Wine Press Northwest 20th Annual Platinum Judging, Part 2

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Great Northwest, Tasting Notes

Red wines from regions across the Great Northwest judged by my panel in the 20th annual Platinum Judging included the following Platinum (P) and Double Platinum (PP) winners:

Bluebird Hill Cellars 2016 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR ($32):  Feminine and elegant is this well-balanced Pinot Noir, that awakens the senses with a eucalyptus and earth driven aroma.  Savory cranberry sauce, shitake mushrooms, wild red raspberries and exotic spices engage the taste buds through the lengthy finish. (PP)

Melrose Vineyards 2015 Pinot Noir, Umpqua Valley, OR ($28):  A delicate, light ruby hue catches the eye, and this gem blooms in the mouth.  Strawberry preserves, pomegranate seeds, earthy tones, red cherry soda entwine gently, and a touch of caramel graces the finish. (PP)

Carlton Cellars 2015 Roads End Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton, OR ($45):   Violet aromas segue to a bowlful of fresh strawberries on entry.  Nicely complex, it builds gracefully on the palate with black raspberry and cherry fruit, earthiness and licorice drops, and finishes with a note of sassafras. (P)

Panther Creek Cellars 2016 Kalita Vineyard Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton, OR ($50):  Forest floor and a whiff of dried flowers on the nose.  Red raspberries, chai tea, damp earth and wild mushrooms are framed by silky tannins and precise balancing acidity.  Finishes with verve. (P)

Cathedral Ridge Cellars 2016 Dampier Vineyard Pinot Noir Reserve, Columbia Gorge, OR ($48):  The fragrant lavender aroma of this intense yet lithe wine is intoxicating.  Red berries with subtle herbs, cherry candy, spice box nuances and the essence of earth mingle deliciously. (P)

Cubanisimo Vineyards 2016 Rumba Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, OR ($25):  The black truffle aroma entices you into the glass.  Satin smooth with a rich mouthfeel, black tea, Bing cherries, and a hint of soy swirl on the palate.  Finishes with a touch of vanilla.  (P)

Left Coast Estate 2016 Cali’s Cuvée Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR ($24):  Berries and cherries on the nose are echoed on the palate with this fruit focused Pinot Noir.  Deep and fully flavored with juicy purple plums, sweet black cherries and a pinch of spice.  (PP)

Northwest Cellars 2014 Merlot, Horse Heaven Hills, WA ($24):  High-toned fruit shows forth on the aroma and entry.  Rich, layered and full bodied on the palate with plum, blueberry, spice box and licorice notes.  Well balanced with bright acidity and plenty of depth; a Cab lover’s Merlot. (P)

Finn Hill Winery 2015 Merveille Merlot, Columbia Valley, WA ($30): Highly aromatic, this fruit driven Merlot bursts with concentrated black fruits. A melding of forest berries, roasted green bell peppers, and mocha tantalize the palate, and the kiss of oak finishes it off in style. (P)

Milbrandt 2016 Merlot, Wahluke Slope, WA ($27):  Wow, the perfumed nose completely captivates!  Finely grained tannins support juicy blackberries and spiced blueberry preserves interlacing elegantly with accents of cocoa powder and tobacco.  Finishes with elegance.  (PP)

Market Vineyards 2012 Acquisition Cab Sauv, Red Mountain, WA ($55):  Deep, dark fruit and saddle leather on the nose engage the senses.  Intense and beautifully balanced with bright fruit, it unveils black currant, juicy plums, a hint of caramel, pipe tobacco, and underlying oak wrapped around refined tannins. 

Andrew Januik Wines 2016 Lady Hawk Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, WA ($50):  The beckoning scent of earth and fresh picked berries draws you in.  Cassis, blackberry, blueberry, and black raspberry fruits meld with savory elements, tobacco, and understated oak.   Finishes long with a twist of orange. (P)

Noble Ridge Vineyard & Winery 2015 King’s Ransom Cab Sauvignon, Okanagan Valley, BC ($96):  Scents of fresh turned earth and ripe fruits will have you lingering over the glass.  Black raspberries, cassis, fresh tobacco leaf, black cherry and cocoa powder weave a fine tapestry of flavors. Complex with finely structured tannins and extended length; cellar worthy.  (P)

Woodward Canyon Winery Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State ($99): The intense, all-about-Cab nose is simply irresistible.  Cassis, fresh tobacco, spice tinged black plum chutney, hints of cedar, anise, black cherry, olive tapenade and well managed oak wow the palate.  Immaculately balanced, and the tannins are firm and taut through the lifted finish; ageworthy.  (PP)

Maryhill Winery 2016 Proprietor’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, WA ($46):  The heady aromatic fills the senses with dark fruit and spice.  Delivers consistent qualities on the palate, as boysenberries, huckleberries and black currants, herbs de Provence and oak spices fill the mouth. Well-structured and balanced, with a persistent finish. (P)                                                                                            

Coyote Canyon Winery 2016 Coyote Canyon Vineyard Big John Cab Sauv, Horse Heaven Hills, WA  ($42): Tightly wound and full bodied, decant this gem for fuller enjoyment now, or hold for future rewards.  Cassis, touches of earth and graphite, wild forest berries and chopped herbs align with full on tannins and good acid structure, and the oak adds toasty spice. (P)

Clearwater Canyon Cellars 2017 Louis Delsol Cabernet Sauvignon, Lewis Clark Valley, ID ($32):  Purity of fruit that shines at first whiff, and continues to impress through the palate.  Black currant, dark-skinned plums, savory olive paste, dusty earthiness and crushed tobacco leaves blend harmoniously, and the bright finish sings.  (P)

Antolin Cellars 2015 Petite Sirah, Yakima Valley WA ($30):  The fruit dominant aroma presents concentrated sweet berry cobbler.   Deeply fruited in the mouth as well, with cassis liqueur and spicy  boysenberry jam filling the palate concluding with a showy finish.  (P)

Westport Winery Garden Resort 2016 “Swimmer” Petite Sirah, Yakima Valley, WA ($31):  This broad shouldered Petite Sirah captures a rich red and black fruit aroma, which is echoed on the palate. Multilayers of red raspberries, savory notes, blackberry reduction sauce, and juicy blood orange combine in harmony.  (P)

Cascade Cliffs Vineyard & Winery Petite Sirah, Wahluke Slope, WA ($60):  Wildly aromatic with tantalizing mint and spice notes.  Beautifully integrated tannins, fine balance support the dense berry and plum goodness at the core, and the oak sits neatly in the background.  Bold and strong while preserving elegance and purity. (P)

Valcan Cellars 2015 Syrah, Willamette Valley, OR ($30):  Earthy notes and wild berries lead to a brilliant palate that brims with Bing cherries, red and purple huckleberries, and freshly crushed herbs.  Roasted meat notes add complexity on the lingering finale. (P)

Vanessa Vineyard 2015 Syrah, Similkameen Valley BC ($45):  Charcuterie meats on the nose join brambleberries, black plums, cinnamon spice and roasted coffee beans unraveling onto the palate.  Savory qualities continue to deliver through the satisfying finish.   (P)

Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards 2016 Estate Cuvée Syrah, Umpqua Valley, OR ($32):  Pure and deeply flavored, this Syrah opens with an inviting aroma.  Blackberries, grilled meat, well-integrated oak, a trace of smoke, and black pepper entwine, extending beyond the lifted finish. (P)

Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards 2017 Winemaker’s Reserve Syrah; Umpqua Valley, OR ($42):  Full bodied and complex, this Syrah is tightly wound.  With aeration, layers of dark berries, black cherry, roasted meat with savory herbs begin to unwind.  Smooth as silk with a firm backbone of tannins. (P)

Colter’s Creek Winery 2017 Skookumchuck Reserve Syrah, Lewis-Clark Valley, ID ($25):  This intensely built Syrah starts off with aromas of sliced, cured meats.  Lithe and nicely balanced with juicy plums, chocolaty tones, oak spice and a pinch of herbs adding complexity. (P)

