Wine Reviews of Northwest Wines - Red Wines Page


Tasting Notes Digest
Updated 01/07/2014

Click on a Wine Varietal to see Tasting Notes
 

Reviews of Pacific Northwest Red Wines

Merlot        

Ethos by Chateau Ste. Michelle
2007 Merlot, Reserve
Columbia Valley
$31.00

Chateau Ste. Michelle's Ethos series Reserve wines are created to be "The Best of the Vintage, Winemaker's Vision"¯ wines.  I have always found each Ethos bottling to have great structure, intense varietal character and balance in fruit, oak, and alcohol.  In this classic Merlot, look for aromas of ripe cherry, earth and herbs with flavors following and adding vanilla, toast, cocoa and dried cherry.

Maryhill Winery
2007 Merlot, Proprietor's Reserve
Columbia Valley
$30.00

Craig and Vicki Leuthold's Maryhill Winery is one of the Northwest wine country's premier destinations, featuring expansive grounds, grand vistas of the Columbia Gorge and exceptional wines of many varietals.  Their Proprietor's Reserve Merlot is sourced from the estate Gunkel Vineyard and features ripe black cherry, toasty vanilla and ample tannins to complement rich game sausages.

Charles Smith
2009 Velvet Devil Merlot
Columbia Valley
$12.00

Our friend Charles Smith always seems to make his Velvet Devil Merlot in a style that is outside the box and over the top!  As Mr. Smith says, "Why Velvet Devil?  Because it makes Merlot sound SEXY - Because it IS!"  Your nose will find forward aromas of plum, vanilla, baking spice and floral perfume.  On the palate, flavors of ripe plum, velvety tannin, cherry candy and licorice will call out for venison sausage with blueberries.

DeLille Cellars
2008 D2
Columbia Valley
$36.00

This wine is just being released by the winery, and scored a first place vote in our most recent tasting.  Superb with our sausage selection, it offered rich black cherry, toast and floral aromas leading to spicy currant and cherry flavors with nuances of chocolate and black pepper.  A very tasty blend named after the wine route through the Medoc in Bordeaux - serve it with your finest holiday meals!

Leonetti Cellar
2008 Merlot
Walla Walla Valley
$70.00

This Merlot from Leonetti Cellar is elegant and well structured, lighter than most past vintages.  The blend is 100% Merlot, but selections from four different vineyards add complexity and backbone.  Look for aromas of light plum, strawberry and barrel toast with flavors of berries and cherries mingling with cocoa and earthy vanilla.

Wilridge Winery
2008 Merlot
Red Mountain, Klipsun Vineyard
$29.00

Many winemakers and others have sung the praises of fruit from the Red Mountain AVA at the east end of Washington's Yakima Valley.  I'll add my note to that chorus after tasting Paul Beveridge's recent release of Merlot.  Featuring fruit from the highly acclaimed Klipsun Vineyard, this is a blend of 90% Merlot with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Perfect balance, great acidity and powerhouse aromas and flavors of cassis, cherry, spicy oak, pepper, vanilla and a dozen other nuances make this a wine to seek out.

L'Ecole No 41
2008 Merlot
Seven Hills Vineyard
$37.00

Seven Hills Vineyard is one of the properties that put the Walla Walla Valley on the map.  L'Ecole No 41 winery is one of the partners in Seven Hills, and winemaker/owner Marty Clubb crafts many fine wines from Seven Hills fruit.  His 2008 Merlot blend includes 11% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Cabernet Franc, giving complexity and length to the palate and elegant nuances to the aroma profile.  L'Ecole No 41 has always made stellar Merlot wines and this one deserves a place on your holiday table with the prime rib course.

Cathedral Ridge Winery
2008 Merlot
Columbia Valley
$26.00

Winemaker Michael Sebastiani crafted this delicious Merlot from Columbia Valley fruit.  It is juicy and complex with aromas and flavors of cran-cherry, creamy black cherry candy, vanilla, black olive and spicy oak - a winner with sausages from the grill.

