50+ wines reviewed below and in the database, including the latest from Armstrong, Avennia, Devison, Frank the Tank, Goose Ridge, Liminal, Luke, Matthews, Passing Time, Sagemoor, Saviah, and Syncline.
2021 was a challenging vintage in the Pacific Northwest. A heat dome at the end of June produced triple-digit, record-breaking temperatures across the region. Washington specifically also had an extremely short crop in 2021.
Typically a hot season combined with a short crop is not a recipe for success. However, in Washington, the way the vintage finishes has as much if not more to say about how the wines turn out than what happens in the summer months.
September and October were cooler than average and allowed for additional hang time. The result is enjoyable wines that are ripe but have surprising freshness given the heat of the vintage.
One variety in particular clearly benefitted from the vintage’s conditions: Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernets from 2021 show ripeness of fruit flavors and also plush tannins. The best examples are not at all overwrought or monolithic, as their 2015 counterparts often were. (2021 was Washington’s hottest vintage just ahead of 2015.) Perhaps most surprisingly, the wines are showy but not all flash. Speaking generally, they have exhibited impressive staying power on the tasting table. This bodes well for their longevity in the cellar.
The 2021 vintage presented some clear challenges from a growing perspective. The results thus far, particularly for Cabernet Sauvignon, have been both critic and consumer-friendly wines. The only downside? There is somewhat less of the wines to go around due to the light crop.
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