Maryhill Winery 2016 Cab Franc, Columbia Valley, WA ($27):  Aromas of fresh plums and tobacco leaf on the nose.  In the mouth, pencil shavings, Damson plum preserves, espresso, cassis and spiced oak nuances are supported by approachable tannins and fine balance. (P)

Orenda Winery 2016 Cab Franc, Columbia Valley, WA ($37):  Wafting from the glass are fragranced aromas of nutmeg and cinnamon.  Raspberries, strawberry jam, pie spice, olallieberries, hints of graphite and fresh cut herbs join firm tannins and nice underlying oak through the persistent finish. (P)

Weisinger Family Winery 2016 Malbec, Rogue Valley, OR ($32):  Deep, dark and delicious is this well-structured and elegant Malbec.  Blackberry, and black cherry fruit at the core meld in harmony with accents of dark chocolate and spice.  Balanced and pure all the way through. (P)

Zerba Cellars 2016 Malbec, Walla Walla Valley, WA ($45): Aromas of dark fruit and hints of toast lead the way to boysenberry jam, nutmeg spice, raspberries, and a smoky  oak underlay.  Supple and mouth coating as it heads to a smooth finish. (P) 

Rocky Pond Winery 2016 Malbec, Columbia Valley, WA ($42):  Fruit dominant from the fragrant berry aroma to the opulent blueberry, blackberry, plum flavors saturating the palate.  Nicely integrated oak, brown sugar, and a dusting of sweet herbs completes the lovely package.

Isenhower Cellars 2016 À Bloc Malbec, Columbia Valley, WA ($38):  Forest berries on the nose are mirrored on the palate.  Velvety smooth and round in the mouth, with brambleberries, tayberries and olallieberries accented by vanilla extract and fresh ground black peppercorns.  Elegance in a glass! (P)             

Structure Cellars 2017 Foundation Mourvedre, Snipes Mountain, WA ($35):  The plummy, berry aroma is engaging.  Entwining flavors of black raspberry, wild strawberry, savoriness, and a pretty smoky note delight the palate. Lush, well balanced and refined, with good length.  (P)

Cooper Ridge Vineyard 2015 Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley ($36):  Reminiscent of an old-world Rioja up front, with its earth driven nose.  The earthy elements join classic new world juicy black fruit on the palate.  Boysenberry, plum preserves, moist earth and hints of vanilla prevail all the way through the long-lasting finish. (P)

Stone River Vineyards & Winery 2015 Tempranillo, Rogue Valley, Oregon ($28):  Irresistible floral and berry aromas lead to burst of flavors dancing across the palate.  Juicy dark-fleshed plum, fig jam, dried herbs, and a touch of vanilla meld in harmony.  (P)

Schmidt Family Vineyards 2016 Estate Tempranillo, Applegate Valley, Oregon ($36):  Rich, dark-fruited aromas lift from the glass with this deeply flavored Tempranillo.  Black currant, boysenberry and fruitcake notes at the core, with a thread of exotic spice from bright start to lingering finish.  (P) 

Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards 2016 Estate Winemaker’s Reserve Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley ($42):  Old world meets new world with this precisely balanced, refined wine. Rubyqueen plums, blackberry,  black currant, earthiness and tobacco join spice accents and nicely integrated oak, and the finish simply sings.  (P)

Maryhill Winery 2016 Pained Hills Tempranillo, Yakima Valley ($38):  Provocative floral aromatics guide you straight into the glass.   Expressive and bright, with layers of blackberry, marionberry, and huckleberry fruit, hints of toast and leather, and savory spice.  Elegant through the long finish.  (PP)

Dumas Station Wines 2016 Cow Catcher Red, Walla Walla Valley, WA ($24):  The aroma of a bowlful of fresh berries is engaging.  On the palate, spiced berry compote, blueberry pie, milk chocolate, black raspberries and hints of pipe tobacco coat the palate.  Fresh and lively throughout. (P)

Spangler Vineyards 2016 Claret, Southern Oregon ($28):   Fresh picked wild berry aromas and flavors on the nose and entry are bright and tasty.  Layers of huckleberry, tayberry,  graphite, and toffee flow seamlessly across the palate.  Finishes with a pinch of orange zest. (P)

Cellardoor Winery 2015 Aurora, American ($32):  This deeply structured Syrah dominant blend boasts an irresistible aroma.  A blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauv and Cabernet Franc, the layers of black cherry, cassis, and black raspberry are accented by vanilla bean, allspice, and hints of warm maple bars.  Finishes on a long and savory note. (PP)

Belle Fiore Winery 2015 Estate Icon Souspire, Rogue Valley, Oregon ($37):  This firmly structured, black-fruited Syrah-dominant blend is rich while being elegant at the same time.  Lush and smooth with blackberry and  black cherry fruit joining notes of toast, black licorice drops, and hints of earth; delectable.  (P)

Brian Carter Cellars 2015 Takahashi Red Wine, Columbia Valley, WA ($38):  Here’s a sophisticated Bordeaux-style blend of Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.  Subtle eucalyptus notes on the nose pave the way for gorgeous flavors of black currant, Bing cherry, blueberry jam, nutmeg spice, a subtle roasted red pepper note, and underlying cocoa powder, well built. (PP)

Clearwater Canyon Cellars 2016 Renaissance Red, Lewis-Clark Valley, ID ($23):  This blend of Malbec, Cab Franc, Syrah, Cab Sauvignon and Merlot is loaded with personality.   Intense and alluring on the nose, it kicks off with a dark berry, meaty nose.  Black cherry, blackberry, spice-scented blueberry sauce,  caramel, and toasty oak nuances meld in harmony, a delicious quaff. (P)

INTRINSIC Wine Company 2017 Red Blend, Columbia Valley, WA ($22):  This well-balanced Malbec blend weaves aromas and flavors of dark plum and black cherry compote, spice box accents, raspberry jam and crushed herbs.  Round and full with supple tannins and balancing acidity, and a drop of vanilla extract shows through on the finishing sip.  

Thurston Wolfe Winery 2014 The Geologist Red Wine, Columbia Valley, WA ($50):   This Cab Sauv based  red blend engages with its perfumed nose of violets and spice followed by a generous berry entry.  Raspberries, marionberries, hints of cocoa, a whisper of campfire smoke, and savory spice parade across the palate. Full bodied with firm tannins and a lingering finish. (P)

Cathedral Ridge Winery 2015 Rusty Red Reserve, Columbia Valley, WA ($44):  Juicy plums fill the senses with this confident red blend.  Black currant, spearmint, plum jam, a twist of mixed peppercorns, and  earthiness abound.  Firm, well defined, and smooth  through the powerful finish. (P)

Hightower Cellars 2015 Red Mountain Estate, Red Mountain, WA ($45):  Wild berries and a suggestion of flint rise as this dry red blend approaches the nose.  Dense yet lithe with berries and plums melding with savory olive tapenade and warm toast notes.  Well balanced with a trace of orange peel on the finish. (P)

Eternal Wines 2015 Eternal Passion Red Wine, Columbia Valley, WA ($69):  Heavenly aromas open to dark berries and allspice with this 50/50 blend of Red Mountain Cab Sauv and Walla Walla Valley Syrah.  Blackberry and blueberry fruit and grilled meat join tobacco,  vanilla custard, and baking spice accents.  Complex and smooth with firm tannins and good acids; approachable now and ageworthy.  (P)

Dunham Cellars 2016 Trutina, Columbia Valley, WA ($29):  Here’s an elegant red blend composed of 45% Cab Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 12% Malbec, 3% Cab Franc.  Blueberry, black currant, and black cherry fruit at the core are framed by approachable tannins and balancing acids.   Hints of smoke and teriyaki-marinated meat notes peek through on the finish.  (P)

Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2016 Destiny Ridge Vineyard Quarry Butte Red Wine; Horse Heaven Hills, WA ($26):  A deep blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot, Cab Franc, Syrah, Malbec and Petit Verdot is intensely flavored and elegant.  Blackberry, huckleberry, cherry cola, pipe tobacco, and spiced fig compote create a colorful palate of flavors from start to lifted finish.  (P)

