Pondera Winery 2012 Cuvée Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $19
One of Woodinville’s most overlooked wineries is Pondera, and Shane Howard continues to burnish his reputation for producing some of Washington state’s top reds. This blend from Dineen Family Vineyard in the Yakima Valley and Stillwater Creek Vineyard in the Frenchman Hills drinks akin to a Meritage, and yet he’s priced it in the teens. He leads with Cabernet Franc (64%) and follows up with Cabernet Sauvignon (17%), Merlot (8%), Petit Verdot (6%) and Malbec, A subtle use of oak allows for the lovely crushed herbs of the Cab Franc to play with the aromas of red currant, plum, dried strawberry and milk chocolate. There’s a richness to the flavor profile of black cherry, strawberry and raspberry that picks up refined tannins reminiscent of bittersweet chocolate, while lingering black currant acidity and dusty minerality combine for a long finish. It’s no surprise that his standalone bottling of Cabernet Franc from this vintage made last year’s The Seattle Times’ Top 50 list.
Production: 310 cases