard and having a whopping 27.2 g/L of residual sugar, this slightly browned wine offers aromas of brown sugar and crème brûlée. It’s intensely rich on the palate, with dried pineapple and honey flavors. A long finish ups the interest.
Matteo 2016 Grenache Wahluke Slope $40 90 points
Fruit for this wine comes from StoneTree Vineyard. The aromas intrigue, with notes of raspberry, orange peel, red cherry, smoked meat and potpourri. Soft, velvety, elegant flavors follow, with cranberry notes in the potpourri- and citrus-filled finish. It shows a lovely sense of balance—a fascinating offering of the variety from this appellation as much if not more about intellectual appeal than hedonism.
Matteo 2016 Syrah Walla Walla Valley $40 89 points
The aromas are effusive, with notes of raspberry jam, rose hips and underbrush. There’s a pretty sense of elegance, lightness and transparency to the flavors, with the overall balance upping the interest.
Matteo 2015 Merlot Columbia Valley $75 86 points
Blackberry and raspberry jam aromas are highlighted by notes of baking spice and dried currant, with the fruit seeming desiccated. The palate is quite medicinal, with a strong cough syrup note.
Matthews 2018 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $34 92 points
Fermented in concrete eggs and puncheons, this wine is a blend of Royal Slope and Yakima Valley fruit. Appealing aromas of pink grapefruit, whole ginger, herb, gooseberry, wet slate, kiwi, white peach and citrus are followed by medium-bodied, well-balanced tropical and citrus fruit flavors, with a lingering finish that ups the interest. It brings a sense of seriousness and heft and should do well with some bottle age. Serious stuff. Editor’s Choice
Matthews 2016 Merlot Columbia Valley $39 91 points
Drinking more like a Bordeaux blend than straight-up Merlot, this has coffee, raspberry, spice, herb, dark cherry and graphite aromas out front. The palate brings a sense of volume and layering but also elegance, extending on the finish. A citrus note emerges over time. It has a nice yum factor.
Matthews 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $24 91 points
This wine is a blend of fruit from Laura Lee Vineyard on the Royal Slope and Boushey in Yakima Valley. There’s no mistaking the variety, with its vibrant aromas of citrus zest, fresh herb, kiwi and white and pink grapefruit, with intriguing mineral notes throughout. The kiwi and tropical and citrus flavors play perfectly off one another, with the palate bringing a sense of volume and length. It has a big-time yum factor. Editor’s Choice
Matthews 2016 Reserve Claret Columbia Valley $70 91 points
This wine is 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, coming from six different vineyards across the Columbia Valley. Aromas of coffee grounds, dried herbs, graphite and cherry are followed by dark chocolate and cherry flavors that bring a sense of polish and elegance.
Matthews 2016 Reserve Merlot Columbia Valley $60 91 points
Coming from a barrel selection, it has aromas of freshly brewed coffee, raspberry, sandalwood, fresh herb and pencil lead forming the core. Exquisitely balanced flavors follow, with the rich texture and velvety tannins heightening the appeal. It should have a long life ahead of it.
Matthews 2016 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $70 90 points
This wine is a blend of Walla Walla Valley, Red Mountain and Columbia Valley fruit. Aromas of fresh and dried herbs, raspberry, anise, mocha, green pepper and dark fruit lead to well-balanced fruit flavors that bring a sense of elegance. It’s a sophisticated offering of the variety, best suited for the dinner table.
Matthews 2016 Claret Columbia Valley $35 90 points
In this blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec, bittersweet chocolate, dark cherry, coffee and fresh and dried herb aromas are followed by elegantly styled raspberry, coffee and cherry flavors. It’s a very pretty wine, with a pleasing lip-smacking quality. Give it some additional bottle time to see it at its best.
Matthews 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $44 90 points
Cocoa nib, black cherry, raspberry and black licorice aromas lead to ripe, rich, action-packed flavors that bring a sense of volume. It’s a sure-fire, crowd-pleasing, riper-style Cabernet.
Pacific Rim 2018 Sweet Riesling Columbia Valley $10 90 points
The nose is perfumed in aromas of jasmine, orange blossom, ripe peach and lime. Quite sweet tea flavors follow on the palate, showing lively acidity to offset the ripeness. A Mandarin orange note lingers on the finish. Best Buy
Pacific Rim 2018 Dry Riesling Columbia Valley $10 87 points
Subdued aromas of herb and lime lead to bone-dry flavors. One wants more aromatic expression, but the acidity is lovely. Best Buy
Pacific Rim 2018 J Riesling Columbia Valley $10 87 points
Appealing lime leaf, jasmine and flower aromas are followed by off-dry orange flavors. Mandarin orange notes linger on the finish. Cell
Pendulum 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $21 87 points
The aromas pop, with notes of raspberry jam, fresh green herb, cocoa, green pepper and Satsuma orange. Ripe, full-feeling fruit flavors follow, with coffee and char notes on the finish. The warmth of the vintage shows.
