Tasting Results: Red wines $30 and under

September 1, 2016 

Even high-end wine collectors love a bargain, and that’s what we set out to look for when we asked Pacific Northwest wineries to send us their red wines that retail for $30 or less.

Now $30 might not sound like a great bargain, but we see it as a threshold of sorts. Some wine lovers are willing to open a $30 bottle any night of the week, while others might only pop the cork (or twist the cap) on a red that is $20 or less.

For this issue of Wine Press Northwest, we asked wineries from Washington, Oregon and Idaho to send us their wines that retail for $30 or less, and we ended up with more than 300 examples, which our intrepid tasting panel worked through to discover what they liked.

To make this a little easier to navigate, we split our tasting into six categories:

Red blends: This was the largest category — by far — and included everything from traditional Bordeaux and Rhône blends to wines that had a dozen grape varieties included.

Bordeaux: These are wines labeled as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot or Carménère.

Pinot Noir: This was our only category focusing on a single grape variety.

Rhône: These are wines labeled as Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre or Petite Sirah.

Italian: These were Italian varieties, including Sangiovese, Primitivo, Barbera and Nebbiolo. We included Zinfandel in this category, as it is genetically nearly identical to Primitivo (we also realize its origins are likely from the Dalmatian Coast, which is not in Italy).

Other varieties: We ended up with a lot of wines that didn’t neatly fit into another category, including Lemberger, Tempranillo, Baco Noir and Tannat.

Our judges for this tasting included: April Reddout, wine program director for the Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center in Prosser, Wash.; Heather Unwin, wine marketing specialist and instructor at Washington State University and Walla Walla Community College; Hillary Sjolund, winemaker for Wine Boss in Richland, Wash.; Kristine Bono, tasting room manager for Goose Ridge Vineyards in Richland, Wash.; Richard Larsen, research winemaker for WSU; Brad Smith, winemaking instructor for Yakima Valley Community College; Eric Zegzula, sommelier for Budd’s Broiler in Richland; Hank Sauer, longtime member of Wine Press Northwest’s tasting panel; and Gregg McConnell, editor and publisher of Wine Press Northwest magazine.

Moderating the judging were Ken Robertson, Wine Press Northwest columnist; Eric Degerman, president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine; and Andy Perdue, editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine.

The judging took place at the Clover Island Inn in Kennewick, Wash.

To make the most of this tasting, think about your spending threshold for wines you don’t mind opening on a regular basis, then scan through the list looking for wines that fit your budget.

Here are the results.

Top Red Blends Red blends are the most popular category of wine in the Pacific Northwest, and we tasted nearly 100 of them for this under-$30 tasting. Red blends give winemakers the flexibility to see how different grapes work together. Some are traditional (using Bordeaux or Rhône varieties, for example), while others might include a dozen grape varieties from multiple regions.

Outstanding

Robert Karl Cellars 2013 Claret, Horse Heaven Hills •  $22 This Spokane winery has been earning gold medals for this wine for more than a decade, so it’s no surprise to see it at the top of our list of affordable red blends. It leads with Cabernet Sauvignon and provides aromas of clove, black pepper and black cherry, followed by big flavors of bittersweet chocolate, pomegranate and a hint of underlying earthiness. It’s all backed by fine-grained tannins that lead to a long, satisfying finish. (1,500 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Apex Cellars 2013 Catalyst Red, Columbia Valley •  $20 Apex has a history that stretches back to the 1980s and has always been associated with superb wines. This Syrah-based blend opens with focused aromas of mint, oak, plum and forest floor, followed by approachable yet complex flavors of blueberry, black olive and a creaminess on the midpalate. It provides many layers to explore. (6,500 cases; 13.7% alc.)

Seven of Hearts 2013 GSM plus C, Columbia Valley •  $25 Oregon winemaker Byron Dooley blended Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault to craft a classic Southern Rhône-style red blend. It unveils notes of sweet dried herbs, blackberry and plum on the nose, followed by luscious flavors of red and black currant and black tea. It’s all backed by firm tannins that will help it pair with grilled or roasted meats. (347 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Dunham Cellars 2014 Three Legged Red, Washington •  $19 This Cab-based blend is named for a winery dog that lost a leg in a fight. Dunham is based in Walla Walla and has long been known for crafting some of the best wines in Washington. This opens with pleasing aromas of mint, plum, vanilla and blackberry, followed by velvety flavors of Marionberry, gooey brownie and raspberry jam. It’s all backed by taut tannins and harmonious acidity for a subtle and balanced finish. (10,200 cases; 13.8% alc.)

Pondera Winery 2011 Salon Series, Horse Heaven Hills •  $30 Pondera is based in Woodinville, Wash., and led with Syrah for this luscious red blend. It opens with inviting aromas of oak, dark chocolate, ripe plum and Christmas spices, followed by flavors of dark, rich, ripe fruit. It’s all backed by firm yet pliable tannins that give way to a memorable finish. (125 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Brian Carter Cellars 2013 Abracadabra, Columbia Valley •  $24 Longtime Washington winemaker Brian Carter blended no fewer than 11 grape varieties, leading with the sturdy Malbec. The result is a complex red with aromas of dusty minerality, cocoa powder and plum, followed by big, dark, focused blackberry and ripe raspberry. Layers of spice reveal themselves on the finish, and it’s all backed by firm tannins. (1,700 cases; 13.8% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2013 D.R. Wolfe's Family Red, Columbia Valley •  $16 Wade Wolfe is one of Washington’s truly great winemakers, and he expertly blended Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Lemberger and Syrah to craft a racy and approachable red. It opens with complex notes of blackberry, vanilla and caramel, followed by flavors of blackberry pie and plum. It’s all backed by well-managed tannins that give way to a long, smooth finish. (1,066 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Spangler Vineyards 2013 Claret, Southern Oregon •  $28 Umpqua Valley winemaker Patrick Spangler put together this classic Bordeaux-style red leading with Cabernet Sauvignon. It opens with aromas of mint, black cherry and blackberry, followed by flavors of Bing cherry, shaved chocolate and dried herbs. It’s a well-balanced and well-crafted red. (245 cases; 14.4% alc.)

Jones of Washington 2012 Barrel Select Red Blend, Wahluke Slope •  $30 Young Victor Palencia crafted this blend using Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère and Syrah, and the combination works beautifully. It opens with aromas of black currant, black cherry and blueberry, followed by well-balanced flavors of ripe dark fruit. Firm tannins give this some opportunity to age or pair with grilled steak. (546 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Dunham Cellars 2013 Trutina, Columbia Valley •  $29 This blend from Dunham Cellars in Walla Walla uses equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, along with a bit of Malbec, Petit Verdot and Syrah. The resulting wine offers aromas of caramel, mint and black currant, followed by thick, dense flavors of blackberry, cola, dark chocolate and cedar. (8,300 cases; 13.8% alc.)

Convergence Zone Cellars 2013 Squall Line, Red Mountain •  $29 Scott Greenberg is the man behind this Woodinville winery. For this Bordeaux-style blend, he leans heavily on Cabernet Sauvignon, and it offers aromas of strawberry, cherry and cocoa powder, followed by flavors of cherry cola, bittersweet chocolate, blackberry and a hint of black cherry. It’s all backed by intriguing dusty tannins. (65 cases; 14% alc.)

Best Buy!
Wildhaven Winery 2014 Blazing Red, Columbia Valley •  $13 This value label for Precept Wine in Seattle leads with Cabernet Sauvignon followed by Syrah to craft this rich, dark, luscious red. It provides aromas of raspberry jam, dark chocolate and black currant, followed by gorgeous flavors of cherry cola, strawberry and black tea. Plush tannins back up all the delicious flavors. (6,000 cases; 13.8% alc.)

Lost River Winery 2013 Western Red, Columbia Valley •  $18 Winemaker John Morgan crafted this Right Bank-style blend from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. It unveils aromas of sweet herbs, red cherry and pomegranate, followed by flavors of milk chocolate and blackberry, all backed by plush, well-managed tannins. (350 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Lodmell Cellars NV Sublime, Columbia Valley •  $28 Walla Walla winemaker Kristie Lodmell led with Merlot for this Bordeaux-style blend. It offers aromas of sweet blueberry, light toffee and black tea, followed by flavors of Bing cherry, huckleberry and black currant. Rich acidity and plush tannins shape this wine into a delicious and approachable red. (228 cases; 15.2% alc.)

Coyote Canyon Winery 2011 Tres Cruces, Horse Heaven Hills •  $25 The Andrews family owns a large vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills and a winery in the Yakima Valley town of Prosser. This is a Syrah-heavy blend that provides aromas of rose petals, black pepper, cured meat and blackberry, followed by flavors of blackberry, blueberry and a bit of black licorice. It’s a wonderfully complex red wine. (454 cases; 14.3% alc.)

Bunnell Family Cellar NV Wine o'Clock Snipes Creek Redd, Columbia Valley •  $26 Winemaker Ron Bunnell owns and operates this winery in the Yakima Valley community of Prosser. This Rhône-style red provides aromas of new leather, pomegranate and toasted coconut. On the palate, it offers flavors of creamy blackberry, blueberry and plum compote with a dusting of black pepper.(198 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Best Buy!
Coyote Canyon Winery NV LOL Red Wine Fun Lot #1, Horse Heaven Hills •  $13 Winemaker Justin Michaud blended 10 grape varieties — led by Mourvèdre — to craft this delicious and affordable red. Aromas of cured meat, black pepper and blackberry lead to flavors of black currant and plum. It’s all backed by elegant tannins. (800 cases; 13.9% alc.)

D'Anu Wines NV Red Table Wine, Oregon-Washington •  $19 This Portland winery criss-crossed the Columbia River to gather the grapes for this delicious red wine. It’s an unusual blend of Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Sangiovese — but it works. Aromas of black cherry and blackberry lead to flavors of ripe dark fruit, along with black pepper and black licorice. It’s all backed by rich, juicy tannins. (100 cases; 12.7% alc.)

Saviah Cellars 2012 The Jack Reserve Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley •  $25 Owner Rich Funk makes his The Jack wines with the same style and care as his higher-priced Saviah wines, so these are tremendous opportunities. This is a big, rich, bold red that leans heavily on Cabernet Sauvignon. On the nose, it shows off aromas of vanilla, plum and slate, followed by flavors of black cherry, plum and creamy blackberry jam. It’s a beautifully balanced and approachable wine. (294 cases; 14.8% alc.)

Best Buy!
College Cellars 2014 Scholarship Red, Walla Walla Valley •  $15 Enology instructor Tim Donahue leads his students in the winemaking of this delicious and affordable blend that leads with Merlot and includes all six red Bordeaux varieties. Aromas of blackberry, caramel and vanilla lead to long, smooth flavors of blueberry and blackberry, all backed by careful tannin management. (179 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Best Buy!
Mercer Canyons 2014 Red Blend, Horse Heaven Hills •  $14 Jessica Munnell crafts this value brand for Mercer Estates in Prosser — Wine Press Northwest magazine’s Washington Winery of the Year. This affordable and delicious red provides aromas of cherry and spicy blackberry, followed by flavors of coffee, dark chocolate and ripe dark fruit. It’s all backed by firm tannins.(3,600 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Convergence Zone Cellars 2013 Virga, Red Mountain •  $29 Nearly equal parts Mourvèdre, Grenache and Syrah make up this Southern Rhône-style blend from winemaker Scott Greenberg in Woodinville. Aromas of mint, spicy oak and blackberry lead to flavors of black licorice, black currant and blackberry, all backed by assertive tannins that linger hrough the long finish.(115 cases; 14.7% alc.)

Cliff Creek Cellars 2011 Super Tuscan, Rogue Valley •  $30 Longtime Oregon winemaker Joe Dobbes — now in his 30th vintage — crafted this wine for tiny Cliff Creek in Southern Oregon. It’s a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, a style found in the world-famous Super Tuscans of Italy. This offers aromas of loganberry, strawberry and pomegranate, followed by flavors of red cherry, cranberry and strawberry. It’s all backed by bright acidity and moderate tannins. (247 cases; 14.1% alc.)

Nine Hats Cellars 2014 Red Wine, Columbia Valley •  $20 This sister project to highly regarded Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla has big fans because of its approachable prices. This is a fascinating blend that includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Mourvèdre. It opens with complex aromas of blueberry and mint, followed by flavors of dark chocolate, blueberry and mint. It’s all backed by rich tannins. (3,609 cases; 14.8% alc.)

Best Buy!
House Wine 2014 Red Blend, American •  $10 Seven grapes went into this Precept-owned wine, leading with Merlot. Aromas of black currant, dried herbs and lavender lead to flavors of sweet blueberry, Marionberry and dried cranberry. It’s an off-dry wine that is backed by delicious fruit, good structure and a medium finish. (15,000 cases; 13.1% alc.)

Excellent

Barons Winery 2012 Petit Barone, Columbia Valley •  $22 Longtime Washington winemaker Matthew Loso crafted this Merlot-leading blend for Barons, a Woodinville winery. Aromas of lavender, minerality and dark cherry lead to flavors of boysenberry, blackberry pie and a complex hint of tar. (1,002 cases; 14.1% alc.)

EFESTE 2012 Final Final, Columbia Valley •  $30 Winemaker Peter Devison leaned heavily on Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah for this delicious blend from Woodinville. Aromas of mint, cherry and spicy oak lead to flavors of black raspberry, blueberry and dark chocolate. It’s all backed by firm tannins that balance all the fruit. (2,970 cases; 14.7% alc.)

