Red wines shine in 3rd Great Northwest Wine Competition

By on April 1, 2015
Great Northwest Wine Competition at the Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Oregon

More than 20 wine professionals evaluated 1,204 wines at the third annual Great Northwest Wine Competition in Hood River, Ore. (Photo by Darlene Hildebrandt/Digital Photo Mentor)

HOOD RIVER, Ore. – Red wines proved their worth at the 2015 Great Northwest Wine Competition.

More than 100 red wines earned gold or double gold medal at the third annual Great Northwest Wine Competition, which drew more than 1,200 entries from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho.

The professional wine judges awarded a gold medal when a majority deemed the wines among the best. A double gold medal was awarded when the vote for gold was unanimous.

The competition took place at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River.

After the judges spent two days tasting and evaluating all the entries under blind conditions (they didn’t know the producer or the price when they were tasting), we went through to taste all the golds and write reviews. Here they are.

Double gold

Ambassador Wines of Washington 2012 Estate Envoy, Red Mountain, $35: Second-generation Red Mountain winemaker Sarah Goedhart worked with one of the state’s top vineyard managers in Dick Boushey for this straight-forward blend of Merlot (33%), Cabernet Franc (33%), Cabernet Sauvignon (33%) and dabs of Petit Verdot and Malbec. Blackberry pie, vanilla, licorice and sweet herbs aromas and flavors are capped off by pomegranate acidity and bittersweet chocolate tannins. (14.5% alc.)

Cinder Wines 2013 Syrah, Snake River Valley, $28: Melanie Krause has established herself and Cinder Wines as one of the top wineries in Idaho, and the quality of her work is helping to elevate the winemaking across the state. This superb Syrah opens with youthful aromas of fresh blackberry, blueberry and vanilla, followed by flavors of ripe blueberry and elderberry, along with Aussie black licorice and white pepper in the finish. It is dense, juicy and plush without being hedonistic – a beautifully structured wine. (14.1% alc.)

Coeur de Terre Vineyard 2012 Oregon Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $22: This winery in Oregon’s McMinnville AVA is crafting wines of elegance and intensity. This delicious example opens with aromas of strawberry-rhubarb pie, a hint of vanilla and a whisper of white lavender. On the palate, flavors of ripe raspberry and red cherry are backed by supple tannins and right-on acidity. (14.5% alc.)

Cottonwood Winery of Oregon 2012 Estate Red Wine, Willamette Valley, $19: Phil and Aaron Lieberman in the southern Willamette Valley community of Cottage Grove achieve remarkable balance with this eclectic, single barrel’s worth of Gamay Noir (48%), Pinot Noir (21%), Tempranillo (19%) and Cabernet Sauvignon. The fun nose of cordial cherry, vanilla cream, blueberry and horehound transitions to flavors of blueberry candy, pomegranate and bittersweet chocolate. Lively acidity carries the structure that finishes with lingering cassis. Enjoy with duck breast in a cherry reduction sauce. (14.5% alc.)

Estrin Estates 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope, $30: Software developer-turned-winemaker Rich Estrin launched his winery in Issaquah, Wash., in 2009 and is off to a remarkable start. This Cab from the near-perfect 2012 vintage uses grapes from the warm Wahluke Slope. It reveals aromas of black pepper, French press coffee, roasted meat and ripe plum. On the palate, it shows off flavors of blackberry, dark chocolate and black olive, all backed by firm tannins and bright acidity. (14.7% alc.)

Lookout Point Winery 2012 Syrah, Yakima Valley, $32: George Petzinger has developed into one of the rising stars of the Yakima, Wash., wine scene with Lookout Point Winery. This delicious Syrah opens with aromas of raspberry, cocoa powder and rose petals. On the palate, it is dominated by flavors of raspberry, Western serviceberry and elderberry, all backed by elegant, fine-grained tannins. (13.6% alc.)

Panther Creek Cellars 2012 Lazy River Vineyard Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton, $45: While much of the soil in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA is ancient marine sediment, Lazy River is on jory, which is fractured basalt similar to the nearby Dundee Hills. This wine exhibits more of the bright, high-toned red fruit one would expect from the Dundee Hills, while also revealing darker notes of blackberry and plum. Mild tannins give this a gentle, elegant finish. (14.4% alc.)

Pasek Cellars Winery NV Blackberry Dessert Wine, Washington, $12: It’s been 20 years since Gene and Kathy Pasek launched their eponymous winery in Mount Vernon, Wash., and they’ve specialized in non-grape wines from the start. Their blackberry dessert wine ranks among their most popular, and it stays true to the fruit. The nose is reminiscent of blackberry syrup drizzled over a freshly baked chocolate brownie, and there’s no disappointment on the delivery to the palate. Its rich with berry acidity, and the residual sugar of 22% makes it dessert in a glass. An ideal pairing would be to pour this over vanilla ice cream. (16% alc.)

Saviah Cellars 2011 Big Sky Cuvée, Columbia Valley, $35: Montana native Richard Funk leads this annual tribute to his home state with Merlot (56%), and it ranked among the favorites of judges for its balance. Black cherry, black licorice, vanilla extract and lavender aromas and flavors are made silky by the management of tannins and acidity. The Big Sky Cuvée program has generated many gold medals for Funk over the years, so this showing was almost predictable. (14.1% alc.)

Sinclair Estate Vineyards 2011 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $35: Amy Alvarez-Wampfler began her career in the wine industry by working the tasting room at Columbia Crest and moving into the production end of the operation. She’s enjoyed success in Walla Walla with this small family-owned winery, and her latest example is from these seven barrels of Merlot. The nose opens with hints of blueberry, bittersweet chocolate and black licorice. The approach to the balance is rich with black cherry and chocolate-covered pomegranate, framed by age-worthy tannins and acidity. (14% alc.)

Skylite Cellars 2012 River Rock Vineyard Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $30: Skylite Cellars winemaker Greg Matiko is helping to continue to take this Walla Walla winery to new heights of quality. This superb Syrah from River Rock Vineyard in The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA opens with aromas of blackberry, Graham cracker crust and vanilla bean, along with a minerally note. On the palate, it is a juicy and sublime wine with flavors of sweet blueberry and black licorice. (13.8% alc.)

