This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.
When it comes to pure deliciousness and joy in a wine-drinking experience, Washington State wines always deliver for me.
Every time I think I have a grasp of the wines and their producers, I discover a new winemaker that wows me and keeps me wanting to learn more.
There are also plenty of value-driven bottles available, although some of these, like bulk regional blends from anywhere, can lack excitement.
Still, dollar for dollar, the quality of Washington State continues to impress.
This batch was received as trade samples and tasted blind.
2012 Columbia Winery Chardonnay - Washington, Columbia Valley
Richer nose, orange marmalade, creamy pears and honey, some floral, perfume. Plump on the palate, chunky pineapple and pears, drizzled with honey and topped with diced nuts. Bold, ripe, creamy, but some moderate acid keeps it in check. The nutty, chamomile, honey and baked bread elements show some moderate complexity. Includes some Semillon and Chenin Blanc. (85 points)
2013 Columbia Winery Chardonnay - Washington, Columbia Valley
Rich nose of oranges, baked pear, papaya, some honey and floral notes. Juicy and rich on the palate but acid keeps it balanced. Nutty and honeyed notes accent the pear, yellow apple and apricot fruit. I get a lot of crushed nuts, honeyed tea and toast elements. A creamy and bold Chardonnay with exposed oak, but still quite tasty. Includes 5% Pinot Gris and 3% “other white” grapes. (84 points)
2012 Kennedy Shah (Woodhouse Wine Estates) Riesling Reserve DuBrul Vineyard - Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
Medium gold color. Beautiful and complex nose of white peach, orange marmalade, kiwi, all drizzled with honey and some dusty soil. On the palate this wine is bright and clean, packing lots of fruit into a nervy, wiry frame. The slight sugary sweetness is matched perfectly with the brisk acid. I get lime, white peach, kiwi and papaya, throw in some honey and a whole lot of sea salt, shells and minerals. A hint of hazelnut lingering long into the finish. Complex and intriguing, but so refreshing and satisfying at the same time. (90 points)
2010 Long Shadows Wineries Chester-Kidder - Washington, Columbia Valley
Dark purple color. Deep and dark on the nose with currants, fig paste, roasted plums mixing with notes of charcoal, mocha, vanilla, some spicy, bourbon cask elements. Firm tannins on the palate, this is a bold and concentrated wine but the acid helps it out a lot. Deep currants and black cherries blend with some black olive and spiced black tea notes. Long and full, with notes of coffee and coconut on the finish. Delicious, but it could use two or three years to unwind. 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Syrah and 5% Petit Verdot. (91 points)
2010 Daríghe (Woodhouse Wine Estates) Proprietor's Blend - Washington, Columbia Valley
Dark ruby-light purple color. Lovely blueberry and tart cranberries on the nose, lots of flowers, loamy soil, rich vanilla, clove, tobacco, but so much brightness to the aromatic profile as well. Tart acid, grippy tannins, full of structure but balanced and easy to drink at the same time. Blueberry fruit, blackberries and black cherries galore, complex and interesting notes of smoke and mocha notes, vanilla and milk chocolate, but also lots of flowers and loamy elements. The acid keeps it clean and fresh. Beautiful notes of spiced tea and incense sticks, like a spice rack collapsed onto the fruit. But it’s lovely and fresh and long-lasting. Complex, thought-provoking, but perhaps most importantly, downright delicious. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, 12% Merlot, 7% Malbec and 3% Petite Verdot, aged 24 months in 75% new French oak. (92 points)
2010 Dussek Family Cellars (Woodhouse Wine Estates) Cabernet Sauvignon - Washington, Columbia Valley, Rattlesnake Hills
A dark ruby colored in the glass. Lovely nose: Rich blue fruit mixes with tart red berries, and it’s all dusted with incense sticks, lavender, rose potpourri and a deep sense of earthy complexity. Silky and elegant on the palate, sure the tannins have lots of structure but the acid is tart and the fruit is cool, creamy and so smooth. Blueberries and red berries again, but also lots of loamy soil, tobacco leaf, cocoa powder and cinnamon notes. Long and complex, you could decant this and pick out nuances all night long, or just cellar it for five. But a beauty young. Swoon. 13.8% alcohol, aged 18 months in 50% new French oak, includes 8% Cabernet Franc. (92 points)
2011 Long Shadows Wineries Saggi - Washington, Columbia Valley
Notes of sweet blackberries and currant jam mix with charcoal, dark coffee, caramel and some sweet cedar. Full on the palate, dark but tart as well with crispness from the acid and fine but structured tannins. Cranberries and red currants, some blackberries as well, add to that some graphite, pencil shavings, red pepper jelly, anise and tobacco. Big but tart, well-structured and complex, this could develop quite a bit in the cellar. 43% Sangiovese, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Syrah. (91 points)
2011 Long Shadows Wineries Syrah Sequel - Washington, Columbia Valley
Dark purple color. Smokey and bold on the nose with black currants, black cherries and blueberries, all of it dark and deep, with a bit of beef jerky and charcoal thrown in as well. Solid tannic backbone, tamed by medium acid, the wine shows some chewy aspects but it’s also quite smooth (if that makes any sense). Black currant and blueberry fruit is juicy and rich and mixed in with an interesting combination of cedar, pencil shavings, teriyaki sauce and beef jerky. Bold but showing some restraint, a good decant and this could be enjoyed now, but I’d love to cellar it for three or four years to see what those meaty, earthy tones do. Aussie icon John Duval nails it with this Columbia Valley Syrah. (92 points)
2012 Columbia Winery Cabernet Sauvignon - Washington, Columbia Valley
Bright ruby color. Smells of blackberries and blueberries, scorched earth, roasted coffee and some notes of sweet red licorice. Fresh acid and medium-strength tannins back up the blackberry and plum fruit. Notes of charcoal smoke, mocha and sweet tobacco round the wine out, and I also get some cedar shavings, chocolate chips and vanilla elements. Medium finish with notes of vanilla and toasted oak. Includes 11% Syrah, 10% Malbec and 3% Merlot. (85 points)
2012 Columbia Winery Merlot - Washington, Columbia Valley
Juicy purple color. Currants and tart blueberries on the nose with some earthy accents. Chewy on the palate with smooth tannins and a blueberry and candied cherry blend of flavors. Notes of mocha and earth. Simple, fun, a bit astringent on the finish. Includes 10% Syrah, and dashes of Cab and other varieties. (83 points)
N.V. Columbia Winery Red Blend - Washington, Columbia Valley
Smells of raspberry gummy candy, cola and smoke. Juicy, tangy and tart on the palate with darker berry fruit (plums and blackberries). I also get some roses and a hint of tobacco. Light tannins, medium acid, I need more complexity and personality from this wine though. Still, for $12, it’s not bad. A blend of Cabernet, Syrah and Merlot. (81 points)