Luscious reds from 3rd Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition

by | Oct 13, 2015 | News, Wine competitions | 0 comments

William vonMetzger produced several top wines at the Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition.

William vonMetzger is the head winemaker for Walla Walla Vintners. He holds two of his award-winning red wines in front of the estate vineyard east of Walla Walla, Wash. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

HOOD RIVER, Ore. – During the third Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition, conducted last week at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel, judges were wowed by the quality of red wines coming from primarily the 2012 and 2013 vintages.

The 20 judges worked in groups of four, tasting a manageable 120 wines during the two-day competition (in many competitions, judges will average that – and more – per day).

To win a gold medal, a wine had to earn a top score from three of the four judges. This happened about 17 percent of the time. In the rare instance that all four judges agreed and awarded gold, the wine was deemed a unanimous double gold.

Five of the gold medals featured here were crafted by William vonMetzger of Walla Walla Vintners in Walla Walla, Wash. Another four were made by Kevin Mott of Woodward Canyon Winery in nearby Lowden, Wash. That 20 different judges on five different panels managed to award such medals under blind conditions (they didn’t know the producers or the prices during the judging) is a remarkable feat for these two winemakers.

Here are our reviews of the double gold and gold medal reds, written by longtime Northwest wine writer Ken Robertson, columnist for Wine Press Northwest magazine. After each gold was awarded, Ken evaluated the wine again for his tasting notes.

Double gold

Jessica Munnell is head winemaker at Mercer Estates in Washington State.

Jessica Munnell, head winemaker at Mercer Estates, earned a gold medal for her 2012 Merlot from the Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition judges. (Photo by Niranjana Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

14 Hands Winery 2012 The Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $30: 14 Hands Winery, another of the many facets of the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates holdings, has grown quickly into a coveted label from a label that was originally created for restaurant pours. The 2012 Reserve Cab, made from Horse Heaven Hills grapes, is a bit lighter toned, leaning toward Bing cherry and loganberry fruit flavors and aromas, with chalky tannins and some length at the end. (14.5% alc.; 500 cases)

Angela Estate 2012 Abbott Claim Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton, $60: Oregon’s Yamhill-Carlton AVA, which is noted for its fine Pinot Noir, produced Angela Estate’s 2013, a wine that can only enhance the AVA’s reputation. Its aromatics offer rose petals, cherries and a subtle bit of spice. On the palate, its fruit includes more cherries, raspberry and a finishing bite of blueberry in its tannins, plus satisfying acidity to help it age well. (14% alc.; 1,280 cases)

Mercer Estates 2012 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $24: Winemaker Jessica Munnell’s craftsmanship shows in this 2012 Merlot from Mercer Estates. Spicy blackberries, vanilla and floral notes promise to delight, and Munnell delivers a mouthful of blackberry and blueberry fruit that finishes with a touch of caramel, chocolate and smooth tannins. (14.5 2,943 cases)

Puffin 2012 Pinot Noir, Oregon, $29: That appealing seabird, the Puffin, inspired the name and the label for this delightful 2012 Pinot Noir crafted for Steven Sinkler’s Wine Shack store in Cannon Beach, Ore. Its straightforward cherry and spice flavors and aromas are augmented by surprisingly deep tones of cranberry in the mid-palate and on the finish, adding a complex backbone and leading to bright acidity at the end. (13.2% alc.; 175 cases)  Editor’s note: Sinkler served as a judge during the competition, but he was not on the panel that awarded this wine its gold medal.

Reininger Winery 2012 Carménère, Walla Walla Valley, $51: Once believed to be extinct, Carménère has found a welcome new home in the Northwest. This 2012 example from Reininger in the Walla Walla Valley displays aromas of herbs, sweet late-summer blackberries and delicate spices. On the palate, blackberry and blueberry predominate, and it closes with firm black tea tannins. (14.1% alc.; 336 cases)

Saviah Cellars 2012 The Stones Speak Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $55: The Stones do speak as Saviah Cellars’ 2012 Syrah is crafted from Funk Estate Vineyard fruit in The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater. A minerally loganberry aroma opens into brambly blackberries and black plums, augmented by a dusty finish of old river rock that lingers for an age. (14.5% alc.; 147 cases)

