Wine Reviews of Northwest Wines - Red Wines Page

Tasting Notes Digest
Updated 09/09/2016

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Reviews of Pacific Northwest Red Wines


Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards
2013 Syrah, Reserve
Umpqua Valley AVA

As the weather warms and wine tourists emerge to enjoy their chosen destinations, many will flock to Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley. The property includes areas for picnicking, touring the gardens and even an amphitheater for concerts and events.  Overnight lodging at their remodeled carriage house is coming soon.  When you reach the tasting room, enjoy wines such as this zesty Syrah featuring aromas and flavors of cranberry and cherry with spicy pepper and a hint of citrusy grapefruit on the finish.

L’Ecole No 41
2012 Syrah, Estate, Seven Hills Vineyard
Walla Walla Valley AVA

L’Ecole No 41 winery is one of the first properties that visitors encounter on Highway 12 as it enters Walla Walla. This historic winery celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2013, and has become a Walla Walla icon of hospitality and fine regional wines. This Syrah from their estate Seven Hills Vineyard impressed my tasters with aromas of plum, spicy tobacco, smoky bacon and violets.  Plum flavors on the palate are joined by tangy blackberry, earthy mineral and spicy oak – a great pairing for flank steak with chimichurri sauce.   

Columbia Crest
2013 Syrah, Reserve
Coyote Canyon Vineyard
Horse Heaven Hills AVA

Winemaker Juan Muñoz Oca crafted this rich and flavorful Syrah from grapes grown in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA at the Coyote Canyon Vineyard.  He co-fermented 89% Syrah with 8% Grenache and 3% Viognier (a common technique in the Northern Rhone) before aging the wine in American oak barrels – 60% new.  Aromas of ripe dark fruits mingle with smoky spice, tobacco and coffee, leading to complex flavors of blueberry, black currant and caramel – delicious with grilled steak. 

Boomtown by Dusted Valley
2013 Syrah
Washington State

Boomtown is the second label for Dusted Valley winery founded a dozen years ago by Corey Braunel and Chad Johnson. The larger production of this brand enables the winery to share its quality wines with a larger audience. Boomtown Syrah speaks with a loud voice, offering ripe cherry and berry with notes of caramel and tobacco and hints of toasty cedar. 

Amavi Cellars
2012 Syrah, Les Collines Vineyard
Walla Walla Valley AVA

Les Collines Vineyard lies in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, east of Walla Walla, Washington and is a prime source for some of Washington’s best wineries.  It is part of the estate property of Pepper Bridge and Amavi Wineries.  Winemaker Jean-Francois Pellet crafts wines for both Amavi Cellars and also Pepper Bridge Winery.  Les Collines Syrah offers aromas of blueberry and cherry with notes of vanilla, violets and citrus.  The palate is rich and powerful with blueberry and blackberry flavors wrapped in toasty oak and caramel. 

Purple Star Wines
2012 Syrah
Columbia Valley AVA

Kyle and Amy Johnson operate their Purple Star winery in Benton City, Washington, with a satellite tasting room in Vancouver, Washington near Portland.  Their 2012 vintage Syrah was sourced primarily from the Weinbau Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope AVA.  Look for spicy black fruits, olive and smoky mineral with notes of black raspberry and barrel spice. 

Pend d’Oreille Winey
2010 Syrah

My tasters appreciated comparing this Syrah from an older vintage with younger wines to get some sense of how the varietal ages.  While still offering aromas and flavors of dark fruits, mineral and spice, the wine shows complex mature notes and a balanced palate that paired very well with Neapolitan pork chops over pasta. 


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     

Alexandria Nicole Cellars
2012 Counoise, Destiny Ridge
Horse Heaven Hills AVA

Counoise is a Rhone grape variety that is used as part of the blend in wines entitled to the appellation Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  It is rarely seen as a varietal wine in France, and is not widely planted in the U.S.  Jarrod Boyle has some in his Destiny Ridge Vineyard and worked with his winemakers to craft this stunning wine.  Complex flavors and aromas feature dark cherry, smoky bacon, cassis, earthy mineral, anise and baking spices.  The rich palate makes it a very enjoyable wine with meats from the grill. 

Maryhill Winery
2012 Grenache, Proprietor’s Reserve
Columbia Valley

This big, reserve-style Grenache is best enjoyed with a hearty cut of meat and rich and filling side dishes.  Aromas of dark cherry, pepper and smoky cedar on the nose lead to a dark and juicy palate of earthy cassis, toasty oak and caramel. You can find this wine at the winery when you visit on an upcoming sunny weekend. The Gorge is beautiful at this time of year! 

CDA Cellars
2012 Mourvedre, “MO”
Washington State

Coeur d’Alene Cellars (CDA Cellars) celebrated a dozen years of making fine wines from Washington grapes in 2014.  Owner/winemaker Kimber Gates-Travis works with her staff to focus on a selection of red wines including Rhone varietals and a few Bordeaux selections.  This limited edition Mourvedre is blended with 25% Syrah to create a tempting bottling that offers aromas and flavors of ripe berry, rhubarb, spicy floral notes, juicy grapefruit, caramel and coffee – great with meats from the grill. 

Seven of Hearts Winery
2013 GSM+C
Columbia Valley AVA

Byron Dooley’s blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault received top marks from my tasters for its complexity and style. The nose offers bright raspberry and strawberry, white pepper and hints of rhubarb and herbs. The palate is superbly balanced and adds dark fruits, tobacco and notes of spicy oak on the finish.  This wine is an excellent pairing with all meats – light and rich – and with a wide variety of casseroles and pastas. 

Helix by Reininger
2012 SoRho Blend
Columbia Valley AVA

Chuck Reininger has two exceptional brands in his stable with his eponymous Reininger Winery and the up and coming Helix brand that includes many favorite wines of his expanding fan base.  This blend of Mourvedre, Cinsault and Grenache is crafted in a big style showing dark fruits, cherry candy and caramel with notes of licorice, black currant, cocoa and spice dancing on the palate. 

Alexandria Nicole Cellars
2012 Petite Sirah – Mr. Big
Horse Heaven Hills AVA

There are many wine lovers who have fallen for the allure of Petite Sirah, reveling in the spicy, earthy power of dark fruits, pepper, black olive and pepper.  Tannins have grip, and the palate is long and complex with ample aeration.  Mr. Big is the perfect name for a Petite Sirah, and Jarrod Boyle’s version offers ripe blackberry, plum, dark floral notes, spicy oak and notes of earthy mineral, smoke and cocoa.  Serve with a grilled rib eye steak to enjoy the ultimate combination. 

Cinder Wines
2014 Dry Rosé
Snake River Valley AVA

Winemaker Melanie Krause crafts her dry rose from Syrah grapes that are farmed especially for this wine.  A higher irrigation level promotes larger berries and a higher crop load than she uses for her red Syrah wines.  This spicy and fruity rosé can serve as a mealtime substitution for Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc with seafoods of all types and lighter meats and cheeses – a great go-to wine for the summer season.  

2014 Grenache Rosé, Estate Grown
Umpqua Valley AVA

This rosy hued wine is a perennial favorite for its ability to accompany a wide variety of warm weather cuisine and offer complexity that intrigues both nose and palate. Crafted from grapes grown at Abacela’s estate Fault Line Vineyards, the wine offers aromas and flavors of strawberry, watermelon and roses, with notes of grapefruit, herbs and peppery mineral. 

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