Winter’s Hill Estate 2012 Reserve Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, $64: Second-generation winemaker Delphine Gladhart has helped elevate this family operation in Oregon’s Dundee Hills, and this small-production Pinot Noir from estate grapes further exemplifies her winemaking prowess. It is a powerfully elegant wine with aromas of rhubarb, ripe strawberry and clove, followed by flavors of supple red fruit backed by just the faintest hint of moist earthiness. An absolutely luscious effort. (14% alc.)

Woodward Canyon Winery 2012 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington, $99: Proprietor Rick Small skipped the 2010 vintage of his Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon – it was the first time he hadn’t bottled his reserve-level Cab since launching Woodward Canyon in 1981. He did it because he didn’t think the wine was quite good enough. That’s a move that takes guts and integrity – qualities that define Small’s character. This new release from Woodward Canyon is a stunner that should make Small and winemaker Kevin Mott proud. It opens with aromas of sweet spices, cherry pipe tobacco and ripe boysenberry. On the palate, it reveals flavors of black cherry, plum sauce and sautéed mushrooms. It is impeccably balanced through the lengthy and memorable finish. (14.8% alc.)

Gold

14 Hands Winery 2012 Limited Release Kentucky Derby Red Blend, Columbia Valley, $15: Prosser winemaker Ray Kenison takes the reins on this special release that’s the official red wine of the Kentucky Derby. The theme of blueberry jam, cinnamon powder, minerality and vanilla lead to a juicy and balanced structure that should pare well with suggest fare that includes barbecue pork and steak kabobs. (14.5% alc.)

Abacela NV Vintner’s Blend #14, Umpqua Valley, $17: Tempranillo leads this non-vintage blend of 14 grape varieties, and it’s the red wine entry point into the Abacela portfolio. The blending acumen of winemaker Andrew Wenzl is showcased here with aromas of red cherry, blackberry, blueberry and cedar. Brisk, food-friendly acidity of pomegranate juice, savory tannins, the price point and twist-off combine to make this a perfect bottle for any fiesta. (13.5% alc.)

Abacela 2012 Fiesta Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley, $23: Earl and Hilda Jones, honored earlier this year by the Oregon wine industry for their contributions, are also helping to make Tempranillo more approachable with this new, entry-level tier. This doesn’t offer the barrel aging and refinement of their others, but it’s easy to embrace with its dark black cherry, black licorice and milk chocolate tones. There’s a fair amount of grip to the fine-grained tannins, so crack the cap and serve this on the patio with grilled fare or paired with plate of Manchego cheese and chorizo. (14.3% alc.)

Anam Cara Cellars 2012 Nicholas Estate Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, $33: Sheila and Nick Nicholas run this vineyard and winery in a beautiful location in the hills above Newberg, Ore., and their wines have developed into some of the best in the Willamette Valley. This example of Pinot Noir from a superb vintage reveals aromas of red plum, a hint of purple lavender and red cherry. On the palate, it offers flavors of elegant red fruit backed by mild tannins and bright acidity. (14.2% alc.)

Anelare 2011 Daniel Mark, Red Mountain, $45: Yakima Valley vintners Forrest and Kahryn Alexander expand their portfolio with this blend of Rhône varieties from Red Heaven Vineyard off nearby Red Mountain. Named after their grandfathers, the mosaic of Syrah (50%), Counoise (17%), Grenache (17%) and Mourvèdre exhibits notes of Marionberry, Bing cherry, licorice, fresh-cut cedar and white pepper. The structure is spicy, bright and juicy with pomegranate, blueberry and vanilla extract. (14.9% alc.)

Brandborg Vineyard & Winery 2012 Bradley Vineyard Pinot Noir, Elkton Oregon, $30: Terry and Sue Brandborg didn’t pioneer winemaking in Elkton, Ore., area, but they have figured out exactly what this cool area of the Umpqua Valley can provide in the way of an ideal climate for Pinot Noir. This beautiful wine from Bradley Vineyard exemplifies what is possible here. On the nose, this wine shows off rich aromas of Rainier cherry, violet, clove and a sprinkling of cocoa powder. This leads to flavors of supple flavors of red plum, red currant, pomegranate and white pepper. This is a wonderfully suave effort. (13.9% alc.)

Buried Cane 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $14: Looking for a great wine that is priced for any day of the week? Crack the cap on this gorgeous Walla Walla winery’s Cab without guilt. It opens with succulent aromas of blackberry, dark plum and Baker’s chocolate. On the palate, it explodes with flavors of rich chocolate sauce, ripe dark berry and luscious vanilla. (13.8% alc.)

Camaraderie Cellars 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $32: Out on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, Don Corson has quietly toiled away, crafting some of Washington’s most elegant red wines in relative obscurity. Fortunately for those who don’t want to trek all the way to Port Angeles, Camaraderie’s wines also are poured at The Tasting Room in Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market. This is a gorgeous Cab, opening with aromas of dark chocolate, black pepper, ripe blackberry and sweet oak. On the palate, it reveals flavors of rich dark fruit, roasted meat and dark chocolate. (14.6% alc.)

Carlton Cellars 2012 Estate Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton, $35: Longtime grape grower and winemaker Dave Grooters used estate grapes in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA to craft this beautiful Pinot Noir. The first whiff reveals its elegance over power, thanks to notes of Rainier cherry, raspberry and a hint of violet. Flavors of red cherry and minerally earth wash over the palate, leading to a beautiful and memorable finish. (13.6% alc.)

Cascade Cliffs Vineyard & Winery 2013 Barbera, Columbia Valley, $60: Longtime Columbia Gorge winemaker Bob Lorkowski is known for producing superb reds in boutique amounts, and this beautiful Barbera is another great example. It opens with aromas of elegant spices, ripe raspberry and a sprinkling of cocoa powder. On the palate, it offers flavors of Rainier cherry, black raspberry and pomegranate. Racy acidity provides ample structure, and this is a perfect wine to enjoy with rich Italian dishes. (16.6% alc.)

Cascade Cliffs Vineyard & Winery 2012 Reserve Nebbiolo, Horse Heaven Hills, $70: Rare is the Northwest wine made from one of the most noble of red wines. Rarer still is a Nebbiolo outside of Piedmont that is this superb. Owner/winemaker Bob Lorkowski toils in relative obscurity at his winery in tiny Wishram, Wash. Beautiful aromas of ripe cherry and a hint of minerality lead to flavors of bright red fruit, including cranberry and pomegranate. It’s all backed by classically bold tannins. Enjoy with grilled or braised meats. (14.6% alc.)

