Animale certainly qualifies. Located in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, winemaker Matt Gubitosa makes wine in the cellar of his home, shoehorning in barrels and stainless steel tanks.
The winery’s 2016 Stainless Steel Cabernet Franc (previously reviewed) is a revelation, showing mesmerizing depth and purity. Here we also see two other varieties raised in stainless steel, one where that is seldom the case and one where the variety is seldom seen period.
The first is a stainless steel Petite Sirah (Animale 2016 Stainless Steel Aged Petite Sirah Yakima Valley $26 90 points, Editor’s Choice). It has the variety’s perfumed aromas of lavender and potpourri followed by plentiful purple fruit flavors, accented by vibrant acidity.
The next is a rare example of Regent, coming from the Puget Sound appellation (Animale 2017 Stainless Steel Aged Regent Puget Sound $18, 90 points, Editor’s Choice). It’s a fascinating wine, with notes of flower and purple fruit followed by puckering, acid-driven flavors. Have it with food to see it at its best.
Another urban gem is Fall Line Winery, located in SoDo on 4th Avenue South, just a few blocks south of Esquin. Winemaker Tim Sorenson has always made distinctive, graceful wines. The 2016 and 17 releases are some of his best yet.
For these wines, Sorenson works with Dineen, Two Blondes, and Pollard vineyards in the Rattlesnake Hills appellation. They saw no new oak, putting the fruit in vivid focus (Fall Line 2016 Vertical Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $38, 93 points, Editor’s Choice; Fall Line 2017 Exhibition Yakima Valley $28, 93 points, Cellar Selection; Fall Line 2017 Vertical Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $38, 92 points, Editor’s Choice; Fall Line 2017 Cirque Yakima Valley $35, 91 points, Editor’s Choice).
Fans of Cadence (another gem in the urban winery crown) and Soos Creek (located further afield in Kent) should take note, as there are some common threads between these wineries and Fall Line: longtime winemakers crafting high quality, distinctive wines that offer tremendous value.
Overall, there is a lot to explore in Seattle’s urban wine scene in Seattle. See a list of additional urban wineries here.
Looking at other wines reviewed below, for those who have the 2017 Passing Time wines, you’re in for a real treat. For those who don’t, if you see these wines on the retail shelves, do not hesitate. They are some of the most delicious wines being made in Washington right now and also offer outrageous aging potential. Enjoy them now. Enjoy them in 2035. Who could ask for more? (Passing Time 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $85, 94 points, Cellar Selection; Passing Time 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $85, 93 points, Cellar Selection; Passing Time 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $85, 93 points, Cellar Selection; Passing Time 2017 Columbia Valley $55, 92 points, Editor’s Choice).
The Upsidedown 2016 The Gold Drop Collection Upsidedown wine x Kitzke Vineyards Columbia Valley comes from Dead Polar Estate Vineyard ($35, 92 points, Editor’s Choice). It brings aromas and flavors of raspberry, white pepper and cigar box. The winery’s Roussanne meanwhile comes from Konnowac Vineyard (Upsidedown 2018 Konnowac Vineyard Roussanne Yakima Valley $40, 91 points, Editor’s Choice). Finally, the Method Red is a unique blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc (Upsidedown 2016 Method Red Blend Columbia Valley $25, 90 points).
148 wines reviews in the June/July issue of Wine Enthusiast. Without further ado.
Amavi 2017 Les Collines Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $44 91 points
This wine comes from one of the best Syrah vineyards in the state. Generous, appealing aromas of huckleberry, violet and green herbs lead to tightly packed, palate-coating blue fruit flavors. Orange peel and blue fruit flavors linger on the feeling. It’s a one-wine charm offensive, a perfect reflection of this vineyard. Editor’s Choice
Amavi 2017 Estate Vineyards Syrah Walla Walla Valley $33 90 points
The aromas are beguiling, with notes of purple fruit, violet, smoked meat and dried herbs. Perfumed blue fruit and floral flavors coat the palate, bringing a sense of deftness and freshness. Firm tannins that soften over time back it up. Editor’s Choice
Amavi 2017 Estate Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $33 88 points
Pleasing aromas of baked raspberry, herb, green pepper and black currant lead to well-balanced, restrained coffee and cherry flavors. Far from a big bruiser, this is a restrained offering of the variety.
Animale 2016 Stainless Steel Aged Petite Sirah Yakima Valley $26 90 points
Fruit for this wine comes from McIntire Vineyard, as with its oak-aged littermate. The aromas are enchanting, with nuanced notes of lavender, purple fruit, sea breeze and potpourri. The palate mixes lavender and purple fruit flavors with spot-on balance and bright acidity. Orange peel notes linger on the finish. It shows acidity uncommon for Washington. Drink now. Editor’s Choice
Animale 2017 Stainless Steel Aged Regent Puget Sound $18 90 points
This is a rare example of this variety from Washington and a rare Puget Sound appellated wine. It’s a blend of fruit from Battista (62%) and Cloud Mountain Farm and aged 14 months in stainless steel. Aromas of sea breeze, light purple fruit, flower and whiffs of barnyard lead to light, bright, puckering, acid-driven flavors with a well-balanced scaffolding of acidity and plentiful tannins providing support. A light smoky note lingers on the finish. It’s thoroughly delightful, absolutely requiring food alongside it. Pair it with chargrilled salmon with a lemon beurre blanc. Drink now. Editor’s Choice
Animale 2016 Reserve Petite Sirah Yakima Valley $28 88 points
All of the fruit for this wine comes from McIntire Vineyard. Aged in neutral French oak, the aromas are perfumed, with notes of Stargazer lily, lavender, sea breeze and blue fruit, with the palate showing plenty more of the same. It’s a flower bomb. The flavors are polished and pure, bright and fresh with the acidity bringing a sense of vitality. The floral aromas steal the show on an otherwise interesting wine. Pair it with seared halibut with a huckleberry relish.
Animale 2016 Reserve Regent Puget Sound $18 87 points
The aromas offer strong notes of barnyard along with flower and blue fruit. A light, acid driven, floral palate follows. Not for all tastes. The brettanomyces influence predominates.
Bayernmoor 2018 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $29 88 points
Half of the fruit for this wine comes from Celilo Vineyard, with the rest from Otis. Subtle aromas of pear, nectarine, mineral, toast and spice are followed by medium-bodied vanilla and pear flavors. It’s a well-made offering of the variety with plenty of highlights.
Bayernmoor 2017 Bayernmoor Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir Puget Sound $39 88 points
The aromas bring notes of wintergreen, pine, flower, cigarette ash and strawberry, with the oak out front. Fruit and barrel mix on the light, creamy-feeling palate, tussling at time. There’s lovely acidity to it, but it gets lost in the shuffle.
