Tasting Notes Digest
Updated 11/20/2014

"Here's to the corkscrew - a useful key to unlock the storehouse of wit,
the treasury of laughter, the front door of fellowship,
and the gate of pleasant folly."
...French toast

Wine bottles image

Click Here To Save WinesNorthwest.com (IE Only)
as one of your "Favorites."

OR hold down Ctrl+D on your keyboard. 

Introduction

    Whether you are new to the world of Pacific Northwest wines or a seasoned veteran, you will find our "Tasting Notes" pages a valuable tool for learning more about recently released Northwest wines.  Wine writer, judge and and wine-country traveler Chuck Hill provides the reviews you will find on these pages.

     Just click on the varietal of your choice below.  If  you find a wine review that peaks your interest, contact a wine shops or the winery itself.  For contact information, browse our wine shop lists by state, or by wine regions, using the "Wine Shops and Regional Tasting Rooms" links on each wine-region page.

Send This Page To A Friend.

Register for our Newsletter/Update.

Viewing Options:

Click on the varietal of your choice below
to browse reviews of specific wines, or...

Scroll down this page to view a 
variety of RED Northwest wine reviews

Go to WHITE Northwest wine reviews

Click here to learn more about varietals
grown in the Pacific Northwest

Reviews of Pacific Northwest Red Wines

Pinot Noir

Adelsheim Vineyard
2009 Pinot Noir, Elizabeth’s Reserve
Willamette Valley
$55.00

When evaluating Pinot Noir, one must get away from the concept that bigger (more ripe, more alcoholic, darker, etc.) is better.  Even experienced tasters can be suckered in by Pinots masquerading as Cabernets, but when the final tally is marked on the score sheet, subtle complexity, balance and food compatibility win out.  This wine offers excellent balance with ample acidity to pair with salmon.  Delicate aromas of raspberry, strawberry, toast and cedar lead to a bright palate of berries, citrus, mineral and an earthy cherry finish. 

Adelsheim Vineyard
2010 Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley
$32.00

This Willamette Valley bottling of Adelsheim Pinot offers much of the desired aromas and flavors of the Elizabeth’s Reserve selection described above.  Rich cherry and mineral aromas with notes of spicy oak lead to the full palate of berry, cherry and citrus/mineral flavors that pair well with the salmon.  The difference is the complexity and balance afforded the reserve through barrel selection. 

Lange Winery                                              
2009 Pinot Noir, Three Hills Cuvee
Willamette Valley
$40.00

Winemakers Jesse and Don Lange craft some of Oregon’s finest Pinot Noir from grapes grown throughout the northern Willamette Valley.  A blend of wines from Lange Estate, Freedom Hill and Yamhill Vineyards, the wine offers aromas of candied berry, raspberry, spice and earthy herbs and mineral.  The palate is rich with jammy berry and a toasty, spicy finish.  We grill our Copper River salmon to add some smoky nuances to pair with just this type of wine. 

Lazy River Vineyard
2008 Pinot Noir
Yamhill-Carlton / Willamette Valley AVAs
$36.00

Tasters agreed that this wine shows a fair amount of French-oak character wrapping around the rich Pinot Noir aromas and flavors, but when the succulent fish and flavorful wine meet in the mouth, the bliss factor is high.  Look for aromas and flavors of black cherry, strawberry candy, lavender, mineral, toasty caramel and notes of baking spices – a very successful match with grilled Copper River sockeye. 

Ghost Hill Cellars
2010 Pinot Noir
Yamhill-Carlton / Willamette Valley AVAs
$42.00

This wine is a blend of four clones of Pinot Noir; 40% Pommard, 22% Dijon Clone 777, 22% Dijon Clone 114 and 16% Wadenswil.  Each component adds a note to the chord that evolves into a delightful symphony of flavor and richness on the palate.  Cherries and cassis from the grapes mingle with spicy wood, floral notes, mint and toast from the oak, and the whole orchestra serenades the salmon – a very tasty pairing. 