Cathedral Ridge Winery 2013 Bolton Vineyard Reserve Barbera, Columbia Valley, $48: This young wine from a top Columbia Gorge producer in Hood River, Ore., uses grapes from the Bolton family’s vineyard close to Horsethief Lake near Dallesport, Wash. The resulting wine opens with complex aromas of minerality, plump dark fruit and a hint of dark chocolate, followed by round, luscious flavors of espresso, blackberry cobbler and a touch of French vanilla. (14.3% alc.)

Chaberton Estate Winery 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, British Columbia, $24: Longtime Fraser Valley winery Chaberton crosses into the British Columbia Interior for its Cabernet Sauvignon fruit in the arid Okanagan Valley. This wine reveals aromas of crushed herbs, dried cherry, dark chocolate and ripe plum, followed by flavors of lean and elegant flavors of mocha, roasted meat, rosemary and cherry. (13.2% alc.)

College Cellars 2013 Cockburn Ranch Vineyard Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $26: Tim Donahue’s class gets some Grade A fruit, and this contribution from the Zerba family’s Jon Cockburn Ranch Vineyard near Milton-Freewater, Ore., receives high marks. It’s youthful nose hints at carbonic maceration with plump blueberry, milk chocolate, vanilla and cedar. It drinks young, too, matching the aromatics with lively acidity, espresso-grounds tannins, and purple blackberry in the finish. (15% alc.)

Coyote Canyon Winery 2012 Barbera, Horse Heaven Hills, $26: Mike Andrews owns this small winery in the Yakima Valley town of Prosser, and his grapes come from estate vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills. This grape traditionally is from northwestern Italy, and it seems to be right at home in Washington’s arid Columbia Valley. This offers aromas of plump red and purple fruit, followed by luscious flavors of blackberry, Bing cherry, sarsaparilla and a vein of minerality. Its mild tannins make this beautifully approachable. (14.1% alc.)

Coyote Canyon Winery 2010 Michael Andrews, Horse Heaven Hills, $42: Grower/rancher Mike Andrews first planted Coyote Canyon Vineyard in 1994, and Spanish grapes Tempranillo and Graciano are among the two dozen varieties that his winemakers have at their disposal. Aromas of red currant, strawberry fruit leather, ground savory, oregano red bell pepper and saddle leather lead to juicy flavors of red currant, Montmorency cherry, and rhubarb compote. Great acidity and refined tannins make this terrific with marinated flank steak, tomato-based dishes and dry-rubbed beef ribs. (14.3% alc.)

Daven Lore Winery 2012 Syrah, Columbia Valley, $29: Canadian ex-pat Gord Taylor runs this Prosser, Wash., winery with his wife, soil scientist Joan Davenport. This sumptuous Syrah reveals aromas of boysenberry, Marionberry, saddle leather and just a hint of oak. On the palate, it shows off flavors of ripe red and black berries, and the plush tannins are mere background music. (14.5% alc.)

DeLille Cellars 2012 D2, Columbia Valley, $45: This blend of Bordeaux varieties under DeLille Cellars’ second label has been judged to be superior to the top-tier efforts by many. It starts with major investments in vineyards and carries into the barrel program, which was 100% new French oak. Black currant, Bing cherry, Montana huckleberry jam, sweet tobacco and spearmint aromas lead into flavors of Marionberry, plump cherry and currant. Chocolate-covered pomegranate makes for a delicious finish and bodes well for the future. (14.3% alc.)

Desert Wind Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope, $18: The Fries family tends to more than 500 acres of vines on the arid and remote Wahluke Slope and crafts this wine at its production facility in the Yakima Valley town of Prosser, Wash. This is a round and supple red with aromas of black pepper, herbal tea, Marionberry and cola, followed by flavors of ripe plum and blackberry. It’s all backed by mild oak and moderate tannins. (14.5% alc.)

Dunham Cellars 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $45: This is a fitting tribute to the memory of founding winemaker Eric Dunham, who passed away during the 2014 harvest. This was the 17th Cabernet Sauvignon in his illustrious career. It opens with aromas of endearing notes of granite dust, black tea, black pepper, black currant and blackberry, followed by powerful flavors of ripe plum, black olive and slate. The tannins are firmly in balance through the memorable finish. (14.2% alc.)

Eagle Harbor Wine Co. 2012 Dwelley Vineyard Founders Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $40: Emily Parsons joined this Bainbridge Island winery during this 2012 vintage, and she’s since taken over the winemaking responsibilities from founder Hugh Remash. Dark blueberry, Bing cherry, elderberry and black licorice aromas turn into lush and penetrating flavors of chocolate-covered blueberry and vanilla extract. The wine continues to show its youthfulness, but there’s plenty of acidity and tannin structure to allow this to improve. (15.5% alc.)

Elevation Cellars 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $27: Longtime Washington winemaker Matthew Loso consults for owner Steven Stuart at this fast-rising Woodinville winery. This luscious Cab opens with aromas of slate, dried sage, dark chocolate and dried cherry, followed by flavors of mocha, plum sauce and a wisp of smoke. (14.5% alc.)

Et Fille Wines 2011 Palmer Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, $42: The father-daughter winemaking team of Howard and Jessica Mozeico have crafted a wonderfully elegant Pinot Noir using grapes from the fascinating Eola-Amity Hills American Viticultural Area. This opens with aromas of black truffle shavings, cocoa powder and purple plum, followed by flavors that are rich yet supple, revealing notes of raspberries picked on a warm summer evening. (13.2% alc.)

Firesteed Cellars 2012 Pinot Noir, Oregon, $17: Firesteed’s mainline Pinot Noir is priced for everyday enjoyment – something that is not a regular occurence in Oregon wine country. This opens with aromas of rhubarb-cherry pie and a whisper of purple lavender. On the palate, it shows off flavors of Rainier cherry and fresh-from-the-bog cranberry. Enjoy with duck, lean cuts of beef or even a mushroom omelet. (13% alc.)

Gamache Vintners 2012 Reserve Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley, $40: Bob and Roger Gamache in Basin City, Wash., continue to grow grapes for some of the top wineries in the state, but they hold back some of their best for Charlie Hoppes, who turns them into award-winning wines for the brothers’ tasting room in Prosser’s Vintners Village. Beautiful oak spice, black currant, black cherry, orange zest and dark chocolate tones include an undercurrent of sweet herbs. Enjoy with lean meats such as marinated London broil. (13.9% alc.)