Bayernmoor 2017 Pinot Noir Washington $27 88 points
Pale in color and showing some bricking, the aromas offer delicate notes of dried orange rind, cherry, wintergreen, dried tobacco and light barrel spices. The palate is light and juicy, with mouthwatering acidity. It seems a bit evolved for its age, but what’s there is interesting.
Bayernmoor 2017 Klipsun Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $41 87 points
Aromas of ripe raspberry, char, bittersweet chocolate, cedar and herb are followed by flavors that show a sense of elegance, dipping in the middle, and show some mesquite notes. Lightly grainy tannins back it up, with strong chocolate and coffee flavors on the finish.
Beauty in Chaos 2018 Pinot Grigio Washington $13 88 points
The aromas are pleasing, with notes of pear, crushed flower and apple. Dry, even flavors follow. A lovely sense of acidity ties it together. Best Buy
Betz Family 2017 Père de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $78 94 points
The fruit is primary at present, with notes of whole berry, blue fruit, cherry and dried herb, along with bittersweet chocolate. Focused, intensely flavorful black cherry notes follow on the palate. It’s a complete stunner, winning on charm and grace rather than sheer power. The balance is impressive. Best from 2025 to 2032. Cellar Selection
Betz Family 2017 Heart of the Hill Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $110 93 points
The aromas are reserved out of the gate, with notes of dried and fresh herbs, tomato leaf, citrus peel, raspberry and cherry showing nuance. The palate shows flavor intensity but also a compelling sense of restraint. The firm tannins undulate in waves. Time in the cellar is required. Best after 2026. Cellar Selection
Betz Family 2017 Clos de Betz Columbia Valley $60 93 points
Merlot makes up 60% of this wine, with the rest near equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, with the latter the most this wine has had. Partially fermented in concrete, it has violet, flint, bay leaf, raspberry and dark berry aromas out front. The palate is broad and flavorful, showing a knee-buckling sense of balance with a finish that carries.
Betz Family 2017 The Untold Story Red Blend Columbia Valley $0 92 points
This wine is an aromatic tour de force, with appealing aromas of bay leaf, black cherry, smoked meat, blueberry, dark coffee, dried herb and spice showing complexity and detail. It’s rich but well in-check, with focused fruit flavors following, supported by a tight coil of tannins. It’s a classy, and classically Washington, wine that will only get better with a bit of time in the cellar or a short decant. Editor’s Choice
Boomtown 2018 Merlot Columbia Valley $19 90 points
The aromas pop, with the notes of raspberry, dried herb and spice showing a lot of appeal. The flavors are plush and show a pleasing sense of balance.
Boomtown 2018 Syrah Columbia Valley $19 88 points
Aromas of freshly peeled orange, boysenberry and flower lead to plentiful blueberry and plum flavors. The apparent Viognier coferment shows strongly at present on a wine that delivers a lot of good things. Slight pasty feeling tannins back it up. Give it some time in the cellar or a short decant.
Boomtown 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $19 88 points
The aromas offer notes of savory herb, green pepper, eucalyptus, graphite and a whiff of tobacco. Plump-feeling black currant flavors follow. It brings a sense of purity that appeals, but it might be too green for some tastes.
Cedergreen Cellars 2017 Old VIne Chenin Blanc Columbia Valley $19 91 points
Chenin Blanc is disappearing in Washington, and this wine is a testimony to what the state stands to lose. The aromas are vibrant, with notes of peach, fig and beeswax. Medium-bodied, textured tropical flavors follow, persisting on the finish. It’s a complete delight and shows a lot of staying power. Drink now, or put some in the cellar. Editor’s Choice
Cedergreen Cellars 2017 Gamay Noir Columbia Valley $25 87 points
This variety is an extreme rarity in the state. The aromas are intriguing and unique, with notes of wet copper penny, raspberry, white pepper, smoke and underbrush. Lightly smoky raspberry flavors follow. The smoke influence is significant.
Charles & Charles 2016 C2 Malbec Columbia Valley $60 93 points
This is a singular expression of the variety from a highly regarded vineyard. Blended with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, plum, dark fruit, spice and dried herb aromas rise up from the glass. A richly flavorful, exquisitely balanced palate follows, with enough tannic structure to go the distance. It sails on the long, green tea and blue fruit-filled finish.
Charles & Charles 2017 Post No. 35 Blend Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah Columbia Valley $14 89 points
This wine is a 60-40 blend of Cabernet and Syrah. Aromas of olive, smoke, mesquite, huckleberry and black raspberry are followed by plump, smoky blue and red fruit flavors, with the tannins giving a firm squeeze. They need some time to settle in, but there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had. Best Buy
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2018 Riesling Columbia Valley $9 89 points
Aromas of botrytis, ginger, flower and white peach are followed by medium-sweet Nestea lemon iced tea flavors. A pleasing sense of acidity stitches it together. Best Buy
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2017 Limited Release Red Blend Washington $15 87 points
This wine is 48% Merlot and 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the rest Syrah. Aromas of fruit leather, vanilla, cherry and spice are followed by a plush palate, full of soft cherry and coffee flavors that pull up on the finish.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2017 Syrah Columbia Valley $15 86 points
Black raspberry, cherry and spice aromas lead to lighter styled, almost lean seeming plum and mesquite flavors that dip in the middle. Medicinal notes provide accents.
Co Dinn 2016 Elephant Mountain Vineyard Block 5 Syrah Rattlesnake Hills $50 89 points
Coming all from the late ripening clone TC99, aromas of black pepper, pot roast, coffee and herb lead to smooth, restrained flavors. It’s an intriguing, unique offering of the variety.
Co Dinn 2015 Painted Hills Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $50 89 points
Cabernet clones 6, 8 and 191 comprise this wine, which comes from a vineyard at 1,200 feet in elevation. The aromas offer notes of pitch-black fruit, blackberry, leather and dates. Ripe, full-bodied dark fruit flavors follow. The warmth of the vintage shows on an overall appealing interpretation of this variety.
Co Dinn 2016 Lonesome Springs Ranch G-S-M Yakima Valley $45 88 points
Grenache (41%) take the lead in this wine, followed by Syrah (30%) and Mourvèdre. Aromas of coffee, baked raspberry, black pepper and dried herbs lead to reserved flavors. Coffee notes linger on the finish. The concentration doesn’t seem all there, but what is there is nice.