Hood Crest Winery 2016 Super Tuscan, Columbia Valley, WA ($48):  Bold aromas jump from the glass with the savory Sangiovese dominant red blend.  Layers of red cherries,  raspberries, black currants, and fresh turned earth meld harmoniously.  A fine backbone of tannins and acids support the dense fruit, and the texture is velvety smooth as it reaches an elegant finale.  (P)

Davenport Cellars 2013 Petit Verdot, Red Mountain, WA ($30):  Alluring nose of dark fruits and herbs sets the stage for this savory Petit Verdot.  Black plum and huckleberry fruit, fresh chopped herbs and nice oak integration glide across the palate, and the finish ends with a trace of orange zest. (P)

Spangler Vineyards 2014 Petit Verdot, Oregon ($35):  Aromas of black and purple berries on the nose.  Intensely built with dense purple plum, blackberry and sweet blueberry notes cascading upon the palate.  Well balanced and full bodied, with a nice backbone of chalky tannins. (P)

Mercer Estate Winery 2015 Petit Verdot, Horse Heaven Hills, WA ($30):  Bright and sassy is this rich and smooth Petit Verdot.  Brimming with boysenberry and huckleberry fruits, hints of vanilla, tobacco and dried herbs in the mouth. Precisely balanced and juicy, with blood orange accents lifting the finish.  (P)

Clearwater Canyon Cellars 2017 Phinny Hill Vineyard Carmenere, Horse Heaven Hills, WA ($32):   Boysenberry pie on the nose fully engages the senses.  Bright and lively with raspberries, crushed boysenberries, strawberry sorbet, and fresh chopped herbs.  Precisely balance and pure through the long-lasting finish. (P)

Wine Press Northwest Platinum Judging Unveils the Best of the Best in the Great Northwest, Part 1

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Great Northwest, Northwest, Tasting Notes

Wine Press Northwest magazine’s Platinum Judging wine competition stimulates the palates of professional wine judges year after year.  Wines achieving Gold and higher awards within the prior year vie for Platinum honors.

Favorite White and Rosé wines from my panel in this 20th annual Platinum Judging included the following Platinum (P) and Double Platinum (PP) winners: 

Trella Vineyards 2016 Gewurztraminer, Southern Oregon ($24):  Fragrant florals on the nose.  Vivid layers of lychee, spiced tisane, honeysuckle nectar and orange zest are transported across the palate with brisk acidity and underlying notes of salinity.  A bright clementine note pops on the finish. (P)

50th Parallel Estate Winery 2018 Gewurztraminer, Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada ($20):   This zesty Gewurz offer up kiwi and lemon on the nose.  A colorful display of tart and sweet lemon drops, kiwi, lychee jelly, fruit cocktail, and candied pastilles unfold and remain bright and vivid through the close. (P)

Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards 2017 Green Lizard Gruner Veltliner, Umpqua Valley, OR ($32):  Wildly aromatic with a lively entry, this vivacious Gruner is classic.  Elements of stone fruit, white pepper, fresh harvested snap peas, lemon grass, and chamomile paint a brilliant explosion of aromas and flavors on the palate.  Finely balanced and the finish is long and exhilarating. (P)

Trella Vineyards 2018 Gruner Veltliner, Southern Oregon ($29):    Expressive stone fruit and citrus aromas speak clearly to the variety, and the entry is vibrant and fresh.  Flavors of nectarine, apple skin, Ruby grapefruit, citrus blossom, and a hint of white pepper are well defined, and the lingering finish is uplifting.  (P)

Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards 2017 Estate Cuvee Hefeabzug Gruner Veltliner, Umpqua Valley, OR ($26):  Minerally notes at first whiff stay present through the silky palate.  Granny Smith apple, white pepper, star fruit and lemon verbena notes are enlivening, and lead to a finish that keeps on delivering long after the last sip.  (P)

Carlton Cellars 2017 Auxerrois, Yamhill Carlton ($22):  This exuberant Auxerrois is refreshing and full of flavor.  Juicy summer sweet nectarines, lemon-lime soda, apple blossom and oyster shell salinity merge gracefully on the palate.  Lovely acidity and a satin-like texture carry it to a bright finish. (P)

Gehringer Brothers Estate 2018 Old Vines Auxerrois, Golden Mile Bench, BC Canada ($14):   This crisp and mouthwatering Auxerrois shows a touch of florals on the nose.  The entry is vivacious, and the wine builds on the palate as citrus fruits, white peach, a touch of lemon verbena, and a thread of minerality meld in harmony all the way through. (P)

Gehringer Brothers Estate 2018 Ehrenfelser, Okanagan Valley, BC Canada ($14):  The expressive, fragrant aroma of this white wine (a grape of German origin) drives you into the glass.  Juicy, bright and fresh with flavors of crisp pear, lime sorbet, star fruit, and lemon LifeSavers invigorating the palate. Finishes with verve.  (P)

Iris Vineyards 2015 Chalice Estate Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, OR ($25):  The brilliant hue is eye opening, and a stone fruit aroma lead to notes of fresh pear, kiwi and buttered toast.   Herbs and lemon curd complement the pear notes on the palate, and citrus highlights lift the long finish. (P)

Cougar Crest Estate 2017 Albariño, Walla Walla Valley, WA ($24):  Shimmering with electricity this wine really lights up the palate.  Steely and bright with tropical fruit, lime zest and bracing acidity, and a thread of minerality holds through the vivacious finish. (P)

Terra Blanca Winery & Estate Vineyard 2018 Signature Series Albariño, Red Mountain, WA ($28): Hints of minerality join white fruits engaging the nose up front. Star fruit, key lime pie, fresh apricots and mandarin orange interlace and lead to a finale that is long and lifted. (P)

Thurston Wolfe Winery 2018 Crawford Vineyard Albariño, Yakima Valley, WA ($18):  Juicy and full of energy from the fresh cut apple aroma, to the sweet Meyer lemon, Macintosh apples, hints of lychee and brilliant acidity decorating the palate, to the perky finish. (P)

Coyote Canyon Winery 2018 Coyote Canyon Vineyard Albariño, Horse Heaven Hills, WA ($20):   Fresh and very aromatic with florals and citrus on the nose.  Sun-kissed crushed pineapple, chopped herbs, lemon sorbet, and poached pear join brisk acidity, and the wine concludes with a refreshing tangy note. (P)

Intrigue Wines 2018 “Social Sparkling” Okanagan Valley, BC ($17):  The perfumed nose of rose petals gets the party started.  Crisp apple, honeysuckle, pear and candied orange peel align with racy acidity, tickling the taste buds through the lively last sip. (P)

Cooper Ridge Vineyard NV Blanc de Blanc Sparkling Riesling, Umpqua Valley, OR ($29):  Inviting peaches and white flowers on the nose.  A lively bead carries peach sorbet, summer fresh nectarines, citrus accents and lovely minerality across the palate.  Refreshing and well balanced with extended length. (P)

Cave B Estate Winery 2018 Cave B Vineyard Cuvée Blanc, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, WA ($27):  Striking citrus and tree fruit aromas engage the senses with this Sauv Blanc dominant blend.  Crisp and bright with interlinking layers of pear, grapefruit, fresh chopped herbs and orange zest.  Rocking acidity keeps it vibrant through the last drop.  (PP)

Cliff Creek Cellars 2018 White White Wine, Southern OR ($22):  Aromas of stone fruit rise from the glass with this Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier blend.  Vivid flavors of peaches and nectarines on entry meld with apple skin and minerality mid palate, and the balancing acidity rocks.  Citrus notes peek through on the refreshing finish.  (P)

Martinez & Martinez 2017 Viognier, Yakima Valley, WA ($18):  Hints of peach tantalize the nose, and a burst of citrus explodes with vibrancy when this gem greets the lips.  Layers of pomelo, pink grapefruit, white peach and a sprinkle of fresh herbs are carried by crisp acidity.  The finish is tangy and bright. (P)