Seven Hills 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $30 90 points
Aromas of bittersweet chocolate, cherry, herbs and baking spice are followed by palate-coating flavors and a firm structure. A chocolate note lingers on the finish.
Seven Hills 2016 Klipsun Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $50 84 points
Aromas of Band-Aid, cherry and herbs are followed by light, raisiny-seeming flavors with a tacky feel.
Sightglass 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $45 92 points
All varietal, fruit for this wine comes from Stillwater Creek Vineyard. Dark roasted coffee bean, cherry and dried herb aromas are out front. Creamy, rich fruit and barrel flavors follow. It’s a Cabernet lover’s Cabernet and has the stuffing to go the distance. Editor’s Choice
Sightglass 2017 Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley $40 91 points
For this 100% varietal, three-quarters of this wine comes from Stillwater Creek Vineyard, with the rest from Conner Lee. Aromas of dark coffee, herb and cherry lead to full-bodied flavors with a generous oak treatment. A lingering finish caps it off. Editor’s Choice
Silver Totem 2017 Wallula Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $17 88 points
Aromas of green pepper, baking spice, struck match and plum lead to broad-feeling but still elegant green pepper and cherry flavors. A light squeeze of tannin finishes it off. It’s a straight-down-the-fairway interpretation of Cabernet, showing the variety’s more elegant side.
Silver Totem 2018 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $15 86 points
Pleasing aromas of apple, pear and spice are followed by straight-down-the-fairway, somewhat sleek-feeling flavors. The concentration doesn’t seem all there, but what is there is pleasant.
Skagit 2018 Rock’N Rosé Columbia Valley $23 87 points
Made from Sangiovese and showing just a trace of color, this rosé boasts aromas of herb, overripe red apple and lemon, followed by tart, lip-smacking acidity. It provides intrigue, with the acidity being the driver.
Skagit 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $42 86 points
The aromas of this wine, aged 30 months in French and American oak, are locked up out of the gate. Cherry fruit leather, black licorice, dill and anise aromas emerge over time. Ripe red and black fruit flavors follow, looking for a bit more structure to pull them together. The warmth of the vintage shows.
Skagit 2016 Destiny Ridge Vineyard Barbera Horse Heaven Hills $36 85 points
Hailing from Destiny Ridge Vineyards, overripe raspberry, wilted flower and rose hip aromas are followed by tart red fruit flavors. It’s all a strange mix.
Skagit 2018 Antoine Creek Vineyard Viognier Columbia Valley $24 85 points
Antoine Creek Vineyard provides the fruit for this wine. Aromas of peach, flower, reduction and herb lead to tart but still somewhat boozy-seeming stone fruit flavors. It’s a strange mix.
Skagit 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Lake Chelan $23 84 points
With grapes coming from Four Lakes Vineyard, the aromas aren’t entirely settled. Despite the listed alcohol, the fruit concentration and palate feel are quite light.
Skagit 2015 Four Lakes Vineyard Merlot Lake Chelan $34 83 points
The aromas pop, with notes of mesquite smoke, red cherry, tire rubber and herbs. Quite smoky tasting flavors follow, along with a dry squeeze of tannins. The smoke influence is prominent.
Skyfall 2017 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $12 85 points
Buttered corn on the cob aromas lead to pleasant, lighter-seeming fruit flavors. It’s a bit innocuous but provides appeal.
Tamarack Cellars 2018 Pinot Gris Columbia Valley $20 89 points
Pear and apple aromas are followed by full-bodied, textured, drawn out flavors. It’s a spot-on example of the variety.
Tamarack Cellars 2018 Firehouse White Blend Columbia Valley $18 89 points
This is the inaugural release of this wine—a companion to the popular Firehouse Red. Pretty aromas of pear, corn husk and spice lead to light, medium-bodied, well-balanced flavors with a pleasing lick of acidity. Tropical notes linger on the finish. It provides a lot of appeal—a sure-fire hit.
Temporal 2017 Tempranillo Washington $15 89 points
Light aromas of cherry, raspberry, pencil eraser, cedar, graphite and plum lead to fruit puckering fruit flavors. The tannins give a firm squeeze. The wine provides a lot of quality and value. Give it a short decant if drinking in the near term.