Columbia Winery 2017 Single Vineyard Collection Weinbau Vineyard Merlot Wahluke Slope $45 88 points
The aromas are unusual, with notes of mushroom, char, baking spice, vanilla and tar. Red fruit flavors follow, with plenty of barrel accents. The tannins bring a bit of astringency and grittiness.
Columbia Winery 2018 Riesling Ancient Lakes $26 88 points
The aromas are bright, with notes of pear, yellow apple and lemon. Dry, broad-feeling lemon and apple flavors follow. It could use a bit more acidity to stitch it together but has a lot of good things going on.
Columbia Winery 2017 Syrah Horse Heaven Hills $40 88 points
The aromas are expressive, with notes of plum, coffee, raspberry and spice with leaner styled raspberry and medicinal flavors following.
Columbia Winery 2017 Malbec Red Mountain $40 88 points
Barrel aromas of vanilla, wood and nougat are in the lead, with cherry notes following. Plentiful fruit and barrel flavors follow. The oak seems heavy-handed for the fruit that’s in the glass.
Columbia Winery 2017 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $14 87 points
The aromas are pleasing, with notes of apricot, Bosc pear, toast and flower. Full-bodied, well-balanced peach flavors follow, with a lightly medicinal finish. There’s a lot to like.
Columbia Winery 2017 Merlot Columbia Valley $16 84 points
Effusive aromas of plum, raspberry, green pepper, tire rubber, smoke and ash lead to medicinal flavors with a smoky finish.
Dusted Valley 2017 Southwind Vineyard Cabernet Franc Walla Walla Valley $45 91 points
Aromas of dark fruit, herbs, green pepper, dried tobacco and spice lead to black fruit and coffee flavors. Lightly tacky tannins provide support. Give it another few years in the cellar to settle in, but it has all the stuffing to go the distance. Best after 2023.
Dusted Valley 2017 Stained Tooth Syrah Columbia Valley $36 88 points
Brightened by a pinch of Viognier (2%), roasted coffee bean, matchstick, blue fruit and spice aromas are followed by fruit flavors that paint around the edges but seem a little missing in the middle.
Dusted Valley 2016 V.R. Special Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $62 88 points
The aromas offer notes of vanilla, char, black currant, graphite and tire rubber. Black fruit flavors follow with plentiful notes of nougat and spice, bringing a lot of richness but with enough acidity to balance it out. Coffee and vanilla notes linger on the finish. It seems to be in an awkward spot at present, with the oak way out front.
Dusted Valley 2017 Stone Tree Vineyard Petite Sirah Wahluke Slope $45 88 points
Subdued aromas of matchstick, dark fruit and ember are followed by somewhat lighter styled purple fruit flavors. The concentration doesn’t seem all there, but what is there is interesting. Put it on the dinner table to see it at its best.
Fall Line 2016 Vertical Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $38 93 points
This wine is 100% varietal, with fruit from Dineen Vineyard. The aromas boast notes of dried herb, raspberry, cherry, earth and graphite. Cherry and currant flavors bring a sense of sophistication, purity and plushness, capturing attention. The oak is dialed way back, putting the fruit in focus. The dried herb-filled finish sails. The acidity and tannin structure are dazzling. It’s a guiding light for Washington wine and seems near eternal. Drink now, or enjoy in 2030 or beyond. Your choice. Editor’s Choice
Fall Line 2017 Exhibition Yakima Valley $28 93 points
Merlot (52%) and Cabernet Franc (42%) play near equal parts in this show, with a cameo from Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s composed of three-quarters Dineen and one-quarter Two Blondes fruit. The aromas are locked up on first pour, with notes of earth, raspberry, graphite and dark fruit. Focused, dense, well-balanced fruit flavors follow. There’s a level of precision and purity that is thoroughly captivating. The acidity and purity are lovely. But it’s the balance that sets it apart. Best after 2024. Cellar Selection
Fall Line 2016 Cirque Red Wine Yakima Valley $32 93 points
Cabernet Franc (65%) takes the lead on this wine, with Cabernet Sauvignon (29%) and Merlot following. With fruit sourced from Two Blondes and Dineen, there a purity here that thoroughly enchants. Aromas of whole green pepper, fresh black currant, flower and cherry lead to palate-coating fruit flavors that bring a dazzling sense of purity, layering, depth, dimension and density, while retaining a compelling sense of balance. It’s a sparkling diamond that shows many facets and will stand the test of time. Editor’s Choice
Fall Line 2016 Exhibition Yakima Valley $25 92 points
Merlot makes up most of this blend, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Enchanting aromas of black currant, graphite, black raspberry and dried herb are followed by reserved, layered, exquisitely balanced flavors that show a lot of intensity, depth and detail. The oak is pleasantly dialed back. The purity and acid balance are knee-buckling. It’s required reading for lovers of Washington wine. Editor’s Choice
Fall Line 2017 Vertical Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $38 92 points
This wine is 100% varietal, with the fruit a near equal split from Dineen and Two Blondes vineyards. The aromas pull you into the glass, with notes of dried and fresh herbs, moist earth, black cherry and graphite. The flavors are restrained, showing nuance and detail. The purity is knee-buckling. Juicy acidity only heightens the interest. A lingering finish caps it off. Absolutely superb stuff. Bravo! Editor’s Choice
Fall Line 2017 Cirque Yakima Valley $35 91 points
Cabernet Franc comprises 84% of this wine, with the rest Cabernet Sauvignon. Coming from Two Blondes and Dineen vineyards, the purity draws you into the glass, with notes of raspberry, whole orange, flower and dried herbs. The palate shows a fruitful but still reserved styling, with the oak pulled way back. Fruit and dried herb flavors linger on the finish. It’s delicious, with a lovely structure and sense of style, and will shine at the dinner table. Pair it with grilled lamb chop. Give it time to open up to watch it shine. Editor’s Choice
Feather 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $70 90 points
Aromas of toast, burnt coffee, raspberry, char and barrel spice are in the lead, with the fruit following. Dense, rich fruit flavors follow, backed by tightly wound tannins that need time in the cellar. It’s all about the oak right now, but the stuffing is there. Give it time in the cellar to (hopefully) integrate. Best after 2026. Cellar Selection
GFW 2017 Vino Cluster Merlot Rattlesnake Hills $24 86 points
Fruit from Two Bluffs Vineyard was used. The aromas offer notes of char, herb and cherry. The palate is light and lively, with a firm grip of tannins and mushroom notes on the finish. The variety is hard to find.
GFW 2017 Vino Cluster Rattledeaux Columbia Valley $24 86 points
This Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine brings aromas of vanilla, green pepper, herb, coffee, mesquite, tire rubber and black cherry. The coffee and cherry flavors have a sense of elegance, with lightly smoky accents.
