Below are my Wine Enthusiast reviews for February/March 2021. 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.
2018 was a landmark growing season for Washington – one of the best in the last 20 years. What made the vintage so special?
It was a warm growing season but not as hot as years like 2013 through 2015 (read a complete report of the 2018 growing season here). Most importantly, harvest conditions in September and October were ideal, with many winemakers and growers using the same word to describe the weather: perfect.
The early returns on 2018s show the rewards Washington wine lovers can reap, with an abundance of wines guaranteed to blow your hair back.
Let’s start with the Avennia Rhône-style releases. Avennia has firmly established itself in the upper echelon of Washington wineries. The 2018 wines, however, reach another level.
The 2018 Justine, a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah has everything one could want from a GSM. There’s abundant huckleberry, black raspberry, and black pepper aromas and flavors. But it’s the knee buckling intensity and near endless length of the palate that truly separates this wine. It is quite simply the best Rhône-style blend that I’ve ever had from Washington (Avennia 2018 Justine Yakima Valley $40, 96 points, Cellar Selection).
Next up, the Boushey Vineyard Arnaut Syrah. We all know Boushey Vineyard Syrahs. We all love Boushey Vineyard Syrahs. This is nothing short of the best wine that I have ever had from this esteemed site. It is required reading for anyone who loves Washington wine (Avennia 2018 Arnaut Boushey Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $60, 96 points, Cellar Selection).
Meanwhile newcomer Devison Vintners made a series of shockingly good wines in 2018. Malbec is often plump, fleshy, and full of fruit. Imagine that supported by a whole lot of acid and tannin structure along with plenty of earthy accents, and I give you the Southwind Vineyard Malbec (Devison 2018 Southwind Vineyard Malbec Walla Walla Valley $49, 94 points, Cellar Selection).
Devison offers another thrilling wine from Southwind Vineyard, this one a Syrah. Again, we see the impressive acid and tannin structure that this area can offer. This is a wine that absolutely requires extended decanting or four or five years in the cellar minimum before you should go near it (Devison 2018 Crow’s Feet Southwind Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $44, 93 points, Cellar Selection).
There are two additional stunner Rhône-style wines from Devison. The Above the Flood Rhône-style blend also comes from Boushey Vineyard. It’s a rich, hedonistic delight, with plenty of bacon fat, raspberry, herb and mineral aromas and flavors but with more than enough structure to stand them all up (Devison 2018 Above the Flood Yakima Valley $49, 94 points, Editor’s Choice). The Phantom Lamb meanwhile comes from the Royal Slope and Wahluke Slope. It offers aromas of huckleberry, gunsmoke, dark raspberry, olive, crushed rock, and smoked meat followed by blue fruit and game flavors (Devison 2018 Phantom Lamb Syrah Columbia Valley $54, 93 points, Editor’s Choice).
What about the Bordeaux-style wines you ask? Don’t worry. They are coming. The early return Merlots are outrageously good (Mark Ryan 2018 Little Sister Merlot Red Mountain $75, 94 points, Cellar Selection; Passing Time 2018 Champoux Vineyard Merlot Horse Heaven Hills $55, 93 points, Editor’s Choice).
Did someone say Red Willow? Yes, we’ve got that too courtesy of Kerloo Cellars (Kerloo 2018 Red Willow Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $57, 93 points, Editor’s Choice).
First timer Quiddity also got in on the fun in 2018 (Quiddity 2018 Cur Non Mourvèdre Columbia Valley $35 93 points, Editor’s Choice). Look for an upcoming post on this winery’s impressive inaugural releases.
Bottom line, 2018 was a vintage for Washington when everything lined up, creating some of the best wines the state has ever produced. See below for more reviews.
103 wines reviewed in the February/March issue of Wine Enthusiast.
The aromas intrigue, with notes of cedar, savory herb, soil, orange rind and bittersweet chocolate. Well-balanced flavors follow, showing a pleasing sense of complexity and detail. Coffee and herb notes linger on the finish.
Airfield Estates 2019 Chardonnay Yakima Valley $15 88 points
Aromas of cantaloupe, pear and white flower leap out of the glass. Light, zippy kiwi and other tropical flavors follow. It doesn’t necessarily scream Chardonnay but it’s tasty all the same.
Airfield Estates 2019 Founders Series Donald D Miller Chardonnay Yakima Valley $40 88 points
Generous aromas of ripe pear and peach are followed by sleek stone fruit flavors. It doesn’t seem to have fully come into its own.