Colter's Creek Winery 2013 Arrow Rim Red GSM, Idaho •  $30 This luscious Rhône-style blend is from the recently approved Lewis-Clark Valley, an AVA that stretches across both sides of the Snake River in Idaho and Washington. This is a spicy wine with aromas of blackberry and game meats, followed by flavors of black pepper, cola, blackberry and mocha. It’s all backed by well-managed tannins. (200 cases; 14.6% alc.)

Clearwater Canyon Cellars 2014 Renaissance Red, Lewis-Clark Valley •  $23 Lewiston winemaker Coco Umiker made a mostly Bordeaux-style blend — with a bit of Syrah to add depth. The result is a wine with aromas of plum, blackberry and moist earth, followed by big, rich flavors of black currant and cola with a creamy midpalate and a smoky finish. (475 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Basel Cellars Estate Winery 2011 Claret, Columbia Valley •  $25 Walla Walla winemaker Ned Morris crafted this Cab-heavy blend in a traditional Bordeaux style. Aromas of cherry pipe tobacco, red currant and vanilla lead to juicy flavors of blueberry, black cherry and a hint of dark chocolate shavings. Firm yet pliable tannins back up the fruit in this sturdy wine. (1,551 cases; 13.6% alc.)

Robert Karl Cellars 2012 Claret, Horse Heaven Hills •  $22 Joe Gunselman is a Spokane doctor by day and winemaker by night. He leads with Cabernet Sauvignon for this blend, which is his signature red wine. Aromas of smoke, peppermint and red currant leads to flavors of sage and Bing cherry backed by bright acidity and plush tannins. The 2013 vintage of this wine topped the judging. (1,500 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Ancestry Cellars 2012 Provocant, Columbia Valley •  $25 Woodinville winemaker Justin Morin leaned heavily on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (with a touch of Petit Verdot) to produce this small-lot red blend. Aromas of dusty blueberry, dried herbs and cedar lead to smooth, elegant flavors of huckleberry, blackberry and black olive. It’s all backed by velvety tannins. (124 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Auclair Winery 2013 96 Cedars Red Wine, Red Mountain •  $26 Charlie Auclair sources from some of Red Mountain’s best vineyards for his red wines, and this Merlot-Cab blend is a great example, thanks to aromas of sweet barrel spice, blueberry taffy and ripe cherry. On the palate, elegant flavors of cocoa, minerality, cherry and pomegranate are backed by smooth, rich tannins. (312 cases; 14.6% alc.)

Stottle Winery 2013 Red, Columbia Valley •  $20 Josh Stottlemyer is the winemaker behind this Lacey, Wash., producer. His blend of five grape varieties leads with Cabernet Sauvignon, leading to aromas of toasted oak, vanilla and blackberry. On the palate, this reveals flavors of cola and plum backed by supple tannins that lead to a lengthy finish. (206 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Rain Shadow Cellars 2014 Leeward, Columbia Valley •  $18 Tiny Coupeville, Wash., is on Whidbey Island. In addition to being able to catch a ferry to Port Townsend, now you can visit this new winery. This is a Bordeaux-style blend that leads with Cabernet Sauvignon and unveils aromas of caramel, black cherry and oak, followed by bright, delicious flavors of spicy red and dark fruit backed by good acidity and mild tannins. (900 cases; 14.5% alc.)

FairWinds Winery 2009 Cab-Merlot, Yakima Valley •  $25 Tucked on a backroad in the Olympic Peninsula town of Port Townsend is Micheal Cavett and FairWinds Winery. This delicious Bordeaux-style blend comes with some beautiful bottle age, which gives it fascinating complexity. Aromas of roasted coffee, cherry and dark chocolate lead to flavors of strawberry-rhubarb compote and red currant. It’s all backed by juicy acidity and resolved tannins. (105 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Best Buy!
Nicola's Redmark 2013 Red, Columbia Valley •  $14 This value-minded label is from Claar Cellars north of Pasco, Wash. Winemaker Joe Hudon blended six grape varieties — leading with Cabernet Sauvignon — to craft a wine with aromas of ripe strawberry, herbal tea and cocoa powder and round, plush flavors of black cherry and ripe plum. (280 cases; 13.7% alc.)

College Cellars 2014 President's Blend, Walla Walla Valley •  $25 Winemaker Tim Donahue and his students created this blend using all six red Bordeaux grapes. It opens with aromas of mint, blueberry and cherry pipe tobacco, followed by elegant flavors of black currant, blackberry and crushed dried herbs. Approachable, chocolaty tannins give this a memorable farewell. (50 cases; 14.6% alc.)

SuLei Cellars 2013 Roller Girl Jammer Red, Walla Walla County •  $18 This Merlot-based blend supports the Walla Walla Sweets roller derby team, for whom co-owner Elaine Jomwe once skated. This is a delicious red with aromas and flavors of red cherry, pomegranate and dark chocolate, all backed by hard-hitting tannins. (13.9% alc.)

Nelms Road 2015 Red Wine, Washington •  $25 Nelms Road is the second label for Walla Walla’s Woodward Canyon Winery. Winemaker Kevin Mott utilizes high-quality grapes from younger vines for this sturdy Merlot-based blend. Aromas of cola, black currant and floral notes give way to flavors of Van cherry and pomegranate. It’s all backed by bright acidity and sturdy tannins. (1,152 cases; 14.4% alc.)

Best Buy!
Indian Creek Winery 2014 Star Garnet, Snake River Valley •  $14 This popular Merlot-leading blend comes from one of Idaho’s oldest and most respected producers. Aromas of pipe tobacco, spice and huckleberry lead to flavors of cherry cola, blackberry pie and cedar. It’s all backed by round, approachable tannins. (800 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Eternal Wines 2014 Rocket Man Red, Columbia Valley •  $25 Brad Binko, a 2016 Walla Walla Community College wine program graduate, already is making his mark with this Walla Walla airport winery. This Merlot-based blend won a gold medal at the 2016 Walla Walla Valley Wine Competition and scored well in this competition, too. Aromas of white chocolate, sweet tomato and lavender give way to flavors of black currant, blackberry and Bing cherry. It’s all backed by juicy acidity and mild tannins. (42 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Best Buy!
Wildhaven Winery 2014 Untamed Wild Red, Columbia Valley •  $15 Hal Landvoigt handles winemaking for this Precept Wine brand. He leads with Merlot and Syrah to craft a red with aromas of blueberry taffy, cinnamon toast and white pepper, followed by flavors of blueberry and light vanilla cream. (2,400 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Pondera Winery 2013 Vintners Reserve Cuvée, Columbia Valley •  $26 Winemaker Shane Howard produced this Bordeaux-style blend using grapes primarily from acclaimed Stillwater Creek Vineyard in Washington’s Frenchman Hills. The result is a delicious red with aromas of cherry, tar and oregano, followed by flavors of huckleberry, Earl Grey tea and Bing cherry. It’s all wrapped within firm tannins. (334 cases; 14.7% alc.)

Pondera Winery 2012 Cuvée, Columbia Valley •  $19 This Woodinville winery has crafted a delicious and affordable Right Bank red blend with aromas of mocha, cedar, plum and boysenberry. On the palate, this is a delicious and plush wine loaded with flavors of dark fruit, complex spices and a hint of dark chocolate. It’s all backed by approachable tannins. (310 cases; 14.3% alc.)

Hamilton Cellars 2009 Lowell Lee Tribute Red, Columbia Valley •  $28 This Cabernet Sauvignon-leading blend pays tribute to the fathers of Stacie and Russ Hamilton, both of whom served in the U.S. military. Aromas of spicy oak, caramel and warm red fruit lead to plush flavors of blueberry, black tea and dark chocolate. (283 cases; 15.14% alc.)

Best Buy!
Maryhill Winery 2013 Winemaker's Red, Columbia Valley •  $15 This is — by far — Maryhill winemaker Richard Batchelor’s largest-production wine, and it has gained acclaim around the globe not only for its price but also for its quality. This example reveals aromas of coffee, plum and spice, followed by flavors of black cherry, blueberry and black pepper. (46,125 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Elevation Cellars 2011 Jammin', Red Mountain •  $20 Woodinville winemaker Steven Stuart crafted this classic Bordeaux-style red with a heavy reliance upon Cabernet Sauvignon. It provides aromas of sweet dried plum, toast and fig, followed by big, mouth-filling flavors of pomegranate, plum and cola. It’s a big, plush wine that will be perfect with grilled or roasted meats. (350 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Kitzke Cellars 2012 Janaina Sensacio, Columbia Valley •  $24 This Italian-inspired red blend leads with Cabernet Sauvignon but also includes big doses of Sangiovese and Nebbiolo. Complex aromas of barbecue sauce, sweet red bell pepper and strawberry lead to flavors of pomegranate, red currant and mint. It’s all backed by medium tannins and bright acidity.(193 cases; 15.1% alc.)

Skylite Cellars 2012 Soireé, Columbia Valley •  $25 Walla Walla Valley winemaker Greg Matiko leads with Cabernet Sauvignon to produce this suave red. Aromas of plum, cedar and espresso lead to flavors of supple black fruit backed by velvety tannins and great length. Enjoy with pork chops. (300 cases; 13.8% alc.)

L'Ecole No 41 2014 Frenchtown, Columbia Valley •  $23 Owner Marty Clubb and his winemaking team crafted this red blend leading with Merlot. It offers aromas of mint, spice and blackberry, followed by flavors of blueberry, blackberry and a hint of cocoa powder. It’s all backed by rich tannins for a long finish. (5,000 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Convergence Zone Cellars 2013 Storm Front, Red Mountain •  $26 Woodinville winemaker Scott Greenberg used four Bordeaux varieties for this tasty red blend. It opens with aromas that remind us of strolling through a North African spice market, as well as Bing cherry and cocoa powder. On the palate, it’s beautifully balanced between the rich dark fruit, bright acidity and firm tannins. (185 cases; 14.1% alc.)

Saviah Cellars 2014 The Jack Red Wine, Columbia Valley •  $18 This Merlot-heavy red from Walla Walla Valley winemaker Rich Funk is a delicious wine at a nice price. Aromas of black fruit, black licorice and chocolate lead to flavors of cherry, plum and huckleberry. It’s all backed by balanced tannins. (4,165 cases; 14.7% alc.)

Harbinger Winery NV Dynamo Red, Columbia Valley •  $16 Sara Gagnon owns the northwestern-most winery in the contiguous United States, as she is along Highway 101 just west of Port Angeles. She leads with Syrah in this delicious blend, and it is in full evidence, thanks to aromas and flavors of ripe dark fruit, fresh-out-of-the-oven brownies and a plush midpalate. It’s a big wine that will pair well with grilled meats or roasts. (350 cases; 13.8% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2013 The Spaniard, Columbia Valley •  $20 Longtime Washington winemaker Wade Wolfe blended Grenache, Tempranillo and Syrah for this delicious red. Aromas of pomegranate, red currant and rose petal, followed by elegant flavors of black currant and ripe raspberry. Chocolaty tannins give this a graceful and memorable farewell. (250 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Lake Chelan Winery NV Stormy Mountain Red, Columbia Valley •  $24 Pinot Noir is an unusual blending grape, but winemaker Oscar Castillo makes it work, pairing the finicky red with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The result is a complex red with aromas and flavors of raspberry, mushroom, forest floor and black cherry. It’s all backed by firm yet juicy tannins. (1,500 cases; 13.7% alc.)

Helix by Reininger 2013 Pomatia, Columbia Valley •  $21 Veteran Walla Walla winemaker Chuck Reininger works with Columbia Valley grapes for his Helix label, and this blend focuses on Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It’s a delicious combination with alluring aromas of blackberry jam on toast, spice and a hint of oak, followed by flavors of roasted coffee, ripe plum and molasses. It’s a big, rich wine with balanced tannins. (1,550 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Best Buy!
Indian Creek Winery 2012 Star Garnet, Snake River Valley •  $14 This nicely priced Bordeaux-style blend from winemaker Mike McClure is delicious and complex. Aromas of black currant, minerality and black olive are followed by big, rich flavors of espresso, ripe plum and black cherry. Moderate tannins provide all the needed structure for this everyday red. (450 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Best Buy!
Kelso NV Red Table Wine, Columbia Valley •  $10 Claar Cellars winemaker Joe Hudon blended seven grape varieties — leading with Merlot — for this delicious and nicely priced red blend. Aromas of blackberry, purple lavender and black pepper give way to flavors of blackberry, pomegranate and sage. Its mild tannins give this youthful approachability. (840 cases; 13.7% alc.)

Latah Creek Wine Cellars NV Monarch Red, Columbia Valley •  $20 This longtime Spokane winery is led by the father-daughter winemaking team of Mike Conway and Natalie Conway-Barnes. They started with Merlot for this delicious blend that opens with aromas of Marionberry and cherry tomato, followed by flavors of red currant, blueberry and pie cherry. Lingering acidity and firm tannins give this all necessary structure. (682 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Tsillan Cellars 2013 Estate Bellissima Rossa, Lake Chelan •  $28 Longtime winemaker Shane Collins starts with Syrah in this blend, then adds four other grape varieties. The resulting wine is loaded with aromas of plum, spice, blackberry and chocolate, followed by round, plush flavors of ripe dark fruit backed by velvety tannins. (537 cases; 14.8% alc.)

Barili Cellars 2013 Double Barrel Red, Columbia Valley •  $20 Based in Spokane, Barili is led by winemakers Russ Feist and Gary Hustad. This Syrah-based blend offers aromas of oak, plum and cocoa powder, followed by flavors of ripe blackberry and dark chocolate. A bold midpalate is backed by approachable tannins for a memorable finish. (100 cases; 14% alc.)

