Wine Reviews of Northwest Wines - Red Wines Page


Tasting Notes Digest
Updated 12/06/2016

Click on a Wine Variety to see Wine Reviews
 

Reviews of Pacific Northwest Red Wines

Merlot        

K Vintners
2012 Merlot, Northridge Vineyard
Wahluke Slope AVA
$42.00

Some might say that Charles Smith’s winemaking motto might be “go big, or go home!”  He seeks out the best vineyards and harvests the best fruit – ripe and powerful, then ages the wine in lots of new oak.  This wine hails from the Milbrandt brothers’ Northridge Vineyard in the warm, arid country northwest of Vantage, Washington.  Dark cherry, ripe plum, dried herbs and barrel spice pair up superbly with both sausage and spaetzle. 

Pepper Bridge
2012 Merlot, Estate
Walla Walla Valley AVA
$50.00

Down in the Walla Walla Valley, near the Oregon border, you’ll find Pepper Bridge Vineyards and Pepper Bridge Winery.  The first vineyards were planted in 1991, and this site has garnered acclaim from all quarters of the wine world.  Pepper Bridge Merlot offers a wonderful balance of power and finesse with bright cherry and berry fruit dancing above a core of darker berries, tobacco and cedar.  The finish adds notes of violets, vanilla and blueberry. 

DeLille Cellars
2012 D2
Columbia Valley AVA
$44.00

This wine was named after the Route du Chateaux north of Bordeaux in France’s Medoc growing region.  Each year thousands of tourists travel north from the city to view and visit the royalty that are the famous chateaux, and to taste some of the magic wine.  DeLille Cellars crafts this wine featuring about 50% Merlot with varying amounts of other Bordeaux varietals.  Look for blueberry and cassis complemented by notes of lavender, cocoa and dried herbs with a long palate that adds complexity to the finish. 

Woodward Canyon Winery
2012 Merlot
Columbia Valley AVA
$52.00

This 100% Merlot wine is blended from grapes grown at the Weinbau Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope and at the Woodward Canyon Estate Vineyard in the hills west of Walla Walla.  The two vineyards each contribute to the character of the wine, with very ripe fruit and ample oak aging providing a driving force.  Cherry, berry and cassis yield to notes of leather, coffee and oak spice, blending together as you sip the wine.  Aerate this wine and let it breathe for the best experience. 

Chateau Ste. Michelle
2012 Merlot, Canoe Ridge Estate
Horse Heaven Hills AVA
$24.00

This was a favorite wine with my tasters last week, and paired superbly with our featured sausages and spaetzle.  Canoe Ridge – above the Columbia River in the Horse Heaven Hills – was named by Lewis and Clark and now is the site of one of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s best vineyards.  The warm 2012 vintage produced an elegant Merlot featuring dark cherry and plum with waves of barrel nuances: caramel, vanilla, toasty cedar and coconut. 

Delfino Vineyards
2011 Merlot
Umpqua Valley AVA
$28.00

This wine exemplifies the Old World style of Merlot, perhaps because of a cooler vintage in 2011.  Many of us older wine lovers recognize the delicate aromas, lighter alcohol and crisp acidity as a friend from days gone by – good days – when food and wine danced in harmony.  Look for cherry and red plum fruit on the nose and palate with notes of herbs and spice - great with chicken sausage or lighter meals. 

14 Hands
2012 Merlot, The Reserve
Horse Heaven Hills AVA
$30.00

Winemaker Keith Kenison crafted his reserve Merlot using 80% fruit from warm, Horse Heaven Hills sites, and aged the components in a mixture of French and American oak barrels, 33% new.  Aromas of dark cherry, blackberry and vanilla lead to a rich palate flavored with dark fruits, cocoa and notes of tobacco and caramel.  

Abacela
2012 Merlot, Estate
Umpqua Valley AVA
$24.00

Owners Earl and Hilda Jones came to the warm Umpqua Valley to pursue the dream of growing Spanish varietals in America.  It is thus fitting that the 2012 Merlot is blended with 5% Tempranillo from the estate Fault Line Vineyards. The wine evokes a warm climate with ripe plum, dusty lavender, cherries and roasted meats.  The proprietor suggests a non-traditional dish like roasted partridge with mushroom pate.  We enjoyed the wine very much with our humble sausages and German dumplings. 

