A number of the Italian red grapes that thrive in hot and arid conditions have earned a spot in the portfolio of wineries along the Columbia Gorge, and Zinfandel is a focus of the Bell family, whose team at Cathedral Ridge devotes about 800 cases of craftsmanship to the variety. Moody Vineyard near The Dalles has been a key. So has Sonoma-based winemaker Michael Sebastiani, a longtime consultant, and this is reserve approach to Zin is reminiscent of a California style. There’s a youthfulness to the nose that brings strawberry candy, cherry pipe tobacco and cedar. On the palate, there’s early sweetness hinting at that strawberry candy, joined by ripe plum and pleasing oak spice that combine to coat the tongue. Soft tannins are chased by the blackcurrant acidity that provides balance and makes for a remarkably long finish. The 2019 vintage was cooler than the six previous growing seasons, and one judge commented, “I would not have guessed it was from the Northwest, and it was more surprising considering the vintage. It’s a well-crafted wine with a bit of RS, and people love that stuff in California Zins.” Suggested pairings range from spicy pork chops with plum chutney, a bowl of chili, a sizzling steak or a dessert featuring bittersweet chocolate.
Rating: 94 points — Outstanding!
Production: 350 cases