Westport Winery Garden Resort 2017 “Lighthouse” Riesling, Yakima Valley, WA ($27):  Tropical fruits with a touch of wet stone engage the nose.  Fresh peaches, guava, lime zest, a light touch of tarragon, and a clear thread of minerality flow across the palate with bracing acidity.  Bright and enlivening all the way through.  (P)

Ancestry Cellars 2017 Reminiscence Riesling, Columbia Gorge, OR ($20):  Wet stone on the nose speaks vociferously to varietal correctness, and the flavor profile lines up equally well.  Petrol, grilled peaches, sugared lime peel, green apples and minerally tones create a brilliant kaleidoscope of flavors on the palate.  Finishes with impressive length and energy. (PP)

Whidbey Island Winery 2018 Rosato, Yakima Valley, WA ($15):  This well-balanced dry rosé crafted of Sangiovese and other Italian varieties shows off a beautifully expressive rose garden aroma.  Juicy and bright on the palate as peach, strawberry and melon flavors interlace with lively acidity. (P)

Puffin Wines 2018 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR ($22): A crystal clear rosy pink hue captures the eye, and the aroma is alluring.  Sweetheart cherry, raspberry sorbet, and watermelon flavors are accented by bright citrusy notes. Well balanced with a snappy and refreshing finish. (P)

Locus Wines 2018 vintage 7 Mile Rosé, Rattlesnake Hills, WA ($15):  This sunny blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Cinsault opens with a dusty berry aroma.  Multi-layered and vivacious as raspberries, rambutan, orange blossom and lemon verbena flavors harmonize through the finish. (P)

Gems in My Glass . . . August 2019

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Great Northwest, Oregon, Tasting Notes

While judging the beautifully executed Oregon Wine Experience wine competition, one of our excursions was an exhilirating Hellgate Jetboat ride on the Rogue River.  During our delicious lunch on the bank of the river we had the opportunity to taste a variety of additional Oregon wines.  Here are some excellent whites we tasted that I highly recommend:

Schmidt Family Vineyards 2017 Albarino; Applegate Valley, Southern Oregon ($24):  The engaging aroma of fresh citrus captures the nose.  Bright and minerally up front, this gem explodes with flavor.  Melon, lemon grass, juicy nectarine, citrus blossom and subtle salinity light up the palate.  Striking acidity pulls it all together through the lively finish. www.sfvineyards.com

Brandborg Vineyard & Winery 2016 Sauvignon Blanc; Umpqua Valley ($20):  Here’s a gloriously expressive Sauvignon Blanc with aromas of fresh summer grasses.  Tropical fruit, a suggestion of hay, and lemon-lime accents enliven the palate.  The contribution of neutral French oak gives it a fuller mouthfeel, and the bracing acids keep it lively and well balanced.  www.brandborgwine.com

Stave & Stone Wine Estates 2017 Broken Boulder Vineyards Pinot Noir Blanc; Columbia Gorge ($32):  Aromas of fresh tree fruits and a hint of spice is engaging at first whiff. Crisp and juicy with flavors of Asian pear, citrus blossom, Rainier cherries and subtle ginger notes harmonizing on the palate.  Smoothly textured and well balanced all the way through.   www.staveandstone.com

Quady North 2017 Pistoleta; Southern Oregon ($20):   Aromas of a bowlful of fresh-sliced stone fruits wafts from the glass, fully engaging the senses.  Vivacious flavors of nectarine, peach, lime soda, and star fruit burst onto the palate, supported by rocking acidity and a solid thread of minerality.  The zesty finish is uplifting and long-lasting.    www.quadynorth.com

Carlton Cellars 2017  Auxerrois; Yamhill-Carlton ($18):  This jazzy dry white wine is full of flavor and personality.  Scents of a summer floral bouquet lead to layers of Oro Blanco grapefruit, Bartlett pear, almond paste, lemon tisane, quince, and minerally notes melding in harmony on the palate.  Focused and finely balanced with a persistent finish.  www.carltoncellars.com

AWEN Winecraft 2017 Grenache Blanc; Rogue Valley, Southern Oregon ($30):   Notes homemade applesauce greet the nose with this full-bodied dry white wine.  Coating the mouth are focused flavors of Granny Smith apple, tropical melon, mandarin orange, a hint of toast, minerality, and a subtle anise note.  Nicely balanced with a silky texture, and plenty of length.   www.awenwinecraft.com

Cheers!

Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards – Umpqua Valley, Oregon

Great Northwest, Oregon, Tasting Notes

Umpqua Valley’s Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards hits the mark vintage after vintage, remaining a favorite of mine.  Tasting new releases and unveiling wines with a few years age proves the multitude of Gold, Double Gold, Platinum and Best of Class awards showered upon proprietors Stephen and Gloria Reustle and their staff each year are well deserved.  Not only are Winemaker Stephen Reustle and Associate Winemaker Wade Smith crafting impressive wines that drink beautifully at release, their wines age remarkably as well.

2017 Riesling; Umpqua Valley, Oregon:  The gorgeous river rock and stone fruit aroma clearly broadcasts Riesling.  Sun-kissed peaches, juicy nectarines, a suggestion of lemon grass, fresh squeezed lime, and a solid thread of minerality weave a brilliant array of flavors on the palate.   Bright, mouthwatering and lively with the level of acidity keeping it in perfect balance through the perky finish.  SRP: $21

2016 Winemaker’s Reserve Pinot Noir; Umpqua Valley, Oregon:  Purity and varietal correctness abound!  Scents of earthiness and wild cherries rise from the glass.  On the palate, red cherries, earthy notes, a touch of sarsaparilla, raspberries and exotic spice unfold in harmony.  Polished and elegant with well-integrated oak nuances adding dimension.  Irresistible from first engaging sip, to the long and satisfying last one.   SRP:  $42

2014 Winemaker’s Reserve Grüner Veltliner; Umpqua Valley, Oregon:  This classic Grüner is simply divine!  Captivating and expressive, it reveals pristine balance, elegance and plenty of verve. Bright aromas and flavors of crisp green apple, citrus blossom, summer peaches, white pepper, fresh cut lemon verbena, a subtle hint of licorice, and a clear-cut thread of minerality.  Pure and immaculately balanced with brisk acidity through the vibrant and long-lasting finish.  It has aged splendidly and promises more years ahead.  SRP:  $29

2015 Revelation & Sorek Bloc Estate Grüner Veltliner; Umpqua Valley, Oregon:  Fresh squeezed lime and peach aromas are heavenly from the moment this gem approaches the nose.  It continues to broaden and invigorate the senses as citrus blossom, white peach, earthy tones, Meyer lemon, pear, guava, lime zest, a pinch of white pepper and minerality flow effortlessly onto the palate. It’s meticulously balanced and vivacious with a finish that never ends, and age-worthy, too.  SRP:  $24

2014 Gloria’s Syrah; Umpqua Valley, Oregon:  Aromas of dark berries and grilled meat are intoxicating.  Full bodied, complex and well-structured with lovely precision, and each lip-smacking sip reveals more complexity and depth.  Boysenberry, black currant, multi-colored peppercorns, plum jam, charcuterie, and allspice entwine, creating a glorious burst of flavors in the mouth.  Stunning through the noteworthy and everlasting finale.  One for the cellar!  SRP:  ~$42

2015 Winemaker’s Reserve Syrah; Umpqua Valley, Oregon:  The compelling scent of forest fruits and savory spice encourage you to hover over the glass before tasting.  Complex and layered as blackberries, black raspberries, spice encrusted roast beef and a pinch of dried herbs entwine with nicely integrated oak, semi-sweet chocolate, and a touch of vanilla.  Expansive on the palate with a lovely mouthfeel and vital finish, and it too promises years of enjoyment ahead.  SRP:  $32

2015 Timnah Bloc Estate Tempranillo; Umpqua Valley, Oregon:  This delectable, well-structured Tempranillo is impeccably balanced and smoothly textured, with black cherry, dark plums, tobacco leaf, hints of leather, and freshly ground black pepper wrapped around a backbone of refined tannins and bright acids. This approachable, while age-worthy wine exhibits a delightful cocoa-dusted finish that lingers on and on, delicious!  SRP:  $29

I highly recommend checking out their vineyards and winery in Roseburg Oregon (in the Umpqua Valley AVA).  There is plenty to be impressed with, including their competent and delightful staff, exquisite setting, impeccable vineyards, impressive caves and tasting areas, and exquisite, age worthy wines.  To learn more about their picturesque and welcoming property, and full line up of award-winning white, red and dessert wines, view their website at www.reustlevineyards.com, or even better, plan a visit soon!