Airfield Estates 2018 Mustang Yakima Valley $30 88 points
Aromas of tire rubber, raspberry, sea salt and berry are followed by lighter styled flavors. It doesn’t all hang together at present. Perhaps some more time in bottle will pull the pieces together?
Avennia 2018 Justine Yakima Valley $40 96 points
Grenache (61%, Upland) takes the lead in this wine, followed by Mourvèdre (23%, Heart of the Hill) and Syrah (Oldfield). There’s plentiful huckleberry aromas along with notes of black raspberry, dried herb, black pepper, flower, smoked meat and bittersweet chocolate, showing nuance and detail. The palate is swoon-worthy and knee-buckling, bringing depth and balance along with seemingly endless length. It’s shockingly good, with the outrageous balance what separates it. Best from 2022–2027. Cellar Selection
Avennia 2018 Arnaut Boushey Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $60 96 points
Coming from one of the state’s top Syrah vineyards, the aromas explode from the glass, with notes of iron, bacon, earth and whiffs of orange peel along with blue and black fruit. Dense, intense rich fruit and savory flavors follow, showing weight and volume. But it’s the exquisite balance that most impresses on this standout wine. Best after 2024. Cellar Selection
Avennia 2018 Parapine Grenache Columbia Valley $30 93 points
This wine was fermented in stainless steel and concrete and then aged in neutral oak. Blended with 10% Mourvèdre, initially brooding aromas of raspberry, bramble, white pepper and dried herb lead to an intensely flavored, dense palate. The balance is exquisite, and it has plenty of hang time on the finish. It’s a bit clenched right now but has all the stuffing to go the distance. Give it a healthy decant if drinking in the near term. Editor’s Choice
Basel Cellars 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $40 91 points
Locked up tightly out of the gate, cocoa, plum, green pepper and dried herb aromas emerge over time. Focused, soft black currant flavors follow. The appeal is as much about feel as flavor.
Basel Cellars 2017 Malbec Columbia Valley $40 91 points
The aromas draw you in, with notes of plum, huckleberry and whole satsuma. Plush, plump red and blue fruit flavors follow. Coffee notes linger on the finish. It’s much of what there is to love about the variety.
Basel Cellars 2018 Merlot Walla Walla Valley $40 91 points
This wine is a blend of fruit from Double River and Pheasant Run vineyards. The aromas pop, with notes of raspberry, dried herb and spice. The flavors are rich, silky and layered, showing a hedonistic, high octane style. It has plenty of hang time on the warm finish.
Basel Cellars 2017 Inspired Columbia Valley $55 91 points
The aromas bring notes of dried herb, black cherry, dark chocolate and a sprinkling of sweet barrel spices. The palate is full of class, with rich, dense fruit flavors that are seamless in their creamy feel. Butterscotch notes linger on the warm finish.
Basel Cellars 2017 Merriment Columbia Valley $55 91 points
Jammy red fruit aromas are out front, followed by notes of vanilla and baking spice. Ripe fruit flavors follow with plentiful barrel accents. There’s a lovely sense of texture that ups the appeal. Dried herb and barrel spice notes linger on the finish.
Basel Cellars 2018 Co-ferment McKinley Springs Vineyard Syrah Horse Heaven Hills $50 90 points
The aromas announce themselves with notes of coffee, dark chocolate, huckleberry and spice. Full feeling, high octane blue fruit flavors follow.
Basel Cellars 2016 Cabernet Franc Walla Walla Valley $40 89 points
Much of the fruit from this wine comes from Block 10 at this vineyard. Vanilla, tire rubber, cherry, green pepper and vegetable aromas are followed by creamy feeling fruit and barrel flavors. The aromas and palate don’t quite sync up, but there is still plenty of enjoyment to be had.
Basel Cellars 2017 Claret Columbia Valley $NA 88 points
Raspberry, chocolate, green herb and plentiful oak spices lead to soft, easy drinking fruit flavors. Chocolate notes linger on the finish. It will have broad appeal.
Basel Cellars 2019 Sauvignon Blanc-Sémillon Columbia Valley $29 87 points
The aromas pop, with notes of kiwi, pineapple and pear. The flavors are tropical fruit driven, light and airy with a sense of freshness. The concentration isn’t all there through the middle, but there’s still plenty of enjoyment to be had.
Battle Creek 2018 Reserve Pinot Noir Willamette Valley $34 89 points
The aromas aren’t ready to reveal themselves out of the gate, with notes of cinnamon, spice and cherry. Puckering cranberry-tart flavors follow, showing some breadth. It’s hard to tell exactly where it’s going at present.