Tenor 2017 Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $45 92 points
Barrel fermented and aged in 600 L puncheons, this 100% varietal wine was macerated on skins for over 24 hours. The aromas intrigue, with notes of lemon pith, wet granite, papaya, herb, grapefruit and the underside of a pineapple. The palate is full, almost creamy in feel, redolent with tropical fruit, herb and citrus flavors, carrying some heft. It extends on the finish. A stylistic interpretation of the variety, it should do well with a bit of time in the cellar, drinking best on its third day open. Best after 2020. Cellar Selection
Tenor 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $72 92 points
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon coming from Stillwater Creek Vineyard on the Royal Slope and Hedges Estate on Red Mountain. All free-run juice fermented in concrete and stainless steel, it features aromas lifted by notes of bittersweet chocolate, coffee, black raspberry, green pepper, cardamom, licorice, plum and scorched earth. The palate is rich and creamy in feel, showing impressive balance and length. Vanilla notes linger on the finish. It’s a hedonistic offering of the variety. The oak shows a bit prominently at present. Give it some time to settle in. Best after 2022. Cellar Selection
Tenor 2017 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $50 91 points
This wine was 100% barrel fermented and aged 18 months in French and Austrian oak. The first vintage to include fruit from the vineyard La Reya Blanca in the Royal Slope, this wine has aromas offering notes of clarified butter, spice, lemon curd, toast, squash and peach. Full-bodied, opulent, textured stone and tropical fruit flavors are followed by a warm finish that sails. Those looking for a full-bodied, hedonistic, well-executed Chardonnay, look no further. Editor’s Choice
Tenor 2016 Syrah Columbia Valley $64 90 points
This wine is a blend of fruit from Scarline Vineyard on the Royal Slope and Va Piano in Walla Walla Valley. The aromas of coffee, ember, blackberry, leather, smoked meat, olive and earth jump out of the glass. The flavors coat the palate from end to end, bringing a sense of volume while maintaining freshness. The length is impressive, with a Robitussin note emerging over time.
Tenor 2016 Malbec Columbia Valley $64 90 points
All the fruit for this wine comes from Stillwater Creek Vineyard on the Royal Slope. Barrel aromas are out front, with notes of cocoa, mint, flowers, plum, asphalt, green wood and blackberry. The palate is soft and textured, showing pleasing complexities on the finish. The wood shows a bit prominently at present, but there’s a lot behind it.
Waterbrook 2018 Founders White Blend Columbia Valley $15 88 points
The aromas are a tour de force, with notes of lychee, flower, Satsuma orange, pear and peach. Off-dry, sweeter-leaning stone fruit flavors follow. It’s a sure-fire crowd-pleaser.
Waterbrook 2018 Pinot Gris Columbia Valley $15 88 points
Aromas of petroleum jelly, apple and cut canned pineapple lead to a flavorful, medium-bodied palate. It provides a lot of appeal, with a nice sense of acidity accenting the flavors.
Waterbrook 2016 AVA Series Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $25 87 points
Lifted aromas of vanilla, baking spice and cherry lead to a palate with elegant fruit and barrel flavors. The oak plays a large part in the show, at times getting far in front of the fruit. A lively sense of acidity and freshness keeps it together.
Waterbrook 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley $15 86 points
Aromas of petroleum jelly, melon, herb and citrus are followed by light, pleasant, acid-driven flavors. It doesn’t stand on its own but should do well at the dinner table.
Waterbrook 2018 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $15 86 points
The aromas offer notes of peach and apple along with a whiff of toast. Quite creamy-feeling flavors follow.
Watermill 2017 Hallowed Stones Estate Syrah The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater $40 90 points
The aromas pop, with notes of blueberry, firepit, wet gravel, flowers, dried herbs, smoked meat, olive and dried orange peel. Soft, full-feeling fruit, savory and barrel spice flavors follow. It’s a tasty offering from the Rocks.
Watermill 2017 Chances R Columbia Valley (OR) $20 89 points
High-toned aromas of coffee bean, dried and green herbs and barrel spice lead to soft, sultry raspberry and plum flavors that persist on the finish. It brings plenty of appeal.
Watermill 2018 Reyna Estate Vineyard Viognier Columbia Valley (OR) $20 88 points
Heightened aromas of honeysuckle and canned peach lead to ripe, full-bodied, almost unctuous stone fruit flavors that persist on the finish. There’s a lot of enjoyment to be had.
Watermill 2017 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley (OR) $35 88 points
Brooding aromas of plum, jam, coffee, tire rubber and spice lead to a ripe, fruit-forward palate. Abundant coffee notes linger on the finish. The warmth of the vintage shows, but there’s still enjoyment to be had.
Watermill 2017 Estate Merlot Walla Walla Valley (OR) $30 88 points
Perfumed aromas of blue fruit, pipe tobacco, orange peel, flower and fresh herbs are followed by soft, velvety, fruit and barrel flavors. At times it doesn’t quite seem to have fully ripened.
Watermill 2017 Estate Dugger Creek Cabernet Franc Walla Walla Valley (OR) $35 88 points
Aromas of dark coffee, cherry, plum and fresh and dried herbs lead full-feeling cherry and plum flavors. There’s a lovely sense of balance to the fruit, herb and coffee flavors.
Watermill 2017 Hallowed Stones Estate Cabernet Franc The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater $40 87 points
Varietal bottlings of Franc are an extreme rarity from this Syrah-heavy appellation. This example leans hard into the green, with aromas of garden greens, dried Satsuma orange, coffee and plum. Soft, plump flavors follow, with coffee notes on the finish.
Watermill 2018 Chances R Chardonnay Columbia Valley (OR) $15 86 points
Interesting aromas of peach, pineapple and herbs lead to thick, viscous-feeling corn on the cob flavors. It gets bogged down.