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Sangiovese

Barnard Griffin
2009 Rose of Sangiovese
$12.00

For five straight years, Rob Griffin's Rose of Sangiovese has won a gold medal or better (best of class, best of show) at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.  Medal jangling aside, it is a spectacular wine that accompanies all types of food, is fruity - but not sweet, and is varietally true.  As you will see as you read our Sangiovese reviews, this can be a very complex grape.  BG Rose offers aromas of bright strawberry, citrus, stone fruit and flinty mineral, while the palate caresses with flavors of berry, cherry and herb, finishing with a crisp, food-friendly acidity. 

Stella Fino
2007 Sangiovese
Columbia Valley
$21.00

In the land of Walla Walla, where many winemakers speak softly but carry big sticks (of oak), this wine could easily be overlooked by big city folk star-struck by blueberry and two-by-four in a bottle.  But wait! Sit down and cleanse your palate with a bottle of San Pellegrino.  Order some Bolognese and an insalata Caprese.  Pull a cork on this most Italian of domestic Sangiovese.  Aromas of light herbs, strawberry and roasted vegetables (dressed with lemon) tempt a taste to reveal raspberries and herbs with a delicate finish.  Perfecto.

Le Chateau Winery
2006 Sangiovese
Columbia Valley
$20.00

You will know Le Chateau Winery at the Walla Walla Airport (the old part with warehouses and hangars from WWII) by the faux - sort of trompe l'oeil - painting of a Georgian Chateau on the front of their building.  Stop in for a visit.  You will enjoy this friendly Sangiovese with its spicy, red-fruit aromas framed in cedar and vanilla.  Flavors of cherry, anise and caramel provide a light, but lingering, finish.

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars
2008 Sangiovese
Wahluke Slope Vineyard
$18.00

Winemaker Kristina Mielke van Loben Sels crafted this fine Sangiovese from grapes grown at the Wahluke Slope Vineyard near Mattawa.  This warm site seems to be a good fit for Sangiovese, producing wines of full ripeness and varietal character.  While this bottling spent 14 months on French oak, it isn't overwhelmed with woody or toasty flavors.  Rather, aromas of berry jam, fresh grape, herbs and lemon lead to a medium-bodied palate featuring flavors of strawberry, vanilla and baking spices - tasty with pasta Bolognese.

Tamarack Cellars
2008 Sangiovese
Columbia Valley
$25.00

The Sangiovese fruit for Ron Coleman's Tamarack Cellars version came from Candy Mountain Vineyard, the next hill over from Red Mountain.  This is not the Big Rock Candy Mountain, but one of the most respected properties in the area.  Though not Italian in style, this bottling offers ripe Sangiovese aromas and flavors of berry, citrus and herbs, corralled with a little toasty oak to give notes of vanilla and cedar - very food friendly.

Walla Walla Vintners
2008 Sangiovese
Columbia Valley
$24.00

If you are going to dine with Walla Walla Vintners owners/winemaker Myles Anderson and Gordy Venneri, be prepared for big flavors!  They like rich Italian food with lots of garlic, spices and the real ingredients.  To stand up to this gladiator fare, they craft their wines with intensity and toasty oak.  Start with aromas of tangy Sangiovese: berry, limoncello, sweet basil - vanilla and coconut - take a sip and revel in rich, hearty strawberry jam, earth and toasty oak.  This is a very popular style in the Northwest.

Eagle Haven Winery
2007 Sangiovese
Yakima Valley
$20.00

While not exactly on the traditional Washington wine trails of the Yakima Valley, Walla Walla or even Lake Chelan, Eagle Haven Winery - east of Sedro Woolley - offers some tasty wines from a variety of fruit sources.  The 2007 Sangiovese shows aromas of blackberry, red cherry, orange zest and cocoa.  Flavors of ripe blueberry, strawberry jam, baking spice and herbs frame a nice overall impression on the palate.  I have seen the Bald Eagles in the vicinity of Eagle Haven Winery on the Skagit River - a magical place for nature lovers. 

Helix by Reininger
2005 Sangiovese
Columbia Valley
$27.00

This wine was made from grapes grown at Stillwater Creek Vineyard in the Frenchman Hills of the Royal Slope north of the Wahluke Slope AVA.  Winery documents attest to the over-the-top character of this seductive bottling:  "I'd say Chuck Reininger wrapped Sophia Loren up in a caramel drizzled raspberry torte, lightly spritzed her with Victoria's Secret Rapture perfume, then coaxed her into the bottle with a bouquet of exotic flowers."¯  Yup, that's the same wine we tasted.