Harbinger Winery 2011 El Jefé, Rattlesnake Hills •  $27 Winemaker Sara Gagnon’s take on the classic Southern Rhône blend is heavy on Syrah. It opens with notes of blackberry, plum and cured meats, followed by rich flavors of blueberry, blackberry, black olive and black tea. The firm tannins are kept in check by the abundant fruit in the finish. (193 cases; 14%% alc.)

Westport Winery 2013 Jetty Cat, Columbia Valley •  $29 Coastal winemaker Dana Roberts led with Cabernet Franc in this delicious New World blend. Aromas of purple and blue fruits meld with notes of dried salami and give way to bold, rich and focused flavors of plum and blueberry. (420 cases; 14.6% alc.)

Hamilton Cellars 2009 Bona Vita, Columbia Valley •  $28 This Red Mountain winery focuses on Malbec, and this blend leads with the grape most closely associated with Argentina. This red from winemaker Charlie Hoppes opens with aromas of black cherry, black pepper and crushed dried herbs, followed by flavors of rich dark fruit and dark chocolate. (380 cases; 14.8% alc.)

H/H Estates 2010 Michael Andrews Red, Horse Heaven Hills •  $25 This Spanish-inspired blend includes Tempranillo and Garnacha (the Spanish version of Grenache), and winemaker John Gabriel relied on estate grapes from Coyote Canyon Vineyard. Aromas of smoke, cherry and cured meats lead to flavors of blackberry and cherry backed by big tannins. (432 cases; 14.3% alc.)

Colter's Creek Winery 2013 Koos Koos Kia, Idaho •  $22 Lewis-Clark Valley winemaker Melissa Sanborn crafted this delicious red from Bordeaux varieties and leads with Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of blackberry, black cherry and mint lead to flavors of black tea, dark chocolate and blackberry. It’s all backed by well-managed tannins. (370 cases; 13.7% alc.)

Best Buy!
Three Rivers Winery 2014 River's Red, Columbia Valley •  $14 Longtime winemaker Holly Turner blended six grapes, leading with Cabernet Sauvignon, for this affordable red blend. Aromas of oak, black currant and cola lead to bold, luscious flavors of ripe plum, blueberry and dark chocolate. Richly structured tannins prop up the fruit throughout. (3,655 cases; 13.8% alc.)

Two Mountain Winery NV Hidden Horse Red Blend No. 13, Rattlesnake Hills •  $18 Winemaker Matt Rawn uses estate grapes for this nonvintage blend, leading with Cabernet Sauvignon. It opens with aromas of dusty cherry and pipe tobacco, followed by flavors of plum and dark chocolate. Firm tannins and lingering acidity provide all the necessary structure. (2,985 cases; 13.7% alc.)

Seven of Heart 2013 Tradition, Columbia Valley •  $25 Byron Dooley owns and operates this Carlton, Ore., winery, and he led with Merlot for this superb red blend. Aromas of cedar smoke, cherry tobacco and raspberry lead to flavors of red currant, raspberry and cranberry. It’s reminiscent of a delicious, well-made Bordeaux. (273 cases; 14.1% alc.)

Blooms Winery 2013 Chamant, Rattlesnake Hills •  $22 Whidbey Island winemaker Ken Bloom crafted this Syrah-based blend using grapes from the warm Rattlesnake Hills. It is filled with aromas and flavors of mint, blackberry, plum and boysenberry. It’s all backed by bright acidity and plush tannins. Enjoy this with braised meats or spaghetti and meatballs. (130 cases; 14% alc.)

Northwest Cellars 2013 Serenade, Columbia Valley •  $19 Kirkland, Wash., vintner Bob Delf and winemaker Robert Smasne combined forces to craft this delicious Merlot-based red. This opens with aromas of spicy oak, blackberry and a hint of cherry, followed by flavors that lean toward red fruit, including cherry and raspberry. It’s all backed by nicely balanced tannins. (2,744 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Blooms Winery 2012 Melange, Washington •  $28 Here’s a fascinating blend from winemaker Ken Bloom, a wine that is 50% Merlot and even splits of Petit Verdot and Malbec. The resulting wine offers aromas and flavors of clove, allspice, cherry, Marionberry and pomegranate. It’s a complex wine with beautiful balance through the lengthy finish. (96 cases; 14% alc.)

The Conqueror 2012 Red Blend, Horse Heaven Hills •  $30 Seattle-based Precept Wine continues to create labels that fill various marketplace niches. This Syrah-based red blend opens with aromas of oak, black truffle, plum and fresh-baked brownie, followed by plush flavors of blackberry, plum, espresso and vanilla. It’s richly structured through the lengthy finish. (500 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Coyote Canyon Winery 2012 Tres Cruces, Horse Heaven Hills •  $20 This Southern Rhône-style red is nearly even parts Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, and it makes for a delicious wine. Classic aromas of black pepper, blackberry and blueberry give way to flavors of plum, black currant and boysenberry, all backed by richly structured tannins. (295 cases; 14.8% alc.)

Abacela NV Vintner's Blend #16, Umpqua Valley •  $18 Southern Oregon winemaker Andrew Wenzl led with Tempranillo — what else might we expect from the kings of Northwest Tempranillo? — for this delicious red. Aromas of cherry, caramel and spice jump out of the glass. On the palate, it’s a big wine with flavors of red cherry and ripe strawberry. Drink now or enjoy for at least the next half-decade. (2,486 cases; 13.7% alc.)

Dumas Station 2013 Cow Catcher Red, Walla Walla Valley •  $24 Winemaker Jay DeWitt makes the wine for this producer in tiny Dayton, Wash., a community north of Walla Walla. Nearly half of this blend is Cabernet Sauvignon, and it shows off aromas and flavors of blackstrap molasses, blackberry and dark chocolate. Its big, bold fruit balances out the round, plush tannins. (650 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Gård Vintners 2014 Lawrence Vineyard Don Isidro, Columbia Valley •  $22 Winemaker Aryn Morell has come to love the grapes grown in the Frenchman Hills area of Washington’s Columbia Valley, and it shows with this Cab-based blend. Aromas of cocoa powder, black cherry and mint lead to rich flavors of plum, blackberry and dark chocolate. (1,104 cases; 14.7% alc.)

Best Buy!
O•S Winery 2014 Red, Columbia Valley •  $15 This south Seattle winery uses grapes from Sheridan Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills and leads with Merlot for this affordable red. Aromas of black fruit and oak lead to flavors of blackberry and blueberry, all backed with minerally tannins. This is a delicious wine to enjoy any night of the week. (1,250 cases; 14.4% alc.)

Recommended

Muret-Gaston NV Red Blend, Red Mountain $28 This blend of Bordeaux and Rhône red grapes that opens with aromas of mint and blackberry, followed by flavors of blueberry, black currant and dark chocolate. It’s all backed by rich tannins through the lengthy finish. (824 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Yakima Valley Vintners 2012 Campus Blend, Columbia Valley •  $16 The students at Yakima Valley Community College crafted this blend that is a 50-50 blend of Syrah and Merlot. It shows off aromas and flavors of blackberry, toasted oak and maple syrup, all backed by rich, plush tannins. (47 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Tsillan Cellars 2013 Estate Sinistra, Lake Chelan •  $28 It’s fitting that this red blend leads with two Italian grapes: Barbera and Sangiovese, since Tsillan looks like a Tuscan hill town. Aromas and flavors of red currant, raspberry and pomegranate are backed by bright acidity and smooth tannins. It’s a delicious wine to enjoy with braised meats. (406 cases; 14% alc.)

Best Buy!
Claar Cellars 2013 Cabernet-Merlot, Columbia Valley •  $15 Joe Hudon runs the cellar at this longtime winery that overlooks the Columbia River. Aromas and flavors of black tea, cedar and blackberry are backed by bright acidity and supple tannins. This is a great wine to enjoy with pizza. (756 cases; 13.8% alc.)

Best Buy!
Waterbrook 2014 Melange Founder's Red Blend, Columbia Valley •  $13 While this red blend includes eight varieties, Merlot makes up nearly half of it. Aromas and flavors of red peppercorns, Bing cherry, lavender and Saskatoon berry are backed up by firm tannins and juicy acidity. (11,865 cases; 14.4% alc.)

Best Buy!
Indian Creek Winery 2013 Star Garnet, Snake River Valley •  $14 This Cab-based wine from Southern Idaho’s Snake River Valley is delicious and affordable. It provides aromas and flavors of sweet cherry, dark plum and bittersweet chocolate. It’s all backed by nicely managed tannins. (450 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Dumas Station 2014 Cow Catcher Red, Walla Walla Valley •  $24 This young red wine emphasizes Merlot and Cab, offering aromas and flavors of black pepper, spice and blackberry. A classy finish with dark chocolate unveils moderate tannins and firm acidity. (690 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Best Buy!
Valley View Winery NV Rogue Red, Applegate Valley •  $10 This longtime winery near the California border has been producing top wines for more than three decades. This delicious red blend offers aromas and flavors of dusty cherry, sweet herbs and a fascinating hint of cinnamon. (5,000 cases; 12.5% alc.)

Hells Canyon Winery 2011 Seven Devils Red, Snake River Valley •  $22 Steve Robertson has been crafting wines in the Snake River Valley for more than 30 years, and this Bordeaux-style red is a delicious example, thanks to aromas and flavors of sage, blackberry and plum, all backed by luscious tannins. (220 cases; 13.2% alc.)

Mercer Estates 2013 Sharp Sisters, Horse Heaven Hills •  $19 Winemaker Jessica Munnell led with Merlot for this Bordeaux-style red from estate grapes. Aromas and flavors of blackberry, spice and creamy milk chocolate are backed by nicely managed tannins. (2,635 cases; 14.1% alc.)

Welcome Road Winery 2012 Roadtrip Red, Yakima Valley •  $28 This Seattle winery blended equal parts Cabernet Franc and Malbec to craft this delicious red blend. Aromas of mint and strawberry lead to flavors of red cherry and raspberry. It’s all backed by juicy acidity. (150 cases; 13.4% alc.)

Skylite Cellars 2013 Soirée, Walla Walla Valley •  $24 This Malbec-leading red blend uses Walla Walla grapes and provides aromas of toasty oak, ripe plum and black currant, followed by bold flavors of blackberry and black cherry. It’s all backed by richly structured tannins. (800 cases; 13.8% alc.)

Best Buy!
Ste. Chapelle Winery NV Chateau Series Soft Red Blend, Idaho •  $9 If you’re looking for an semi-sweet red, this popular Cab-heavy blend is a delicious example, thanks to aromas and flavors of Christmas spices, huckleberry and plum. (9,400 cases; 11.7% alc.)

Westport Winery 2014 Smoky Nor'wester, Columbia Valley •  $28 This Merlot-based blend provides aromas and flavors of cigar leaf, Western serviceberry and juicy blueberry. It’s an easy-drinking, crowd-pleasing red blend from a Washington coast winery. (402 cases; 15.3% alc.)

Westport Winery NV Skookumchuck, Columbia Valley •  $28 This medium-sweet red wine leads with Merlot but also includes Riesling. The result is a blend with aromas and flavors of strawberry-watermelon candy, jasmine and cherry. It’s a pleasant sipper. (337 cases; 13% alc.)

Hells Canyon Winery 2011 Tartan Red, Snake River Valley •  $25 Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc make up the majority of this red blend from Idaho’s Snake River Valley. Aromas and flavors of dusty minerality, blueberry and chocolate are backed by elegant tannins. (158 cases; 13.2% alc.)

Bordeaux For this category, we included any wine labeled as one of the six red Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carménère. Bordeaux-style blends, however, went into the “Blend” category.

Outstanding

Westport Winery 2013 Mermaid Merlot, Columbia Valley •  $28 Coastal winemaker Dana Roberts is coming into his own, thanks in part to working with some of the best grapes in the state. This delicious Merlot opens with aromas of black licorice, ripe strawberry, Bing cherry and vanilla. On the palate, it offers up flavors of black cherry, black tea and blackberry, all supported by a smooth midpalate and moderate tannins. Enjoy this wine with grilled meats or lasagna. (122 cases; 12.7% alc.)

Gård Vintners 2013 Lawrence Vineyards Malbec, Columbia Valley •  $30 Winemaker Aryn Morell used grapes from the fascinating Frenchman Hills area near the town of Royal City, Wash., for this superb Malbec. It opens with hints of sweet spice, ripe summer blackberry and a hint of oak, followed by flavors of black currant, blueberry and smoke, with spice lingering in the finish. It’s a truly luscious drink. (270 cases; 13.7% alc.)

Indian Creek Winery 2013 My Best Friend Malbec, Snake River Valley •  $22 Mike McClure learned winemaking from his father-in-law, Bill Stowe, who founded this Nampa, Idaho, winery in 1982. This delicious and affordable Malbec provides aromas of fresh dill, blackberry and moist earthiness, followed by flavors of loganberry, blackberry pie and dark chocolate. It unveils a rich, round mouth feel and a lingering finish. (150 cases; 13% alc.)

Wildhaven Winery 2014 Reserve Merlot, Horse Heaven Hills •  $20 Here’s another delicious red from the team at Precept Wine in Seattle. Winemaker Hal Landvoigt crafted this beauty using grapes from the remote Horse Heaven Hills, and the resulting wine opens with aromas of sweet dark fruit compote and hints of oak, followed by flavors of ripe plum, blackberry and dark chocolate. It all ends with a long, juicy finish. (1,200 cases; 14.8% alc.)