Bergevin Lane 2016 Wild Child Merlot Walla Walla Valley $28 87 points
100% varietal, aromas of chocolate, black licorice, medicine and dark raspberry are followed by plentiful medicinal flavors. There are interesting things going on, but the medicinal impact distracts.
Bergevin Lane 2016 She-Devil Syrah Columbia Valley $26 87 points
Aromas of funk, coffee, dark cherry and spice lead to flavors that paint around the edges. The middle seems missing and the overall concentration light.
Bieler Family 2019 Daisy Pinot Grigio Columbia Valley $12 88 points
The aromas are light but bring some complexity, with notes of apple, pear and the underside of pineapple. Mouthwatering citrus and pear flavors follow. Dried flower notes linger on the finish. Best Buy
Browne Family Vineyards 2017 Skull & Chain Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $20 87 points
Fresh green herb aromas are out front along with satsuma notes. The flavors are light and direct. Decant for best effect.
Callan 2017 Boushey Vineyards Malbec Yakima Valley $38 88 points
Aromas of mortared fresh parsley and other green herbs are out front. Notes of purple fruit and orange rind follow. the palate is light and graceful, with a lightly smoky finish. It’s quite green but brings a sense of freshness.
Callan 2017 Elephant Mountain Merlot Yakima Valley $30 87 points
This wine is still wound up, with reductive notes of nori and dark raspberry. Center-focused, cranberry tart flavors follow. It seems a bit lean and hard to follow.
Castle & Crown 2018 Athryium Red Willow Chapel Block & Black Rock Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $24 91 points
A mix of fruit from Black Rock and Red Willow vineyards, the stem influence is out front initially, with notes of potpourri, dried stem, green olive and asparagus. The palate is flavorful, with a mix of fruit and savory flavors and a whole lot—a whole lot—of acidity backing it all up. Give it time in the decanter and pair it with food to see it at its best. Grilled pork chops should do the trick.
Chelle Bridge 2017 Future Days Red Blend Columbia Valley $38 88 points
This wine is two-thirds Les Collines Vineyard Syrah and one third Stone Tree Cabernet Sauvignon. The aromas are hidden out of the gate, with notes of medicine and cherry. The palate is tart, with abundant Robitussin flavors.
Claar 2018 Estate Grown and Bottled White Bluffs Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $30 88 points
Dark raspberry aromas are out front, along with notes of medicine, cherry cordial and grapefruit rind. The palate is wound up tightly, with the tannins bringing grip and astringency. There are good things going on if they settle in. Give an extended decant if drinking in the near term.
Concentric Wine Project 2019 60/40 Red Blend Wahluke Slope $24 90 points
This is a unique blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Roussanne, released early and recommended drinking with a slight chill. The aromas intrigue, with notes of rhubarb, cherry and cinnamon. The flavors are soft and plump. It delights.
Dance 2018 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $42 90 points
The aromas offer subdued notes of barrel spice, lees, pear and kisses of tropical fruit. A mix of tropical fruit flavors follow. It’s an unabashedly full bodied offering of the variety.
Devison 2018 Southwind Vineyard Malbec Walla Walla Valley $49 94 points
Varietal Malbec is a rarity in the valley. This one is single block, native fermented and saw only 20% new oak. The aromas take some time to get going, but once they do, they bring notes of purple flower, blue fruit and crushed rock. Lipsmacking fruit flavors follow, showing intensity and vibrancy as well as exquisite balance and length. It’s shockingly good, a new style of higher altitude Malbec for Washington with all the goodness that brings. Decant if drinking in the near term. Best after 2024. Cellar Selection
Devison 2018 Above the Flood Syrah Yakima Valley $49 94 points
Coming from one of the state’s top sites, Grenache makes up 55% of this wine, with the rest Syrah (37%) and Mourvèdre. Fermented in concrete and stainless steel, it offers a classic Boushey nose of bacon fat, dark raspberry, herb, mineral and earth. There’s plenty of fruit flavors and structure, made in a rich, hedonistic style but with superb balance. Give it a short decant and it delivers the goods. Editor’s Choice
Devison 2018 Phantom Lamb Syrah Columbia Valley $54 93 points
This wine is two-thirds Lawrence Vineyard fruit, with the rest coming from StoneTree. Fermented in concrete and oak uprights, the aromas bring immediate appeal, with notes of huckleberry, gunsmoke, dark raspberry, olive, crushed rock and smoked meat. There’s a beautiful sense of depth, intensity and structure to the blue fruit, citrus and game flavors. A hyperextended finish caps it off. Decant if drinking in the near term. Editor’s Choice
Devison 2018 Crow’s Feet Southwind Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $44 93 points
The aromas announce themselves with notes of huckleberry, thistle, crushed rock, purple flower and bacon fat. The palate is big and burly, absolutely packed full of tannin that gives a firm grip. The acid is also bright. It’s near unapproachable now but has all the stuffing to shine once the tannins settle in. Drink after 2024. Cellar Selection
Elevation Cellars 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $30 87 points
The aromas offer notes of green herb, cherry, raspberry, medicine and dark chocolate. Medicinal and dried fruit flavors follow, with the tannins showing some astringency. It brings surprisingly tart acids for the vintage.