Sparkman Cellars 2012 Rainmaker Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, $62: Sparkman Cellars in Woodinville, Wash., crafted this lush 2012 Cabernet from Yakima Valley fruit. Black cherry and blackberry aromas lead into even deeper flavors, including blueberries. It finishes with well-managed, chocolaty tannins. (14.3% alc.; 267 cases)

St. Innocent Winery 2013 Zenith Vineyard Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, $42: Mark Vlossak’s 2013 Pinot Noir offers a special blessing to those who try it: elegant red cherry aromas and flavors, a little spice to add life and a backbone that carries its fruit from front to back. Then it closes with a fanfare of cherry notes, zesty acidity and restrained tannins. Bring on the venison tenderloin, please. (13% alc.; 1,332 cases)

Walla Walla Vintners 2013 Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $25: Walla Walla Vintners used Columbia Valley fruit to make this stunning example of Sangiovese from the 2013 vintage, crafting another in a long line of fine reds. Just-right oak offers a bit of spice in the nose to augment a whiff of strawberry and cranberry. In the mouth, cranberry, loganberry and brambly tannins promise versatility. This example calls for medium-rare duck breast with sautéed mushrooms. (14.2% alc.; 1,007 cases)

Walla Walla Vintners 2013 Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $30: The 2013 vintage has been kind to Merlots and to Walla Walla Cellars as well. Both elements combine in this Walla Walla Valley version, producing a nose of slightly spicy blackberries. In the mouth, the blackberries share precedence with sweet blueberries and a touch of cassis, finished off by dark, chocolaty tannins that linger pleasingly on the palate. (14.2% alc.; 641 cases)

Whidbey Island Winery 2013 Dolcetto, Yakima Valley, $27: Ripe plum, spice and cherry aromas promise to deliver a palette of fruit flavors that arrive with the first sip of this lovely 2013 Dolcetto from Whidbey Island Winery. Its Yakima Valley fruit shows off pie cherry flavors and bite on the palate and closes with a hint of leather. (13.7% alc.; 150 cases)


Chris Upchurch is the head winemaker for DeLille Cellars and makes Harrison Hill.

Chris Upchurch is the winemaker for DeLille Cellars. His 2012 Four Flags Cabernet Sauvignon Doyenne 2012 Signature Syrah won gold medals at the 2015 Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

Amavi Cellars 2013 Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $33: Amavi Cellars has crafted another winner with its 2013 Walla Walla Syrah, a fruit-driven compote of blackberry, plum and blueberry integrated with aromas of cured meat. On the palate, it delves into the darker realms of late summer berries and black plums, trailing gently off with sweet, fruity tannins. (14.5% alc.; 3,080 cases)

Ambassador Wines of Washington 2012 Estate Syrah, Red Mountain, $28: Red Mountain fruit, with 75% Syrah, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Merlot, was blended to make this delicious 2012 Syrah from grapes managed by Dick Boushey and vinted by Sarah Goedhart. It exudes aromas of blackberry and plum, with a faint overlay of cured meat. On the palate, rich blackberry and plum flavors emerge, with a conclusion of black pepper, a bit of black olive pit tannin and a touch of chocolate at the end. (14.2% alc.; 360 cases)

Angela Estate 2013 Abbott Claim Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton, $60: Angela Estate clearly deserves a medal for consistency with its Abbott Claim Pinot Noir from the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Its 2013 joins its older brother from 2012 as a gold-medal winner by offering red-toned cherry aromas, spice and cedar. They lead to a drink of bright red and Bing cherry flavors enhanced by a bit of red raspberry, abundant acidity and a flannely farewell from its tannins. (12.5% alc.; 1,300 cases)

Baer Winery 2012 Arctos, Columbia Valley, $43: Baer Winery, based on Woodinville, Wash., crafted this Bordeaux-style blend and called it Arctos, the scientific name for the brown bear. And this version is a big brute, laden with hefty flavors of black and blue fruit, chocolate, spice and herbs. Savor it with a serious meal of roast, steaks or chops. (14.5% alc.; 501 cases)

Barnard Griffin 2013 Syrah Port, Columbia Valley, $17: Rob Griffin has his Syrah Port dialed in to perfection with the 2013 edition. It opens with sweet aromas of plummy blackberries and serves the fruit up on the palate with just a hint of spice, plus some sweet blackberries. When winter is coming, curl up with a glass of this in front of your fireplace and enjoy. (19.5% alc.; 1,850 cases)

