Matthews Estate 2011 Claret, Columbia Valley, $40
University of Washington alumni Diane Otis and her husband, Cliff, have breathed life into one of Woodinville’s oldest labels, and their efforts are being spearheaded by the talented winemaking of Aryn Morell. This blend of Bordeaux varieties — leading with Merlot (68%) — marks Morell’s fifth vintage at Matthews, and the juice spent 19 months in 38% new French oak. Sites such as Dionysus, Pepper Bridge, Red Mountain Vineyard and Stillwater Creek help create aromas of black cherry, dark plum and vanilla with cherry tomato, tomato vine and molasses. The fruit-forward drink is focused on plush black cherry and red currant flavors, nicely framed by balanced tannins and rewarding acidity that combine for a huge finish. These wines are available throughout the Pacific Northwest, as well as the Eastern seaboard and Ontario.
Production: 1,522 cases