GFW 2017 Vino Cluster Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $24 86 points
The aromas are subdued, with notes of green pepper, herb, mushroom, barnyard, spice box and cherry. Lighter-styled flavors follow with firm tannins backing them up. It seems quite subdued, with the concentration at times a bit lacking.
GFW 2018 Vino Cluster Chardonnay Columbia Valley $18 85 points
Light aromas of spice, clarified butter, peach and toast lead to ripe, almost viscous feeling stone fruit flavors with a sweet finish. It’s all an odd mix.
GFW 2017 Vino Cluster Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley $24 85 points
The aromas offer notes of flower, fresh herb and mesquite, with the reserved palate showing more of the same. It shows a lot of smoke influence.
Gramercy 2016 Syrah Walla Walla Valley $42 93 points
The aromas draw you into the glass, with notes of fine chopped parsley, smoked meat, citrus zest, dried stem and wet gravel. A low-alcohol, über flavorful, savory, acid-driven palate is followed by an extended finish. It’s flat-out delicious and will shine at the dinner table. Pair it with roasted pork with root vegetables. Editor’s Choice
Gramercy 2017 Les Collines Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $54 93 points
The aromas are expressive, with notes of grilled asparagus, violet, tangerine, brown stem, green olive and grilled meat. An acid-driven palate follows, chock-full of floral flavors with a lovely sense of texture. The balance is exquisite, kicking it up a notch. If there were a Wikipedia entry for this vineyard, this wine would deserve to be referenced. Put it on the dinner table to see it at its best. Drink after 2024; it will have a long life after that. Cellar Selection
Gramercy 2017 Gramercy Estates Walla Walla Valley $70 93 points
Coming from Octave Vineyard, Cabernet comprises almost all of this wine, with just a drop (1%) of Merlot finishing it off. The aromas provide notes of whole green pepper, leafy herb, cherry and flower. A palate-coating, textured, exquisitely balanced, nuanced palate follows, with plentiful coffee and cherry flavors. There’s plenty of structure to lay down in the cellar. It’s a stunner. No one does it quite like Gramercy. Best after 2027, with a long life beyond that. Cellar Selection
Gramercy 2017 The Third Man Grenache Columbia Valley $36 91 points
The aromas are reserved, with notes of dried herbs, cracked white pepper, rose hips, olive and cherry. The palate is restrained yet packs a mouthful of fruit and savory flavors that sail on the finish. Put it on the dinner table to see it at its best.
Hood Crest 2017 Grenache Columbia Gorge $32 84 points
This is extremely pale in color with an orange tinge at the rim. The aromas offer notes of citrus peel, BBQ smoke, cinnamon and cranberry. Quite smoky flavors follow. The smoke influence is significant.
Kevin White 2018 Yakima Valley $20 92 points
Syrah makes up 45% of this wine, with the rest Grenache (40%) and Mourvèdre, with the fruit coming from all of the vineyards that the winery works with. Boom! The aromas explode, with notes of blue fruit, dried herbs, orange peel and kirsch, showing a classic Yakima Valley profile. The palate is packed, absolutely packed full of intense fruit flavors. Coffee notes linger on the finish. There’s a sense of hedonism and yet purity that is nothing short of captivating. But it’s the balance that puts this wine where it is. Wow! Editor’s Choice
Kitzke 2016 Candy Ridge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Washington $40 91 points
The aromas offer notes of braised green pepper, savory herb, aniseed, cherry, dried tobacco and green flower. The cherry and herb flavors show a pleasing sense of density and richness. It has enough stuffing to do well with some time in the cellar. It might be a bit too green for some tastes and the fruit shows a bit of desiccation, but there are a lot of good things going on.
Kitzke 2016 Candy Ridge Vineyard Cabernet Franc Washington $40 89 points
The aromas bring notes of dried tobacco, braised green pepper and peat. Peat and cherry flavors coat the palate. It’s a unique interpretation of the variety, interesting but not for all tastes.
Kitzke 2016 Candy Ridge Vineyard Sangiovese Washington $40 87 points
The aromas suggest high register notes of hay, green pepper and herb, with the palate showing more of the same along with cherry and cranberry notes. It’s all an odd mix.
Kitzke 2016 Candy Ridge Vineyard Petit Verdot Washington $45 87 points
Aromas of dried tobacco, green herb and cherry pit are at the fore. The palate brings a lot of acidity along with plentiful savory flavors. The fruit seems more evolved than the age would indicate.
Leonetti Cellar 2016 Mill Creek Upland Walla Walla Valley $138 95 points
This is the inaugural designated wine from this vineyard, a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Petit Verdot. It’s from the winery’s highest elevation site, and the aromas are locked up out of the gate, opening to reveal notes of scorched earth, black cherry, espresso, butter, dark raspberry, violet and dried herbs. The palate is packed to the brim with rich fruit flavors, supported by firm but polished tannins and brightened by lively acidity. It’s a flat-out gorgeous wine with a very long life ahead of it. Best from 2028–2034. Cellar Selection
Leonetti Cellar 2016 Loess Walla Walla Valley $138 95 points
Petit Verdot makes up half of this wine, with the rest Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) and Merlot. Aromas of black cherry, fig, flower, dates and spice lead to rich and opulent but still well-balanced flavors backed by an ocean of tannins. It packs a big punch of flavor, acidity and tannins but also brings plenty of subtlety. The balance is impeccable. It will have an extremely long life ahead of it and absolutely needs time to be fully appreciated. Best from 2027 to 2036 with a good life beyond that. Cellar Selection
Leonetti Cellar 2016 Holy Roller Red Blend Walla Walla Valley $138 94 points
The inaugural release from this vineyard in the Rocks District is 56% Cabernet Sauvignon and 44% Sangiovese—a unique blend for Walla Walla Valley. The aromas explode from the glass, with notes of black raspberry, espresso, cranberry and bittersweet chocolate. Focused cherry, raspberry and spice flavors follow. Coffee notes linger on the finish. The tannins are combed to a find sheen, and the balance is exquisite. It shows impressive structure for the Rocks. Bravo! Best after 2026 with a very long life beyond that. Cellar Selection
Leonetti Cellar 2016 Serra Pedace Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $138 94 points
Coming from a vineyard in the SeVein project, this wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Initially wound up aromas of scorched earth, dark cherry and dark raspberry lead to penetrating cherry flavors supported by tightly wound tannins and a whole lot of acidity. It shows an intriguing mineral note that ups the interest. This has the stuffing to run the race and then run it again. It shows pleasing subtleties. Best from 2027 to 2036, with a good life beyond that. Cellar Selection
Maison Bleue 2017 Gravière Stone Valley Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $65 91 points
Maison Bleue always evinces wines from the Rocks District that show the area’s more fruit-driven side. The aromas pop, with piercingly pure notes of whole berry, boysenberry, thistle, plum and gravel. The palate brings a sense of grace, delicacy and restraint. Coffee notes linger on the finish. It’s a very pretty, fruit-forward expression of the growing region.