Canoe Ridge Vineyard
2011 Merlot, Reserve
Horse Heaven Hills AVA
$20.00

Canoe Ridge Vineyard (the winery) was founded in 1994 in Walla Walla’s old trolley barn.  The vineyard on Canoe Ridge in the Horse Heaven Hills was planted in 1989 by a partnership of wineries intent on making high quality Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  The 2011 Merlot offers juicy cherry and plum with notes of barrel spice, cocoa and vanilla. 

O-S Winery
2012 Merlot, Sonas
Yakima Valley AVA
$25.00

Owen Sullivan Winery started as a partnership between Rob Sullivan and winemaker Bill Owen - the two intent on producing powerful wines from excellent vineyard sources.  Bill Owen has moved on to other projects and Rob Sullivan has deferred his ownership position to his talented daughter Peggy.  This is the first O-S wine to be finished by winemaker/consultant Scott Greer.  Blended with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine offers tempting aromas and flavors of dark plum, cassis, pomegranate, earthy mineral and caramel. 

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Sangiovese

Whidbey Island Winery
2013 Sangiovese
Columbia Valley AVA
$20.00

Winemaker/owner Greg Osenbach crafts several Italian varietals from fruit grown in the Yakima Valley and Horse Heaven Hills AVAs.  His Sangiovese is a delicious, medium-bodied wine, aged in neutral oak and allowed to offer aromas and flavors of cherry and berry with hints of tarry mineral that is a hallmark of Italian Chianti.  The winery cat is also named Sangiovese (see photo).  Give him a pat when you visit the winery on Whidbey Island this spring! 

Locati Cellars
2010 Sangiovese
Walla Walla Valley AVA
$25.00

The Locati family invites you to discover the similarities between Italy’s beautiful wine regions and their home and winery in Milton-Freewater on the Washington/Oregon border in the Walla Walla Valley AVA.  Their Sangiovese is crafted from the Brunello clone, grown in their Mission Hills Vineyard west of Walla Walla.  Look for aromas and flavors of strawberry, earthy forest floor, herbs, tea and mineral – tasty with meaty pasta! 

Helix
2010 Sangiovese, Stillwater Creek Vineyard
Royal Slope
$30.00

Winemaker/owner Chuck Reininger crafts his Helix Sangiovese from fruit grown on the toasty Royal Slope, east of the Wahluke Slope.  The cooler 2010 vintage didn’t affect this growing area as much as others, and this wine trumpets that fact the moment you pull the cork.  Rich aromas of raspberry, cranberry and earthy mineral greet your nose, and the juicy palate vibrates with notes of spice, olive and leather alternating with pomegranate and plum. 

Maryhill Winery
2012 Sangiovese
Columbia Valley AVA
$26.00

Intrepid wine tourists might enjoy a visit to Maryhill Winery in Washington’s Columbia River Gorge east of Portland.  Cold winds from the east and not-infrequent rain showers might deter some, but the rewards at your destination are many.  A warm fire in the tasting room, dramatic views of scenery and weather, and tasty wines await your arrival.  The 2012 Sangiovese is more of a steak-from-the-grill style with ample notes of oak aging forming a corral around a core of blackberry and cherry candy. 
 

Tamarack Cellars
2011 Sangiovese
Red Mountain AVA
$25.00

Owner Ron Coleman and winemaker Danny Gordon crafted this 100% Sangiovese from fruit grown in the famed Red Mountain vineyard, Ciel du Cheval.  Fruit from this warm site was enhanced with barrel aging in select French oak, 33% new.  The classic red fruits of the varietal – strawberry, red currant, cherry – mingle with toasty oak, graham cracker and mineral. 