Elevation Cellars 2019 Imperium Riesling Columbia Valley $20 87 points
The aromas offer notes of flower, ripe peach, lime leaf and dried orange peel. Just a hair off-dry stone fruit flavors follow. Lime notes linger on the finish. Impressive acid backs it up. The flavor concentration doesn’t seem all there at times, but what is pleases.
Elevation Cellars 2013 Merlot Columbia Valley $29 85 points
Aromas of fruit leather, barnyard and hay are followed by dried out seeming fruit flavors.
Fielding Hills 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope $46 91 points
This is almost all varietal, with smidges of Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Malbec rounding it out. Roasted coffee bean aromas are out front, followed by notes of cherry, raspberry and bountiful spices. Full bodied, smooth coffee flavors follow, lingering on the finish. Tasty stuff.
Fielding Hills 2017 Cabernet Franc Wahluke Slope $40 91 points
Light aromas of roasted coffee bean and char are followed by pleasing dried herb accents and dark fruit notes. The flavors are ripe and soft but still sleek, with plentiful dark chocolate accents.
Fielding Hills 2017 Estate Riverbend Vineyard Malbec Wahluke Slope $42 91 points
Dark roasted coffee bean aromas are out front, followed by notes of dark chocolate and spice. The spice and dark fruit flavors are plump, soft and generous. The fruit brings a compelling sense of freshness.
Fielding Hills 2017 Tribute Red Blend Wahluke Slope $40 91 points
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 57% of this wine, with the rest Syrah. The aromas bring notes of raspberry gummy, dried herb, dark chocolate and barrel spice. Coffee and cherry flavors follow, with dark chocolate and mocha notes lingering on the finish. It brings a lot of hedonism.
Fielding Hills 2017 Syrah Wahluke Slope $42 90 points
Roasted coffee bean, char and dark chocolate aromas are at the fore. The palate brings sumptuousness, but also deftness, showing pleasing detail. A warm finish caps it off.
Goose Ridge 2018 Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $40 92 points
Aromas of raspberry, kirsch and assorted barrel spices carry the nose. The plum and dark fruit flavors are plush on the palate, with density, layering and richness, but there’s plenty of acidity and tannic structure to tie it all together. Blackberry notes linger on the finish. The tannins bring some grip right now. Best after 2024. Editor’s Choice
Goose Ridge 2018 Vireo Red Blend Columbia Valley $42 91 points
This wine is a blend of 38% Syrah, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. The aromas suggest notes of anise, dark cherry, plum and spice. Bountiful dark-fruit flavors follow, with the tannins giving a gentle squeeze. It gives the bounty of fruit and acid that 2018 offers. Editor’s Choice
Gorman 2019 The Devil Makes Three Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $22 90 points
All of the fruit for this wine comes from the Horse Heaven Hills. Blended with 25% Malbec, Cabernet’s more savory side is on display initially, with notes of savory herb, green pepper, blood orange and plum. Plum and blue fruit flavors follow. There is great stuffing, but it needs some additional time to settle into the bottle. Best after 2021.
Grosgrain 2018 XL Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $45 92 points
This wine was fermented 25% whole cluster and aged in puncheon (50% new). The aromas pop in notes of flower, herb and plum. The flavors are fresh and light, with plentiful coffee accents. It brings a compelling sense of intensity, freshness and balance. Editor’s Choice
Grosgrain 2019 French Creek Vineyard Grenache Yakima Valley $36 91 points
This young wine is bright and fresh, with an emphasis on juicy fruit. Aged briefly in neutral oak before release, the aromas are up front in notes of raspberry and cherry. The fruit flavors dance lightly on the palate, bringing a sense of freshness. Editor’s Choice
Grosgrain 2019 Mourvèdre Walla Walla Valley $36 91 points
A young, low alcohol wine released early, this is not your typical Mourvèdre. Plum, raspberry, stem and herb aromas show a compelling sense of freshness. The palate is light and bright, putting an emphasis on purity ahead of intensity. It needs food with it to be fully appreciated. Pair it with grilled lamb.