Westport Winery 2014 Charterboat Chick Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills •  $28 This little winery near the rugged Washington coast is showing its prowess with Bordeaux varieties, landing two amid our top five Bordeaux wines in this judging. Aromas of coffee, roasted meat, violet and black currant give way to flavors of blackberry, cedar and black pepper. A rich mouth feel leads to a lengthy and elegant finish. (196 cases; 14% alc.)

Maryhill Winery 2013 Merlot, Columbia Valley •  $22 Winemaker Richard Batchelor leads our 2015 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year with another delicious Merlot. This opens with aromas of blueberry jam on toast, notes of coffee and Marionberry. A tip of the glass brings flavors of mint, coffee, pomegranate and coffee. Delectable acidity and bright tannins lift the fruit throughout. (1,063 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Best Buy!
Sagelands Vineyard 2014 Merlot, Columbia Valley •  $10 Now owned by Precept Wine, this longtime Washington winery has been known for producing delicious wines at affordable prices. This value-minded Merlot opens with aromas of black cherry, pomegranate and vanilla, followed by flavors of rich red fruit backed by nicely integrated oak and powerful tannins. (3,404 cases; 13.98% alc.)

Page Cellars 2011 Cabernet Franc, Red Mountain •  $29 Woodinville winemaker James Page loves Red Mountain fruit, and it shows in our top-rated Cabernet Franc. Aromas of blackberry cobbler, mint and rose petals lead to flavors of Marionberry and underlying dried herbs. This is more restrained in style, almost Old World. And that provides superb balance and the potential for cellaring for five years or more. (240 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Zhoo Zhoo 2014 Merlot, Snake River Valley •  $19 This is a playful second label for Hells Canyon Winery in the Sunnyslope Wine District of Idaho’s Snake River Valley. This Merlot opens with complex aromas of spice, cedar and blueberry, followed by bold flavors of vanilla, blackberry and black tea. It’s a rich, chewy wine with well-managed tannins and plenty of length. (130 cases; 14% alc.)

Saviah Cellars 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley •  $30 Richard Funk is a quiet, understated guy who goes about his business making some of the best wines in Washington. This big Cab is laden with aromas of black cherry, vanilla and mint, followed by flavors of blueberry, black currant and oak. Velvety tannins back up all the fruit, and the finish is long and memorable. (1,020 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Convergence Zone Cellars 2013 Downburst Cabernet Franc, Red Mountain •  $26 Owner/winemaker Scott Greenberg pulled in grapes from some of Red Mountain’s best vineyards, including Heart of the Hill, Shaw and Scooteney Flats. The result is a complex red with aromas of strawberry, black cherry and spice, followed by approachable flavors of cherry vanilla cola, raspberry freezer jam and plum. The modest tannins make it approachable in its youth. (65 cases; 14.4% alc.)

Viscon Cellars 2012 Unforeseen, Yakima Valley •  $24 Ben Viscon runs this small winery in West Seattle, north of the Fauntleroy ferry dock. This is a Cabernet Franc that is a classic from first whiff through the complex finish. Aromas of violet, rose petal and Earl Grey tea lead to lively flavors of cedar, raspberry and black cherry. This wine emphasizes elegance over power. (125 cases; 13.2% alc.)

College Cellars 2014 Malbec, Walla Walla Valley •  $20 Tim Donahue and his students produce a lot of different wines at Walla Walla Community College, and this luscious Malbec comes from Stan Clarke Vineyard. It’s a plush red with aromas of ripe blueberry and late summer blackberry. On the palate, flavors of blueberry, black pepper and spice are backed by chocolaty tannins. (49 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Gordon Estate 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $21 This longtime Washington winery is on a bluff overlooking the Snake River near Ice Harbor Dam. This wine uses estate grapes and offers aromas of toast, kitchen spices, dark plum and black pepper. On the palate, it’s a rich, focused red with flavors of blackberry, vanilla, pie spices and molasses. Bold tannins provide ample structure throughout. (2,500 cases; 13.7% alc.)

Kitzke Cellars 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $30 This up-and-coming winery in Richland, Wash., has Charlie Hoppes and his team at Wine Boss crafting its wine. This Cab uses estate grapes grown on Candy Mountain and opens with complex aromas of blackberry, slate and black pepper. On the palate, it’s a rich, broad wine with flavors of cola, plum, molasses and boysenberry. It’s beautifully balanced with pretty fruit. (196 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2013 Upland Vineyard Conglomerate Cabernet Sauvignon, Snipes Mountain •  $30 Since the 1970s, Wade Wolfe has been an intricate part of the Washington wine scene, and he loves the grapes he gets from historic Upland Vineyard on Snipes Mountain near the Yakima Valley town of Sunnyside. This reveals aromas of subtle dark fruit, cocoa powder, dried herbs and spice, followed by round, fleshy flavors of plum, mint and smoke. Everything here is in harmony. (25 cases; 14.5% alc.)

College Cellars 2014 Clarke Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley •  $25 Stan Clarke was a legend in the Washington wine industry as a winemaker, a grape grower, a writer and a teacher. His last job before he died in 2007 was leading the next generation of winemakers at Walla Walla Community College. This Cab from his namesake vineyard provides aromas of dark-roasted coffee, caramel, plum and cola, followed by flavors of maple syrup, black currant and vanilla. It’s all backed by bright acidity and approachable tannins. (154 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Best Buy!
House Wine 2015 Dark Cabernet Sauvignon, American •  $10 The famous Charles Smith launched this popular label many years ago, then sold the brand to Seattle-based Precept Wine. Here is a big, dark Cab that is priced for everyday enjoyment. Aromas of black licorice, espresso and plum give way to flavors of blackberry jam, cola and floral notes. Juicy acidity and modest tannins give this plenty of delicious length. (3,000 cases; 13.3% alc.)

Lake Chelan Winery 2013 Malbec, Columbia Valley •  $28 Blending grapes from Lake Chelan and the Yakima Valley, winemaker Oscar Castillo has crafted a superb Malbec. It opens with aromas of crushed leaf, blackberry and spice, followed by elegant yet powerful flavors of blueberry, dark plum and blackberry. Bright acidity and sturdy tannins provide ample backbone. Pair with grilled meats. (397 cases; 13.6% alc.)

Hamilton Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $28 This well-aged Cab uses grapes from three top vineyards: Stillwater, Gamache and Discovery, and the result is a sensual and rewarding red wine. Aromas of lavender, chai spices and huckleberry lead to flavors of black currant, black olive and dark chocolate. The rich midpalate gives way to a beautifully structured finish. (286 cases; 14.9% alc.)

Excellent

Best Buy!
Mercer Canyons 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills •  $14 Here is a nicely priced Cabernet Sauvignon from our 2016 Washington Winery of the Year. This uses estate grapes in the remote Horse Heaven Hills. Aromas of cherry pipe tobacco, spice and huckleberry lead to flavors of black currant, vanilla and dark chocolate. It’s a plush, round wine with a juicy finish. (4,029 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2013 Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills •  $30 Longtime Washington winemaker Wade Wolfe used grapes from acclaimed McKinley Springs Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills to craft this marvelous Malbec. Aromas of caramel, blackberry and oak give way to flavors of black olive, boysenberry and mint. A creamy midpalate leads to a bright finish with modest tannins. (50 cases; 14.5% alc.)

L'Ecole No 41 2013 Merlot, Columbia Valley •  $28 Mike Sharon has been the winemaker at this longtime Walla Walla Valley producer for the past decade. This delicious Merlot opens with aromas of white pepper and ripe berry, followed by flavors of strawberry jam, blueberry and pomegranate, all backed by bright acidity and sturdy tannins. (4,800 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Best Buy!
Canoe Ridge Vineyard 2014 The Expedition Merlot, Horse Heaven Hills •  $15 This historic Walla Walla winery uses estate grapes in the Horse Heaven Hills to craft a delicious and affordable Merlot. It’s a classic with aromas of red cherry, plum and mild oak, followed by flavors of dark chocolate, blackberry and purple plum. Sturdy tannins give this ample structure and plenty of length. (7,500 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Indian Creek Winery 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Snake River Valley •  $16 Bill Stowe has operated his winery near the town of Nampa, Idaho, for nearly 35 years. This rich and affordable Cab provides aromas of dusty oak, cocoa powder and plum, followed by rich, dark, focused flavors of plum and boysenberry. (400 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Best Buy!
Ross Andrew Winery 2014 Huntsman Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $15 Winemaker Ross Mickel worked at such luminaries as Betz and DeLille before launching his eponymous winery in Woodinville. He’s since relocated to Walla Walla, where he crafts delicious and affordable wines. This unveils aromas of dusty raspberry and red currant, followed by flavors of cherry, raspberry and a hint of oak backed by richly structured tannins. (4,000 cases; 13.8% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2013 Petit Verdot, Horse Heaven Hills •  $30 We do not see a lot of Petit Verdots as stand alone wines, so this is a great example to try. It opens with aromas of pipe tobacco, black currant and hints of tar, followed by opulent flavors of blueberry and huckleberry. Juicy acidity and sturdy tannins give this structure and elegance. (26 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Maryhill Winery 2013 Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley •  $22 This Goldendale, Wash., winery has been crafting Cabernet Franc for many years, and this is another delicious example. Aromas of cherry, vanilla and dark plum lead to flavors of strawberry-rhubarb pie and black currant. Its juicy, fruit-forward structure gives it a silky feel through the lengthy finish.(854 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Harbinger Winery 2012 Malbec, Wahluke Slope •  $26 Olympic Peninsula winemaker Sara Gagnon loves grapes from the warm Wahluke Slope, and this Malbec is a delicious example. Aromas of spice, black pepper and blackberry are backed by flavors of blueberry, Marionberry and a dash of black pepper in the finish. It’s a pleasing, complex wine with firm acidity and a long finish. (237 cases; 14% alc.)

Wilridge Winery 2013 Angiolina Vineyard Malbec, Yakima Valley •  $20 Seattle attorney Paul Beveridge has moved much of his winemaking operation to the Naches Heights near Yakima and crafted this vineyard-designated Malbec from the Yakima Valley. It opens with aromas of blackberry, black cherry and hints of oak, followed by rich flavors of dark fruit, particularly boysenberry. (13.4% alc.)

Tsillan Cellars 2013 Estate Malbec, Lake Chelan •  $29 Shane Collins shows his winemaking versatility on the south shore of Lake Chelan with this delicious Malbec. It opens with aromas of vanilla, spice, coffee and blackberry, which lead to flavors of ripe plum and black pepper. Rich acidity and smooth tannins lead to a lengthy and elegant finish. (220 cases; 14.6% alc.)

Forgeron Cellars 2012 Merlot, Columbia Valley •  $30 French-born and -trained winemaker Marie-Eve Gilla came to Washington nearly a quarter-century ago and has been producing delicious and graceful wines since. This opulent red opens with aromas of spicy oak, dark cherry, blueberry and pencil shavings, followed by flavors of Marionberry, vanilla and blueberry. Beautifully managed tannins lead to an elegant finish.(626 cases; 14.3% alc.)

Indian Creek Winery 2014 Merlot, Snake River Valley •  $16 Merlot has long been a solid grape variety for the high-elevation vineyards of the Snake River Valley. This is a delicious example, thanks to aromas of cherry Hostess Pie, vanilla and raspberry jam, followed by flavors of bold, bright red fruit. The bright acidity and balanced tannins are everything we would expect from winemaker Mike McClure, who trained with his father-in-law.(400 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Silvan Ridge Winery 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Rogue Valley •  $28 Silvan Ridge is one of Oregon’s oldest wineries, with operations dating back to the 1970s. It reached into Southern Oregon for this wine, which provides aromas of chocolate-covered pomegranate, slate and dark plum, followed by flavors of elderberry, Saskatoon berry and Bing cherry. It’s all backed by approachable tannins. (300 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Jones of Washington 2013 Carménère, Wahluke Slope •  $30 Carménère is the rarest of red Bordeaux varieties and has only been grown in Washington for about 20 years. This example from the arid Wahluke Slope provides classic aromas of dried herbs, spice, blackberry and vanilla, followed by smoky flavors of mint, black pepper and blackberry. It’s all backed by juicy acidity and mild tannins. (330 cases; 14.3% alc.)

College Cellars 2014 Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla Valley •  $20 The students and staff of Walla Walla Community College have crafted a superb Cab Franc using estate grapes. This provides complex aromas of Moroccan spices and smoked cherry, followed by flavors of raspberry, pomegranate and blueberry. Mouth-filling tannins back up the ample fruit. (62 cases; 14.6% alc.)

Seven of Hearts 2014 Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley •  $29 Oregon winemaker Byron Dooley enjoys making a broad array of wines from both sides of the Columbia River. This luscious Cab Franc opens with aromas of cherry and dried strawberry, followed by big, juicy flavors of black cherry, pomegranate and red currant. It’s all backed by classic dried herbs. (72 cases; 13% alc.)

Best Buy!
Drumheller Wines 2014 Merlot, Columbia Valley •  $12 This is a new brand for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates that is primarily available only in restaurants but also can be purchased online. Aromas of oak, blackberry and spice lead to flavors of ripe dark fruit, including blueberry and plum. Nicely balanced tannins make this an easy-drinking, food-friendly red.(11,000 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Best Buy!
Ridge Crest 2014 Merlot, Columbia Valley •  $14 This value-minded brand from the Claar Wine Group north of Pasco, Wash., is a great find at a terrific price. This Merlot offers aromas of smoke, blackberry and leather, followed by flavors of blueberry, slate and a hint of dark chocolate on the lengthy finish. (360 cases; 13.5% alc.)