Prosser – the Birthplace of Washington Wine

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Great Northwest, Tasting Notes

Prosser – The Birthplace of Washington Wine

Washington’s south-central city of Prosser, endearingly known as the state’s birthplace of wine, is within the American Viticultural Area (AVA) of Yakima Valley.  This AVA, established in 1983, was the very first AVA to be recognized in Washington state.  Later recognized sub AVAs, Red Mountain (2001), Rattlesnake Hills (2006) and Snipes Mountain (2009), and are contained within the Yakima Valley AVA.

Nearby Horse Heaven Hills AVA (awarded the first 100-point rating for a Washington wine), established in 2005, sits just south of Yakima Valley and North of the Columbia River.  North of the Yakima Valley AVA you’ll find the Wahluke Slope AVA (gaining AVA designation in 2006), one of the warmest regions in the state.   Further north in the central part of the state is the Ancient Lakes AVA (established in 2012), one of the cooler Washington wine growing regions.   The Yakima Valley, Horse Heaven Hills, Wahluke Slope and Ancient Lakes AVAs (along with Walla Walla Valley, Lake Chelan and Naches Heights AVAs) are entirely within the larger Columbia Valley AVA (established in 1984).

Three additional AVAs (wholly or partly) located in Washington are Puget Sound (located west of the Cascade Mountains, established in 1995), Columbia Gorge (located in a National Scenic Area east of Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington, established in 2004), and Lewis-Clark Valley (situated on the border of Washington and Idaho, established in 2016).

The knowledgeable guides for Prosser Wine Network’s recent media tour created an informative excursion through this growing wine region.  Vintners, grapegrowers and winemakers exuded passion as they led us through vineyards and barrel rooms, sharing history, experiences and fine examples of their crafts.  Among noteworthy wines, my favorites included:

Daven Lore Winery 2013 Tempranillo; Snipes Mountain, Washington:   Aromas of blackberry and crème de cassis pave the way for this well-balanced Tempranillo.  Dense black fruits unwind on the palate with accents of allspice, saddle leather and hints of fresh tobacco.   Plush and tasty, it warms you right up!    SRP:  $28.50 www.davenlore.com

Daven Lore Winery 2012 Newhouse Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon; Snipes Mountain, Washington:  Oodles of black cherries on the nose entwine with Damson plums, wild berries, black currants, roasted coffee bean, and savory spice, creating a cornucopia of flavors on the palate.  Beautifully textured with silky tannins and sweet oak nuances peeking through on the finish.    SRP:  $40  www.davenlore.com

Domanico Cellars 2013 Carmenere; Yakima Valley, Washington:  This expressive Carmenere opens with aromas of wild berries and spice.  Rich and savory on entry, it gains momentum on the palate as scrumptious flavors of clove, pepper spice and hints of toast join the lush blackberry, blueberry and red berry fruits.  Mouth filling and well balanced through the persistent aftertaste.  SRP: $40 www.domanicocellars.com

Domanico Cellars 2013 Lemberger; Yakima Valley, Washington:  Deep, dark and delicious is this spunky, full flavored Lemberger.  Generous layers of huckleberries, marionberries, fresh boysenberry jam, savory spice and shades of oak interlace and richly coat the palate.  The fine balance and smooth tannins carry the wine to a long, satisfying finish.  SRP:  $21 www.domanicocellars.com

WIT Cellars 2015 Chardonnay; Ancient Lakes, Washington:  Beautiful expression of the variety; purity of fruit in the glass!  This elegant Chardonnay is fermented in stainless steel and aged ~8 months in neutral oak.  Showcasing crisp green apple, mineral notes, lemon curd, and fresh pea shoots, it is juicy on the palate with a lovely mouth feel and vibrant finish.   SRP:  $22 www.witcellars.com

WIT Cellars 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon; 98% Rattlesnake Hills/2% Wahluke Slope, Washington:  This nicely structured Cabernet (blended with 2% Petit Verdot) opens with enticing aromatics and packs a punch on the palate.  Deep and complex, with focused flavors of cassis, black plum, tobacco spice, black cherry and hints of earth melding in harmony.  Approachable now with refined tannins, and promises years of ageability ahead, too.   SRP:  $50 www.witcellars.com

Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2014 Destiny Ridge Vineyard Shepherds Mark; Horse Heaven Hills, Washington:  This well composed blend of 60% Roussanne, 20% Marsanne and 20% Viognier opens with a beckoning scent of white flowers and stone fruit.  Wildly expressive on the palate with nectarine and crisp pears, lemon blossom and a striking thread of minerality.  Vibrant and refreshing with spot on acids, it finishes long, with a kick of lime zest.   SRP:  $24 www.alexandrianicolecellars.com

Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2014 Destiny Ridge Vineyard Jet Black Syrah; Horse Heaven Hills, Washington:   Scents of earthiness and cherry cordial drive you into the glass.  Fully engaging on the palate with layer upon layer of black cherry, loganberry, cocoa bean, anise, black pepper and dried herbs.  The underlying oak (35% new French/65% one year French barrels) adds complexity as the wine makes its way to the extended finish.    SRP:  $28  www.alexandrianicolecellars.com

Mercer Estates 2015 Culloden Vineyard Viognier; Horse Heaven Hills, Washington:  Alluring tropical fruit aromas lure you into the glass.  Juicy and bright on the palate as flavors of cantaloupe, ripe plantains, summer melon and citrus highlights are unveiled across the palate.  A heavenly satin texture, nice acids and glorious freshness wrap up the delicious package.  SRP: $15 www.mercerwine.com

Chinook Wines 2015 Sauvignon Blanc; Yakima Valley, Washington:  Citrus and fragrant floral scents pave the way to a refreshing mouthful of grapefruit and tropical melon.   Racy acids keep this gem lively, and a pretty stream of fresh picked lemon verbena creates a complementary herbaceous accent across the palate.  Sleek and zesty, with an unforgettable, mouthwatering finish.   SRP:  $18.99 www.chinookwines.com

Chinook Wines 2013 Cabernet Franc; Yakima Valley, Washington:  A radiant hue and perfumed aroma of violets and wild berries engage the senses.  On the palate, well defined flavors of black cherry, red currant, spiced raspberry chutney and an understated note of roasted bell pepper paint a masterpiece on the palate. Vivid and pure with a smooth texture, impeccable balance, and long-lasting finish. SRP:  $24.99  www.chinookwines.com

Milbrandt Vineyards 2015 Traditions Sweet Katherine; Columbia Valley, Washington:  Here is an expressive Riesling that captures the essence of this noble grape in a sweet style (4.2% RS) without being cloying.  A generous level of acidity is ever present, keeping the wine uplifted.  Honeysuckle, juicy sweet peaches and nectarines drive the flavor profile, with a pinch of lemongrass adding a nice accent on the snappy finish.  SRP:  $12.99 www.milbrandtvineyards.com

Milbrandt Vineyards 2012 Vineyard Series Reserve Malbec; Wahluke Slope, Washington:  This powerful Malbec, aged 18 months in 50% new French oak, opens with captivating berry aromas.  Meaty notes interlace with black plums, blueberries, anise seed and savory spice.  Full flavored and complex, the firm tannins and nice acids are in perfect balance with the core of deep fruit.   The underlying oak is well placed and the aftertaste lingers forever; drink now or cellar if you can wait.  SRP:  $50  www.milbrandtvineyards.com