Grosgrain 2019 Skin Contact Les Collines Vineyard Sémillon Walla Walla Valley $28 90 points
This is a rare example of this variety fermented on skins for 14 days. Aged in a mixture of clay amphora, concrete egg, neutral oak and stainless steel, the aromas are reserved but intriguing, with notes of lime, mineral, clay and herb. Tart, sleek flavors follow, with citrus notes lingering on the finish. The feel and the acidity bring much of the appeal. Pair it with clams in a shallot-wine wine broth.
Kerloo 2018 Red Willow Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $57 93 points
A rare 100% varietal offering from this vineyard, the aromas offer notes of raspberry compote, red plum and Twizzler. A plump, rounded palate follows, showing depth but also grace. There’s plenty of acid structure to stand it all up. It’s outright delicious, winning on grace rather than sheer power. Editor’s Choice
Kerloo 2018 Upland Vineyard Grenache Snipes Mountain $40 92 points
The aromas leap up, with notes of potpourri, orange rind, Jolly Rancher and smoked meat. The palate is light on its feel, made in an elegant, transparent style, but still with richness and depth. It has plenty of hang time on the finish—an achingly pure look at this site and variety. Editor’s Choice
Kerloo 2018 Lonesome Springs Ranch Grenache Yakima Valley $48 92 points
All aged in neutral oak, plum, cherry and thistle aromas are followed by rounded, pure, vivid fruit flavors. It shows depth and detail along with great purity, sticking around on the finish. Editor’s Choice
Kerloo 2018 The General Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $48 92 points
A mixture of old block Bacchus (62%) and Dionysus vineyards, this 100% varietal wine was aged in 75% new oak. The barrel notes are still primary on this young wine at present, with notes of vanilla, cigar box and nougat. Over time they give way to cherry, The palate shows a lot of grace and polish, commanding as the name suggests but far from a big bruiser.
Kerloo 2018 Stone Tree Vineyard Malbec Wahluke Slope $40 91 points
100% varietal, dried herb, satsuma, graphite and plum aromas are followed by lighter styled plum, blue fruit and blood orange flavors. It brings plenty of purity and elegance. Editor’s Choice
Kerloo 2018 Red Willow Vineyard Malbec Yakima Valley $95 91 points
This wine is a treat! 100% varietal, all in magnum. Plentiful aromas of plum and dried herb lead to elegant, streamlined plum flavors. It brings freshness, vibrancy and intensity, always remaining light on its feet.
Kerloo 2018 Dionysus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $32 90 points
This is all Cabernet, with a healthy amount (25%) coming from esteemed Red Willow and the Dionysus fruit coming from block D14. The aromas bring notes of cocoa, dried and cherry. There’s a lovely sense of brightness and deftness to the cherry and cocoa flavors.
Klipsun 2017 Klipsun Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $150 93 points
French oak aromas are out front, with notes of dark roasted coffee bean, chocolate and toffee, along with cigar box accents. On the palate, the fruit is bright and juicy, exquisitely balanced, with an interplay of chocolate and spice barrel notes. It hangs on the finish. There’s a pleasing sense of texture to it all. It needs time for the oak to integrate and the tannins to unwind. Best after 2025. Cellar Selection
Lone Birch 2019 Chardonnay Yakima Valley $11 88 points
The aromas jump up, with notes of green cantaloupe, kiwi, pineapple and pear. A fruit-filled palate follows. It drinks more like a tropical Pinot Gris than Chardonnay but still delivers plenty of enjoyment. Best Buy
Lone Birch 2019 Estate Grown Riesling Yakima Valley $11 88 points
This wine is vibrantly aromatic, with notes of jasmine, honeysuckle, white peach and dried rose petal. Plentiful off-dry Nestea Iced Tea flavors follow, with abundant acidity to stand it up. The finish carries. Best Buy
Lone Birch 2019 Rosé Yakima Valley $11 87 points
Quite dark in color, the aromas bring notes of lemongrass, watermelon and cherry. Medium bodied, just off-dry kiwi and Jolly Rancher (cherry and watermelon) flavors follow. The color is a bit off-putting but the aromas and flavors deliver plenty of enjoyment. Best Buy
Lydian 2018 GSM Columbia Valley $25 92 points
This wine is 38% Grenache, 31% Syrah and 31% Mourvèdre. The aromas are fruit forward, with notes of dark raspberry, orange peel, bramble, plum and Rainier cherry. The plum flavors are fresh and pure, with a lovely texture. Coffee and spice notes linger on the finish. It’s thoroughly delicious. Editor’s Choice
Lydian 2018 Syrah Columbia Valley $25 92 points