FairWinds Winery 2005 Merlot, Yakima Valley •  $26 By far the oldest wine in this tasting, this 11-year-old Merlot from a Port Townsend, Wash., winery is holding up well. Aromas of black cherry, oak spice and black licorice lead to flavors of black olive, smoke and boysenberry. Resolved tannins give this an elegant mouth feel and finish. (105 cases; 14% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2012 The Teacher Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills •  $25 Winemaker Wade Wolfe honors Stan Clarke with this wine. Clarke was Wolfe’s best friend and longtime colleague, and he was an elementary school teacher in the Yakima Valley in addition to his winemaking career prior to his death in 2007. This Cab is dark and focused, thanks to aromas and flavors of blackstrap molasses, cola, black pepper and dried herbs. (750 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Maryhill Winery 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $25 This is Maryhill’s mainstream Cab — and one of many it makes at its showcase Goldendale, Wash., winery. This opens with aromas of black currant jam, cherry tomato and sweet herbs, followed by juicy, elegant flavors of lingonberry, raspberry and black cherry.(2,053 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Best Buy!
Jones of Washington 2012 Estate Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope •  $15 Victor Palencia oversees this operation and continues to prove that he’s among the most talented and versatile young winemakers in Washington. This delicious Cab shows off aromas and flavors of strawberry-rhubarb compote and mint, followed by flavors of red currant, raspberry and pie cherry. (7,000 cases; 14.1% alc.)

Best Buy!
Sagelands Vineyard 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $10 This fresh, young Cab from one of Washington’s older producers unveils complex aromas of maple syrup, dark plum and black cherry, followed by rich, bold flavors of cocoa powder, black currant and vanilla. It’s all backed by supple tannins. (4,173 cases; 14.18% alc.)

Best Buy!
David James Winery 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $15 Owned by Seattle’s Precept Wine, this new brand is named after Dave Minick, a longtime Yakima Valley grape grower and now the company’s director of vineyards. It’s an expressive red with aromas and flavors of spicy oak, espresso, cola and plum. Everything is backed up by richly structured tannins. (2,000 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Best Buy!
Washington Hills 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington •  $9 Here’s another great bargain from Precept Wine, a sub-$10 Cab that is rich and enjoyable. Aromas of vanilla, molasses and ripe dark plum lead to bold flavors of boysenberry, black currant, dark chocolate and oak. (4,000 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Mercer Estates 2014 Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills •  $19 This Prosser, Wash., winery is looking to make its mark with this variety, and it’s great to see a Washington Malbec below $20. This opens with classic aromas of black pepper, blackberry and plum, followed by flavors of molasses, blackberry and spice. It’s all backed by rich acidity and balanced tannins. (862 cases; 14.8% alc.)

Helix by Reininger 2012 Merlot, Columbia Valley •  $28 Walla Walla winemaker Chuck Reininger brought in the grapes for this Merlot from Stillwater and Bacchus vineyards. The result is an elegant wine with aromas of black cherry, raspberry jam and mocha, followed by flavors of bright red fruit backed with moderate tannins and bright acidity.(790 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Page Cellars 2012 Lick My Lips Merlot, Red Mountain •  $29 Longtime Woodinville winemaker James Page loves Red Mountain grapes, and this Merlot reveals his prowess with them. Aromas of barrel spice, molasses, vanilla and blueberry give way to approachable flavors of rich red fruit backed by a smooth midpalate and plush tannins. (300 cases; 14% alc.)

Nelms Road 2014 Nelms Road Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington •  $25 Since 1981, Cabernet Sauvignon has been Rick Small’s most important wine at Woodward Canyon Winery, and this nicely priced second label is no slouch. Aromas of coffee, oak spice and Marionberry give way to rich, dark flavors of blackberry, black currant and dark chocolate. (4,236 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Helix by Reininger 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $28 Winemaker Chuck Reininger manages to get into some of the state’s top vineyards. In this case, it’s Phinny Hill in the Horse Heaven Hills and StoneTree on the Wahluke Slope. Aromas of dried herbs, black currant and hints of dried cranberry lead to flavors of smoky peppercorns and black currant with a luxurious mouth feel. (858 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Lake Chelan Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $28 Winemaker Oscar Castillo blended grapes from Lake Chelan and the Yakima Valley to craft this delicious Cab. Opulent aromas of smoky dark fruit, dates and chocolate are followed by powerful flavors of black currant, blackberry and mocha. (595 cases; 13.7% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2013 The Teacher Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills •  $25 This Cab comes from a vintage that was the first of three consecutive ultra-hot years that have tested winemakers’ skills. This example provides aromas of black currant, California peppercorns and toasted oak, followed by pleasing flavors of red currant, dried cranberry and ripe plum. (688 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Harbinger Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $30 Olympic Peninsula winemaker Sara Gagnon added a touch of Cabernet Franc and Merlot to this Cab to provide balance and depth. The result is a complex wine with aromas of mint, black pepper and blackberry, followed by rich flavors of blueberry and black cherry with black tea tannins in the finish. (147 cases; 14% alc.)

Claar Cellars 2013 White Bluffs Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $22 Using estate grapes high atop the White Bluffs overlooking the Columbia River, winemaker Joe Hudon has created a luscious Cab. Aromas of toasty oak, blackberry and blueberry give way to flavors of red cherry, blueberry and Baker’s chocolate. It’s all backed by rich tannins.(109 cases; 13.8% alc.)

Best Buy!
Drumheller Wines 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $12 Winemaker Tim Jones runs the Drumheller program for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, and he has crafted a deliciously affordable Cab here. Aromas of blueberry jam on toast, sweet herbs and a hint of jasmine lead to flavors of plum and blueberry. It’s all backed by explosive tannins on the finish.(15,000 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Wildhaven Winery 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $20 This delicious young Cab comes from Precept Wine in Seattle, produced by Hal Landvoigt, the company’s director of winemaking. Aromas of Marionberry, orange oil and cinnamon give way to flavors of huckleberry, vanilla and a bit of oak. Mild tannins give this youthful approachability. (1,500 cases; 13.4% alc.)

Hells Canyon Winery 2012 Artists Conservation Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Snake River Valley •  $30 Steve Robertson’s vineyard is one of the top plantings in the Sunnyslope Wine District. This Cab from the stellar 2012 vintage opens with intriguing aromas of dried strawberry, raspberry and pink peppercorns, followed by opulent flavors of creamy cherry and botanical spices. (172 cases; 13.9% alc.)

College Cellars 2014 Petit Verdot, Walla Walla Valley •  $24 Petit Verdot is often the forgotten red Bordeaux grape, rarely taking center stage. But in Washington, we’re seeing it more often. This example offers aromas and flavors of black licorice, lavender, pomegranate and coffee. It’s all backed by bright acidity and tannins through the medium finish. (75 cases; 14.9% alc.)

O•S Winery 2013 Sonas Cabernet Franc, Yakima Valley •  $25 Winemaker Scott Greer brought in grapes from Sheridan Vineyards for this tasty Cabernet Franc. It opens with aromas of cherry, raspberry and black pepper, followed by flavors of blackberry, raspberry and blueberry. It’s all backed by creamy tannins. (400 cases; 14.1% alc.)

Ledger David 2013 Cabernet Franc, Rogue Valley •  $29 Linda Donovan, Southern Oregon’s winemaker extraordinaire, has produced a delicious Cabernet Franc from estate grapes. Aromas of blackberry, cherry and underlying earthiness lead to flavors of blueberry and pomegranate that are backed by impressive structure and balance. (234 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Silvan Ridge Winery 2013 Malbec, Rogue Valley •  $22 This Eugene, Ore., winery dips into the warm Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon to craft this superb Malbec. Aromas of blackberry and spice lead to flavors of blueberry and loganberry. Bright acidity and modest tannins provide beautiful balance. (800 cases; 14.3% alc.)

Best Buy!
Mercer Canyons 2014 Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills •  $14 A sub-$15 Malbec from Washington is a great find, and the quality of this wine competes well with Argentine imports. Aromas of chocolate, black licorice and blackberry give way to flavors of plum, boysenberry and black pepper. Snappy acidity leads to a delicious finish. (123 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Elevation Cellars 2012 Merlot, Columbia Valley •  $25 Woodinville winemaker Steven Stuart used grapes from acclaimed Stillwater Creek Vineyards to put together this tasty Merlot. Inviting aromas of red cherry and plum are followed by flavors of Rainier cherry and red currant with just a hint of fresh sage and cocoa powder on the finish. (400 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Kitzke Cellars 2014 Upsidedown Merlot, Columbia Valley •  $20 Seth Kitzke crafted this Merlot for his parents’ winery with the playful name that thumbs its nose at a certain Merlot-drubbing film. Aromas of smoke, strawberry jam and brown sugar lead into flavors of red plum, black olive and black tea. It’s all backed by assertive tannins. (280 cases; 13.7% alc.)

College Cellars 2014 Merlot, Walla Walla Valley •  $22 Here’s a yummy, drink-now red from the team of instructors and students at Walla Walla Community College. Aromas of sweet cherry, cinnamon and mild oak give way to flavors of Rainier cherry and fresh strawberry. The tannins are especially well managed. (84 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Helix by Reininger 2011 Merlot, Columbia Valley •  $28 Using grapes from Stillwater, Weinbau and Bacchus vineyards, Chuck Reininger has produced a delicious Merlot with aromas and flavors of smoky blueberry, Bing cherry and black pepper. Medium tannins provide a all the structure necessary. (719 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Mercer Estates 2013 Merlot, Horse Heaven Hills •  $19 Winemaker Jessica Munnell continues to craft some of Washington’s best reds. This delicious Merlot opens with aromas of smoked cherry tomato, dried strawberry and tar, followed by flavors of raspberry and Bing cherry. Medium tannins give this a memorable finish. (872 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Abacela 2013 Merlot, Umpqua Valley •  $24 One of the few mainstream grapes grown at this Roseburg, Ore., winery, Merlot has long been an important part of the program at Abacela. This offers aromas and flavors of pomegranate, pink peppercorns and ripe tomato. Bright acidity and assertive tannins provide ample structure.(598 cases; 13.2% alc.)

Jones of Washington 2012 Jack's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley •  $30 This delicious Cab pays homage to Jack Jones, the patriarch of this winery who died in 2015. Winemaker Victor Palencia’s effort results in a Cab with aromas of moist earth, toast and grilled black fruit, followed by flavors of pie cherry and red currant. Refined tannins give this a rich farewell. (658 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Waterbrook Winery 2014 Vintner's Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $16 This delicious and affordable Cab from the Walla Walla team at Precept Wine opens with aromas of slate, plum and black tea, followed by focused flavors of blackberry jam, molasses, spice and a hint of black olive. It’s an elegant wine throughout. (1,197 cases; 14.01% alc.)

Alder Ridge 2014 Six Prong Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills •  $16 Alder Ridge is an important vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills that stretches down to the Columbia River to the south. Both the planting and the brand are owned by Precept Wine in Seattle, and this nicely priced Cab offers aromas and flavors of sarsaparilla, mocha, black licorice and ripe fruit. It’s a rich, complex red from start to finish. (1,474 cases; 14.6% alc.)

Best Buy!
Ross Andrew Winery 2013 Glaze Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $15 Longtime Woodinville, Wash., winemaker Ross Andrew Mickel joined the Precept team and produces this consistently delicious and affordable Cab. Aromas of oak spice, minerality and blackberry give way to plush flavors of dark chocolate, blackberry and black team. It’s a rich, up-front wine. (2,000 cases; 13.2% alc.)

College Cellars 2014 Carménère, Walla Walla Valley •  $20 The rare Carménère grape was first planted in the Walla Walla Valley when it came to the United States about 20 years ago. This example offers aromas and flavors of espresso, spicy vanilla and blackberry, followed by flavors of black pepper, boysenberry and sweet herbs. (135 cases; 12.9% alc.)

Maryhill Winery 2013 Malbec, Columbia Valley •  $22 Winemaker Richard Batchelor works with more than two-dozen grape varieties, and he seems to thrive with all of them. This Malbec reveals aromas and flavors of molasses, shaved chocolate and blackberry, as well as hints of roasted almond in the finish. (751 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Latah Creek Wine Cellars 2012 Merlot, Wahluke Slope •  $16 The Conway family launched this Spokane winery more than 30 years ago and has long leaned on grapes from the arid and remote Wahluke Slope. This tasty Merlot provides aromas and flavors of loganberry, spicy moist earth and red plum, as well as notes of blueberry and blackberry on the finish. (550 cases; 12.5% alc.)

Gordon Estate 2014 Merlot, Columbia Valley •  $24 This has long been the signature grape for one of Washington’s oldest wineries. This opens with smoky aromas of toast, black cherry and chocolate, followed by clean, smooth flavors of Rainier cherry and pomegranate. It’s all backed by supple tannins. (2,500 cases; 13.8% alc.)

Northwest Cellars 2013 Merlot, Yakima Valley •  $16 Yakima Valley native Robert Smasne has a magical touch with Washington wine grapes, and here’s another great example of his work. Aromas of Royal Anne cherry and plum are followed by flavors of pie cherry and blueberry. It’s all backed by sturdy tannins. (812 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Indian Creek Winery 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Snake River Valley •  $16 This affordable Cab from Idaho’s primary wine region is a good example of what can come from these high-elevation vineyards. Aromas of black currant, minerality and black olive lead to lean, focused flavors of black olive and ripe plum. It’s all backed by elegant tannins through the moderate finish. (500 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Mercer Estates 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills •  $19 Using estate grapes, winemaker Jessica Munnell has put together a delicious and affordable Cab. Classic aromas of spice, vanilla, mint and black cherry lead to bold flavors of blackberry, Bing cherry and blueberry. Ample acidity and rich tannins round out this complex red. (4,987 cases; 14.1% alc.)