Maryhill 2016 Northridge Vineyard Syrah Wahluke Slope $44 88 points
Aromas of coffee, bittersweet chocolate and pencil lead rise up from the glass, along with plentiful spicing. The palate brings an assortment of dark fruit and barrel flavors, dipping a bit in the middle. Dark coffee notes linger on the finish. The oak (65% new French) plays a big part in the show.
Maryhill 2018 Proprietor’s Reserve Tudor Hills Vineyard Chardonnay Columbia Valley $33 87 points
Light aromas of toast, clarified butter and pencil shavings are followed by full-bodied, almost thick feeling, sweet stone and tropical fruit flavors. Toast notes linger on the finish, with the alcohol leading to some bitterness.
Maryhill 2016 Les Collines Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $44 86 points
Aromas of blue fruit, boysenberry, dark fruit, violet and spice are followed by full-bodied blue fruit and medicinal flavors. The tannins have a lightly tacky feel. The vineyard seems hard to place on an otherwise enjoyable wine.
Maryhill 2016 McKinley Springs Vineyard Syrah Horse Heaven Hills $40 86 points
Aged in 50% new French and American oak, with aromas of espresso, cherry, vanilla, evergreen, medicine and Cherry Luden’s cough drops leading to creamy feeling flavors. Coffee notes linger on the finish. The fruit and the oak tussle.
Maryhill 2016 Art Den Hoed Painted Hills Vineyard Tempranillo Yakima Valley $40 86 points
The aromas are unique, with notes of evergreen, cherry and barrel spice. Medium-bodied cherry and nougat flavors follow. The oak (60% new European and American) gets in the way.
Maryhill 2018 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $17 86 points
Aromas of apricot, flower and melon are followed by full-bodied stone fruit flavors, speckled with vanilla and toast notes. Burnt toast and vanilla notes linger on the finish.
Maryhill 2018 Riesling Columbia Valley $17 86 points
Aromas of honeysuckle, ripe peach, Nestea iced tea and lime zest are followed by medium-sweet flavors, with herb and soap notes on the finish. It doesn’t have the acidity to balance the sugar.
Maryhill 2018 Winemaker’s White Blend Columbia Valley $16 86 points
This wine is a blend of Pinot Gris, Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The aromas are light, with notes of mineral, wet copper penny and jasmine. Linear tropical fruit flavors follow. It’s an innocuous easy drinker.
Maryhill 2018 Tudor Hills Vineyard Pinot Gris Yakima Valley $17 84 points
Aromas of melon, ale, wet copper penny and wilted flower are followed by medium-sweet drinking canned peach and tropical fruit flavors. It doesn’t all work.
Maryhill 2018 Viognier Columbia Valley $19 84 points
The aromas pop, with notes of flower, musk, evergreen and white grapefruit zest. Off-dry drinking, creamy-feeling flavors follow, with vanilla and smoky barrel notes on the finish. It’s an odd mix.
Nine Hats 2017 Red Blend Columbia Valley $20 90 points
Aromas of dark chocolate, black fruit, cherry and herb lead to plush, ripe, lush fruit flavors on the palate, with a lovely sense of acidity stitching it all together. Firm tannins back it up, needing some time to settle in. Editor’s Choice
Original House Wine 2018 Red Blend Columbia Valley $12 88 points
Fruit-forward, appealing aromas of dark plum, herbs and spice lead to sweet, generous plum and blue fruit flavors backed by lightly grainy tannins. It’s a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. Best Buy
Original House Wine 2018 Dark Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $12 87 points
Effusive aromas of fresh black currant, whole green pepper, dark plum and gun smoke are followed by medium-bodied, off-dry drinking blue and black fruit flavors. It’s sure to win a lot of fans, though it’s quite sweet. Best Buy
Owen Roe 2018 Sinister Hand Yakima Valley $26 90 points
Grenache makes up 55% of this wine, with the rest Syrah (19%), Mourvèdre (17%) and Cinsault. The aromas rise out of the glass, with notes of raspberry, flower, white pepper and orange slice. Light, elegant red fruit flavors follow, almost tasting like a Pinot Noir. It shows an appealing sense of balance.
Owen Roe 2017 Yakima Valley $30 85 points
Merlot makes up 59% of this wine, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon (22%), Cabernet Franc (11%) and Malbec. Vibrant aromas of dark raspberry, mesquite, spice and red apple are followed by quite smoky flavors. The smoke influence is significant.
Pamplin 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $50 92 points
The aromas of this 100% varietal draw you into the glass, with notes of sandalwood, whole berry, high register dried herb, graphite, cherry Luden’s cough drop and black currant. A cherry-laden palate follows, showing a lot of layering and depth. The tannins offer polish and sophistication. Dee-licious! Best after 2024. Editor’s Choice
Pamplin 2016 JRG Columbia Valley $30 92 points
This wine is consistently one of the best values in the state. The aromas show notes of raspberry, black cherry, melted butter, graphite and flower. Polished, rich but well in check fruit flavors follow. It has a compelling sense of poise and structure. Editor’s Choice
Passing Time 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $85 94 points
Fruit from Champoux Vineyard makes up 47% of this wine, with 46% coming from Discovery and a dash from Klipsun on Red Mountain. The aromas are vibrant, with notes of roasted coffee bean, dark raspberry, scorched earth, barrel spice, leaf and black currant, showing plenty of complexity and nuance. The flavors bring a sense of elegance, detail and depth, along with a creamy feel. Sneaky firm tannins back it up. A long list of superlatives could describe it. Just a baby now, it requires time in the cellar to grow up. But what a future it promises. Best from 2027–2037. Cellar Selection
Passing Time 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $85 93 points
Klipsun Vineyard makes up just over half of this wine, with the rest coming from Red Mountain Vineyard along with a pinch of Cabernet Franc from Bacchus in the Columbia Valley. Beguiling but brooding aromas of coffee, flower, butter, spice, cherry and dried herb are followed by bountiful, penetrating, wound up fruit flavors, with a wall of tannins and acidity backing it up. There’s a whole lot of stuffing in this wine. It’s the least accessible of the 2017 releases and will require the most time to be appreciated. But there’s plenty to appreciate. It also has the most upside. Best after 2028 with a good decade-plus of life beyond that. Cellar Selection
Passing Time 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley $85 93 points
This wine is 100% varietal, with two-thirds of the fruit coming from Seven Hills Vineyard and one-third from Pepper Bridge. The aromas enchant, with notes of dried herb, black currant, red apple, cocoa and spice. Broad, palate-coating fruit flavors follow, showing depth, texture and dimension. A firm coil of tightly wound tannins ties it together. It’s a very classy, sophisticated wine that needs time in the cellar to show its stuff. It only picks up steam the longer it’s open. Best after 2027 and will shine a good decade-plus beyond that. Cellar Selection
Passing Time 2017 Block 1311 Wallula Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills $95 93 points
This is the inaugural release of this wine, coming from a block of this vineyard that overlooks the Columbia River. Aromas of earth, green pepper, savory herb and cherry are followed by medium-weight flavors that broaden over time, backed by bright acidity and a firm wall of tannins. It explores the variety’s greener, more savory side initially, with these aspects stepping back with time open. It has enough acidity and tannins to go the distance and beyond. Best from 2028 to 2035.