Rex Hill Winery
2010 Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley
$35.00

This is a lip-smacking Pinot Noir.  It has a gentle alcohol content, restrained oak profile and a basketful of berries and cherries on both nose and palate.  In addition, tasters appreciate ample acidity on the finish and hints of citrus, vanilla and spice for complexity.  A wine lover could take this wine very seriously, but the pairing with Copper River salmon just brings a smile and a contented sigh. 

Whistling Dog
2009 Pinot Noir
NSV Estate Vineyard, Dijon Blocks
$22.00

Every wine offers itself to the wine taster in slightly different ways.  Some wines start with forward fruit, some with toasty oak and some with herbs and mineral.  This tasty Pinot at first offers “lead pencil.”  This aroma of pencil shavings is familiar to devotees of Bordeaux wines, showing in Paulliac wines like Chateau Lafite.  Honestly, I got an education from Chef Ted on this one.  The wine opens up to envelope the lead pencil with earthy mineral, candy cherry, licorice and brown spices – goes great with the salmon.  You learn something every day.  (As a side note, I don’t think modern wine tasters will even be familiar with pencil shavings since they don’t come with an iPad.) 

Misty Oaks Vineyard
2009 Pinot Noir, Stuckagain Heights Vineyard
Umpqua Valley
$26.00

Steve and Christy Simmons relocated to Oregon from Alaska to renew Steve’s pursuit of the outdoor life of farming.  Their 15-acre Misty Oaks Vineyard is located just southwest of Oakland, Oregon in the Umpqua Valley AVA.  Misty Oaks 2009 Pinot Noir offers delicate aromas of black cherry, mineral and vanilla leading to a palate of cherry candy, licorice and baking spice with notes of citrus and oak.  This elegant wine lets the flavors of the salmon come to the fore. 

Terra Vina
2010 Pinot Noir, La Famiglia
Dalla Terra Vineyard
Chehalem Mountains AVA
$45.00

Karl and Carole Dinger caught the wine bug in Italy while exploring Carole’s ancestral home.  Their estate vineyard is in Oregon’s Chehalem Mountains AVA and is named Dalla Vina.  Each year, small quantities of wine are made from estate grapes and are offered as regular and reserve bottlings.  Our tasters preferred the regular bottling from the 2010 vintage for its freshness and bright acidity in accompanying the Copper River salmon.  Look for aromas and flavors of red cherry, citrus peel, complex notes of toast and vanilla and a zesty finish of cherry and mineral. 

Terra Vina
2008 Pinot Noir, Reserve
Chehalem Mountains AVA
$42.00

With two years more bottle age, this reserve wine is rich with cherry and berry flavors woven in a framework of toasty oak, creamy vanilla and baking spice.  Try the wine with rich cheeses or mushroom risotto to contemplate the complex flavors and lingering finish. 

Dobbes Family Estate
2009 Pinot Noir, Patricia’s Cuvee
$55.00

Winemaker Joe Dobbes has been making Pinot Noir in Oregon for more than 25 years and offers a broad range of Pinot wines with a complex hierarchy - see http://www.joedobbeswines.com/dobbes-family-estate-wines.  These are complex wines from multiple vineyard sources with the cuvee series blended according to the winemaker’s intuition and sensitivity to vintage.  In this wine, look for complex aromas and flavors of black cherry, brown spices, smoky mineral and vanilla.  Good with salmon, but would better accompany lamb or veal. 

Brooks Winery
2009 Pinot Noir, Janus
Willamette Valley
$35.00

Janus is Brooks Winery’s flagship Pinot Noir named after the Roman god of beginnings, transitions and endings.  He is depicted as a two-faced god looking to the future and contemplating the past.  The central theme of this wine is a racy acidity that pairs well with salmon.  Opening with bright cherry, leather and herbs, breathing time releases more complex aromas and flavors of cherry candy, smoky mineral and tart red currant.  Each of the wine’s components complement grilled Copper River salmon. 