Gamache Vintners 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $50: Gamache Vintners typically relies upon its own stellar grapes, but for this reserve-level Cab, winemaker Charlie Hoppes pulled in fruit from renowned Champoux and Ciel du Cheval vineyards. The results are spectacular, with aromas of walnut, blackberry, plum and exotic spice followed by flavors of supple black cherry, black currant and dark chocolate, all backed by supple and elegant tannins. (14.9% alc.)

Garnier Vineyards 2012 Pinot Noir, Columbia Gorge, $19: This tiny, family-owned winery in the Columbia Gorge town of Mosier, Ore., has crafted a luscious and beautiful Pinot Noir from estate grapes. It provides aromas of dark cherry, minerally earth and a hint of clove followed by flavors of rich red and black fruit and subtle notes of forest floor. This is as elegant as it is intriguing. (13.8% alc.)

Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2013 Summer Night, Okanagan Valley, $14: The Gehringer brothers proudly wear the crown as King of the Platinum, the year-end judging by Wine Press Northwest magazine that gathers gold-medal winning wines before the calendar turns each year, and they’ve earned their way into the 2015 edition with this light and approachable blend of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Blackberry, sweet cherry, dark strawberry, lilac, horehound and leather notes abound in lighter style that’s easy to appreciate and enjoy. (13.2% alc.)

Genoa Cellars 2011 Ketch, Red Mountain, $37: The Woodinville tandem of Derek Berger and Scott Heinrich spend a fair bit of time on Red Mountain, creating a handful of different red blends from the state’s smallest American Viticultural Area. This one, named for a two-masted sailboat, is dominated by Ranch at the End of the Road Vineyard, which contributed the Syrah (57%) and Sangiovese (14%), and includes Merlot (29%) from Kiona — two of the three Red Mountain sites owned by the Williams family. The dominance of Syrah shows from beginning to end, starting with aromas of boysenberry and Hostess Blueberry Pie, and joined by dusty black cherry, rose petal, coffee and black pepper. The drink is bold with more boysenberry and plum, backed by a plush midpalate and juicy acidity, and finished with black cherry. The sailors suggest pairing this with smoked meats, cioppino and other Italian fare. Released last year, it continues to improve in the bottle, evidenced by its showing at the 2015 Great Northwest Wine Competition. (14.1% alc.)

Gifford Hirlinger 2012 Stateline Red, Walla Walla Valley, $18: Mike Berghan’s family has ties to the Walla Walla Valley that date back nearly 150 years. When they returned to the region, they founded their maturing estate vineyard near the Washington/Oregon stateline, hence the name of this Merlot-based blend. There’s a sense of black fruit, vanilla bean, minerality and savory notes throughout, backed by a bold, yet fruit-forward structure. (15.5% alc.)

Gilbert Cellars 2012 Syrah, Columbia Valley, $30: Gilbert Cellars has been one of the reason for the heightened presence of a wine culture in downtown Yakima, and their latest Syrah shows some characteristics of Châteauneuf-du-Pape with its gamy and savory aromas that filter in behind blackberry, blueberry and vanilla bean. On the palate, it’s bright and blue with Marionberry and elderberry, backed by a stream of acidity and medium tannins. (15% alc.)

Goose Ridge Vineyards 2010 Merlot Dreams, Columbia Valley, $30: Goose Ridge Vineyards near Richland, Wash., features the watercolors of Chris Blevins on the label of their artist series blend, named Merlot Dreams. Black currant, grilled cherries, strawberry-rhubarb compote, moist earth tones are presented amid a structure of sandy tannins and dried blueberry. (14.8% alc.)

Grantwood Winery 2012 Petit Verdot, Walla Walla Valley, $22: Joe Wood and Doris Grant run this micro-winery west of downtown Walla Walla and produce tiny amounts of high-quality red wine that is fairly priced. This Petit Verdot offers aromas of dark chocolate, inviting dusty oak, mild blackberry and black olive. On the palate, this plush red provides flavors of blackberry and black currant, followed by light mushroom with a dark chocolate finish. (14.9% alc.)

H/H Estates 2010 Robert Andrews Reserve Mourvèdre, Horse Heaven Hills, $42: It is especially appropriate that this wine earned a gold medal as it honors owner Mike Andrews’ father, Bob Andrews, who died late last year. This Mourvèdre uses grapes grown on estate vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills, and it opens with aromas of white pepper, fresh oregano and ripe raspberry. On the palate, it shows off flavors of blackberry, Saskatoon berry and spices, all backed with bright acidity and approachable tannins. (14.3% alc.)

Harbinger Winery 2010 Bacchus Vineyard Block 4 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $25: Olympic Peninsula vintner Sara Gagnon captures the essence of one of Washington state’s oldest vineyards with this classic example of Merlot. Aromas of Chukar Cherry, vanilla, coffee and blueberry evolve into mouthfilling flavors of pomegranate, raspberry and cranberry, backed by firm tannins and a rush of acidity. (13.8% alc.)

Harry and David Winery 2012 Reserve Pinot Noir, Rogue Valley, $30: Harry & David is most famous for its beautiful Oregon pears that are a prized gift every Christmas. But this Medford company also crafts a wine using quarter-century-old vines. And it is beautiful. It opens with aromas of rhubarb, red cherry and a hint of moist earthiness, followed by elegant flavors of raspberry and pomegranate. This is a gentle, easy-to-like Pinot Noir. (13.5% alc.)

Helix by Reininger 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $31: Longtime winemaker Chuck Reininger created this label in part to explore vineyards outside of the Walla Walla Valley. This gorgeous wine uses grapes from the broad Columbia Valley. It opens with aromas of black licorice, cola, cedar and ripe boysenberry. On the palate, it reveals flavors of bold, ripe dark fruit, including plum and black cherry, as well as black tea and dark chocolate. (14.5% alc.)

Henry Earl Estate Wines 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $45: Dick Shaw, one of Washington’s most important and prolific grape growers, works with master winemaker Victor Palencia to craft this wine from estate grapes on Red Mountain. It is as gorgeous as it is powerful, with aromas of tell-tale sage, black cherry and a hint of smoky oak, followed by flavors of coffee, dark chocolate, dried herbs and elegant dark fruit. It’s all backed by tamed tannins and focused acidity on the lengthy finish. (13.8% alc.)