Passing Time 2017 Columbia Valley $55 92 points
This wine is 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petit Verdot and 6% Cabernet Franc, with the fruit coming from Klipsun, Champoux, Wallula and Seven Hills Vineyards. The aromas offer notes of soil, flower, blue fruit, raspberry, herb, barrel spice and cherry. The palate is chock-full of fruit flavors and tightly wound tannins. There is a lot of intensity, richness and depth. Coffee notes linger on the finish. It’s a superb value at this price and offers terrific cellaring potential, too. Editor’s Choice
Pendulum 2018 Red Blend Columbia Valley $15 89 points
Light aromas of spice, plum and cherry lead to a palate chock-full of blue fruit flavors, backed by lightly astringent tannins that soften over time. Give it brief time in the decanter to see it at its best. There’s a lot of quality and value to be had.
Pepper Bridge 2017 Estate Vineyards Merlot Walla Walla Valley $55 91 points
The aromas are tightly wound out of the gate, with notes of spice, bittersweet chocolate and dark raspberry. Mouthwatering, medium-bodied flavors follow. It brings a pleasing, if firm, sense of tannic structure, needing some time in the cellar for the tannins to integrate. Best after 2024. Cellar Selection
Pepper Bridge 2017 Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Vineyards Walla Walla Valley $60 90 points
Cabernet Sauvignon comprises 55% of this wine, with the rest Cabernet Franc (19%), Merlot (11%), Malbec (11%) and Petit Verdot. Aromas of cocoa, herb, coffee, raspberry, flower, tire rubber and scorched earth lead to plump, ripe red fruit flavors. Firm tannins back it up. A lingering finish caps it off. It needs time to be fully appreciated. Best after 2025.
Poet’s Leap 2018 Riesling Columbia Valley $20 91 points
Vibrant aromas of pear, flowers, Meyer lemon and herb are followed by off-dry drinking, medium-bodied Nestea iced tea flavors. Vibrant acidity backs it up, heightening the interest. It’s delicious, but give it some time to open up. Editor’s Choice
Pursued by Bear 2016 Baby Bear Syrah Columbia Valley $60 90 points
The aromas offer notes of roasted coffee bean, vanilla and bittersweet chocolate. A full-bodied, chocolaty palate follows, with well-balanced acidity. Barrel aromas and flavors play a leading role, with the fruit in support.
Radix 2016 Dexter Scooteney Flats Red Mountain $48 89 points
This wine is 62% Cabernet Sauvignon and 38% Cabernet Franc. There’s plentiful aromas of rose petal, along with notes of herb, citrus, dark chocolate, dried herb and dark fruit followed by big, bold rich fruit flavors with toasty notes on the finish. It’s equal parts intrigue and delivery.
Renegade 2019 Rosé Columbia Valley $11 88 points
Grenache makes up 36% of this wine, with the rest Cinsault (26%), Mourvèdre (25%) and Syrah. The aromas are effusive, with notes of dried rose petal, herb, bubblegum and wild strawberry. Medium-bodied flavors follow, accented by lively acidity. Best Buy
Sagemoor 2016 Limited Release Miguel The Man Weinbau Vineyard Merlot-Cabernet Franc Wahluke Slope $50 93 points
Crafted by winemaker Chris Peterson (Avennia), this wine is named after vineyard manager Miguel Rodriguez. It’s composed of 70% Merlot and has aromas offering notes of leaf, coffee, a medley of dried herbs, dark cherry and barrel spices. The palate is flavorful and rich but also shows a beautiful sense of restraint to the fruit and herb flavors. The structure is lovely. Gorgeous stuff with a very long life ahead of it. Best from 2025 to 2030. Cellar Selection
Sagemoor 2017 Without Rehearsal Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon Columbia Valley $28 91 points
A blend of Bacchus, Gamache and Dionysus fruit, this wine, crafted by winemaker Ali Mayfield and grower Lacey Lybeck, is an 80-20 mix of these varieties. The aromas offer reserved notes of fig, whole pineapple, citrus and herb. The kiwi and pineapple flavors are rich and broad in feel, lingering on the finish. Yum. Editor’s Choice
Sagemoor 2016 Limited Release Stars in a Row Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $0 88 points
Hailing from 1972 plantings at Bacchus and Dionysus vineyards and crafted by winemaker John Abbott (Devona), with aromas bringing notes of dried herb, cream, red apple, spice and raspberry. The palate offers a sense of the restraint to the cherry and spice flavors. Coffee notes linger on the finish. The fruit seems a bit faded.
Saggi 2017 Red Blend Columbia Valley $60 91 points
The aromas are light, with notes of cranberry, spice, sour cherry, leather and purple fruit. The palate is considerably more expressive, with full-bodied notes of cranberry, raspberry and cherry with a vibrant sense of acidity stitching them together.
Simpatico 2016 Coalesce Red Mountain $28 89 points
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 69% of this wine, with the rest Petit Verdot (19%) and Merlot. The aromas bring notes of dark fruit, flower, spice and herb. The palate is reserved, bringing a lovely sense of freshness, with the oak seeming pulled back. It will do well at the dinner table.
Simpatico 2016 Kiona Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $35 89 points
The aromas bring notes of coffee, cedar, dried herb and cherry. Focused cherry flavors follow, with the oak seeming pulled back. It has a lovely sense of freshness and will shine at the dinner table.
Simpatico 2017 The Bos Red Blend Columbia Valley $19 88 points
This wine is named after Peter Bos, winemaking instructor at South Seattle Community College. The aromas are reserved, with notes of spice, dark fruit and herbs. Reserved fruit flavors follow. Black tea and coffee notes linger on the finish. The oak is pleasantly pulled back.