Broadley Vineyards
2010 Pinot Noir, Claudia’s Choice
Willamette Valley
$50.00

Craig and Claudia Broadley came north from the Bay Area in 1980 after spending the 1970s working for Lawrence Ferlinghetti at The City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco.  Having discovered the joy of wine and food at the (then) fledgling bistro Chez Panisse, they were keen to try their hand at making fine wine.  In a nutshell, they succeeded grandly.  Son Morgan and his wife Jessica now handle much of the winery operations.  Claudia’s Choice has long been hailed as one of Oregon’s finest Pinot Noirs.  Look for aromas and flavors of dark cherry, blackberry, earthy mineral, spice and leather.  Perfectly balanced in the mouth and a superb choice to serve with grilled Copper River salmon. 

Acrobat
2010 Pinot Noir (by King Estate)
Oregon
$20.00

Produced as a second label by King Estate Winery south of Eugene, Acrobat Pinot Noir is one of the best values in the Northwest for those seeking a ripe and ready wine for the table.  Aromas of cherry, pomegranate and spice lead to ripe cherry and raspberry candy flavors with notes of citrus and tobacco leaf.   

Kramer Vineyards
2010 Pinot Noir, Estate Vineyard
Yamhill-Carlton
$20.00

Hurray for Kim Kramer!  The daughter of Trudy and Keith Kramer – founders of Kramer Vineyards in 1984 – has established herself as the winery’s leader through study and hard work, and now takes her place as part of Oregon’s next generation of family winemakers.  The proof is in the bottle as this fine Pinot Noir attests.  Aromas and flavors of red currant, cherry and pomegranate dance with notes of spice, vanilla and mineral.  Excellent structure and acidity ensure a successful pairing with your prized Copper River filet.  Buy some of this wine to lay down for future years. 

Cristom Winery
2011 Pinot Noir, Mt. Jefferson Cuvee
Willamette Valley
$30.00

Insightful winemaker Steve Doerner crafts spectacular wines from the estate vineyards at Cristom in Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills AVA.  Produced since 1994, Cristom’s Mt. Jefferson Cuvee is created from a blend of grapes from each estate vineyard, and quality fruit from neighboring vineyards.  The 2011 vintage is a perfect partner for salmon offering complex aromas of cherry and strawberry with baking spice and violets, leading to tangy flavors of spicy plum and cherry. 

Seven of Hearts
2010 Pinot Noir, Lia’s Vineyard
Chehalem Mtns. AVA
$35.00

Byron Dooley and his wife Dana came north from California in 2004 after careers in the technology industry and several years of studying wine in the Napa Valley.  They found a site west of Carlton where a vineyard could be planted, and Dana could set up her chocolate business, Honest Chocolates.  One of several Pinot Noirs produced by Byron, this wine offers aromas and flavors of ripe cherry, raspberry and mineral with notes of citrus and spicy cedar. 

Yamhill Valley Vineyards
2009 Pinot Noir, Reserve
Oregon
$30.00

This winery and vineyard is the oldest in the McMinnville AVA with their first vintage harvested in 1983.  Longevity is often the key to success and the winery will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2013.  The reserve Pinot Noir is crafted from 100% estate fruit representing 6 of the 14 Pinot Noir blocks in the vineyard.  This reserve-style Pinot Noir offers ripe black cherry and earthy mineral mingling with spicy oak and creamy vanilla-caramel.  The palate is rich with flavors of cherry, plum and barrel spice – tasty with grilled salmon. 

Firesteed Winery
2009 Pinot Noir
Oregon
$16.00

I have been a friend and fan of Firesteed owner Howard Rossbach for many years, and I appreciate his superb selection of wines under the Firesteed and Citation brands.  Once a virtual winery, Firesteed now owns a real winery with a real vineyard near Salem, Oregon.  This tasty, value-priced wine offers aromas of ripe strawberry and raspberry, floral perfume and flinty mineral that lead to a juicy, lip-smacking palate that is equally at home with Copper River salmon or a picnic of cold chicken and potato salad. 