Best Buy!
The Leader Wine Co. 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $15 Here’s a delicious and affordable Cab from a young producer. Aromas of Bing cherry, dusty plum and lilac give way to succulent flavors of huckleberry, cranberry and rosewater. It’s all backed by elegant tannins. (2,500 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Spangler Vineyards 2013 Cabernet Franc, Southern Oregon •  $28 Roseburg vintner Patrick Spangler has turned his namesake winery into one of the best in Southern Oregon. This Cab Franc unveils aromas and flavors of cherry pipe tobacco, pomegranate and tart cherry. It’s all backed by big tannins. (295 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Season Cellars 2012 Malbec, Southern Oregon •  $30 The Henry family is royalty in Southern Oregon wine country, and Season is a project of Scott Henry IV. This delicious Malbec offers aromas and flavors of loganberry, blackberry and red currant, all wrapped in supple tannins. A bit of minerality shows up in the finish. (252 cases; 13.8% alc.)

O•S Winery 2013 Sonas Merlot, Yakima Valley •  $25 Winemaker Scott Greer brought in grapes from acclaimed Sheridan Vineyards in the Rattlesnake Hills district of the Yakima Valley for this tasty Merlot. Aromas and flavors of smoky oak, blackberry, spice and a hint of vanilla are backed by plush tannins and rich acidity. (400 cases; 14.4% alc.)

Saviah Cellars 2013 The Jack Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $18 The Jack label is a tool for Saviah owner Richard Funk to elevate his best barrels to his top wines. But The Jack wines are no slouches. This reveals aromas and flavors of warm spices, ripe dark berry and cigar box, all backed by expertly managed tannins. (3,682 cases; 14.3% alc.)

Barili Cellars 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $22 Spokane winemakers Russ Feist and Gary Hustad teamed up to craft this tasty Cab. Aromas and flavors of sweet pie cherry, dark plum, chocolate and even a hint of fig are backed by firm tannins through the lengthy and complex finish. (45 cases; 14% alc.)

D'Anu Wines 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley •  $25 Portland winemaker Joe Williams stayed in Oregon for this Cab by bringing in grapes from Seven Hills Vineyard in the southern end of the Walla Walla Valley. Aromas and flavors of black pepper, black cherry and blueberry are backed by juicy acidity. This would be perfect with a grilled New York steak. (100 cases; 13.12% alc.)

Two Mountain Winery 2013 Merlot, Yakima Valley •  $22 Rattlesnake Hills winemaker Matt Rawn crafted this Merlot with a bit of Cab, Cab Franc and Malbec blended in. The result is a delicious wine with aromas and flavors of black pepper, blackberry and red currant. Rich tannins provide all the necessary structure. (625 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Best Buy!
Ridge Crest 2014 White Bluffs Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $14 Using estate grapes north of Pasco, Wash., winemaker Joe Hudon has produced a value-minded Cab for the Claar Wine Group with aromas and flavors of blueberry, chocolate and ripe plum, all backed by bold tannins that give way to a juicy finish. (406 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Recommended

Purple Star Wines 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $19 Longtime Yakima Valley winemaker Kyle Johnson put together this delicious Cab with aromas and flavors of black currant, red peppercorn, dark chocolate and Bing cherry, rounded out by suave tannins. (1,200 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Best Buy!
Yakima Valley Vintners 2013 Mid Term Merlot, Columbia Valley •  $14 Here’s a tasty Merlot from the faculty and students at Yakima Valley Community College in Grandview, Wash. Aromas of red licorice and oak lead to delicious flavors of plum, red cherry and a hint of smokiness. (25 cases; 13.8% alc.)

Seven of Hearts 2014 Hellsgate Vineyard Merlot, Columbia Valley •  $29 Carlton, Ore., winemaker Byron Dooley brought in Merlot from the eastern edge of the Columbia Gorge for this vineyard-designated wine. Aromas of Rainier cherry and red currant lead to clean flavors of pomegranate and mild oak. (73 cases; 13.4% alc.)

Silver Totem Winery 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley •  $19 This label is part of Pacific Rim Winemakers and is crafted by winemaker Nicolas Quillè. Aromas of Earl Grey tea and smoky cherry give way to flavors of black tea and pomegranate. Firm tannins provide ample structure.(4,645 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Hells Canyon Winery 2014 Cabernet Franc, Snake River Valley •  $25 This youthful and tasty Cab Franc from Idaho offers aromas and flavors of potpourri, pie cherry, dried strawberry and ripe raspberry, all backed by a creamy mouth feel. (126 cases; 13.6% alc.)

Abacela 2013 Malbec, Umpqua Valley •  $27 This Roseburg, Ore., winery was among the first in the state to make a standalone Malbec, but then the Joneses have always been trendsetters. This offers vanilla, spice and black cherry aromas and flavors, backed by hints of cocoa powder in the finish. (600 cases; 13.3% alc.)

Coyote Canyon Winery 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills •  $25 The Andrews family has been farming the Horse Heaven Hills since before World War II, and Mike Andrews owns and operates this vineyard and winery. His tasty Cab provides aromas and flavors of moist earth, Baker’s chocolate and red currant. (315 cases; 14.1% alc.)

Two Mountain Winery 2013 Copeland Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley •  $28 This Cab from a warm vintage opens with aromas of strawberry candy, white tea and lavender. On the palate, it provides flavors of cherry and pomegranate. Bright acidity lifts the ample fruit off the palate. (635 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Claar Cellars 2013 Merlot, Columbia Valley •  $22 This small-production Merlot from a longtime Columbia Valley winery is a tasty treat, thanks to aromas and flavors of blackberry, cedar and spice. It’s all backed by bold tannins and bright acidity. (111 cases; 14.1% alc.)

Skylite Cellars 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley •  $29 Using grapes from Summit View and Pepper Bridge vineyards, this delicious Cab shows off a dark, dense nose of milk chocolate and cordial cherry, followed by big flavors of blackberry jam and French press coffee. (220 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Canoe Ridge Vineyard 2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills •  $25 Precept’s Walla Walla winemaking team used estate grapes to craft this yummy Cab with aromas and flavors of dried herbs, minerality and bold, focused blackberry fruit. Dark chocolate wraps around the rich tannins on the finish.(5,000 cases; 14.7% alc.)

Best Buy!
Jones of Washington 2012 Merlot, Wahluke Slope •  $15 This affordable Merlot uses grapes from the warm Wahluke Slope. Aromas of black cherry and pipe tobacco give way to flavors of pomegranate and pie cherry. It’s a big, bold wine with ample structure, so pair with braised meats.(1,810 cases; 14.1% alc.)

Blooms Winery 2014 Merlot, Rattlesnake Hills •  $25 Whidbey Island winemaker Ken Bloom aged this Merlot in Hungarian oak, and the results are delicious, with aromas and flavors of Rainier cherry, cocoa powder and cranberry notes on the ample finish. (55 cases; 14% alc.)

O•S Winery 2013 Sonas Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley •  $25 Located in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood, this longtime Washington winery has captured aromas and flavors of alder-smoked bacon, blackberry and plum in this rich, intense Cabernet Sauvignon. (400 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Pinot Noir This was the most fun category to judge because Pinot Noir has a reputation of carrying a price tag that often exceeds $30. It’s neither easy nor inexpensive to make Pinot Noir in Oregon, so prices can quickly escalate. We were thrilled to receive nearly 40 wines that fit our parameters.

Outstanding

Ponzi Vineyards 2014 Tavola Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $27 This is consistently among the finest Pinot Noirs we taste annually — at any price — so it is gratifying to see it land at the top of this list. Elegant aromas of Rainier cherry, raspberry and allspice lead to bright flavors of high-toned red fruits, including red cherry, pomegranate and cranberry. It’s perfectly balanced with great acidity and harmonious tannins. Kudos to second-generation winemaker Luisa Ponzi for consistency at a high level.(12,000 cases; 13.7% alc.)

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2014 Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $30 This delicious Pinot Noir from one of Oregon’s largest and best-established wineries uses grapes from three estate vineyards: the original vineyard at the winery, Tualatin and Elton. This provides depth and complexity, with aromas of red cherry, cranberry and rose petals, followed by spicy flavors of bright red fruit. It’s a pretty wine with incredible depth and layers of flavors. (15,767 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Bradley Vineyards 2012 Pinot Noir, Elkton Oregon •  $28 This delicious Pinot Noir is a tribute to founder John Bradley, who died in early 2014. He pioneered grape growing in what now is the Elkton Oregon AVA, a cool-climate region within the Umpqua Valley of Southern Oregon. This wine is loaded with racy fruit, from the aromas of Bing cherry, blueberry and dusty minerality to the flavors of raspberry, pomegranate and tart cherry. The acidity is sturdy yet juicy, and a hint of oak comes through in the finish. (146 cases; 15% alc.)

Panther Creek Cellars 2014 Winemaker’s Cuvée Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $30 Tony Rynders, one of Oregon’s most acclaimed winemakers, now heads up the program for this historic brand, and he blended Pinot Noir from seven vineyards to create this masterpiece. Complex aromas of moist earth, black raspberry and plum leads to elegant flavors of rich red fruit, focusing on plum and raspberry. The gentle mouth feel and velvety tannins help make this a wine that overdelivers for the price. (1,904 cases; 14.1% alc.)

Firesteed 2014 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $18 Howard Rossbach has been in the wine game for 40 years and created Firesteed more than 20 years ago. Since then, it has consistently delivered great quality at fair prices. His winemaker, Bryan Croft, crafted this delicious and classic Oregon Pinot Noir with aromas of cherry, spice and licorice, followed by racy flavors of tart cherry, strawberry and red currant. The structure is all about acidity, with tannin playing an important supporting role in the lengthy finish. (58,150 cases; 13.4% alc.)

Bradley Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir, Umpqua Valley •  $25 The late John Bradley crafted this nicely aging Pinot Noir from estate grapes in what now is the Elkton Oregon AVA, which is within the Umpqua Valley in Southern Oregon. It’s showing beautifully, thanks to aromas of forest floor, a hint of smokiness, cherry and blueberry. On the palate, savory acidity backs up the flavors of red and blue fruits and warm spices on the finish. (170 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Willful Wine Co. 2014 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $26 Portland winemaker Pam Walden launched Willful Wine in 2011 and hasn’t looked back. This superb Pinot Noir comes primarily from Pommard clone grapes in the Eola-Amity Hills. The result includes aromas of cherry, dried cranberry, vanilla and an intriguing hint of tar. On the palate, flavors of elderberry, blueberry and shaved chocolate are backed by approachable tannins and bright acidity. It’s an elegant and delicious Oregon-style Pinot Noir. (600 cases; 14% alc.)

Excellent

Cardwell Hill Cellars 2013 Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $24 Dan Chapel runs this winery west of Corvallis, Ore., and has produced consistently superb wines since launching in 2003. This delicious and affordable Pinot Noir provides aromas of bright strawberry, a hint of oak and violet, followed by smooth flavors of red plum, cherry and raspberry through the lengthy finish. (1,573 cases; 13.3% alc.)

Seven of Hearts 2014 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $24 Carlton, Ore., winemaker Byron Dooley crafted this delicious Pinot Noir during one of the warmest vintages in Oregon history. He managed to create a wine that reveals the complex nature of the grape, starting with aromas of black truffle, moist earth and raspberry. On the palate, it shows off flavors of raspberry, lavender, white pepper and an intriguing hint of earthiness. It’s all backed by plush tannins and elegant acidity. (987 cases; 13.2% alc.)

David Hill Vineyards & Winery 2013 Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $24 This winery near Forest Grove, Ore., in the northern Willamette Valley used estate grapes to craft this lovely Pinot Noir. Longtime Oregon winemaker Jason Bull produced a wine with aromas of cherry, raspberry and purple lavender, followed by flavors of ripe strawberry and pomegranate backed by ample tannins and lingering acidity in the finish. (623 cases; 13% alc.)

Deer Creek Vineyards 2014 Pinot Noir, Oregon •  $20 This small winery southwest of Grants Pass, Ore., relied on winemaking from Brian Gruber and Herb Quady to develop this delicious Pinot Noir. It opens with aromas of red plum, ripe cherry and forest floor, followed by rich, round flavors of raspberry and even a hint of blackberry. The plush tannins emphasize elegance over power, and the hint of dusty minerality offers a nice touch of complexity in the finish. (560 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2015 Whole Cluster Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $22 The youngest Pinot Noir in our tasting is produced annually by this Turner, Ore., winery in a fresh, drink-it-now style. It opens with aromas of soft cherry, a hint of oak and ripe raspberry, followed by flavors of cherry, milk chocolate and strawberry jam. Bright acidity and mild tannins provide lovely structure. Enjoy with pork roast or grilled salmon. (36,000 cases; 14.1% alc.)

Elk Cove Vineyards 2014 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $30 Second-generation winemaker Adam Campbell crafts this wine from estate vineyards in the northern Willamette Valley. This is his mainstream Pinot Noir, and it provides approachable aromas of ripe raspberry and Rainier cherry, followed by round flavors of cherry, strawberry and cranberry. The just-right tannins add a touch of grip to the finish, providing ample structure and length. (18,000 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Pike Road Wines 2014 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $20 Pike Road is the new project of Elk Cove winemaker Adam Campbell. It’s a nicely priced brand with its own tasting room in downtown Carlton, Ore. This inaugural effort emphasizes aromas of black cherry, cocoa powder and oak. On the palate, bright acidity pushes flavors of strawberry, raspberry and pomegranate to the forefront. (8,500 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Coeur de Terre Vineyard 2014 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $22 Lisa and Scott Neal launched their McMinnville, Ore., winery in 1998 and have been crafting superb wines since. This delicious and affordable Pinot Noir opens with aromas of Rainier cherry, blueberry and a touch of cocoa powder. On the palate, it offers pleasing flavors of blueberry, cranberry and a hint of black truffle. A beautiful mouth feel leads to a lovely finish. (2,510 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Rainstorm Winery 2013 Pinot Noir, Oregon •  $17 This nicely priced and refreshingly delicious Pinot Noir is the work of Nicolas Quillè, the head winemaker for Pacific Rim in Washington. Aromas of smoky cherry, pomegranate and fresh herbs lead to flavors of Bing cherry, cranberry and a touch of spiciness. Bright acidity and moderate tannins provide all the needed structure.(14,122 cases; 13% alc.)