Simpatico 2018 The Fanatic White Blend Columbia Valley $19 87 points
This wine is a blend of 90% Albariño and 10% Viognier. The aromas smell a bit funky out of the gate, resolving to show tones of melon, peach, pear and flower. Lean pear flavors follow, fleshing out with time open. It doesn’t entirely stand up on its own, but there are interesting things happening.
Simpatico 2018 Viognier Yakima Valley $0 87 points
Bright aromas of nectarine, canned peach, flower and spice lead to dry, slightly leaner styled stone fruit flavors. It finishes a bit short on an otherwise enjoyable wine.
Simpatico 2017 Coalesce Red Mountain $28 87 points
Aromas of coffee, cocoa and dried herbs lead to reserved fruit flavors. It’s straight down the fairway.
Simpatico 2017 Boushey Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $26 87 points
Coming from one of the state’s most renowned Syrah sites, aromas of red apple, smoke and spice are followed by somewhat lighter styled flavors that have a medicinal streak running through them. There’s a pleasing sense of evenness to it, but the vineyard seems a bit hard to find.
Siren Song 2016 Auberge Red Blend Yakima Valley $36 85 points
Syrah makes up 85% of this wine, with the rest Grenache. Orange peel, herb and flower lead to quite light flavors. It seems dilute.
Siren Song 2016 Viaggio Primitivo Wahluke Slope $36 82 points
High toned aromas of bittersweet chocolate, herb and cherry are followed by sweet seeming, dried out flavors.
Swiftwater 2018 No. 9 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $20 90 points
The aromas bring a sense of subtlety, with notes of corn husk and mineral. Full-bodied pineapple and peach flavors follow, lingering on the finish. It’s a very appealing, well-balanced, warm vintage offering of this variety. Editor’s Choice
Swiftwater 2018 Zephyr Ridge Estate Bottled Chardonnay Horse Heaven Hills $22 89 points
Aromas of toast, reduction and peach are followed by medium-bodied, sweet pineapple flavors. Corn silk notes linger on the finish. It’s an unabashedly warm vintage expression of the variety.
Swiftwater 2017 Boushey Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley $45 87 points
Aromas of char, black fruit, ash and spice lead to a soft, savory palate, with plentiful green herbs. This always expressive vineyard seems hard to find.
Swiftwater 2017 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Syrah Red Mountain $45 87 points
Boysenberry, coffee, tar and spice aromas lead to plentiful boysenberry flavors that paint around the edges, missing the middle. The fruit aromas and flavors still provide plenty of appeal.
Swiftwater 2016 Sofia Grace Blanc de Blancs Méthode Champenoise Sparkling Blend Columbia Valley $30 87 points
Made with 100% Chardonnay. The aromas bring notes of apple and baked bread, also seeming to show some phenolic influence. A tart, creamy-feeling palate follows.
Swiftwater 2017 Proprietary Columbia Valley $32 87 points
This wine starts out reductive, followed by light notes of fig, lemon and herb that open over time. The tropical fruit flavors are lighter styled, seeming a bit washed out.
Swiftwater 2018 Boushey Vineyard Chardonnay Yakima Valley $32 86 points
The aromas bring notes of lees and baked bread, almost reminiscent of a sparkler, along with tropical fruit. Canned pineapple flavors follow. It’s an unusual offering of the variety.
Swiftwater 2018 Viognier Yakima Valley $32 86 points
This wine shows some reduction out of the gate. Beneath that are aromas of peach and wilted flower. Light, off-dry stone fruit flavors follow.
Swiftwater 2018 Quintessence Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Red Mountain $32 85 points
Reductive aromas open it, followed by light notes of herb, citrus and fig. Slightly washed out seeming tropical and citrus flavors follow. It doesn’t have enough to hold it together.
The Walls 2017 Concrete Mama River Rock Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $75 91 points
Partially fermented in concrete and also a callout to the nearby state penitentiary, the wine offers aromas with notes of smoke, blue fruit, dried herb and Dimetapp, showing a lot of primary fruit. Plush, palate-coating plum and purple fruit flavors follow. It has a nice yum factor and sense of purity.
The Walls 2017 River Rock Vineyard Grenache Walla Walla Valley $75 91 points
Examples of this variety are relatively rare in the Rocks District. Brooding aromas of boysenberry, raspberry, wet rock and moist earth are followed by an elegant, restrained, fruit-forward palate. It’s a pretty example of the variety and region.
The Walls 2017 Mahana River Rock Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley $50 91 points
Hailing from the Rocks District, with high pitched aromas of whole berry, dried herb, black olive, stem and berry leading to an elegant, flavorful palate. Coffee notes linger on the finish. It’s surprisingly fruit-driven considering the appellation, getting more savory with time open.
The Walls 2017 The Ramparts Red Mountain $44 90 points
This wine is 40% Grenache, 40% Mourvèdre, 15% Counoise and 5% Viognier, with the latter surprisingly hard to find. The expressive, fruit-driven aromas offer notes of berry, black pepper and dried herb. There’s a lovely sense of precision and detail to the flavorful, medium-bodied palate. Best after 2022.
Thick Skinned 2016 Red Mountain $0 87 points
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up just over 80% of this wine, with the rest Malbec (28%) and Petit Verdot. Vanilla, raspberry cordial, cherry dust and licorice aromas lead to flavors that start out reserved, dipping in the middle, with the concentration seeming lacking. Bunched tannins back it up.
Three Rivers 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $16 91 points
The aromas are fruit forward, with notes of blackberry, black currant and boysenberry, followed by char, herb and tar. The flavors explode on the palate, bringing plushness and richness but also balance. Firm, slightly astringent tannins back it up. Editor’s Choice
Three Rivers 2018 Chardonnay Columbia Valley $15 89 points
Melon, apple and spice aromas are out front. The flavors are well balanced, showing a sense of subtlety, with a lightly creamy feel.
Three Rivers 2017 Malbec Columbia Valley $38 87 points
The aromas are unusual, with notes of pine resin, violet, soil and dates. The palate shows more of the same, along with a fair amount of astringency and some bitterness to the tannins.
Three Rivers 2017 Streamlet Red Blend Columbia Valley $45 87 points
This is a blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Syrah and 32% Merlot. Aromas of asphalt, struck match and dark fruit are followed by dark fruit flavors with tightly wound, pretty aggressive tannins. It doesn’t all knit together.
Three Rivers 2018 Rosé Columbia Valley $15 86 points
Pale pink in color, with aromas that offer notes of lees and red apple, and a palate showing more of the same. It seems a bit tired and ponderous, though a pleasing bit of acidity props it up.