Barrister Winery NV Rough Justice X, Columbia Valley, $22: There’s nothing rough about Barrister Winery’s nonvintage red blend called Rough Justice. Its Merlot and Syrah grapes lead off the blackberry aromas and flavors, with plums, blueberries and spices folding into this seamless, delightful drink. It’s easy to see ribs, burgers and a backyard grill in its future. (14.8% alc.; 1,900 cases)

Brian Carter Cellars 2011 Tuttorosso, Yakima Valley, $34: Brian Carter has crafted another superb red blend with his 2011 Tuttorosso (Italian for “all red”). He combined the traditional Tuscan elements of Sangiovese (69%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (17%) with Syrah (14%) to produce this stellar red. It displays notes of strawberries, cherries and red plums with a hint of wild rose petals in the nose. Its fulsome flavors blossom in the mouth, with the cherries and plums augmented by blackberries with well-managed tannins. (14% alc.; 555 cases)

Bridge Press Cellars 2011 Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $25: Bridge Press Cellars of Spokane blended in 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Malbec into this sturdy Merlot, then aged it in French oak for 20 months. The result from its Walla Walla Valley fruit is appealing aromas of spice, vanilla, blackberries and blueberries. In the mouth, the blackberries show up first, followed by blueberries, a bit of chocolate, well-managed tannins and a long finish. Serve it with a grilled New York steak. (14% alc.; 120 cases)

Cathedral Ridge Winery 2013 Bolton Vineyard Reserve Barbera, Columbia Valley, $48: Cathedral Ridge has produced a complex Barbera with its 2013. Its nose displays ripe blackberries, subtle raspberries and hints of spice and a dash of thyme. In the mouth, it offers blackberries, red and black raspberries, a bit of blueberry and abundant acidity, followed by firm tannins. (14.3% alc.; 350 cases)

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2012 Artist Series, Columbia Valley, $55: Chateau Ste. Michelle’s 20th anniversary of its Artist Series is worth celebrating for more than the year 2012. The Bordeaux-style blend leads with 70% Cabernet Sauvignon for its backbone and displays plenty of black cherry fruit in its opening sip. What follows are blackberries, blueberries and even a little huckleberry for a lavish display of fruit, supplemented by judicious oak, spice and sweet tannins. (14.4% alc.; 4,400 cases)

Coeur de Terre Vineyard 2012 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $22: The McMinnville AVA produced the grapes for this 2012 Pinot Noir from Coeur de Terre Vineyard. Its deep cherry aromas and flavors, edged with a bit of blueberry and spice, make for an appealing drink that lingers on the palate, closing with a bit of bright acidity. (14.5% alc.; 2,480 cases)

Columbia Crest 2013 Grand Estates Syrah, Columbia Valley, $12: Spicy blackberries with a bit of black pepper bite waft from this rich 2013 Columbia Valley Syrah. On the tongue, its soft blackberry and plum fruit tones are refined but lush, leading into firm and crisp acidity with a bit of rock dust in its long finish. A terrific wine at Tuesday night prices. (14% alc.; 14,000 cases)

DeLille Cellars 2012 Four Flags Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $68: DeLille Cellars has been making top-rank red wines from Red Mountain AVA fruit for two decades, and its 2012 Four Flags Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from four of Red Mountain’s best vineyards, fits right into that splendid tradition, with characteristic deep, rich fruit combined with the expected earthiness and depth. In addition to its black cherry and blackberry aromas and flavors, it sports a hint of spice and a dash of mint in its finish, augmented by dark chocolate and fine-grained tannins. (14%% alc.; 1,450 cases)

Doyenne 2012 Signature Syrah, Yakima Valley, $43: The Walla Walla Valley may get lots of ink for its Syrah, but DeLille’s Doyenne uses highly regarded Yakima Valley grapes to craft a serious rival with its 2012 Signature Syrah. It opens with a note of cured meat, underlain by subtle blueberry and blackberry notes. On the palate, the berries are joined by plums, dark currants and a refreshing note of orange, likely from the 2% Viognier co-fermented seamlessly into this smooth drink, which concludes with a sliver of dark chocolate. (14.4% alc.; 900 cases)