The aromas leap up, with notes of dark raspberry, black plum, smoked meat and whiffs of medicine. Rich flavors follow, with a silky feel upping the interest. It’s guaranteed enjoyment. Give it a short decant. Editor’s Choice
Lydian 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $25 91 points
Aromas of café au lait and cocoa powder are followed by notes of freshly chopped herb and cherry. Big, bold but still in check fruit flavors follow, with plentiful spice accents throughout. Coffee notes linger on the long finish.It shows rare balance for a wine at this price. Editor’s Choice
Lydian 2018 Merlot Columbia Valley $25 90 points
The aromas bring notes of savory herb and cherry, showing freshness and vitality. The flavors are plump and ripe. Coffee notes linger on the finish. Give a short decant if drinking in the near term and it will deliver on the goods. Editor’s Choice
Mark Ryan 2018 Little Sister Merlot Red Mountain $75 94 points
Generous aromas of plum, raspberry, mocha, spice and flecks of herb are followed by layered, outrageously delicious fruit flavors. There’s plenty of midpalate richness and depth but also freshness. It hangs on for a long time on the finish. Give it time in the cellar to see it at its best. Best after 2024. Cellar Selection
Nelms Road 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $25 91 points
The aromas aren’t ready to express themselves initially, with notes of fresh herb, black currant and plum. The flavors, on the other hand, are in full bloom, palate coating and velvety, with the enjoyment equal parts feel and flavor. It’s made in a very approachable style but will do will with some time in the cellar as well. Editor’s Choice
Nine Hats 2018 Red Blend Columbia Valley $20 91 points
The aromas of this wine are engaging in notes of cherry cordial, dark chocolate shavings, raspberry and barrel spice. Rich coffee and cherry flavors follow on the full-bodied palate while a café au lait note lingers on the lengthy finish. Editor’s Choice
Nine Hats 2018 Pinot Gris Columbia Valley $14 88 points
Aromas of apple, pear and apple skin are followed by broad feeling kiwi and pineapple flavors. It brings plenty of appeal.
North by Northwest 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $55 87 points
Subdued aromas of cocoa, cranberry and cherry are followed by pulled back fruit flavors that paint around the edges. The concentration seems quite light and the tannins bunched up. It seems to be in an odd spot.
North by Northwest 2016 Syrah Walla Walla Valley $40 86 points
The barrel aromas are out front, with notes of baking spice and vanilla. The fruit flavors are light and can’t stand up to them. There’s nice bright acids but not enough fruit for them to support.
Palencia 2018 Grenache Yakima Valley $40 89 points
The aromas are red fruit driven, with notes of raspberry and red cherry. The flavors are light and elegant, with a lovely sense of purity.
Palencia 2019 Albariño Ancient Lakes $22 89 points
Melon and apple aromas lead to lightly spritzy, full feeling pineapple flavors backed by zippy acidity. There’s much to enjoy.
Palencia 2018 El Viñador Syrah Red Mountain $40 88 points
Raspberry aromas are up front. Soft fruit flavors follow. The heat of the region seems to have carried it away a bit.
Pamplin 2017 Red IQ Columbia Valley $15 90 points
Aromas of smoke, plum and cherry are followed by a well-balanced, plump fruit flavors. There’s plenty of acid and tannin to back them up—a lot of value to be had. Decant if drinking in the near term. Best Buy
Passing Time 2018 Champoux Vineyard Merlot Horse Heaven Hills $55 93 points
Fruit for this wine comes from one of the top sites in Washington. There’s immediacy to the aromas of plum, blueberry, dried herb and chocolate. The palate brings plenty of density and intensity through the middle of the cherry and blood orange flavors. It lingers for a long time on the finish, kicking it up a notch. There’s a whole lot of structure there. It’s a complete delight with a big time yum factor. Editor’s Choice
Pursued by Bear 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $70 92 points
This wine is hedonism in a glass. Dark chocolate, cherry, vanilla and spice aromas are followed by rich, textured fruit flavors that coat the palate. It’s decadent, but the vintage’s backbone keeps it all beautifully in balance. Editor’s Choice
Pursued by Bear 2017 Twin Bear Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $80 91 points
A project from actor Kyle MacLachlin, this is the winery’s first Walla Walla Valley designated wine. The aromas bring notes of butterscotch, vanilla, cherry, baking spice and dried herb. Opulent, fleshy feeling flavors follow. It lingers on the finish, with fruit and barrel playing equal parts—a thoroughly enchanting wine. The acid of the vintage ties it all together.