Henry Earl Estate Wines 2010 Homesteader, Red Mountain, $40: Walla Walla vintner Victor Palencia operates his own winery and tasting room, but his résumé also includes making wine for this new project that belongs to acclaimed growers Dick and Wendy Shaw. While they have expansive holdings on the Wahluke Slope, they also own some of the top vineyards on Red Mountain — home to this Merlot-based bottling. Dark blueberry, Marionberry, Bing cherry, black licorice aromas and flavors. It’s rich, round, penetrating and plush, backed by sweet tannins and rewarding acidity. Enjoy with lamb chops. (14.7% alc.)

Hightower Cellars 2012 Reserve Red Wine, Red Mountain, $55: The husband/wife team of Tim and Kelly Hightower widely use Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain to build the foundation for their Reserve, which opens with tones of chocolate-covered pomegranate, blueberry and lilac. The hallmark of Hightower Cellars red wines is exquisite balance, and that definitely applies here as suave tannins and juicy blueberry acidity make for a long farewell. (14.4% alc.)

J&J Vintners 2012 Les Collines Vineyard Malbec, Walla Walla Valley, $35: This young producer in Oregon’s Walla Walla Valley is crafting several delicious wines, and this Malbec is a great example of the region’s potential with the noble Bordeaux variety. This opens with aromas of ripe plum black pepper and dark chocolate shavings. On the palate, it explodes with bold flavors of blackberry, dark plum and dark cherry. Firm tannins and bright acidity provide ample structure through the lengthy finish. (14.6% alc.)

JM Cellars 2012 Margaret’s Vineyard Estate Red, Walla Walla Valley, $42: Woodinville winemaker John Bigelow continues to expand his network of estate plantings, and this Meritage-style bottling focuses on his Salmon-Safe vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley. Dark boysenberry, dark tobacco leaf, mocha and minerality leads to a refined drink of Marionberry and black currant with medium tannins and blueberry acidity. (14.9% alc.)

Jones of Washington 2011 Barrel Select Red Blend, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $25: Victor Palencia took best of show honors with his own label, but he continues to make his mark for Jones of Washington in Washington’s Columbia Basin town of Quincy. The Jones family achieved a gold medal for this tall bottle that’s long on notes of black currant, blueberry, bittersweet chocolate and tobacco leaf notes. The structure is one of sandy tannins and acidity reminiscent of a mountain berry patch. (14.8% alc.)

K & M Wines 2012 Alchemy Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, $40: Longtime Oregon winemaker Jason Bull crafts the wines for this winery on Parrett Mountain with a tasting room in Carlton. This gorgeous effort opens with aromas of roasted meat topped with a raspberry reduction sauce. On the palate, it provides flavors of cherry and red currant, all backed with luscious acidity and mild tannins. (13.7% alc.)

Kennedy Shah 2012 Reserve Syrah, Yakima Valley, $42: Kennedy Shah is among the five labels under the Woodhouse Wine Estates umbrella, each created by Jean Claude Beck. Marionberry, lavender, lilac and sage, smoky blueberry, gorgeous nose. Black currant with blueberry acidity, plum-skin tannins. It’s a Syrah with the shoulders to lay down in the cellar for a while, or enjoy now with pork ribs or duck breast. (14.4% alc.)

Kestrel Vintners 2012 Co-Ferment Syrah, Yakima Valley, $40: The relationship between Syrah and Viognier is remarkable when co-fermented, and Prosser vintner Flint Nelson proves that with this bottling from estate fruit in the Yakima Valley. Blackberry, blueberry and mocha aromas pick up hints of orange Creamsicle and vanilla extract. On the palate, it is creamy and filled with dark purple berries, backed by pleasing acidity and blueberry seed tannins. It’s easy to imagine this with duck breast or BBQ ribs. (14% alc.)

Kitzke Cellars 2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $30: This winery on Candy Mountain near Richland, Wash., is coming into its own as one of the up-and-coming stars in the Columbia Valley. This Cab from estate grapes offers aromas of sarsaparilla, blackberry and black currant, followed by flavors of dark chocolate, slate and bold plum. (14.2% alc.)

Koenig Vineyards 2012 The Devil’s Bedstead Zinfandel, Snake River Valley, $25: Zin is a rare commodity in Idaho’s Snake River Valley, but winemaker Greg Koenig proves it belongs amid the Bordeaux, Rhône and Spanish varieties being successfully grown here. This superb example offers aromas of rich, dark, ripe fruit, a hint of earthy minerality and rich spice. The palate explodes with flavors of ripe dark cherry, black raspberry and boysenberry, along with hints of maple syrup and dark chocolate. This is a spectacular example of Zin. (16% alc.)

Kontos Cellars 2011 Brynnan, Walla Walla Valley, $50: Kontos Cellars graduated from the incubator at the Walla Walla Regional Airport, and this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (20%), Syrah (20%) and Malbec — which winemaker Cameron Kontos named for one of his daughters — has the wings to carry this for years. Floral notes of lilac, vanilla and sweet blueberries and chocolate are presented in a suave style that’s filled with Marionberry, blueberry and black currant. (14.4% alc.)

LaBrasseur Vineyard 2012 Ethan Cole, Rogue Valley, $29: Fred LaBrasseur retired after more than three decades as a firefighter in Medford, Ore., and began planting vines in the Rogue Valley. He’s enjoyed early success with this estate blend of Petite Sirah and Primitivo, which features hints of black cherry fruit leather, strawberry candy, vanilla and milk chocolate. The structure blends the hedonisitic nature of Primitivo with the bold structure of Petite Sirah, creating mouth-filling tannins and racy acidity. Enjoy with well-marbled meats. (14% alc.)

Lady Hill Winery 2013 Red Willow Vineyard Procedo Barbera, Columbia Valley, $25: Lady Hill Winery is in the Willamette Valley town of St. Paul, Ore., and it brings in grapes from throughout the Northwest. This luscious Barbera comes from highly touted Red Willow Vineyard in the western Yakima Valley and is crafted by winemaker Erik Brasher. Aromas of black cherry, cola and minerality give way to flavors of blackberry and boysenberry. Mild tannins provide just enough grip to create the perfect structure. (14.5% alc.)