Gamache Vintners 2011 Merlot; Columbia Valley, Washington:  Engaging floral notes waft from the glass.  This lush, well-structured Merlot is chock full of blueberry and boysenberry fruit, milk chocolate and cinnamon spice dazzling the palate from start to finish.  Rich with a beautiful velour-like texture and silky tannins; simply yummy.  SRP: $25 www.gamachevintners.com

Gamache Vineyards 2011 Heritage Collection Nicholas; Columbia Valley, Washington:  This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec is deep, dense and delectable.   Fruit driven with black cherry, blueberry and plum at the core, it builds on the palate with added elements of fresh tobacco, cassis, vanilla bean notes.  Velvety in texture with a backbone of firm tannins, lively acidity and a long-lasting aftertaste.  SRP:  $40  www.gamachevintners.com

Martinez & Martinez Winery 2015 May Mae Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon; Horse Heaven Hills, Washington:  The jewel toned color is dazzling, and as you raise the glass a lovely scent of fresh roses demands your attention.  Juicy raspberries, sweet strawberries, a hint of watermelon and tangerine notes are wrapped around a brisk spine of acidity.  Pristinely balanced, this Rose simply dances on the tongue.  SRP:  $20  www.martinezwine.com

Martinez & Martinez Winery 2011 Dominio de Martinez Cabernet Sauvignon; Horse Heaven Hills, Washington:  A brilliant hue catches the eye, and dark fruit aromas entice as this well-crafted Cabernet approaches the nose.  Cassis, wild bramble berry and black plums entwine with tobacco, a touch of herbs and minerality. This gem is intense yet elegant, precise in balance, and the oak is nicely understated.  Approachable now, and cellarworthy, too.  SRP: $45 www.martinezwine.com

Chateau St. Michelle 2009 Canoe Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon; Horse Heaven Hills, Washington:  This robust Cabernet Sauvignon displays aromas of dark berries and leather on the nose.  Intensely flavored and complex with Bing cherries, olive tapenade, black currant, mocha and blackberries framed by firm tannins.  Muscular yet lively and expressive on the lingering, toffee scented finish.  SRP:  $32 www.ste-michelle.com

Bunnell Family Cellar 2013 Wine o’Clock Gewurztraminer; Lake Chelan, Washington:  This delectable and varietally spot on dry Gewurz steals the show with its rose petal and tropical fruit aroma!  Bright and perfectly balanced, it electrifies the palate.  Brimming with lychee, hints of grapefruit and passion fruit, and buoyed by a stream of bracing acidity; an irresistible quaff.  SRP:  $18 www.bunnellfamilycellar.com

Bunnell Family Cellar 2013 BDX Painted Hills Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon; Columbia Valley, Washington:  Here is a stellar Cabernet Sauvignon that shows off aromas and flavors of cassis, black cherry, dark plum, tinges of earth, worn leather and tobacco spice.  Multi-faceted with loads of charm, a firm structure, polished tannins and impressive length.  Drink now or hold for future enjoyment.  SRP:  $48 www.bunnellfamilycellar.com

The state of Washington ranks second amidst the highest wine producing states in the USA.  There is much more than what I captured here for me (and you) to explore in Prosser.  Although time did not allow the chance to meet with all the vintners in this region, the personalities I met with, properties I visited, and the wines I tasted gave me ample reason to schedule another visit, and you should treat yourself to the same delightful opportunity!

Gems in My Glass . . . December 2015

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Great Northwest, Tasting Notes

Wine Press Northwest 2015 Platinum Judging; Gold sings, Platinum soars!

The Wine Press Northwest Platinum wine competition treats judges to a unique experience; judging wines from an elite group.  All entries in this competition secured Gold or Double Gold status in one of many  competitions previously held around the world.  Got your attention?  I’d imagine so, if seeking out well-crafted wines is on your list of favorite activities.  Here are some of the remarkable Platinum winning wines my panel had the pleasure to judge; surely you’ll find wines that trigger a must have thought in your mind!

Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards 2013 Revelation & Sorek Bloc Gruner Veltliner; Umpqua Valley, Oregon:  Another extraordinary Gruner from Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards; this gem opens with aromas of grapefruit and spice.  Filling the mouth are delicious layers of Granny Smith apples, wet stone minerality, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, hints of fresh ground pepper and crisp pears wrapped around a solid backbone of acidity.   Bright, lively and irresistible through the persistent finish.  SRP:  $24   www.reustlevineyards.com

Walla Walla Vintners 2013 Cuvée; Washington: This brilliant ruby hued blend, crafted of 36% Cabernet Sauvignon 27% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec, 5% Petit Verdot and 3% Carménère delivers nicely ripened red and black fruit and a dash of cocoa powder to the nose. Generous in the mouth with tasty blackberries and chocolate covered cherries interlacing with savory spice, underlying oak and tea leaf accents, it simply captivates. Nicely built with well-rounded tannins and a finish that is smooth and satisfying. SRP: $32 www.wallawallavintners.com

Henry Earl Estates 2010 Homesteader; Red Mountain, Washington: The fragrant floral aroma engages the senses as this velvety textured blend of 36% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Malbec, 13% Cabernet Franc and 14% Petit Verdot lifts from the glass. Fresh and lively on the palate with luscious flavors of cranberries, cherries, blackberries, cassis, anise and cigar box accents that unfold and wrap around grippy tannins. Drinking beautifully now, and the rich fruit, precise balance and structured tannins suggest it is also a good candidate for the cellar. SRP: $40 www.henryearlwine.com

Mercer Estates 2012 Sharp Sisters Red Blend; Columbia Valley, Washington: Here is a plush, concentrated blend of 40% Merlot, 25% Syrah, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 3% Sangiovese, 3% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Tempranillo and 1% Grenache that really delivers with its juicy blueberry, cola, wild raspberry, sweet plum, toffee, spice box nuances and lovely oak integration. The tannins are finely grained, and the wine shows good structure throughout. SRP: $26 www.mercerwine.com

Sinclair Estate Vineyards 2011 Pentatonic; Columbia Valley, Washington: Tightly wound and layered, I appreciate how this spunky blend, composed of 68% Merlot, 14% Cab Franc, 14% Petit Verdot and 4% Cab Sauvignon, provocatively opens up with aeration. Red currant, blueberries, cassis and blackberries entwine with graphite, well placed oak and savory spice as it unfolds onto the palate. This sophisticated Bordeaux blend displays refined tannins, and the finish is long and gratifying. SRP: $40 www.sinclairestatevineyards.com

Eight Bells Winery 2012 Red Willow Vineyard 8 Clones Syrah; Yakima Valley, Washington: Alluring bacon fat aromas start the love affair with this complex, precisely balanced Syrah. Satin smooth in texture, with layer upon layer of juicy plums, blueberries, anise, black cherries, spice enhanced grilled meat, savory olives and minerally notes framed by powerful tannins. Deep, dark and delicious through the lengthy finish. SRP: $32 www.8bellswinery.com

Chateau St. Michelle 2012 Canoe Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon; Horse Heaven Hills, Columbia Valley, Washington: The scent of roasted coffee beans deliciously wakes you up. Rich red fruit, bittersweet chocolate and underlying toasted oak (from 22 months aging in 60% new French and American oak) swirling on the palate offer further stimulation. One glass leads to another of this silky, well-crafted Cabernet Sauvignon. The sumptuous flavors linger dreamily beyond the final sip. SRP: $36 www.ste-michelle.com

Zerba Cellars 2012 Petit Verdot; Walla Walla Valley, Washington: Fragrant violets on the nose and the classic opaque purple/black Petit Verdot hue confidently steer this gorgeous wine onto the palate. Broadening in the mouth are multiple shades of dense blackberries, wild berries and purple plums, vanilla, cedar, earthy notes and a dusting of herbs. The flavors interlace in harmony and provide a perfect counterpoint to the vibrant acidity and firm tannins. This is a powerful, delectable Petit Verdot. SRP: $45 www.zerbacellars.com