Cherry Hill Winery
2009 Pinot Noir, Estate
Eola-Amity Hills
$29.00

Winemaker Ken Cook crafted this elegant Pinot Noir from fruit grown in the 90-acre Cherry Hill Vineyard in the Eola Hills west of Salem, Oregon.  The wine offers ripe red cherry aromas and flavors with hints of spice, light caramel and vanilla on the finish. 

Henry Estate
2007 Pinot Noir, Barrel Select
Umpqua Valley
$30.00

Another of Oregon’s pioneering wine families, the Henry clan has been growing winegrapes near Roseburg for almost 40 years.  The winery blends specific barrels of Pinot Noir to create the Barrel Select bottling which has extended aging for depth and complexity.  Look for ripe cherry and berry with earthy mineral and a finish of cherry candy and vanilla.

Amity Vineyards
2009 Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley
$22.00

Darcy Pendergrass is the head winemaker at Amity Vineyards who crafted this stylish and food-friendly Pinot Noir – a unanimous first place in our latest tasting.  Fruit was sourced from six northern Willamette vineyards, including Amity Estate Vineyard, and represents a wide variety of Dijon clones as well as Pommard and Wädenswil.  Bowls of dark cherry and raspberry mingle with earthy spice and vanilla with a great balance of acidity and length – also a super value! 

Broadley Vineyards
2009 Pinot Noir, Estate
Willamette Valley
$30.00

This wine is made from grapes grown in a variety of blocks on the Broadley Estate in Monroe, Oregon, north of Eugene.  Fresh aromas of raspberry, black cherry, mineral and spice lead to a pleasing palate of berry and cherry flavors with notes of smoky toast, mineral and herbs - very tasty with grilled salmon. 

Benton-Lane Winery
2009 Pinot Noir, Estate
Willamette Valley
$26.00

Winemaker Chris Mazepink crafts this flagship wine of Benton- Lane Winery from estate fruit grown at the winery in the southern Willamette Valley.  Inviting aromas of strawberry, cherry, graham cracker and earthy herbs lead to a rich palate adding blueberry and toasty oak to the experience.  The wine is superb with grilled salmon -  a very good value. 

Luminous Hills
2010 Pinot Noir, Estate
Yamhill-Carlton
$28.00

The Luminous Hills Vineyard was planted in 2005 on a combination of Willakenzie and Jory soils.  This wine contains all four clones planted at the vineyard: Pommard and Dijon 115, 667 and 777.  Look for aromas and flavors of red cherry, cranberry, tropical citrus and earthy mushroom and herbs.  It is a flavorful accompaniment to grilled salmon and other summer fare. 

Willamette Valley Vineyards
2009 Pinot Noir, Elton Vineyard
Eola-Amity Hills
$45.00

The first Elton Vineyard grapes were planted in 1983 during the exciting growth period of the Eola-Amity Hills area that later became the Eola-Amity Hills AVA.  The site now includes 60 acres of vineyard planted on Jory soil.  The exceptional 2009 vintage brought excellent fruit to the winery to craft this rich and powerful wine.  Aged in 100% new French oak, the wine offers aromas and flavors of ripe dark cherry, plum, toasted nuts, candy cherry-cola, cocoa and vanilla. 

Firesteed
2007 Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley
$30.00

Firesteed 2007 Pinot Noir is crafted from select lots of Willamette Valley grapes that were fermented in small vessels, with a high percentage of berries remaining whole.  Aging in French oak – new, one-, two- and three-year old barrels – followed fermentation.  Look for aromas and flavors of red and black cherry with notes of vanilla, baking spice and earthy mineral. 

Grateful Red
2009 Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley
$15.00

This iconic wine has been produced by Redhawk Winery and Vineyard for many years and continues to be their most popular bottling.   We baby boomers are now grasping at all connections to our glorious youth, and this reminder of the 1970s is a real treat.  Aromas of spicy black pepper, red cherry, plum and earthy vanilla lead to a jammy palate with ample acidity to pair well with salmon and other light meals. 