Latah Creek Wine Cellars 2012 Monarch Primitivo, Horse Heaven Hills, $30: Primitivo, a clone of Zinfandel, is becoming slightly more popular in the Pacific Northwest. Thie grapes for this wine are grown at Zephyr Ridge, a top vineyard in Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills. This Spokane winery has a winner with this red, which opens with aromas of rich, dark fruit and cocoa powder, followed by flavors of ripe black cherry and dark plum. Bright acidity and modest tannins provide all the necessary structure. (13.5% alc.)

Mackey Vineyards 2010 Right Bank, Columbia Valley, $45: A nearly 50/50 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc was created by this Walla Walla Valley winery as a tribute to Bordeaux’s historic Right Bank region. Ripe purple fruit tones of blackberry, black currant and blueberry include hints of horehound, saddle leather, black licorice and bittersweet chocolate. Its structure shows refinement and balance with medium tannins and juicy acidity. (14.1% alc.)

Major Creek Cellars 2013 Syrah Columbia Valley, $20: This winery in the Columbia Gorge town of White Salmon, Wash., brought in grapes from acclaimed Dineen Vineyard in the Yakima Valley near Zillah for this delicious and food-friendly Syrah. Aromas of plum, black currant and blueberry lead to juicy flavors of elderberry, anise and horehound. Enjoy this leaner style of Syrah with pork roast. (13.8% alc.)

Maryhill Winery 2013 Winemaker’s Red, Columbia Valley, $12: Wine Press Northwest’s 2015 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year produces award-winning results across many price points, and this ranked among the least expensive wines of the competition. It also proved to be one of the best in the category of red blends based on Cabernet Sauvignon, and it offers remarkable complexity. Crushed sweet herbs, black currant, plum sauce and roasted red pepper aromas and flavors make this worthy of any dinner table on every night of the week. (13.9% alc.)

Maryhill Winery 2012 Proprietor’s Reserve Syrah, Columbia Valley, $25: Winemaker Richard Batchelor’s fourth vintage at Maryhill was the first one that was somewhat normal in Washington terms, with 2009 ending in a severe frost and 2010 and ’11 being cooler than usual. And his 2012 wines are stunning, as this Syrah reveals. It opens with aromas of chocolate-covered blueberry, black licorice, vanilla extract and rose hips. On the palate, it is mouth-filling yet balanced, thanks to flavors of blueberry and black licorice backed by fine-grained tannins. (14.8% alc.)

Maryhill Winery 2012 Zinfandel, Columbia Valley, $17: Maryhill Winery in Goldendale, Wash., has long produced some of the Northwest’s finest Zins, and this effort from New Zealand-born winemaker Richard Batchelor further burnishes that reputation. Aromas of ripe red cherry, raspberry and black pepper give way to flavors of ripe red and black fruit and a wisp of smoke. It’s all backed by beautiful acidity and mild acidity. (14.9% alc.)

MonteScarlatto Estate Winery 2012 Malbec, Red Mountain, $32: This young winery on Washington’s warm Red Mountain is helping to make a name for itself with each successive vintage. This superb Malbec from estate grapes opens with aromas of mocha, sweet oak, ripe plum and black pepper. On the palate, it offers rich flavors of blackberry, black cherry, slate and dark spices, all backed by succulent tannins and notes of dark chocolate. (13.4% alc.)

Northwest Mountain Winery 2012 Dark Moon Rising, Columbia Valley, $26: Olympia, Wash., nurse Ray Curtis is developing a delicious reputation with fortified wines, both with fruit other than grapes and this work with the Italian variety Barbera. Black cherry, poached plum, cola and fig aromas turn into a drink of blackberry and raspberry syrup, laced with brilliant, lip-smacking acidity and skillfully managed alcohol. (19.6% alc.)

Northwest Wine Academy 2012 Boushey Sangiovese, Yakima Valley, $16: The faculty and students at South Seattle Community College in West Seattle work together to craft these wines, and this example of the noble red wine of Italy bodes well for the Washington wine industry’s future. This offers aromas of kirsch, cherry and a hint of cola. On the palate, it opens with flavors of bright red currant with a hint of milk chocolate on the finish. (12.7% alc.)

Panther Creek Cellars 2012 Kalita Vineyard Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton, $50: The revitalized Panther Creek Cellars has opened a tasting room on the main highway in Dundee, Ore., and this beautiful red is worth negotiating Highway 99 to get there. It shows off classic Yamhill-Carlton dark fruit and a walk through a coastal rainforest on the nose, followed by bright flavors of red plum, black cherry and a streak of minerality. It’s all backed by a pillow of plush tannins for a lengthy finish. (14.4% alc.)

Panther Creek Cellars 2012 Winemaker’s Cuvee Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, $30: This blend of multiple vineyards is a beautiful Pinot Noir that has a nice entry price. It opens with a bit of oak spice followed by notes of ripe blackberry and a hint of juicy red fruit. On the palate, it offers up flavors of dark plum backed by elegant tannins and plenty of length. (13.5% alc.)

Pend d’Oreille Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington, $21: This longtime winery in the Idaho Panhandle town of Sandpoint regularly heads to Washington for its grapes. This Cabernet Sauvignon uses fruit from Dionysus, Coyote Canyon and Wells vineyards, combining for a divine and delicious red. It is a showy wine with aromas of sweet spices, black tea, black licorice and ripe plum, followed by flavors of black olive, round black cherry and plum. It’s a rich, smooth red. (14.1% alc.)

Phelps Creek Vineyards 2012 Pinot Noir, Columbia Gorge, $38: Proprietor Robert Morus is working hard to elevate the opinions about Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir, and this classic example certainly helps. It shows off aromas of black raspberry and huckleberry, followed by flavors of rich, dark cherry and strawberry jam. Moderate tannins and bright acids lift the flavors through the memorable finish. (13.5% alc.)

Plain Cellars 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $35: This small producer in the town of Plain, Wash., is north of the Cascade Mountains community of Leavenworth. It brought in grapes from Red Mountain for this superb Cab. It opens with aromas of espresso beans, sweet oak and ripe dark fruit. On the palate, it shows off flavors of black licorice, cola, ripe dark plum and Saskatoon berry. Subtle tannins give this wine beautiful focus. (14.5% alc.)

