Tasting Notes: Washington State Wines

This guide first appeared in our June/July 2013 issue along with Jon Bonne's article Western Expansion.

Amavi Cellars Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($29) Full of Walla Walla charm, Jean-François Pellet’s cabernet sauvignon is savory with dark fruit and a mineral cut.

Andrew Will Columbia Valley Cabernet Franc 2011 ($25) A terrific everyday wine, brimming with the variety’s smoky and basil-scented qualities. Ripe and refreshing.

Andrew Will Two Blondes Columbia Valley Red 2009 ($52) This cellar-worthy estate blend is heady with salty, spicy pepper and zesty berry flavors. Add cumin to a marinade and enjoy.

Buty Winery Columbia Rediviva Phinny Hill Vineyard Estate Grown 2009 ($50) Winemaker Caleb Foster shows the best of two grapes—cabernet sauvignon and syrah—in a meaty, oregano-tinged blend packed with cherry fruit.

Cadence Winery Tapteil Vineyard Red Mountain 2009 ($45) Tapteil Vineyard, on Red Mountain, delivers notably tannic wines. Vintner Ben Smith has tamed them here, with musk and tobacco notes. Perfect for a big side of beef.

Cor Cellars Momentum Red, Horse Heaven Hills 2009 ($17) Winemaker Luke Bradford’s Bordeaux-ish blend, with mace aromas and punchy fruit, comes from the stark Horse Heaven Hills area east of the Columbia Gorge.

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Todd Coleman

Todd Coleman

Domaine Pouillon Katydid, Horse Heaven Hills 2010 ($20) Grenache, syrah, mourvedre, and cinsault make for a tangy, thyme-scented barbecue-friendly bottle that outshines many of its Rhone counterparts.

Gramercy Cellars The Third Man Columbia Valley Red 2010 ($46) Greg Harrington, a New York sommelier-turned-Washington winemaker, had Rhone-inspired dreams when he went west. His grenache-led blend’s rich berry fruit is elevated by stony, flowery accents.

Gramercy Cellars Walla Walla Valley Syrah 2010 ($55)Setting a new standard for Walla Walla wines, this inky syrah is full of bright, brambly fruit and green peppercorn spice.

Januik Columbia Valley Merlot 2010 ($25) Dark, tart berries and elegant tannins are interlaced with latte and warm spice in this beautifully structured wine from merlot master Mike Januik. Try it with grilled pork tenderloin.

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Todd Coleman

Todd Coleman

Jones of Washington Wahluke Slope Estate Cabernet 2009 ($15) Wine grapes from central Washington’s Wahluke Slope drive this remarkable plum-accented value, a delicious foil for charred hanger steak.

Memaloose Idiot’s Grace Vineyard Columbia Gorge Cabernet Franc Estate 2010 ($29) Cabernet franc’s varietal beauty is on display here, with pimenton, smoke, and juicy huckleberry. It’s a wine made for everything from grilled portabellos to planked salmon.

Owen Roe Sinister Hand Columbia Valley Red 2011 ($24) This charming, well-known grenache-driven blend shows particular freshness, with a pepperiness to the berry and watermelon accents.

Scarborough Winery Columbia Valley Royale Red Blend 2009 ($35) The focus of this blend is on merlot and cabernet franc and their pretty jasmine and bayberry qualities. Think lamb.