Dunham Cellars 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon XVIII, Columbia Valley, $45: Dunham Cellars built this elegant Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley fruit, checking all the correct boxes for black cherry, blackberry, blueberry and huckleberry aromas and flavors. Its structure and backbone are flawless, and its finish is long and deep, with just-right tannins to close it out. The Dunham Cellars 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon also won a gold medal in the Great Northwest Wine Competition in March, so winemaker Dan Wampfler is showing remarkable consistency. (14% alc.; 2,180 cases)

Dunham Cellars 2012 Trutina, Columbia Valley, $29: Dunham Cellars has a knack for creating wines that are easy to associate with food. Its 2013 Trutina smells like a blend of blackberry and blueberry compote dusted with spice and ready to be baked into a delicious autumn pie. On the tongue, these aromas become lush flavors augmented by a bit of dark chocolate and sweet but firm tannins. (13.8% alc.; 8,500 cases)

Dusted Valley Vintners 2012 StoneTree Vineyard Petite Sirah, Wahluke Slope, $42: StoneTree Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope proved the perfect place to grow this 2012 edition of Dusted Valley Petite Sirah. Spicy, slightly toasty aromas of dark plums lead to a plummy mouthful of lush fruit backed by a bit of cracked peppercorn and a huge finish of grippy tannins perfect to pair with a grilled ribeye. (15.2% alc.; 456 cases)

Eight Bells Winery 2012 Red Willow Vineyard Syrah 8 Clones, Yakima Valley, $32: Crafted from fruit grown at Red Willow Vineyard in the western Yakima Valley, this Eight Bells Winery Syrah from 2012 lives up to the vineyard’s lofty reputation. Its nose displays blackberry fruit and plum, topped by a gamey note. On the palate, the fruit also reveals a a bit of red-toned loganberry and a nip of tobacco in its finish. (14.9% alc.; 220 cases)

Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2014 Optimum Pinot Noir, Okanagan Valley, $18: The Gehringer brothers are best-known for making stellar whites. But after this 2014 Okanagan Valley Pinot Noir finishes making its mark, those whites will have to take a bow to a brother red. Its nose shows off cherries, a shy bit of spice and a graphite-like minerality, all of them reflected in its flavors. It finishes with some north-country acidity and a final flourish of flirty black cherry. (12.5% alc.; 300 cases)

Helix by Reininger 2011 Syrah, Columbia Valley, $28: Helix gives owner Chuck Reininger the flexibility of working with grapes from the broader Columbia Valley AVA, allowing him to focus his Reininger label on Walla Walla fruit. And this 2011 Syrah leads off with lush blackberry fruit, displaying aromas that rival many of Walla Walla’s better examples. In the mouth, the blackberries are joined by a plum parade, accented by blueberry, leading to satisfying finish. (14.3% alc.; 711 cases)

Henry Earl Estate Wines 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $45: Henry Earl Estates, with its tasting room in Walla Walla, is one of grape grower Dick Shaw’s many forays into Washington wine. This excellent Cabernet Sauvignon came from Red Mountain fruit grown in one of Washington’s chilliest summers, 2010. It displays a bit more red-toned fruit than some of the more recent warm vintages but has abundant black cherry and blackberry aromas and flavors. And though 5 years old, it retains plenty of acidity to age through several more years into an elegance that some hot-vintage Cabs will never see. (13.8% alc.; 500 cases)

Jacob Williams Winery 2013 Pinot Noir, Columbia Gorge, $30: Some of the Northwest’s first Pinot Noirs came from what’s now the Columbia Gorge AVA back in the 1970s. This 2013 from Jacob Williams Winery in Wishram, Wash., shows the wine pioneers were on to something. Its aromas include violets, spice and gorgeous cherry notes. In the mouth, the cherries display both red and black elements, plus a bit of raspberry. Its abundant fruit lingers on the palate with its abundant acidity and spot-on tannins. (13.7% alc.; 330 cases)