Pondera Winery 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $36: This Woodinville, Wash., winery continues to craft superb reds — despite a cool and often difficult vintage such as 2011 — by using grapes from three of Washington’s top vineyards: Stillwater Creek, The Benches and Conner Lee. Aromas of black currant, new leather and espresso lead to flavors of bold dark fruit, including plum and boysenberry. It’s all backed by bold tannins that keep up with all the rich fruit. (14.2% alc.)

Pondera Winery 2011 Midnight Rider, Columbia Valley, $50: Pondera Winery’s Shane Howard produces this tribute to the late great guitarist Duane Allman as part of the Cabernation Project. The blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (65%), Merlot (25%) and Malbec offers black cherry, black currant, bittersweet chocoalte, moist earth, sweet herbs and saddle leather. On the palate, there’s cruise control to the path of black currant, blueberry and dusty blackberry, with fine-grained tannins and juicy acidity. (14.8% alc.)

Recline Ridge Vineyards and Winery 2011 Just Being Frank, British Columbia, $21: Recline Ridge is north of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley near Salmon Arm and is crafting superb wines. This Lemberger goes by its Austrian moniker Blaufrankisch, but it’s beautiful by any name. This opens with aromas of milk chocolate, succulent spices and ripe red fruit. On the palate, it provides racy flavors of red cherry, cranberry and raspberry, all backed by impeccable acidity and mild tannins. (11.7% alc.)

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2013 Winemaker’s Reserve Pinot Noir, Umpqua Valley, $39: Stephen Reustle is crafting some of the finest wines in Southern Oregon at his vineyard and winery near Roseburg. This luscious and approachable Pinot Noir opens with aromas of dusty granite, raspberry and pomegranate, followed by flavors of cherry cordial. The stunning acidity lifts all the fruit and allows it to sashay across the palate. (13.9% alc.)

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2013 Gloria’s Syrah, Umpqua Valley, $42: Winemaker Stephen Reustle crafted this delicious Syrah and named it to honor his wife, Gloria, and the label includes the flag from her native Puerto Rico. Inside the glass, the wine is superb, with aromas of brownies and raspberry jam and flavors of cocoa powder and black raspberry backed by dusty tannins and juicy acidity. (13.4% alc.)

Rolling Bay Winery 2012 Upland Vineyard Cuveé Aldaro, Snipes Mountain, $32: The Dutch connection of Bainbridge Island winemaker Alphonse de Klerk and the Newhouse family vineyards on Snipes Mountain produced one of the top Cabernet Sauvignon-based red blends of the competition. There’s a bit of an Old World approach to this with its hints of red currant, Bing cherry and sweet herbs. Its tannin structure is on the lighter side, showing finesse with its offering of raspberry acidity and pinch of tarragon in the finish. (13.9% alc.)

RR 2011 Pinot Noir, Ribbon Ridge, $69: This is a high-end bottling of Ribbon Ridge AVA Pinot Noir from Chehalem Wines. Vintner Harry Peterson-Nedry is a pioneer on this sliver of land that is part of the Chehalem Mountains near Newberg. The wine is classic Ribbon Ridge, with aromas that are dark and powerful, leading to flavors of ripe dark plum and blackberry sauce. Moderate tannins back this luscious effort. (13% alc.)

Saviah Cellars 2011 Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla Valley, $30: Seven Hills Vineyard, one of the Pacific Northwest’s top sites, forms the base for this graceful, fruit-forward Cabernet Franc. It features aromas and flavors of raspberry, montmorency cherry and cedar, bringing juicy acidity and a thin trail of tannin. There’s very little herbaceousness within its bright red and racy profile, which should make it particularly appealing to fans of Grenache. (14.4% alc.)

Saviah Cellars 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $45: Owner/winemaker Rich Funk used grapes from renowned McClellan Vineyard on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley to craft this exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of ripe dark fruit and minerally earth give way to flavors of bold plum and blackberry backed by richly structure tannins and a lengthy finish. (14.6% alc.)

Saviah Cellars 2011 Couse Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir, Walla Walla Valley, $45: The Walla Walla Valley is not Pinot Noir country – unless you find just the right location. And winemaker Rich Funk has managed that. The grapes for this amazing effort come from a vineyard that is at 1,900 feet in elevation in the foothills of the Blue Mountsins. The result is a wine with aromas of spicy red fruit, including currant, Rainier cherry and cranberry. On the palate, it unveils elegant flavors of raspberry and pomegranate. This is a stunning and unexpected achievement. (13.3% alc.)

Saviah Cellars 2012 GSM, Walla Walla Valley, $38: Richard Funk’s touch with varieties native to France’s Rhone Valley continues to be superb, and for the second straight year, his GSM blend — this time of Grenache (40%) from Lonesome Springs Vineyard, Mourvèdre (30%) from Watermill Estate in the Walla Walla Valley and Sugarloaf Vineyard Syrah — brings home a gold medal to his winery near Milton-Freewater, Ore. Ripe purple fruit of Marionberry, blueberry and black currant tones pick up cinnamon and vanilla. Sandy tannins and blueberry juice acidity combine for a superb and suave farewell. (14.6% alc.)

Saviah Cellars 2012 Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley, $38: Walla Walla Valley vintner Richard Funk reaches into his estate vineyard in The Rocks, Dugger Creek and nearby Watermill Estate for this rare example of Tempranillo from northeast Oregon. Aromas of boysenberry, black currant, elderberry and huckleberry include a dusting of cocoa powder. The structure is one of fine-grained tannins, ripe blueberry and blackberry with sublime tannins and ample acidity. (13.8% alc.)

Seven of Hearts 2012 Armstrong Vineyard Pinot Noir, Ribbon Ridge, $35: Winemaker Byron Dooley is quietly making stunning wines from the tiny Yamhill County town of Carlton, Ore. The grapes for this luscious red came from nearby Ribbon Ridge, the smallest AVA in the Pacific Northwest. This gorgeous effort unfolds with aromas of white pepper, cardamom, minerality and rhubarb-strawberry jam. On the palate, it reveals flavors of red cherry and raspberry all wrapped in subtle, nearly imperceptible tannins. (13.7% alc.)

