Wine Reviews of Northwest Wines - Red Wines Page

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Updated 09/11/2015

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Reviews of Pacific Northwest Red Wines


Spangler Vineyard
2008 Petite Sirah, The Terraces
Southern Oregon

Pat Spangler continues his string of successes with Petite Sirah from The Terraces vineyard in Southern Oregon.  Just when I said you needed to co-ferment with Viognier to get floral character in your Syrah/Petite Sirah, along comes Spangler Petite (100%) with oodles of floral and berry aromas dancing brightly in your glass and leading you to a juicy palate of black cherry, plum and spicy pepper.  Not as big as the 2007, but very food friendly with bright acidity on the finish.

Hightower Cellars
2008 Murray Syrah
Red Mountain

Tim and Kelly Hightower have their estate vineyard and winery on the upper, western slope of Red Mountain.  Together with their faithful winery dog Murray, they produce excellent wines with the motto "hand picked, hand sorted, hand made."  Murray suggested that they co-ferment five percent Viognier with the two clones of Syrah, and behold, a juicy and approachable Syrah featuring black cherry, plum and earthy herb aromas and flavors - and just a hint of floral character. 

Adamant Cellars
2008 Syrah
Walla Walla Valley

Devin and Debra Stinger founded Adamant Cellars in 2006 at the Walla Walla Airport winery incubator area (small buildings that are leased to fledgling wineries to help them get started).  Devin has succeeded in crafting many fine wines, and the winery is now looking for larger, more permanent quarters.  Their 2008 Syrah is sourced from some of Walla Walla's most notable vineyards and offers aromas of ripe cherry and blackberry wrapped in earthy spice.  Juicy berry flavors are swathed in toasty oak which lingers on the finish with a hint of vanilla.

Purple Star
2008 Syrah
Columbia Valley

This newcomer label is from the winemaker of the former Olsen Estates Winery (see below).  Kyle Johnson is marking time as the Olsen operation winds down - he was previously a winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle's Canoe Ridge Estates winery for four years.  This is a fun, carnival ride of a Syrah showing bright berry aromas, with notes of vanilla and caramel.  The juicy palate offers flavors of blueberry, caramel, spice and coconut vanilla on the finish.  Fifteen percent of the proceeds from Purple Star Wines will benefit the uncompensated care fun at Children's Hospital in Seattle.

Olsen Estates
2008 Red Wine

This tasty bottling is part of the legacy of Olsen Estates Winery, which is now for sale.  Bottled as red wine, the blend is actually 70% Syrah, 12% Cinsault, 12% Mourvedre, and smaller amounts of Grenache and Counoise.  This is full tilt red wine, a ripper.  Lots of new oak, lots of extract.  The nose features ripe blackberry and blueberry fruit with nuances of toasty oak, vanilla, floral perfume and field herbs.  The palate is a powerhouse of ripe berry, spicy oak and caramel.

K Vintners
MCK - Motor City Kitty
2008 K Syrah
Washington State

Winemaker/owner Charles Smith's bold and expressive graphics grab the attention of wine lovers just as the unique, provocative names put a smile on everyone's face; the equally bold, expressive wine inside the bottle follows suit.  Rich blueberry, smoky vanilla, earth, bacon and tangy plum will stimulate your nose and palate.  Creativity and quality - what could be a better pairing?

2009 Syrah
Columbia Valley

Based out of Walla Walla, Wines of Substance uses superb fruit from many of the best Washington growing areas to craft wines that are delicious and affordable.  Quality winemaking and attention to detail create wines that taste like they were much more expensive.  Substance Syrah features the quintessential Washington Syrah nose of blackberry, blueberry, earth and smoky vanilla.  The palate adds notes of smoked tea leaf and mint to the lip-smacking fruit bowl.

Amavi Cellars
2008 Syrah
Walla Walla Valley

Amavi Cellars (Amavi is derived from the Latin root words "am," love and "vi," life) is located in the prime vineyard area of the Walla Walla Valley AVA, just south of the city of Walla Walla.  Their satellite tasting room is in Woodinville, Washington, about 40 minutes from Seattle.    The 2008 Syrah opens with floral notes of violets and expands with blackberry, earth and herbs.  The palate offers similar flavors with notes of toasty oak and vanilla on the finish. 

Airfield Estates
2009 Syrah, Reserve
Yakima Valley

The Mike Miller Family has been growing grapes in the Yakima Valley for over 40 years, and their winery operation celebrated the grand opening in 2007.  Son Marcus Miller is the winemaker and daughter Lori is in charge of marketing.  A new satellite tasting room is open in Woodinville.  Look for aromas and flavors of ripe blueberry jam and toasty vanilla, juicy on the palate and great with barbecue.


Cathedral Ridge Winery
2012 Zinfandel

$32.00 Bottle
[Order Now]

A classic in the lineup of Cathedral Ridge Wines.  A fruit forward Zinfandel with classic sweet spice and a long-lasting warm finish.  Fruit forward with notes of plum candy, vanilla spice and violet.  Smooth and off-dry, this wine is a decadent treat.