Kerloo Cellars 2012 StoneTree Malbec, Wahluke Slope, $40: Kerloo Cellars of Walla Walla traveled to the Wahluke Slope for the grapes turned into its StoneTree Malbec. The 2012 version has aromas of brambly blackberries and vanilla oak. In the mouth, it displays blackberries and blueberry with a woody edge, finishing with firm tannins and earth notes. (13.9% alc.; 161 cases)

Maryhill Winery 2011 Hattrup Farms Marvell GSM, Rattlesnake Hills, $40: Great Northwest Wine’s No. 1 wine for 2014 hasn’t lost a step. One of the region’s best expressions of GSM-style blends leads with Syrah from Joe Hattrup’s two vineyards from Rattlesnake Ridge — Elephant Mountain and Sugarloaf — it is brimming with a fruit-forward aromas of Marionberry pie, cinnamon sugar and blueberry. Its structure follows through with juicy acidity and sublime tannins. Enjoy this with duck or dry-rubbed pork ribs. (14.5% alc.; 570 cases)

Nelms Road 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington, $25: Nelms Road, Woodward Canyon Winery’s second label, has always offered excellent value at lower prices. The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon extends that franchise, with a fruit-forward, delicious entry on the palate after a whiff of dark cherries and blackberries. Its flavors lean toward Van cherries and ripe blackberries and conclude with a bit of sweet dark chocolate and spot-on tannin management. (14.2% alc.; 4,236 cases)

Palencia Winery 2013 Casa Amarilla, Yakima Valley, $36: This traditional GSM blend sports lush aromas of pomegranate and purple plum, edged with spicy mincemeat, minerality and earth. In the mouth, the plum and pomegranate flavors of its Yakima Valley fruit lead into black pepper and firm tannins in a lengthy finish with a final flourish of fresh venison. (14% alc.; 100 cases)

Palencia Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $30: Winemaker Victor Palencia seems to have a Midas touch, turning white, rosé and red wines all into gold medal winners this past year. His Palencia Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain continues the string. It displays blackberries and dark cherries, plus a little earthiness in its nose, which become black cherry and ripe blackberry flavors on the palate, resolving into well-managed tannins with a touch of mint at the end. (14.1% alc.; 280 cases)

Reininger Winery 2012 Seven Hills Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $45: Walla Walla Valley grapes went into this 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Reininger Winery, and they offer exactly what the buyer should expect – dark cherries, blackberries and an added bonus of blueberry flavors and aromas, plus a dash of mint in the finish floating atop concluding earthiness. (14.5% alc.; 667 cases)

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2013 Golgotha Bloc Malbec, Umpqua Valley, $31: Stephen Reustle picked his aptly named Golgotha Bloc Malbec for this unusual wine. It displays a bit of black pepper and herbs to go with its blackberry aromas, leading to a big wine full of blackberries, blueberries and earthy flavors. Pair it with a ribeye or prime rib with horseradish. (13.2% alc.; 150 cases)

Saviah Cellars 2012 Big Sky Cuvée, Columbia Valley, $35: Saviah Cellars’ Big Sky Cuvée might generate images of Montana, but the grapes are drawn from the Columbia Valley for the 2012 vintage. Led by 51% Merlot, this Bordeaux-style blend opens with chocolate tones and sweet blackberries and blueberries in the nose. On the palate, the berries are augmented by spicy oak and firm, long-finishing tannins. (14.7% alc.; 392 cases)

Seven Hills Winery 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $30: Seven Hills Winery obtained the grapes for this 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley vineyards, creating a wine that displays showy aromas of black cherries and blackberries with a touch of mint. In the mouth, its black cherry and blackberry flavors lead into blueberry-toned tannins and a firm, satisfying finish. (13.9% alc.; 8,500 cases)

Sinclair Estate Vineyards 2012 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $35: Sinclair Estate Vineyards of Walla Walla reached out to the Columbia Valley for the grapes for this delicious 2012 Merlot. On the nose are perfumy blackberries and spice, with lush blackberries and blueberries combining for a delightful drink that hangs on the palate, resolving into restrained, sweet tannins. (14.8% alc.; 192 cases)

Walla Walla Vintners 2013 Estate Vineyard Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $40: Walla Walla Vintners seems to set its dial for making Syrahs on the gold medal setting almost every year, and its 2013 Estate Syrah does not disappoint, thanks to grapes from the Upper Mill Creek region of the valley. A bit of cured meat aroma leads into blackberry and plum, which are echoed on the palate, where they are joined with blueberry, black pepper, black tea and an earthy minerality, concluding with smooth tannins. (14.5% alc.; 354 cases)