Best Buy!
Kirkland Signature 2014 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $15 Winemaker Sarah Cabot produced this wine for Costco on behalf of Seattle-based Precept Wine, which is one of the larger vineyard owners in Oregon. This is a delicious Pinot Noir at a great price, and it reveals aromas of plum, black cherry and vanilla. The flavors of raspberry and red cherry are backed by firm tannins through the solid finish. (8,000 cases; 13.7% alc.)

Coeur de Terre Vineyard 2013 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $22 Winemaker Scott Neal uses grapes primarily from the McMinnville AVA. It’s a classic wine from that hilly area of the northern Willamette Valley, revealing darker-toned fruit such as black raspberry and plum. Notes of moist earth and shaved chocolate offer complexity, and the round mouth feel gives it youthful approachability. (1,685 cases; 13.4% alc.)

A to Z Wineworks 2014 Pinot Noir, Oregon •  $19 From one of Oregon’s biggest wineries, this is certainly one of the largest-production Pinot Noirs in the state. It reveals aromas of pomegranate and cherry pie filling, followed by flavors of blueberry and black cherry. This is a bright, fresh example that will pair well with turkey, salmon or pork. (235,000 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Cardwell Hill Cellars 2014 Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $24 Based in the southern Willamette Valley town of Philomath, Ore., this winery consistently crafts delicious Pinot Noirs. This example from a warm vintage opens with aromas of new leather, violet, Rainier cherry and cardamom. On the palate, bright acidity lifts the red-toned fruit, including cherry and raspberry. Solid tannins provide plenty of structure. (4,246 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Larkspur Winery 2014 Pinot Noir, Oregon •  $17 Seattle’s Precept Wine is a big player in Oregon Pinot Noir, thanks to its large vineyard holdings and ownership of the 12th & Maple winemaking facility in Dundee. Sarah Cabot handles the winemaking for this delicious and affordable red, which provides aromas of black cherry, dark chocolate and oak spice. On the palate, this shows off bright acidity that lifts the flavors of Rainier cherry, red currant and white pepper. (1,500 cases; 13.7% alc.)

Indian Creek Winery 2012 Pinot Noir, Snake River Valley •  $18 Indian Creek is the rare Pinot Noir producer in Southern Idaho and has proven through the years to craft excellent examples. This wine opens with rich aromas of dark red plum, Bing cherry and a hint of chocolate, followed by full, round flavors of red currant, raspberry and strawberry. The structure emphasizes acidity over tannin. (200 cases; 12.6% alc.)

Maury Island Winery 2014 Estate Pinot Noir, Puget Sound •  $25 Winemaker Bill Riley relies entirely on estate grapes on Maury Island, which is just west of West Seattle. This reveals Old World aromas of mushroom, new leather and moist earthiness, followed by bright flavors of pomegranate, cherry and strawberry. The structure is based more on acidity than tannin. It’s an intriguing wine from an unexpected location. (82 cases; 12% alc.)

Indian Creek Winery 2014 Pinot Noir, Snake River Valle •  y$18 Indian Creek in tiny Kuna, Idaho, produces Pinot Noirs most years, and the wines are often fascinating. This example opens with aromas of red currant and dried blueberry, followed by flavors of golden raspberry and cranberry. It is highlighted by mouthfilling juiciness and midpalate viscosity through the impressive finish. (300 cases; 12.6% alc.)

iOTA Cellars 2014 Not One Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills •  $28 The Eola-Amity Hills might be the most interesting AVA in the northern Willamette Valley. It’s directly in the path of cooling afternoon winds that come directly from the Pacific Ocean through the famed Van Duzer gap. This example reveals complex aromas of saddle leather, moist earthiness and Saskatoon berry, followed by flavors of blueberry and pomegranate. (658 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Brigadoon Wine 2014 Lylee Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $23 This small producer is about halfway between Corvallis and Eugene, Ore. Winemaker Matthew Shown crafted a wine with delicate aromas of spices and blueberry cobbler, followed by flavors of raspberry and huckleberry with hints of spice and vanilla. It’s a young wine that’s only going to gain complexity with more time in the bottle. (450 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Cardwell Hill Cellars 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $28 This luscious Pinot Noir from winemaker Dan Chapel opens with aromas of cocoa powder, Bing cherry and sweet herbs. On the palate, this is clean and elegant with flavors of raspberry, cherry and strawberry. It’s all backed by plush, elegant tannins and bright acidity. (448 cases; 13.7% alc.)

Best Buy!
Primarius 2014 Pinot Noir, Oregon •  $15 Here’s another deliciously affordable Pinot Noir from Seattle’s Precept Wine and winemaker Sarah Cabot. This reveals aromas of black truffle, forest floor and Bing cherry, followed by flavors of molasses, raspberry and Rainier cherry. Firm tannins back up the ample fruit and lead to a lengthy finish. (32,000 cases; 13.4% alc.)

Valley View Winery 2013 Anna Maria Pinot Noir, Southern Oregon •  $24 The Wisnovsky brothers have operated this Jacksonville, Ore., winery for the past couple of decades and have often carried the flag for the Applegate Valley. This delicious Pinot Noir unveils aromas and flavors of cranberry, raspberry, violet and a hint of oak. Bright acidity and mild tannins give this beautiful balance. (300 cases; 13.4% alc.)

Cardwell Hill Cellars 2013 Pommard Block Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $28 Pommard is the most-planted clone of Pinot Noir in Oregon and often the result is in energetic wines with red and dark fruit notes. This example shows off these qualities, with aromas and flavors of spice, cherry, pomegranate and cranberry. It’s all backed by juicy acidity. (226 cases; 13.2% alc.)

Best Buy!
Battle Creek Winery 2014 Unconditional Pinot Noir, Oregon •  $15 Sarah Cabot handles the winemaking for the Precept brand that is priced in the $15 sweet spot. Aromas of red cherry and pomegranate lead to flavors of Rainier cherry and sweet herbs. It’s all backed by bright acidity and late-arriving tannins on the lengthy finish. (6,500 cases; 13.4% alc.)

Recommended

Cardwell Hill Cellars 2013 Old Vines Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $28 The Wädenswil clone of Pinot Noir is one of the first planted in the Willamette Valley in 1965, and this wine is 100% Wädenswil. It’s a bright, high-toned wine that emphasizes red fruit, particularly cranberry and red cherry. Underlying notes of lavender and violet add another layer of complexity. (263 cases; 13.5% alc.)

D'Anu Wines 2013 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $20 Winemaker Joe Williams brought in grapes from the Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills and Yamhill-Carlton. The result is a complex wine with aromas and flavors of moist earth, black cherry and mushroom. It’s all backed by firm tannins. (100 cases; 12% alc.)

Willful Wine Co. 2014 Jezebel Pinot Noir, Oregon •  $18 Winemaker Pam Walden blended grapes from the Willamette and Umpqua valleys. It’s a delicious red with aromas of red currant, dark cherry and hints of cranberry. Mild tannins are backed by bright acidity. (2,950 cases; 14% alc.)

Firesteed 2013 Pinot Noir, Oregon •  $18 This high-production and affordable Pinot Noir provides aromas and flavors of strawberry-rhubarb compote, rose petals and dried strawberry. It’s a lighter-colored wine that is enjoyable now. (57,000 cases; 12% alc.)

ArborBrook Vineyards 2013 Heritage Cuvée Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains •  $30 Mary and Dave Hansen run this winery near Newberg, and they used estate grapes to craft a Pinot Noir with aromas and flavors of watermelon, fresh cranberry and Bing cherry. It’s all backed by elegant and fascinating tannins. (319 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Battle Creek Cellars 2014 Reserve Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley •  $25 This tasty wine provides aromas and flavors of oak, leather and Bing cherry. Clean notes of vanilla and red currant show up late, backed by ample acidity and moderate tannins. (1,000 cases; 13.4% alc.)

Bradley Vineyards 2011 Pinot Noir, Oregon •  $24 Using estate grapes from Elkton, Ore., this approachable Pinot Noir reveals aromas and flavors of spicy black cherry, vanilla bean, pomegranate and blueberry. It’s all backed by up-front tannins and plenty of acidity. (139 cases; 13.1% alc.)

Rhône Varieties Red wine grape varieties traditionally grown in France’s warm Rhône Valley are making some of the most sensational wines in the Pacific Northwest. According to the Rhône Rangers (a California-based advocacy group), there are 11 red Rhône varieties. The most prominent we will find in the Northwest are Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, though Petite Sirah, Cinsault and Counoise also are starting to emerge.

Outstanding

Saviah Cellars 2014 The Jack Syrah, Columbia Valley •  $18 Saviah Cellars owner/winemaker Richard Funk added a little Grenache, Mourvèdre and Tempranillo to this Syrah to turn it into a complete and superb wine — and at a stunning price. Aromas of toasted oak, vanilla, spice and black cherry give way to voluptuous flavors of blackberry, plum and coffee. It’s all packed into a wine with a rich midpalate, a silky mouth feel and a balanced and memorable finish. (2,050 cases; 14.7% alc.)

Maryhill Winery 2013 Syrah, Columbia Valley •  $24 This producer near Goldendale, Wash., was our 2015 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year for many reasons, the most important of which is the remarkably consistent quality of the wines. And here’s a great example of a delicious and affordable Syrah from Maryhill. Aromas of blackberry, spice, cedar and plum lead to lovely flavors of blueberry, Marionberry and black tea. The tannins are plush and approachable, leading to a long, enjoyable finish. (508 cases; 14.6% alc.)

Colter's Creek Winery 2014 Syrah, Snake River Valley •  $17 Winemaker Melissa Sanborn and husband/viticulturist Mike Pearson are rising stars in the Idaho wine industry, producing wines of grace and power from their own vines in the Lewis-Clark Valley new Lewiston. They also show what they can do with fruit from the Snake River Valley to the south with this delicious wine. It provides aromas and flavors of blackberry, plum and black pepper. A juicy mouth feel leads to a finish that is as creamy as crème brûlée. (800 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Helix by Reininger 2012 Syrah, Columbia Valley •  $28 Veteran winemaker Chuck Reininger brought in grapes from two of the state’s best vineyards: Phinny Hill in the Horse Heaven Hills and StoneTree on the Wahluke Slope. This resulted in a stunning Syrah with sensational aromas of Bing cherry, forest floor, allspice and game meats. On the palate, it is a rich, silky wine with juicy acidity and sensual flavors of blackberry jam and cured meats.(807 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2013 Petite Sirah, Horse Heaven Hills •  $20 Wade Wolfe has been crafting Petite Sirah for more than a decade, and he has a great style dialed in using grapes from Zephyr Ridge Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills. This remarkable example is dark and rich with aromas of black licorice, coffee and plum, followed by flavors of blackberry, black currant and espresso. Wolfe manages to rein in this variety’s renowned tannins to create a finish that is sultry and harmonious. (268 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Cliff Creek Cellars 2009 Syrah, Southern Oregon •  $25 Joe Dobbes has been making this wine since its inaugural 2003 vintage, and Cliff Creek has consistently been one of the best Syrah producers in Southern Oregon. This example opens with aromas of spice, caramel, cured meat and ripe plum, followed by flavors of blackberry, black currant and a hint of coffee. Surprisingly bright acidity gives it a long, juicy finish. (729 cases; 13.68% alc.)

Purple Star Wines 2009 Silver Syrah, Columbia Valley •  $30 Kyle Johnson was the winemaker for short-lived Olsen Estates in Prosser, earning acclaim for his superb wines. Today, he and his wife, Amy, own their own Yakima Valley winery and buy grapes from the Olsen brothers. He continues to craft great wines from this fruit. This example offers aromas of cola, blueberry, lavender and white pepper, followed by flavors of pomegranate and Marionberry. A silky mouth feel gives way to a juicy finish. (112 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Coyote Canyon Winery 2011 Grenache, Horse Heaven Hills •  $25 Using estate grapes, this Yakima Valley winery has created a delicious example of what can be done with Washington Grenache. Aromas of herbs, cured meats and pomegranate lead to plush flavors of blackberry and boysenberry. Juicy tannins back up the bright, rich fruit, giving this a lengthy and memorable farewell. (200 cases; 14.3% alc.)

College Cellars 2014 Cockburn Ranch Vineyard Syrah, Walla Walla Valley •  $26 The instructors and students from Walla Walla Community College brought in grapes from Zerba Cellars in Milton-Freewater, Ore., for this delicious Syrah. Aromas of Marionberry, fresh plum and cookie dough lead to focused flavors of huckleberry, dark chocolate and espresso. It’s a rich, concentrated wine that will pair well with lamb or beef. (93 cases; 14.8% alc.)

Excellent

Convergence Zone Cellars 2013 Mistral Grenache, Red Mountain •  $29 Woodinville, Wash., winemaker Scott Greenberg brought in his grapes from two great Red Mountain vineyards: Ciel du Cheval and Heart of the Hill. The resulting wine provides aromas of pomegranate and spice, followed by flavors of blackberry, black pepper and pomegranate, all backed by rich tannins and solid acidity. (135 cases; 15.3% alc.)