Maryhill Winery
2009 Zinfandel, Proprietor's Reserve
Columbia Valley

Have you planned your harvest visit to the Columbia Gorge yet?  It’s a beautiful time of year to see the Gorge and all the local wineries will soon be harvesting and crushing grapes.  Maryhill Winery is one of just a few Washington wineries producing Zinfandel and their Proprietor’s Reserve bottling features ripe and toasty character that pairs well with foods from the grill.  Look for aromas and flavors of blackberry, vanilla, smoky cedar, caramel, tobacco and mocha.

Angel Vine
2010 Zinfandel, Alder Ridge Vineyard
Columbia Valley

This wine is the lighter brother to the Angel Vines Les Collines bottling described above.  Aromas and flavors of blackberry, floral perfume, dried herbs tingle the senses with a light-bodied palate and food affinity for a wide range of savory fare. 

Other Reds and Red Blends     

2010 Red Wine
Columbia Valley

This blend of Bordeaux and Rhone varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache, Mourvedre and Malbec – offers interest and diversity to wine lovers.  Showing aromas of spicy cherry candy and raspberry, the palate adds flavors of plum, cocoa and toasty barrel spice.  

Spangler Vineyards
2009 Claret
Southern Oregon

In winemaker Pat Spangler’s lean style, this blend is very appealing as a Cabernet-based wine to accompany a meal.  Showcasing cherry and berry fruit, it offers notes of spice, plum, smoky oak and hints of chocolate and olive – a nice pairing with our lamb and beef mixed grill. 

L’Ecole No 41
2009 Apogee, Pepper Bridge Vineyard
Walla Walla Valley

Before we go too far, bookmark and read the sections on vineyard sources for these first two wines.  Winemaker Marty Clubb has crafted Apogee and Perigee since 2002 and each vintage offers new insights into Walla Walla Valley fruit... and L’Ecole winemaking.  Marty strives to offer Old World character in his wines.  Look for cassis and black cherry with ample toasty spice, tobacco, coffee, vanilla and herbs – very good with lamb and beef. 

L’Ecole No 41
2009 Perigee, Seven Hills Vineyard
Walla Walla Valley

L’Ecole No 41 is partners with Leonetti Cellar and Pepper Bridge Winery in the Seven Hills Vineyard near the Oregon/Washington border, planted in 1981.  The wines from this mature plot are elegant, earthy and seductive, lending themselves to Old World treatment and restraint.  Earthy mineral marries with rich black cherry and plum on the nose and with notes of blueberry, toasty cedar and herbs on the palate.

DeLille Cellars
2009 Chaleur Estate
Red Mountain

From his years as a semi-pro winemaker and sommelier, Chris Upchurch now presides over a stable of wines that offer challenges with each vintage and a chance to meld his Francophile Old World tendencies with the powerful fruit of Washington’s Red Mountain.  As Upchurch says, “a winemaker cannot make great wines without first defining in his or her own mind and palate what a great wine tastes like.”  Chaleur Estate offers aromas of red and black fruits with highlights of barrel spices and floral/citrus notes.  A palate of mixed berry, cedar and vanilla define this tempting, elegant wine from a powerful vintage. Blend: 68% Cabernet Sauvignon | 23% Merlot | 7% Cabernet Franc | 2% Petit Verdot

Rolling Bay Winery
2009 Cuvee Aldaro, Upland Vineyards
Yakima Valley

Alphonse de Klerk is the owner/winemaker at Rolling Bay Winery on Bainbridge Island in Washington’s Puget Sound.  He sources grapes from the Columbia Valley including this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot from the Upland Vineyard in the Yakima Valley.  Aromas of black cherry and plum mingle with earthy notes of herbs and smoky cedar.  The palate is soft but rich with dark fruit flavors. 

Thurston Wolfe
2008 The Geologist
Columbia Valley

This is probably Wade Wolfe’s finest Bordeaux-style blend to date.  It is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% each of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Merlot.  It is not heavily oaked and lets the varietal character show through with complexity and finesse.  Tasted next to the $200 Joseph Phelps Insignia, it showed very well in comparison.  Look for aromas and flavors of dark cherry, cassis, floral perfume, smoky cedar and a soft finish of berry and vanilla. 

DeLille Cellars
2009 Harrison Hill
Snipes Mountain AVA

The Harrison Hill Vineyard in the Snipes Mountain AVA is considered by many to be the second-oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in Washington State, planted in 1962.  The vineyard is comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot vines, which comprise the blend of this vintage (with 1% Petit Verdot added from Red Mountain’s Ciel du Cheval).  Winemaker Chris Upchurch used a deft touch with the oak, adding layers of spice and leather over a base of bright cherry and cassis with notes of blackberry, pepper and coconut.  Sold out at the winery, check your quality wine merchant for possible availability. 

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