Walla Walla Vintners 2013 Cuvée, Washington, $32: Walla Walla Vintners has been making its Washington Cuvée for several years now, and the 2013 extends its run of excellence. Led by some stellar Cabernet Sauvignon fruit in this version, it offers a panoply of aromas and flavors from its Bordeaux-style blend of reds, plus a dollop of Syrah. Drawn from several of the winery’s best vineyard sources, it sports spice, red and blue fruit and judicious use of oak to create a memorable drink. (14.3% alc.; 616 cases)

Walla Walla Vintners 2012 Yellow Bird Vineyard Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $38: This 2012 Merlot from Yellow Bird Vineyard in the Upper Mill Creek area of the Walla Walla Valley joined is 2013 sibling by also winning gold. It’s a bit more spartan, opening with a whiff of green pepper and sweet blackberry, which carry over on the palate. The generous fruit also carries blueberries and a bit of their tannin. It closes on a sweet note of blueberry fruit, with sandy tannins. (14.2% alc.; 147 cases)

Waterbrook Winery 2013 Malbec, Columbia Valley, $14: Waterbrook Winery crafted Columbia Valley fruit into this nicely priced Malbec. The result is a wine redolent with blackberry aromas, sweet oak and a hint of mint. In the mouth, it’s blackberries, blueberries and a dash of black pepper. (12.9% alc.; 4,900 cases)

Watermill Winery 2012 Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $24: Watermill Winery used Walla Walla Valley fruit in this 2012 Merlot. The result is a deep, rich wine that shows off blackberry and blueberry fruit in its aromas and flavors, with an earthy, firm backbone. Pair it with a cassoulet or other rich, complex dinner. (14.3% alc.; 375 cases)

Wilridge Winery 2013 Estate Nebbiolo, Naches Heights, $40: Nebbiolo, the most famous of the red grapes of Northern Italy, is relatively new to the Pacific Northwest and little known. Examples like this 2013 from Wilridge Winery ought to change that. The grapes from the Naches Heights AVA offer lovely rose aromas, plus a hint of tar, both characteristic of the variety. Its light red color, also typical, is deceiving. On the palate it displays tart red cherries, bits of red raspberry, abundant acidity and woody tannins. With age, the tannins should soften a bit and its fruit and acidity linger. Try pairing it with seasoned pork roast. (13.3% alc.; 238 cases)

Woodward Canyon 2012 Erratic, Walla Walla Valley, $66: Woodward Canyon may have dubbed this 2012 GSM blend “Erratic” (named for a granite erratic boulder at the estate vineyard) but “Cornucopia” would be more appropriate. Its aromas promise a panoply of fruit, and in the mouth it delivers with blackberries, plums and blueberries laced seamlessly together with spices, leather, black pepper and slightly minty black tea tannins. Put a New York steak laden with cracked black pepper onto the grill and enjoy. (14.5% alc.; 173 cases)

Woodward Canyon Winery 2012 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington, $99: Owner Rick Small of Woodward Canyon Winery is justifiably renowned for his Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon, which has been outstanding since its 1981 debut. Winemaker Kevin Mott’s 2012 example fits right into that mold, showing off deep Cabernet fruit aromas and complex flavors that start off with black cherries, delve into blackberries and blueberries, and end with a flourish of huckleberry. The fruit comes from two of Washington’s oldest and best vineyards: Champoux and Sagemoor. (14.8% alc.; 533 cases)

Woodward Canyon Winery 2012 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $52: Woodward Canyon labels this 2012 as made from Columbia Valley grapes, and owner Rick Small’s long relationships with grape growers show in its quality. Slightly dusty blackberry and blueberry aromas lead to a lush drink dominated by those two fruits, plus a spicy dash of tobacco, black tea and firm tannins that creep under the tongue and linger. (15.6% alc.; 375 cases)

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About Great Northwest Wine

Articles credited to Great Northwest Wine are authored by Eric Degerman and other contributors. In most cases, these are wine reviews that are judged blind by the Great Northwest Wine tasting panel.

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