Quiddity 2018 Cur Non Mourvèdre Columbia Valley $35 93 points
This is an inaugural release from this winery, and it commands attention. The aromas bring notes of yellow raspberry, rose hips, herb and red plum. The purity of the flavors and the texture are completely arresting, drinking like a bowl of fresh fruit. It’s a complete knockout. Editor’s Choice
Quiddity 2018 Ubuntu Grenache Rattlesnake Hills $35 93 points
There’s no mistaking the variety, with its supremely pure aromas of black raspberry, herb, crushed rock and blood orange. The palate brings grace, purity and polish to its layered, textured fruit flavors. It sings from the mountain tops. Editor’s Choice
Quiddity 2018 Amore Columbia Valley $35 92 points
This inaugural release from the winery is a blend of 62% Syrah, 23% Mourvèdre and 15% Grenache. Aromas of plum, cherry and dried herb lead to a sumptuous, layered palate. Editor’s Choice
Quiddity 2018 Audentes Syrah Rattlesnake Hills $35 92 points
An inaugural release, the aromas aren’t ready to reveal their charms on first pour. Red fruit, plum, bramble, blood orange and dried herb notes emerge over time. The palate is rich, textured, layered and ripe but still well in check, with orange peel notes on the finish. The purity of it all captivates. Editor’s Choice
Sail to Trail WineWorks 2017 Cuvée 4 Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $20 86 points
The aromas provide notes of green herb, campfire smoke, spearmint, orange peel and plum, seeming quite underripe. The palate is soft, light, savory and citrusy, pulling up short.
Sail to Trail WineWorks 2017 Chardonnay Yakima Valley $20 86 points
The aromas bring notes of canned corn along with canned pineapple and mango. Tropical fruit flavors follow, though they are considerably lighter in style than the aromas would suggest. A menthol note lingers on the finish. The acid seems out of balance with the flavors.
Spring Valley Vineyard 2017 Estate Grown Uriah Walla Walla Valley $60 92 points
Merlot makes up 60% of this wine, with the balance Cabernet Franc (39%) and a pinch of Petit Verdot. It’s locked up out of the gate, with aromas of dusty earth, raspberry and orange peel. Smooth, velvety flavors follow. It’s made in a reserved style, showing lots of class and sophistication. Editor’s Choice
Spring Valley Vineyard 2017 Estate Grown Derby Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $60 92 points
The aromas intrigue, with notes of apple, dusty earth, bittersweet chocolate, green herb and cigar box. The flavors are pleasingly reserved, bringing a sense of polish, class and freshness. There’s sneaky density to the fruit. Best after 2024. Cellar Selection
Spring Valley Vineyard 2017 Estate Grown Viognier Walla Walla Valley $35 89 points
Examples of this variety are rare in Walla Walla Valley. Effusive aromas of pear, white peach and flower aromas are followed by ripe but initially compact peach flavors. It’s equal parts intrigue and delivery.
Spring Valley Vineyard 2017 Estate Grown Nina Lee Syrah Walla Walla Valley $60 88 points
The aromas of mushroom, herb and black tea aren’t fully in harmony. The palate is fleet of foot, bringing an odd mix of overripe and underripe elements.
Spring Valley Vineyard 2017 Estate Grown Mule Skinner Merlot Walla Walla Valley $60 88 points
Red apple, raspberry, spice and cherry aromas are followed by lighter styled flavors. It seems to straddle the middle, not sure which way it wants to go.
Succession 2019 L&R Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Ancient Lakes $30 87 points
Coming from Famiglia Vineyards, aromas of honeycomb, lees and mineral lead to fleshy fruit flavors. It’s more intrigue than delivery.
The Walls 2018 The Ramparts Red Mountain $38 92 points
Mourvédre makes up 47% of this wine, with the rest Syrah (22%), Grenache (18%) and Counoise. The aromas are compelling, with notes of raspberry compote, pomegranate, whole red cherry, orange peel and dried herb. The red fruit flavors are rich but retain a sense of grace and purity, along with plenty of good old fashioned yum. A warm finish caps it off. Editor’s Choice
The Walls 2018 Stanley Groovy Red Blend Red Mountain $30 92 points
This is an intriguing blend of 32% Touriga Nacional, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Syrah, 13% Grenache, and 12% Tinta Cão, along with bits of Souzão and Cinsault. Aromas of cocoa, black raspberry, satsuma, plum and herb flavors are followed by beautifully balanced, restrained but still plentiful fruit flavors. It brings a lot of flat out enjoyment. Editor’s Choice
The Walls 2018 Wonderful Nightmare Stoney Vine Vineyard Tempranillo Walla Walla Valley $48 88 points
A Rocks District offering, the aromas bring notes of dried tobacco, dried orange rind and flower. The palate is a somewhat lighter, juicy style than the aromas would suggest.