Dusted Valley Vintners 2012 Wallywood; Columbia Valley, Washington: This blend of 52% Syrah, 24% Petite Sirah, 16% Mourvédre and 8% Grenache is deeply hued and broadcasts intense berry and herbal aromas. Chock full of blackberries, plum skin, savory spice, graphite, roasted coffee and tasty highlights of cured meats that weave through from entry, through mid-palate, to the engaging and lifted finish. The dense fruit is lush, and the acids and tannins provide a firm structure; lovely. SRP:  $42 www.dustedvalley.com

Dunham Cellars 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon XVIII; Columbia Valley, Washington: Here is an irresistible Cabernet with an intense, alluring aromatic of fresh tobacco and black fruits. Well defined and complex, the focused flavors of blackberry, black cherry and plums commingle with black olive, a pinch of multi-colored peppercorns and understated toasty oak. Powerful in structure and finely balanced with a firm backbone of tannins, this gem is approachable now, and promises to be age-worthy as well. SRP: $45 www.dunhamcellars.com

Desert Wind Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon; Wahluke Slope, Washington: This snappy Cabernet Sauvignon opens with notes of eucalyptus, ripe berries and herbs on the nose. Round and mouth filling with oodles of sweet boysenberry jam, spiced cherry pie, tart huckleberry and a touch of roasted green bell pepper melding with earthy elements. Nicely balanced, full flavored and easy to quaff through the pleasing finish. SRP: $18 www.desertwindwinery.com

L’Ecole No. 41 Winery 2012 Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Syrah; Walla Walla Valley, Washington: This tantalizing Syrah offers up a handful of violets deliciously sharing the aromatic stage with dark berry fruit. Compelling and precisely balanced on the palate with roasted meat, notes of sizzling bacon, ripe blueberries, olallieberries, black plums, spiced black tea and a tinge of earthiness. This smartly crafted Syrah displays lovely purity, and the subtle oak provides a nice backdrop through the persistent finish. SRP: $36 www.lecole.com

Visit these wineries, log onto their respective websites, or check with your favorite wine shop to pick up a bottle or two of the award winning wines from the Wine Press Northwest Platinum Judging. You can also find information about additional award winners in this month’s issue of Wine Press Northwest, or on their website, www.winepressnw.com. Cheers!

2015 Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Great Northwest

I’ve got the fever!   This well run wine competition, under the direction of Chairmen Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue (owners of the Great Northwest Wine news and information company), is quite unique and compelling.  Judges are asked to nominate 100 wines to be blind judged; all of which must come from grapes grown in the great northwest; including Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Idaho.  Here are a few personal favorite noteworthy wines among those that my panel judged at the 2015 competition held at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel this month:

Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2014 Old Vines Auxerrois; Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada:   A stunning interpretation of this delightful grape (more widely grown in Alsace).  Displaying worthy varietal typicity, its white peach, pear, grapefruit and lemony flavors intertwine in harmony on the palate.  This beauty is mouth filling and well balanced, with good acidity accompanying the fruit through the enduring aftertaste.  SRP: $13 www.gehringerwines.ca

Sparkman Cellars 2012 Rainmaker Cabernet Sauvignon; Yakima Valley, Washington:  Aromas of tobacco leaf and black fruits get the juices flowing, and prepare you for more delight.  This Cabernet Sauvignon is appealing in its depth and power.  Broadly expanding on the palate are layers of cassis, blackberry, Italian spices and smoky oak nuances.  The acidity zips through the dense fruit, and the tannins are smooth and reined in; extraordinary.  SRP:  $62 www.sparkmancellars.com

Tenet Wines 2013 The Pundit Syrah; Columbia Valley, Washington:  The floral component, wildly expressive and pleasing, implores you to dive into the glass.  Once the wine glides past your lips, the juicy mouthful of purple plums, orange-tinged boysenberries and dark chocolate syrup unfolds, and toasty oak spice is well situated in the background.  Smartly balanced and simply delightfully.   SRP:  $25 www.tenetwines.com

Maryhill Winery 2014 Chardonnay; Columbia Valley, Washington:  Alluring on the nose, this snappy Chard opens with pretty fragrances of citrus blossom and tropical fruit wafting from the glass.  On the palate it is pure and refreshing, with flavors of crisp apple, candied pineapple wedges, stone fruit and subtle spiced oak notes; finishes bright and clean.  SRP: $15 www.maryhillwinery.com

Seven Hills Winery 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon; Columbia Valley, Washington:  The hue is luminous and the aromatic delivers perfectly ripened fruit, a sprinkle of sweet oak and vanilla spice to the nose. Tasty black currant, red cherry, pipe tobacco notes and brown spices wrap around firm tannins.  This wine is nicely weighted as it swells to a finish that is polished and persistent.   SRP:  $30 www.sevenhillswinery.com

Walla Walla Vintners 2013 Estate Vineyard Syrah; Walla Walla Valley, Washington:  The enticing aromatic bursts forth with herbs and black fruit.  The palate reveals underbrush, black plums, black cherry, mocha, fresh ground multi-colored peppercorns and a suggestion of sautéed green bell pepper.  Black licorice accents come forth on the satisfying finish; a well-crafted, cellar worthy Syrah.   SRP:  $40 www.wallawallavintners.com

Reininger Winery 2011 Mr. Owl’s Red; Walla Walla Valley, Washington:  This blend of 55% Sangiovese, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot and 4% Syrah with an earthy edge is agile and compelling.  Softly fruited with black cherry, and raspberry fitting hand and glove with anise, orange peel and a suggestion of angostura bitters.  It is focused and clean, and the racy acidity fits its spry personality to a T.   SRP:  $34 www.reiningerwinery.com

Columbia Crest Winery 2013 Grand Estates Syrah; Columbia Valley, Washington:  Hints of Crayola crayons and dark fruit on the nose meld into jammy black and red berries on entry.  Delectably rich and creamy in texture, the flavors of black cherry, blackberry, toffee and herbal notes linger through the pleasing aftertaste.  Easy to quaff, and a terrific value, too!  SRP:  $12 www.columbiacrest.com

Coyote Canyon Winery 2013 Albarino; Horse Heaven Hills, Washington:  Spicy and edgy from the endearing aromatic, to the mouthful of spiced peach/pear compote, lemon-lime and crystallized pineapple, to the rocking acidity that never misses a beat.  The components are well orchestrated and the wine flows elegantly as it makes it way to the celebratory finish line.  SRP: $22 www.coyotecanyonwinery.com

Anam Cara Cellars 2012 Nicholas Estate Pinot Noir; Chehalem Mountains, Oregon:  Alluring floral and damp earth scents wow the nose.  In the mouth it’s ethereal and silky smooth, with notes of fresh chopped herbs, dusty cherry, black raspberry, anise and hints of toasted oak.   Smartly composed, it is lively and graceful with a long lasting, memorable finish.  SRP:  $33 www.anamcaracellars.com

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2014 Dry Riesling; Columbia Valley, Washington:  Earthiness, hints of herbs and fragrant dusting powder greet the nose.  Orchard fruit, wet stone, citrus notes and dried apricot flavors swirl in the mouth, with racy acidity providing a wonderful backbone.  Vintage after vintage this value priced wine shines with vibrancy.  SRP:  $10  www.ste-michelle.com

Airfield Estates Winery 2014 Rosé of Sangiovese; Yakima Valley, Washington:   This vivacious dry Rosé offers up spiced cranberry sauce, juicy cherry, orange zest, and mineral notes on the nose and through the juicy, fruit filled palate.  Balanced and bright with good acidity, it shimmers all the way through.    SRP:  $15 (Sold out; don’t miss the 2015 vintage upon release). www.airfieldwines.com

Karma Vineyards 2011 Méthode Champenoise Pink; Columbia Valley, Washington:  This expressive, full bodied sparkling wine leads the way with aromas of reds fruits and fresh flowers.  Magnificent on the palate with its stream of tiny bubbles and gorgeous acidity supporting flavors of fresh cherries and strawberries, watermelon candy and toasty biscuit notes; a divine bubbly.   SRP:  $39.99 www.goodkarmawines.com