Stina’s Cellars 2012 Malbec, Yakima Valley, $54: This small winery near Tacoma, Wash., is crafting tiny amounts of delicious wines, and this Malbec from the Yakima Valley ranks as one of its finest efforts to date. This opens with aromas of ripe boysenberry syrup, roasted marshmallow, black pepper and raspberry reduction sauce. On the palate, it offers flavors of rich blueberry, huckleberry and vanilla. It’s an explosive wine that is drinking beautifully. (14.2% alc.)

Swiftwater Cellars 2012 Zephyr Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $38: While the Horse Heaven Hills is home to many renowned vineyards, Zephyr Ridge is emerging as one of the very best. It’s an estate planting for the Watts family, which owns this showpiece winery in the Cascade Mountains. This gorgeous red opens with aromas of cherry pipe tobacco, mushroom, blackberry and oak spice, followed by flavors of dark chocolate, espresso and ripe dark fruit. It’s all backed by sturdy and well-balanced tannins that give way to a lengthy finish. (14.6% alc.)

Swiftwater Cellars 2011 Malbec, Columbia Valley, $38: This destination winery near the Cascade Mountains town of Cle Elum, Wash., came into its own under the direction of winemaker Linda Trotta, who has since departed, leaving the cellar in the capable hands of Andrew Wisniewski. This luscious Malbec opens with aromas of blackberry, black pepper, minerality and cocoa, followed by flavors of perfectly ripe plum and backed by assertive tannins. This is built for the long haul. (14.6% alc.)

TERO Estates 2012 Herb’s Block Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $39: Doug Roskelley purchased Windrow Vineyard – planted in 1981 – nearly a decade ago, he’s helped capture a sense of the variety with this nose of dark blueberry, elderberry, ginger, moist earth and saddle leather. Those leather notes hint at the vineyard’s terroir of the The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater. Think of a drink of blueberry pie juice upon the entry to the palate, backed by bittersweet chocolate tannins and lingering acidity. (14.7% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2012 The Spaniard, Columbia Valley, $20: Longtime winemaker/viticulturalist Wade Wolfe dubs this “The Spaniard” because components of this blend — Grenache (63%), Tempranillo (25%) and Syrah — are traditional varieties on the Iberian Peninsula. Sweet blueberry, black currant, cocoa powder and lavender aromas and flavors come together in a rewarding finish that’s balanced with tannin and Marionberry acidity. (14.5% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2012 Howling Wolfe Zinfandel, Horse Heaven Hills, $20: Veteran Washington winemaker Wade Wolfe has been crafting Zinfandel for more than a dozen years now, giving him veteran status with the grape in the Pacific Northwest. The fruit for this beautiful example comes from Zephyr Ridge in the Horse Heaven Hills. It opens with hints of cherry pipe tobacco, black cherry and cocoa powder. On the palate, this gorgeous red explodes with flavors of ripe raspberry and pomegranate, all backed by bright acidity and approachable tannins. (15% alc.)

Two Brothers Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Rattlesnake Hills, $30: Based in West Seattle, Two Brothers is a boutique producer of superb Washington reds. This new Cabernet Sauvignon uses grapes from the unheralded Rattlesnake Hills in the northern Yakima Valley. This opens with aromas of red plum, black cherry, black pepper and vanilla, followed by flavors of Aussie black licorice, roasted meat and ripe dark cherry. (14.3% alc.)

Walnut City WineWorks 2012 Reserve La Cantera Vineyard Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, $38: Walnut City WineWorks in McMinnville is producing several delicious wines, and this luscious Pinot Noir is a great example. It opens with aromas of cherry pipe tobacco, fresh-picked mushrooms and Rainier cherry. On the palate, it provides flavors of moist earthiness along with strawberry jam. Mild tannins provide perfect balance in the finish. (13.5% alc.)

Watermill Winery 2012 Estate Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla Valley, $36: The Brown family’s Watermill Estate Vineyard near Milton-Freewater, Ore., grabs the spotlight with his darker toned Cabernet Franc. Black cherry, fresh-picked plum, nutmeg, red peppercorns, cedar and red bell pepper aromas lead to flavors of black cherry, crushed walnut, pomegranate and vanilla. Juicy acidity pushes the tannin profile into the background. (14.6% alc.)

Whidbey Island Winery 2013 Grenache, Horse Heaven Hills, $29: Whidbey Island winemaker Greg Osenbach travels across the Cascade Mountains for his Grenache grapes, and it’s more than worth the journey. The wine opens with aromas of rich, minerally earthiness, along with ripe raspberry and black cherry. On the palate, it reveals flavors of rich, succulent red and purple fruit. (14% alc.)

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2012 Elton Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, $55: CEO Jim Bernau acquired a long-term contract for highly coveted Elton Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills a few years ago, and his winemaking team is eternally thankful, as evidenced by this gorgeous bottle of Pinot Noir. Aromas of violet, red cherry and red currant lead to flavors of racy cranberry and pomegranate. Firm tannins provide all the necessary structure. (14.5% alc.)

William Church Winery 2012 Gamache Vineyards Malbec, Columbia Valley, $38: The 2011 version of this wine from a small Woodinville, Wash., producer was “best of the best” in last year’s Wine Press Northwest Platinum Judging – and this new vintage is well on its way to being even better. Aromas of succulent dark fruit brood in the glass, and flavors of round, ripe blackberry and black cherry intermingle with notes of dark chocolate and black pepper. Mild tannins and ample acidity give this gorgeous red wine tremendous length. (14.4% alc.)

Williamson Vineyards 2011 Sangiovese, Snake River Valley, $18: Williamson Vineyard is owned by the Williamson family, and the wines are made by Greg Koenig, one of Idaho’s most talented winemakers. This opens with aromas of anise, black olive and plum, followed by a round entry with flavors of red currant backed by bright acidity and taut tannins. This is a superb example of what can be accomplished in the Snake River Valley. (14% alc.)

Wilridge Winery 2013 Estate Melange Noir, Naches Heights, $40: Seattle barrister Paul Beveridge uses his biodynamic site in the Naches Heights appellation for a Meritage-style release that leads with Cabernet Franc (33%). The theme is of sweet dark purple fruit, akin to president plum, blueberry and Marionberry with sweet herbs. Juicy acidity, dusty tannins and lavender make for an easy finish. (13.9% alc.)

About Great Northwest Wine

Articles authored by Great Northwest Wine are co-authored by Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue. In most cases, these are wine reviews that are judged blind by the Great Northwest Wine tasting panel.

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