Walla Walla Vintners 2017 Sagemoor Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $50 91 points
Coming from 1972 plantings at this esteemed vineyard, brooding aromas of savory herb, green pepper and bittersweet chocolate are followed by flavors that show pleasing elegance and nuance. It’s a very pretty offering of the variety, with a fine sense of acid and tannin structure.
Walla Walla Vintners 2018 Red Blend Columbia Valley $24 90 points
Pleasing aromas of plum and dried herb lead to a fruitful, plush palate. There’s a nice yum factor to the sumptuous fruit flavors.
Walla Walla Vintners 2017 Vineyard Select Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $50 90 points
There’s plenty of interest on the aromas, with notes of cedar, mushroom, raspberry, coffee and anise. Light, fresh, juicy flavors follow. The tannins give a light squeeze. It puts a premium on elegance, with the fruit pulled back. There’s a surprising amount of acidity.
Walla Walla Vintners 2017 Cut Bank Estate Syrah Walla Walla Valley $50 89 points
The aromas start out light and elusive, with notes of coffee, mushroom and spice. The flavors start out similarly reserved, fleshing out over time. It has impressive acidity. Best after 2024.
Wanaka 2011 Syrah Columbia Valley $69 90 points
This wine was bottled in 2015 and was given an additional five years in bottle prior to release. Coming from the state’s coolest vintage on record, it is still lively, in a sweet spot. Aromas of coconut, baking spice and dried dark fruit are followed by a smooth palate, full of nougat flavors. Drink now.
Wanaka 2011 Wheedles and Thread Red Wallula Vineyard Columbia Valley $95 89 points
This is a blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Franc, with the rest equal parts Petit Verdot and Malbec. Bottled in 2014 and held back until release in 2020, bittersweet chocolate, cedar, dried herb and anise aromas are followed by mesquite and chocolate flavors. It trails on the finish.
Wanaka 2012 Wallula Vineyard Chardonnay Columbia Valley $38 88 points
Pale gold in color, this wine was aged 16 months sur lie. The aromas bring notes of musk, lemon curd, nut and lees. It’s thick, almost viscous, in feel, showing its age but still holding quite well.
Wanaka 2011 Sangiovese Columbia Valley $46 87 points
Aged 22 months in American oak before being bottled in 2014 and given an additional five-plus years in bottle, barrel forward aromas of baking spice, coffee, vanilla and char are followed by lighter styled dill flavors. The oak overrides the fruit.
Woodward Canyon 2019 Chardonnay Washington $44 92 points
This wine is mostly estate fruit, along with a dash (13%) from Celilo Vineyard’s 1980 plantings. The aromas pull you in, with notes of pear, yellow apple, star fruit and kisses of pineapple and spice, showing an appealing purity. The palate has concentration and richness, but also exquisite balance and dexterity. Lemony notes persist on the finish. The acid balance is spot on, and as always with this producer, it’s all about grace and subtlety. Give it some additional time in bottle to see it at its best. Editor’s Choice
Woodward Canyon 2018 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $49 92 points
It’s wound up out of the gate, with aromas of spice, dark chocolate and cherry. Opulent cherry flavors follow but there’s plenty of balance to them. Some green notes linger on the finish. It needs time to show its best. Enjoy after 2025.
Woodward Canyon 2018 Estate Merlot Walla Walla Valley $52 92 points
This wine is still settling into its skin. The aromas initially bring notes of freshly mortared green herbs, cherry and raspberry. Silky flavors follow with plenty of tannic heft. The stuffing is all there, but it needs time to come into its own. But when it does? Ooh. Best after 2023. Cellar Selection
Woodward Canyon 2019 Estate Vineyard Chardonnay Walla Walla Valley $32 91 points
This Chardonnay saw no new oak and had minimal malolactic fermentation. The aromas are all about subtlety with its notes of spice, apple and Bosc pear. The flavors are full of grace and balance, bringing vibrancy and freshness. Editor’s Choice
Woodward Canyon 2019 Estate Sauvignon Blanc Walla Walla Valley $29 88 points
This wine isn’t quite ready to reveal itself aromatically, with notes of lemon balm, melon and dried rose petal. The palate is light on its feet, with plenty of acidity backing it up.