Coyote Canyon Winery
2012 Sangiovese, Estate
Horse Heaven Hills AVA
$25.00

Acknowledging the power of his 2012 Sangiovese, wine grower Mike Andrews offers, “you can tell this is a beefy wine when you pour it into your glass.”  The dark red color, rich aromas of cherry, currant and toasty oak, lead to ripe fruit flavors, spicy wood and notes of leather and chocolate.  The wine is blended with 17% Graciano grapes from the Coyote Canyon Vineyard.  My tasters suggested steak from the grill for this Italian Stallion. 

Cavatappi Winery
2010 Sangiovese, Molly’s Cuvee
$20.00

Winemaker Peter Dow came to Italian wine from a visit to the Old Country in 1972, and the opening of his Seattle-area Italian restaurant, Café Juanita, followed.  He wanted to create a “house wine” to be made and sold on the premises like those he often enjoyed in small Italian trattorias.  This venerable cuvee of Sangiovese offers an earthy mantle surrounding ripe plum, dried fruits, tobacco and hints of cherry and anise – a wine to contemplate and enjoy with fine cheeses. 

 

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Cabernet Franc

Whidbey Island Winery
2013 Cabernet Franc
Yakima Valley AVA
$20.00

Chelle den Millie Vineyard in Washington’s Yakima Valley has been Greg Osenbach’s source for Cabernet Franc for 15 years.  The wine from the 2013 vintage is rich and flavorful – a perfect pairing for meats from the grill or pastas with rich and meaty sauces.  It crosses the line from Old World to New World style without losing finesse or complexity.  Look for aromas of blueberry, spicy mineral, bell pepper and anise, leading to ripe flavors of black fruits with notes of tar, caramel and tobacco. 

Chateaux Figareaux
2013 Cabernet Franc
Columbia Valley AVA
$29.00

This Old World-style Cabernet Franc was crafted from grapes grown at the Rattlesnake Road Vineyard on the Oregon side of the eastern Columbia Gorge, and from Stonehenge Vineyard on the Washington side.  The wine is lighter than previous vintages, offering delicate cherry and plum fruit with notes of spice, cherry candy, anise and herbs. It is a favorite with lovers of Loire Valley Cab Franc for its trueness to the varietal and food-friendly appeal. 

 

Tamarack Cellars
2013 Cabernet Franc
Wahluke Slope AVA
$30.00

Owner Ron Coleman and winemaker Danny Gorden craft Tamarack Cellars wines in the winery at the airport winery district in Walla Walla.  They produce more than a dozen varietal wines that are consistently ranked in the top end of Washington bottlings.  The 2013 Cabernet Franc from Wahluke Slope and Red Mountain fruit offers an elegant expression of varietal fruit, featuring aromas and flavors of dark plum, black pepper, juicy raspberry and notes of toasty oak, leather and smoky cedar. 

 

Savage Grace Winery
2014 Cabernet Franc
Rattlesnake Hills AVA
$26.00

Michael Savage uses grapes from the Copeland Vineyard in the Yakima Valley of Washington State to produce this fresh and youthful Cabernet Franc.  Wine tasters enjoyed a very Beaujolais-like aroma and palate with notes of strawberry and cherry mingling with peppery spice and hints of herbs.  Good acidity assures age-ability and makes the wine a pleasant companion for food. 

LaBrasseur Winery
2012 Cabernet Franc
Rogue Valley AVA
$26.00

Fred LaBrasseur retired from the Medford (Oregon) fire department after a nearly 34-year career and has “chosen to pursue the passion and the pain of the vine.”  La Brasseur Winery makes more than a dozen wines including this flavorful and food-friendly Cabernet Franc.  Herbs and anise complement a rich palate of red fruits and pepper spice. 

Northstar
2012 Cabernet Franc
Walla Walla Valley AVA
$40.00

Northstar has a major focus of producing world-class Merlot wines, and winemaker David “Merf” Merfeld also crafts a single varietal selection from each blending grape used with his Merlot.  His Cabernet Franc was aged in French oak, 47% new, yielding a complex wine with aromas and flavors of spicy cherry cola, violets, earthy mineral, dark plum, toffee and toasty oak – a tasty accompaniment to meats from the grill. 


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Last revised:  12/06/2016