Duck Pond Cellars
2009 Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley
$20.00

Crafted from almost entirely estate-grown fruit, DPC Pinot Noir offers a fresh, approachable wine that can pair up with picnics or fine dining.  The nose offers red cherry, dusty mineral and spice box leading to a juicy palate of dark cherry and plum with notes of vanilla and toasty oak.  It is offered with a Stelvin screw cap closure for convenience. 

ROCO Winery
2009 Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley
$30.00

From longtime Argyle winemaker Rollin Soles comes his own brand crafted from superb fruit grown in the Chehalem Mountains AVA and the Dundee Hills AVA.  Aged in new and three-year-old French oak, the wine offers toasty, spicy notes over a core or red fruits with cherry and raspberry showing first and plum and cedar arriving for the finish. 

Seven of Hearts
2009 Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley
$20.00

See above for descriptions of winemaker Byron Dooley’s Luminous Hills estate vineyard and the winery’s location in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA.  This Pinot Noir is soft and supple with aromas and flavors of ripe cherry, strawberry, herbs, earthy mineral and a velvety finish of cedar and spice. 

Willamette Valley Vineyards
2009 Pinot Noir, Bernau Block
Willamette Valley
$45.00

Jim Bernau founded Willamette Valley Vineyards in 1983, clearing a pioneer-era plum orchard and planting Pinot Noir vines.  Bernau is one of Oregon’s most innovative and forward-thinking champions of new technology and research.  The vineyard block named for the founder produced this bright and flavorful wine offering red cherry and strawberry aromas and flavors with notes of citrus, smoky herbs and raspberry candy. 

Citation
2003 Pinot Noir
Oregon
$60.00

Pulling the cork on a nearly-decade-old Pinot Noir comes with a little concern. Those of us who remember vintages going back 25 years or more have had our share of tired, flavorless wines that were supposed to be ageworthy.  This beautiful wine is a remarkable exception.  Firesteed owner Howard Rossbach bottle ages his Citation wines for up to seven years in bottle before release to create the finest Pinot Noir experience possible.  The wine is medium-dark ruby in color with a ruby edge.  The nose is rich and elegant with ripe cherry and blueberry dancing with complex notes of citrus, toasty oak, wild mushrooms and spicy tobacco.  The palate offers similar flavors and structure to accommodate pairing with fine food.  It is a remarkable achievement and well worth the price. 

Yamhill Valley Vineyard
2009 Pinot Noir, Estate
$20.00

Soils in the McMinnville AVA are mostly eroded marine sedimentary types as opposed to volcanic Jory and other soil types found in growing areas further north.  This difference accounts for some of the unique terroir recognizable in the wines of Yamhill Valley Vineyard, the oldest winery in the AVA.  Aromas and flavors of ripe plum, black fruits and peppery spice mingle with vanilla and earthy mineral. 

Dobbes Family Estate
2009 Pinot Noir, Meyer Vineyard
Dundee Hills AVA
$65.00

Joe Dobbes produces almost a dozen Pinot Noir wines from each vintage, highlighting different vineyard sites and proprietary cuvees.  The Meyer Vineyard is planted to Pommard, Wadenswil and four selections of Dijon clone Pinot Noir on Jory and Nekia soils.  This bottling offers dark cherry fruit aromas and flavors along with appealing notes of spicy oak with hints of cola and vanilla. 

Erath Vineyard
2010 Pinot Noir, Estate Selection
$34.00

From the challenging 2010 vintage, this estate-selection Pinot Noir offers complexity and nuance in an elegant style.  Winemaker Gary Horner (celebrating a decade with the winery in 2012) crafted this bottling from grapes grown at five renowned Willamette Valley sites.  Aromas of red berries, vanilla and spice lead to a silky palate that adds plum and cherry flavors to the mix, along with a nice finish of mineral and crisp acidity which serve well to accompany grilled salmon and other Northwest fare. 