Palencia Wine Company 2014 Sauvignon Blanc; Columbia Valley, Washington:   Enticing herbal aromas invite you into the glass and keep you stimulated as juicy white grapefruit, sweet fleshed peaches, crisp pears, and lime zest take center stage on the vibrant palate.  The wine gains dimension with a touch of dried herbs as it marches toward a brilliant finale.  SRP:  $18 www.palenciawine.com

Walla Walla Vintners 2012 Yellow Bird Vineyard Merlot; Walla Walla Valley, Washington:  Warm blueberry tart scents upfront join red berries, chocolate kisses, blueberries, spice box and subtle oak notes exploding onto the palate.  The well-defined firm tannins and accompanying finely placed acidity provide the perfect framework for this absolutely charming Merlot.  SRP:  $38  www.wallawallavintners.com

Sperling Vineyards 2012 Old Vines Riesling; Okanagan Valley; British Columbia, Canada:  Here is a fresh, meticulously balanced Riesling that really stimulates the senses.  Stone fruit, quince jam, minerality and citrus accents entwine and flow with ease across the palate.  Bright and satisfying with an aftertaste that lingers on and on.  SRP:  $32 www.sperlingvineyards.com

Mercer Estates 2012 Merlot; Columbia Valley, Washington:  This irresistible Merlot struts out with a confident air and never retreats.  Appealing cherry, savory spice, blueberry and fresh leather aromas and flavors are enhanced by a velvety smooth texture and refined tannins.  Polished and elegant through the long, heavenly finish.  SRP:  $24 www.mercerwine.com

Rocky Pond Winery 2013 Clos Cheval Vineyard Riesling; Lake Chelan, Columbia Valley, Washington:  Here is a sleek and balanced wine with a petrol aroma that clearly shouts out Riesling.  Peach skin, sweet nectarine, fresh squeezed lime juice and slate accents that flow onto the palate are pure and vivacious, leaving a lasting impression.  SRP:  $18 www.rockypondwinery.com

At the conclusion of the competition, Eric and Andy announced names of the judges who captured the most Gold and Double Gold awards from his or her list of 100 wine nominations.   It was a very pleasant surprise to hear that I had captured first place honors!  Check out details regarding all the award winning wines at www.greatnorthwestwine.com where you’ll find results from the 2015 Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition, as well as results from the 2013 and 2014 competitions.  The fall season is here in all its glory, and now is the time to stock up on all YOUR favorites!

Gems in My Glass . . . November 2014

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Great Northwest, Tasting Notes

The recent 2014 The Great Northwest Wine Invitational Wine Competition unveiled numerous Gold and Double Gold Medal winning gems.  High points of judging blind include uncovering beautifully crafted wines that may have previously been outside of one’s radar, and also discovering some great values.  Here are a few favorites that my panel of judges scored G or GG at this year’s competition:

Chateau St. Michelle NV Brut Rose; Columbia Valley, Washington:  Enticing fruity aromatics with hints of freshly baked bread are fully engaging.  Flavors of fresh strawberries, cherries, a touch of earth and citrus accents swirl on the palate.  Beautiful acidity and a lively bead persist through the finish.  SRP:  $13 www.ste-michelle.com

Chateau St. Michelle 2011 Cold Creek Merlot; Columbia Valley, Washington:  Lovely floral scents make way for delectable dark berry, cherry and tobacco spice building intensely on the palate and finishing long.  This dense, pure and marvelously structured Merlot shows both elegance and impressive depth.  SRP:  $30 www.ste-michelle.com

Seven Falls Cellars 2012 Chardonnay; Wahluke Slope, Washington:  Aged in American and French oak barrels, buttered toast and oak notes fill the nose with this plush Chardonnay.  Flavors of creamy pears and spiced apple pie notes entwine with the toasty oak saturating the palate.   Finishes clean with a nice lift.  SRP:  $15 www.sevenfallscellars.com

Ambassador Vineyard 2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon; Red Mountain, Washington:  The captivating aromas are wildly expressive, luring you into the glass. This Cab is complex and richly flavored with cassis, dark berry, tobacco spice and hints of cedar interlacing deliciously on the palate and persisting on the lengthy finish.  SRP:  $35 www.ambassadorwinery.com

Northwest Cellars 2011 Madrigal; Columbia Valley, Washington:  This blend of 62% Mourvedre, 24% Grenache, and 14% Syrah showcases fresh black and red raspberries on the nose. The berries persist through the delicious palate, joining flavors of cranberry chutney and freshly cracked black pepper spice.  The texture is silky smooth and the acids are energetic, nicely offsetting the juicy fruit.  SRP:  $24 www.northwestcellars.com

Funnel Family Cellar 2008 Lia; Columbia Valley, Washington:  Aromas of fragrant violets lift from the glass with this blend of 42% Mourvedre, 32% Grenache 18% Counoise, and 8% Syrah.  The entry is resplendent with bright fruit and dynamic acidity.   Flavors of olallieberries, blackberries and spice-accented wild berries continue to unfold deliciously in the mouth.  The tannins are refined and the finish is long-lasting.  SRP:  $36 www.bunnellfamilycellar.com

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2013 Dry Riesling; Columbia Valley, Washington:  Aromas of a fresh bouquet of white flowers fill the nose with this vivacious Dry Riesling.  Pure and refreshing from entry through the bright finish with flavors of peaches and nectarines taking center stage, laced with minerally highlights and a trace of fresh cut herbs.  SRP ~$10 www.ste-michelle.com

Walter Dacon Wines 2009 C’est Syrah Beaux; Columbia Valley, Washington:  Aromas of ripe berries and a hint of bacon fat open the door to a dense, fruit packed Syrah with powerful tannins.  Rich and intensely built with black cherries, blackberries and savory spice broadening fully on the palate through the bold finish.  SRP:  $38 www.walterdaconwines.com

Abacela Vineyards and Winery 2010 Estate Syrah; Umpqua Valley, Southern Oregon:  This elegant Syrah showcases aromas and flavors of sizzling bacon, ripe red cherries, raspberries and plums entwined with meaty notes and fresh ground multi-colored peppercorns.  It is perfectly balanced with exceptional purity and a finish lasting well beyond the last sip.  SRP:  $32 www.abacela.com

Colene Clemens Vineyards 2012 Margo Pinot Noir; Chehalem Mountains, Oregon:  Forest floor and dried cranberry aromas are reminiscent of a fine red Burgundy.  Ethereal and irresistible on the palate with layers of red raspberry, cherry, licorice and coriander spice filling the mouth.  This elegant quaff is well-defined and the finish is striking. SRP:  $36 www.coleneclemens.com

Colene Clemens Vineyards 2011 Margo Pinot Noir; Chehalem Mountains, Oregon:  Here’s woodsy, dramatic Pinot Noir showcasing red cherry, strawberry and cranberry chutney elements highlighted with hints of smoke, allspice and subtle underlying oak.  A fine vein of acidity streams across the palate through pleasing aftertaste.  SRP:  $27.20 www.coleneclemens.com

Abacela 2012 Garnacha; Umpqua Valley, Southern Oregon:  Gorgeous floral aromas draw you in, and the juicy red spice-accented raspberries, blueberries and huckleberries bursting out on the palate will keep you fully enchanted.  The texture is velvety smooth, the balance is steadfast, and the tannins are refined.  SRP:  $29 www.abacela.com

Two Vintners 2012 Stone Tree Vineyards Zinfandel; Wahluke Slope, Columbia Valley, Washington:   This high-toned Zinfandel screams out jammy fruit on the nose.   Juicy purple plums and ripe blackberries are lush and pure on the palate, melding with a generous dusting of black pepper spice, and the lively acidity keeps the wine vivacious.  SRP:  $28 www.twovintners.com

To view all the results of this well executed competition, visit www.greatnorthwestwine.com.  To further engage with this highly acclaimed wine region, plan a fall or winter adventure, and experience the scents and tastes of the Great Northwest for yourself; there is plenty to discover here!