Underground Wine Project 2019 And why am I Mr. Pink? Rosé Columbia Valley $15 91 points
This Sangiovese-Syrah dominant wine is a pale pink, almost bronze color. Vibrant aromas of sour cherry, yellow strawberry, herb and watermelon rind lead to a medium-bodied, flavorful palate balanced by lively, puckering acidity. Best Buy
Upsidedown 2016 The Gold Drop Collection Upsidedown wine x Kitzke Vineyards Columbia Valley $35 92 points
Coming from Dead Poplar Estate Vineyard, Grenache (49%) makes up almost half of this wine, with the rest Mourvèdre (38%) and Syrah. Raspberry, white pepper, cigar box and cocoa bean aromas are out front. Rich, palate-coating fruit flavors follow. It impresses. Editor’s Choice
Upsidedown 2018 Konnowac Vineyard Roussanne Yakima Valley $40 91 points
Native fermented in barrel with no additions, with aromas that intrigue, with notes of seashell, nori, flower and whole nectarine. The palate is medium bodied, seamless in feel and full of flavor, with a lingering finish. It’s lovely. Editor’s Choice
Upsidedown 2018 The Co-ferment Yakima Valley $30 90 points
This wine is a blend of Viognier (70%), Marsanne (25%) and Roussanne. The aromas start out subtle, with notes of whole orange, peach, almond and flower that lead to medium-weight, but still sleek seeming, stone fruit flavors. The aromas blossom with some time open.
Upsidedown 2016 Method Red Blend Columbia Valley $25 90 points
A blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Nebbiolo, 25% Malbec and 5% Cabernet Franc, with aromas of hay, peat and cherry followed by a palate full of the same, along with plentiful cherry flavors. The acidity gives it a pleasing snap.
Upsidedown 2016 The Gold Drop Collection Candy Ridge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $45 89 points
Aromas bring an unusual mix of dried tobacco, peat, green pepper, anise and leather. The dark fruit and tobacco flavors glide on the palate. It’s equal parts intrigue and delivery, at times seeming more evolved than its age might indicate.
Upsidedown 2017 The Artist Collection Upsidedown Wine x Yudo Kurita Candy Ridge Vineyard Davis Block Syrah Yakima Valley $50 87 points
Bright aromas of green pepper, Serrano pepper, green olive and nori evolve over time to show more predominant orange zest. Blue fruit, orange peel and savory flavors follow. There are a lot of good things going on, but they don’t all quite come together, with the fruit seeming a bit underripe.
Waterbrook 2017 Icon Estate Merlot Walla Walla Valley $40 90 points
With this 100% varietal, aromas of graphite, vanilla, herb and dark roasted coffee bean lead to well-balanced plum, coffee, black tea and vanilla flavors that linger on the finish. The oak figures prominently but plays its part well. It doesn’t shout out Merlot, but it does shout out.
Waterbrook 2018 Malbec Columbia Valley $13 90 points
There’s no question about the variety, with its opulent aromas of plum and blue fruits. Generous flavors follow, with pillowy soft tannins, with plum, orange peel and herb notes lingering on the finish. Yum. Best Buy
Waterbrook 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $13 90 points
Aromas of plum, black currant, pencil lead, whole green pepper and dried herb are followed by rich, ripe flavors. It’s chock-full of fleshy fruit. A sneaky layer of firm tannins backs it all up. It delivers big-time value. Drink now. Best Buy
Waterbrook 2017 Icon Estate Syrah Walla Walla Valley $40 88 points
Aromas of blue fruit, raspberry and spice are followed by a ripe, full-flavored palate, with plentiful barrel accents. It’s an interesting interpretation of the variety, equal parts intrigue and delivery.
Waterbrook 2017 Icon Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $37 88 points
This wine is 100% varietal. The aromas are effusive, with notes of dark cherry, chocolate, plum and plentiful barrel spices. The plum flavors show an appealing sense of softness and elegance, with the tannins combed to a fine sheen. It’s an unusual but appealing offering of the variety from this appellation.
Waterbrook 2017 Icon Sangiovese Walla Walla Valley $34 88 points
Reserved aromas of rose petal, sour cherry and herbs lead to reserved coffee and cherry flavors. The tannins are bunched up at present, but there are good things going on beyond them.
Waterbrook 2017 Reserve Merlot Columbia Valley $18 88 points
The aromas are reserved, with notes of vanilla, spice and gun smoke. Fruit and barrel flavors follow, with bunched up seeming tannins in support. The variety seems hard to find.
Waterbrook 2017 Reserve Malbec Columbia Valley $18 88 points
Aromas of vanilla, baking spice, plum and cherry Luden’s cough drops lead to soft, fleshy herb and cherry flavors that are light in the middle. It has an appealing mouthfeel.
Waterbrook 2018 Merlot Columbia Valley $13 87 points
The aromas are reserved, with notes of vanilla, nougat and cherry. Plump raspberry and fruit leather flavors that dip in the middle, creating a doughnut hole, flesh it out. The warmth of the vintage carries it away at times, but there is still plenty of enjoyment and value to be had.
Waterbrook 2017 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $18 87 points
The aromas of char, mushroom, coffee, barrel spice, vanilla and herbs are unusual and not fully harmonious. Lighter styled cranberry and red fruit flavors trail toward the finish, while tight tannins back it up. The barrel influence gets in front of the fruit.
Waterbrook 2017 Vintner’s Series Red Blend Columbia Valley $20 85 points
Aromas of overripe red apple, fruit leather and spice lead to dried out flavors that fall a bit flat. The fruit seems desiccated, with the volatiles amped up.
Waterbrook 2017 Icon Estate Dolcetto Columbia Valley $34 84 points
Aromas of red fruit, flower and overripe apple lead to lighter styled flavors. It doesn’t all work in harmony, with the volatiles amped up.
Woodward Canyon 2017 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon Washington $59 91 points
Aromas of green herb, vanilla, dried cherry, chocolate, cocoa and flower lead to rich, layered dark fruit flavors with plentiful barrel accents. It’s made in a rich, hedonistic style, drinking like a candy bar. It has enough stuffing to lay down for a decade or two in the cellar. Fruit and barrel play equal parts. Give the oak some time to integrate. Best after 2025. Cellar Selection
Woodward Canyon 2017 Estate Reserve Walla Walla Valley $89 88 points
This wine is 59% Cabernet Franc, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petit Verdot and 5% Merlot. The aromas bring notes of char, nougat, vanilla and dark roasted coffee bean, with the oak way out front. The palate shows more of the same. It’s hard to access at present or see where it’s going.
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