A to Z Wineworks
2010 Pinot Noir
Oregon
$20.00

A to Z Wineworks offers wines blended from fruit sources throughout Oregon, seeking quality and balance in finished wines that provide the consumer with good value.  We applaud A to Z for using screw cap closures, and I encourage those interested in the subject to read “Why Screw Caps” on their website: www.atozwineworks.com/thisorthat.html.  This fresh and fruity Pinot Noir offers ripe fruit aromas of strawberry and red cherry with flavors of boysenberry and dark cherry on the palate and a balanced finish of supple tannins. 

Brandborg Winery
2009 Pinot Noir, Bench Lands
Umpqua Valley
$30.00

Winemaker Terry Brandborg sources grapes for this wine from several vineyards, all with close proximity to the Umpqua River.  Cherry and berry aromas and flavors mingle with earthy mineral and spicy oak – a toasty wine that pairs with salmon from the grill.  

Tyee Wine Cellars
2009 Pinot Noir, Estate
$24.00

Merrilee Buchanan Benson is the winemaker for Tyee Wine Cellars near Corvallis, Oregon.  Her Estate Pinot Noir is crafted from grapes grown in the winery’s estate vineyard with vines ranging from 9 to 34 years in age.  Look for bright red fruits and spicy earth with a balanced palate of candy cherry flavors and notes of cedar on the finish.  

 

toppg.gif (1553 bytes)

Cabernet Sauvignon

Eliseo Silva
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley
$16.00

Tagaris Winery in Richland, Washington produces Eliseo Silva wines named after the longtime vineyard manager of their estate Alice and Arete Vineyards.  These value-priced wines are excellent quality bottlings.  This Cabernet offers bright aromas and flavors of cran-cherry, toast and vanilla with medium body and a soft finish. 

Ash Hollow
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
Walla Walla Valley
$34.00

Winemaker Spencer Sievers crafted this Cabernet from fruit grown at the Ash Hollow Estate Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley.  It is a finely structured wine showing aromas of raspberry, cherry and floral notes with notes of cedar and earthy mineral.  The palate is rich with flavors of Bing cherry, toasty caramel and spice with fine tannins on the finish. 

Genesis by Hogue
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley
$18.00

Conceived in 1997, Hogue’s Genesis wines had the goal of producing high quality wines that showcased the pure varietal flavors of Columbia Valley fruit.  Today, these wines are often the standard of each vintage, appealing to wine consumers of all experience levels.  Blackberry and black currant mingle with cocoa and toasty oak on the nose and the palate.  Juicy flavors of berry and vanilla are a fine match for meats from the grill – good value. 

Walla Walla Vintners
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Sagemoor Vineyards
$40.00

After 15 years as winemaking hobbyists in Walla Walla, Myles Anderson and Gordy Venneri founded Walla Walla Vintners in 1995.  The winery and winemakers have grown and matured with each vintage and now proudly stand with the earliest Walla Walla wine pioneers as experts at their craft.  Fruit for this Cabernet came from some of Sagemoor’s oldest plantings dating to 1972.  Ripe cherry, blackberry and black currant lead the nose to a taste revealing a fruity palate edged with spicy oak, tobacco and sweet tannins. 

Two Mountain Winery
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Yakima Valley
$24.00

The Brothers Rawn – Matthew and Patrick - are the owners and operators of Two Mountain Winery begun in 2002.  This Cabernet Sauvignon was produced from fruit grown at their estate Copeland Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills area of the Yakima Valley.  This Cabernet offers complex aromas of tangy berry, dried herbs, floral perfume and anise, leading to ripe raspberry and red currant flavors on the palate with notes of oak and vanilla on the finish. 

Thurston Wolfe
2010 The Teacher, Cabernet Sauvignon
Horse Heaven Hills
$25.00

This wine is the fifth dedication to Stan Clarke, renowned Washington State viticulturist, teacher and mentor to students of all ages.  His favorite wine was Cabernet Sauvignon.  Look for ripe aromas of cherry and cassis with notes of mocha, spicy oak and cola. 