Leonetti Cellar
2007 Sangiovese
Walla Walla Valley
$60.00

If you are lucky enough to find this wine - it is among Leonetti's most difficult to acquire, give it some age and by all means, decant before serving to let the wine breathe up.  An hour of aeration does wonders to release the wine's depth and complexity.  A blend of 86% Sangiovese and 14% Syrah, the wine offers aromas of ripe strawberries, floral perfume, toasty oak, dark chocolate and watermelon.  Flavors of tangy citrus, blackberry, caramel and smoky vanilla complement pasta dishes or your favorite meat from the grill.

Naked Winery
2008 Diva Sangiovese
Columbia Valley
$34.00

The clever folks at Naked Winery in Hood River, have given subtitles to the names of their varietal wines and blends.  This "Diva"¯ Sangiovese is sister to other such wines as "Escort"¯, "Foreplay"¯, "Climax"¯ and other bottlings with provocative monikers.  Cutesy marketing aside, the "Diva"¯ has a lot to offer.  Aromas of dark berry, citrus, floral perfume and smoky toast, lead to the palate featuring flavors of cherry candy, caramel, creamy vanilla and baking spice.  Some nice notes of Sangiovese in its classic style, perhaps for you, the earth will move.

Whidbey Island Winery
2008 Sangiovese
Washington
$18.00

Winemaker/owner Greg Osenbach has done a superb job evolving his Whidbey Island Winery into success as both a fun wine tourism stop and producer of very high quality wines.  His 2008 Sangiovese is Italian in style, offering rich aromas of blackberry, vanilla, earth and spice.  The palate delights with flavors of blackberry and black pepper, pairing very well with rich pasta dishes.  Greg also makes flavorful versions of Dolcetto and Primitivo, the Italian clone of Zinfandel. 

Snoqualmie Vineyards
2006 Sangiovese
Columbia Valley
$18.00

Winemaker Joy Andersen blended Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre with 76% Sangiovese to craft this tasty dinner wine.  Notes of cherry, black olive and earthy spice on the nose lead to a palate featuring flavors of black fruits, cherry, smoky anise and floral spice.  Available only at the winery in Prosser - if you're out on the wine trail, stop by for a bottle.

 

Pontin del Roza
Angelo Pontin 2008 Sangiovese
Yakima Valley
$20.00

The Pontin Family has been farming along the Roza Canal in the Yakima Valley for over 40 years.  Wine grapes were added to the family's farming efforts and son Scott Pontin opened Pontin del Roza Winery in 1984.  Showing a pleasant no-heavy-oak style of Sangiovese, the wine offers the appropriate varietal aromas of strawberry, cherry, citrus and floral notes.  The palate adds tangy blackberry flavors and anise spice to those echoing the nose. 

Marchetti Wines
2009 Sangiovese (No Added Sulfites)
Columbia Valley
$40.00

Rich Marchetti makes his wines without added sulfites as a preservative, which can be both a positive and not-so-positive technique.  Consumed young, they are fresh and vibrant.  Aging is really not a good idea, since the wines are unprotected from oxidation.  The fresh, 2009 Sangiovese offers bright aromas of spicy berry leading to a lightly chewy palate of dried cherry and baking spice.

Kiona Vineyards
2004 Sangiovese, Reserve
Red Mountain
$25.00

The Yakima Valley wine trail eventually leads west-siders to Red Mountain.  Not far north on Sunset Road is the home of pioneering Kiona Vineyards and Winery, the folks who helped opened the door to Red Mountain over 40 years ago.  The vineyard property is world famous and runs along the west side of the bluff, but the winery owners had you in mind when they built their new winery and tasting room facility a half dozen years ago.   If you drop by for a visit, you can purchase this Sangiovese.  Look for aromas of smoky spice, blackberry and toast.  The palate reveals flavors of mature black cherry, high notes of blackberry and a finish of vanilla and toast. 

 

 

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Cabernet Franc

 

 


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Last revised:  01/07/2014