Powers Winery
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley
$14.00

Bill Powers pioneered organic grape farming in the Columbia Valley, and the Badger Mountain organic bottlings remain a hallmark of organic, no-sulfite-added wines.  The Powers wines are sourced from vineyards throughout the Columbia Valley and are not certified organic.  The 2010 Cabernet offers blackberry and cocoa flavors and aromas with notes of baking spice and vanilla. 

Cadaretta
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley
$40.00

Cadaretta wines is one of the Middleton family’s wine estates established in Walla Walla in 2005.  The family has a long history in Washington forestry products, and the Cadaretta name is taken from one of the lumber schooners that carried timber from Washington to California in the 1920s and 1930s.  Look for aromas and flavors of cherry and smoky cassis with a juicy palate rich with blackberry, spicy oak and balancing acidity.  

Waterbrook
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve
Columbia Valley
$25.00

The Waterbrook brand has experienced vast growth in the past few years, including the construction of a large winery facility on Highway 12 in Walla Walla.  It is the flagship winery of Precept Brands, the largest privately owned wine company in the Pacific Northwest.  The Reserve Cabernet offers ripe blueberry and cherry with ample accents of oak aging including spicy cedar, caramel and vanilla.   

Alder Ridge
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Horse Heaven Hills
$25.00

The Alder Ridge Vineyard is in the heart of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA which is located between the Yakima Valley AVA and the Columbia River.  This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot is sourced from the estate vineyard with just 5% of the fruit from the Wahluke Slope.  Dark and brooding, the wine offers black cherry and plum with notes of cranberry, chewy coconut, spicy cedar and hints of herbs and earth. 

Quilceda Creek Vintners
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Galitzine Vineyard
Red Mountain
$110.00

Quilceda Creek winemaker Paul Golitzin learned at the side of his father Alex who learned with the guidance and encouragement of his “Uncle Andre,” Andre Tchellischeff.  Now THERE is a bloodline connection to Old World winemaking.  Tasting a Quilceda Creek wine is not a slap-you-in-the-face event; instead it is more intellectual and thought provoking.  Washington has a handful of insightful winemakers who can judge a vintage and know just what to do to craft the best wine from it.  Paul Golitzin has donned the QC mantle to offer you: aromas of complex cassis, citrus, anise and French oak leading to rich flavors of cassis and blackberry with notes of herbs, caramel and vanilla.  Bring on the lamb! 

Spangler Vineyards
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Southern Oregon
$24.00

Is Pat Spangler Oregon’s best winemaker?  One could make an argument that he is.  Working with varietals from Southern Oregon’s warm climate, he excels at Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Franc.  His Old World style produces wines that are balanced and forward at the same time showing complexity and nuance on both nose and palate.  A great food wine for beef or lamb, look for tart cherry, plum, cassis, herbs and spicy cedar with a finish of dark chocolate and vanilla.  

Doubleback
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
Walla Walla Valley
$89.00

NFL star quarterback Drew Bledsoe grew up with Chris Figgins just a quarter mile from Leonetti Cellar winery in Walla Walla.  His path led him to fame and fortune in professional football, but when he retired in 2007, he sought out Chris Figgins to help him realize a newfound dream of entering the wine business.  Doubleback is the result of that collaboration in both vineyard development and winemaking.  The soon-to-be-released 2010 vintage (January) offers the power of ripe black fruits with cassis and plum with a spectrum of spicy oak notes ranging from vanilla to baking spice to cardamom.  The palate is rich in the New World style with juicy flavor and ample balancing of acidity that make you reach for your fork and steak knife. 

Leonetti Cellar
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Walla Walla Valley
$90.00

Winemaker Gary Figgins blazed the trail in the 1980s and 1990s defining the New World Washington style for Cabernet Sauvignon.  Development of new vineyards and the addition of his son Chris to the winemaking team improved the finesse and complexity of the wine to more of an Old World style.  Faultless structure and balance highlight flavors of cassis, spicy oak, earthy mineral and blackberry.  The 2009 Cabernet is a delicious wine that complements both beef and lamb. 

Alta Cellars
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley
$25.00

Real wine made by real people.  That is the stage that Alta Cellars is in right now.  Jay and Karen Pederson are passionate about their new venture, and Jay is learning with each day how to handle the nuances of each vintage to craft a better bottle.  The 2008 Cabernet has a little more bottle age than many other wines in this review, and thus shows a little more finesse and complexity.  Look for cherry and raspberry fruit with notes of cocoa, vanilla and smoky cedar – excellent with grilled meats. 

Dunham Cellars
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon XV
Columbia Valley
$45.00

Eric Dunham and Daniel Wampfler craft the wines at Dunham Cellars as a team, working together on each vintage from crush to bottling.  Definitely a New World style, the fifteenth Cabernet shows the Walla Walla character as described by the winery... “it brings to mind a Dutch oven blackberry cobbler with cinnamon, clove and, of course, a scoop of vanilla ice cream!”  Our tasters found dark berry and cherry with lots of toasty oak and notes of vanilla and coconut from partial American-oak aging. 

Va Piano Vineyards
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley
$40.00

Winemaker Justin Wylie crafted this Cabernet from fruit grown in Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Valley vineyards.  It is an intense wine – not out of balance – that offers dark fruits of cassis and cherry with complex hints of dark chocolate.  This style skates the line between New and Old World with the advantage of having a little more bottle age to round out the edges – great with beef. 

Arbor Crest
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Five Vineyards
$20.00

This tempting Cabernet from Arbor Crest was crafted from grapes grown at a combination of Washington’s finest vineyards: Bacchus, Dionysus, Klipsun, Stillwater Creek and Wahluke Slope.  Winemaker Kristina Mielke van Loben Sels crafts well-balanced wines that favor a leaner, more Old World style and this Cabernet is no exception.  In addition to bright cherry, red currant and spice, look for delicate floral aromas and hints of citrus and toasty oak. 

K Vintners
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Stoneridge Vineyard
$45.00

There is a battle going on in this bottle, and if you buy one, you can choose sides and participate.  In one corner there are flavors and aromas of pomegranate, cherry, grenadine and spicy fruit candy.  In the other corner you’ll encounter toasty oak notes and related flavors of vanilla, tobacco, spicebox and smoky cedar.  When the bell rings, stab a steak from the platter and slather some garlic butter on a rosemary roll.  Swirl, sniff, sip and enjoy the beauty of the battle. 

Cathedral Ridge Winery
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley
$32.00

This medium-bodied Cabernet aspires to the New World style of ripe fruit and toasty oak.  Bright acidity on the palate and notes of fresh herbs and cassis lead the wine astray from the New World to the Old and give the wine a great affinity for steak and lamb.  Add Cathedral Ridge Winery in Hood River, Oregon to your itinerary on your next wine tasting tour of the Columbia Gorge.    

Chateau Smith
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
Washington
$20.00

Fun-loving iconoclast Charles Smith takes pleasure in hand designing his own wine labels in black and white.  The gothic label for his Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon is far from the fancy artwork that many label designers create, but it is a personal statement from the winemaker/owner.  This lean and affordable Cabernet offers aromas and flavors of red currant, earthy mineral, coffee, cassis and vanilla. 

 

toppg.gif (1553 bytes)


GO TO...

Cabernet Franc
Merlot
Syrah
Other Reds and Red Blends

GO TO... WHITE Northwest wine reviews


Our Current Wine Reviews

Wines of the Week from Chuck Hill

 

toppg.gif (1553 bytes)                 lettalk.gif (951 bytes)                  home.gif (684 bytes)

Copyright © 2004 - November, 2014 Susan R. O'Hara.   All rights reserved.
Last revised:  November 20, 2014