Barili Cellars 2013 Dineen Vineyards Syrah, Rattlesnake Hills •  $24 The Rattlesnake Hills is a sub-AVA of the Yakima Valley that is moderately warmer than most of the rest of the region. It’s certainly a fascinating area for growing Syrah, as this example from a Spokane boutique producer reflects. Aromas of smoky black fruit give way to flavors of blackberry jam on toast and a hint of wild herbs and cured meats. It’s a rich, round wine with bright acidity and mild tannins. (40 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Best Buy!
Ridge Crest 2014 White Bluffs Vineyard Syrah, Columbia Valley •  $14 It’s hard to miss when a wine is this good at this price. Ridge Crest is a label for Claar Wine Group, and it tends to deliver quality and value. Aromas of blackberry jam and coffee lead to massive flavors of roasted meats, blackberry Hostess Pie and ripe plum. It’s loaded with muscular fruit backed by rich, chocolaty tannins. (362 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Westport Winery 2013 Surfer, Horse Heaven Hills •  $28 Dana Roberts brings in Syrah from acclaimed Discovery, a young vineyard that dramatically overlooks the Columbia River in the southern Horse Heaven Hills. This is a delicious Côte-Rôtie-style Syrah with aromas of roasted meat, graphite and blackberry that lead to massive flavors of ripe dark fruit, including blackberry, plum and fig. It’s a classic warm-climate Washington Syrah. (104 cases; 14% alc.)

Jones of Washington 2013 Estate Vineyards Syrah, Wahluke Slope •  $17 The western end of the Wahluke Slope might just be the sweet spot in Washington for Syrah. It’s warm, it has great soil, and the ripening is even. This is a delicious example, with aromas of Marionberry pie, lavender, spice and Graham cracker. On the palate, flavors of black currant, pomegranate and blueberry provide rich fruit notes, which are backed by chocolaty tannins through the lengthy finish. (1,723 cases; 14.7% alc.)

Valley View Winery 2012 Anna Maria Syrah, Applegate Valley •  $24 The relatively high-elevation vineyards in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley can make for interesting Syrahs because they can hang a little longer into harvest. This is a great example, as it exhibits aromas of blackberry, black pepper and spice, followed by complex flavors of black olive, plum and blueberry. It’s all backed by elegant tannins through the lengthy finish. (600 cases; 13.4% alc.)

Indian Creek Winery 2014 Syrah, Snake River Valley •  $18 Syrah and other Rhône varieties appear as if they could well develop into some of the most important grapes in the Snake River Valley’s high-elevation vineyards. This is a delicious and affordable example with aromas and flavors of new leather, moist earth, blackberry and even huckleberry. Mild tannins give this a drink-now mouth feel. (200 cases; 13.9% alc.)

L'Ecole No 41 2013 Syrah, Columbia Valley •  $25 Owner Marty Clubb and his winemaking team brought in grapes from no fewer than six vineyards spread across the vast Columbia Valley for this delicious Syrah. It opens with aromas of orange oil, smoke, Marionberry and chocolate, followed by flavors of pomegranate, blueberry and elderberry jam. It has the structure to pair with lamb chops. (2,400 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Blooms Winery 2012 Syrah, Rattlesnake Hills •  $29 Winemaker Ken Bloom brought in the grapes for this rich and silky Syrah from Bosma Vineyards in the Rattlesnake Hills section of the Yakima Valley. It opens with aromas of oak, black licorice, black olive and blackberry. On the palate, it provides flavors of plum, vanilla and blackberry, all backed by velvety tannins. (155 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Wilridge Winery 2014 Crawford Vineyard Syrah, Yakima Valley •  $20 Crawford is a longtime Yakima Valley vineyard that is a short distance north of downtown Prosser, Wash. It is the backbone for many Washington wines. This Syrah shows classic cool-climate notes that are not unlike Côte-Rôtie in the Northern Rhône Valley. Aromas of venison, spice and loganberry lead to flavors of black tea, dark chocolate, blueberry and dark plum. It’s an elegant wine with plenty of substance. (13.8% alc.)

Kitzke Cellars 2013 Syrah, Red Mountain •  $28 Winemaker Charlie Hoppes produced this delicious Syrah using grapes from warm Red Mountain in the eastern Yakima Valley. It opens with aromas of spicy oak, vanilla and blackberry, followed by rich, round flavors of plum, blueberry and black tea. Well-managed tannins lead to a long, elegant finish.(71 cases; 14.1% alc.)

Purple Star Wines 2013 Syrah, Columbia Valley •  $19 Winemaker Kyle Johnson blended in a touch of Grenache and Counoise to give this a Southern Rhône Valley twist. The result is a wine that is bright and youthful, thanks to ample acidity and moderate tannins. It unveils aromas and flavors of Bing cherry, blueberry and blackberry, backed by layers of mild oak.(1,084 cases; 14.5% alc.)

College Cellars 2014 Blue Mountain Vineyard Syrah, Walla Walla Valley • $26 Planted in 2001 by Michael Corliss, Blue Mountain Vineyard is a fascinating site, as evidenced by this Syrah. It opens with a hint of mint, followed by aromas of blueberry, blackberry and sweet herbs. On the palate, it’s a focused and delicious wine with notes of black tea, blueberry and dark chocolate. (23 cases; 14.9% alc.)

Tsillan Cellars 2013 Estate Syrah, Lake Chelan • $30 Lake Chelan is proving to be an interesting region for red wine grapes, and the southern shore seems to be able to easily ripen Syrah. This example provides aromas and flavors of liquid smoke, Graham cracker, red currant, blueberry and strawberry. A creamy midpalate gives way to nicely balanced tannins on the finish. (562 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Claar Cellars 2011 White Bluffs Syrah, Columbia Valley • $22 This Syrah from a cool vintage is rather fascinating because cool-climate Syrahs can be some of the most complex and interesting wines. This unveils aromas that remind us of a deli, along with hints of toast and plum. In the palate, flavors of charcuterie and black olive lead to notes of plum. This is a lot of fun to taste. (118 cases; 14.1% alc.)

Helix by Reininger 2011 Syrah, Columbia Valley • $28 Winemaker Chuck Reininger went to the Horse Heaven Hills for grapes from famed Phinny Hill as well as to the Wahluke Slope for fruit from StoneTree and Clifton Hill. The result is a wine with aromas and flavors of pomegranate, boysenberry, plum and Western serviceberry, all backed by tangy acidity and medium tannins. (711 cases; 14.3% alc.)

Claar Cellars 2013 White Bluffs Syrah, Columbia Valley • $22 This delicious Syrah from a warm vintage shows off rich, bold fruit, including plum jam on toast, blackberry, boysenberry and even a hint of maple syrup. Its rich tannin structure backs up all the massive fruit through the lengthy finish, which includes touches of roasted meat for an added layer of complexity. (106 cases; 14.1% alc.)

Westport Winery 2013 Swimmer, Columbia Valley • $30 This Petite Sirah from a warm site on the Wahluke Slope is a big wine with dense fruit. Aromas of coffee, dark chocolate and plum lead to flavors of black tea, blackberry and boysenberry. The tannins are expertly kept in check but also provide ample balance and length to pair with flank steak. (62 cases; 15.2% alc.)

Zhoo Zhoo 2011 Syrah, Snake River Valley • $21 Second-generation vintner Bijou Robertson crafted this tasty Syrah from the warm Sunnyslope Wine District. Aromas of black cherry, dark chocolate and black pepper give way to flavors of blackberry and plum. It’s all backed by supple tannins and a plush midpalate. (112 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Season Cellars 2012 Syrah, Southern Oregon • $30 Scott and Jennifer Henry blended a fair bit of Grenache into this Southern Oregon Syrah. On the nose, it shows off aromas of oak, black licorice and wild meats, while on the palate, it reveals flavors of huckleberry, blueberry and buttered toast, all backed by firm tannins. (235 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Recommended

Abacela 2013 Barrel Select Estate Syrah, Umpqua Valley • $29 This tasty and pretty Syrah opens with notes of oak, blueberry and elderberry, followed by nicely balanced flavors of Marionberry and pomegranate.(348 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Gordon Estate 2014 Syrah, Columbia Valley • $21 Aromas of blueberry, blackberry and alder smoke lead to flavors of blackberry and plum. Well-managed tannins and bright acidity help lift the flavors through to a lengthy finish. (1,700 cases; 13.6% alc.)

Italian Italy is one of the largest wine-producing nations, and more than 1,000 varieties of wine grapes are grown in the boot-shaped Mediterranean nation. A few favorites are planted in the Pacific Northwest, particularly Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Barbera and Primitivo. Zinfandel — a clone of Primitivo — is included as an Italian variety, thanks primarily to its legacy with early Italian immigrants who brought it to California. And yes, we realize the likely parent grape to Zinfandel/Primitivo — Crljenak Kaštelanski — is from Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast.

Outstanding

Coyote Canyon Winery 2013 Zephyr Ridge Vineyard Primitivo, Horse Heaven Hills • $25 It’s rare to see a wine from this Prosser, Wash., winery that doesn’t use its estate grapes, though Zephyr Ridge is not far away from Mike Andrews’ vineyards. This luscious Primitivo provides aromas and flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and dark-roasted coffee. It’s a rich, chocolaty red with hints of fig in the finish and ample acidity backing up all the delicious flavor. (233 cases; 15.7% alc.)

Bunnell Family Cellar 2014 Wine o'Clock Sangiovese, Columbia Valley • $24 Ron and Susan Bunnell not only run their eponymous winery in the Yakima Valley community of Prosser, but they also own and operate Wine o’Clock, the best restaurant in the valley. This delicious Sangiovese goes with many of their dishes, thanks to aromas and flavors of cherry, strawberry and hints of cardamom. Classic bright acidity provides great energy to this wine, and silky tannins lead to a memorable finish. (136 cases; 14.9% alc.)

Cavatappi 2013 Maddalena Nebbiolo, Yakima Valley • $25 Peter Dow, a legend in the Washington wine and restaurant industries, named this delicious Nebbiolo after his daughter (who now works in the Seattle restaurant business). It’s a beautiful example of the Italian grape, thanks to aromas of bright cherry, vanilla and cocoa, followed by bright flavors of cranberry, red currant and pomegranate. Moderate tannins give this youthful approachability, but it also has the opportunity to age.(202 cases; 12% alc.)

Jones of Washington 2012 Sangiovese, Columbia Valley • $17 Winemaker Victor Palencia unleashes his prowess with another red variety, as this bright, racy Sangiovese is one of the best we’ve tasted. Aromas of red plum, strawberry and pomegranate give way to flavors of mouth-filling red fruit, including Rainier cherry and cranberry. It’s all backed by food-friendly acidity and a long finish. (964 cases; 14.3% alc.)

Saviah Cellars 2013 Barbera, Walla Walla Valley • $30 Walla Walla winemaker Richard Funk excels with this rich red wine typically associated with Italy’s Piedmont region. It’s a plush wine with aromas of black cherry, black currant, mint and milk chocolate. On the palate, it offers beautiful balance and harmonious structure backing big flavors of black and purple fruit. (343 cases; 14.3% alc.)

Yakima Valley Vintners 2014 Primitivo, Columbia Valley • $18 If this delicious wine is any indication, the next generation of Washington winemaking is good hands. The students at Yakima Valley Community College crafted this Primitivo, and it provides aromas and flavors of cocoa, vanilla, black raspberry and plum. It’s all backed by firm tannin and delightful chocolate on the finish. (50 cases; 14.9% alc.)

Wilridge Winery 2013 Estate Sangiovese, Naches Heights • $25 Longtime Washington winemaker Paul Beveridge has always enjoyed working with Italian varieties, and this gorgeous Sangiovese comes from estate grapes in the remote, high-elevation Naches Heights AVA. Aromas of strawberry, raspberry and allspice give way to rich, harmonious flavors of cherry, strawberry and white pepper. It’s all backed by bright acidity and moderate tannins. (266 cases; 13.2% alc.)

Wilridge Winery 2013 Upland Vineyard Barbera, Snipes Mountain • $25 Seattle winemaker and recovering lawyer Paul Beveridge used grapes from Snipes Mountain near Sunnyside, Wash., to craft this delicious Barbera. It opens with aromas of blueberry, Graham cracker and cherry cola, followed by luscious flavors of black cherry, blueberry and elderberry. Rich acidity carries the fruit to the next level. (268 cases; 13.9% alc.)

College Cellars 2014 Sangiovese, Walla Walla Valley • $25 Tim Donahue and his students at Walla Walla Community College brought in grapes from famed Seven Hills Vineyard to craft this beautiful Sangiovese. Aromas of dusty herbs, blackberry and minerality lead to flavors of strawberry, red currant and blueberry. Bright acidity and prominent tannins provide structure and length to this food-friendly red. (49 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Coyote Canyon Winery 2013 Barbera, Horse Heaven Hills • $25 Winemaker Justin Michaud crafted this wine using estate grapes for this Prosser, Wash., winery. It opens with aromas of black currant, black cherry and dark chocolate, followed by rich, round, luscious flavors of blueberry cobbler and blackberry. Gorgeous acidity lifts the fruit and makes this an easy wine to love. (56 cases; 14.3% alc.)

Excellent

Tsillan Cellars 2013 Estate Sangiovese, Lake Chelan • $28 If any winery in Washington should be making Italian varieties, it should be Tsillan Cellars on the south shore of Lake Chelan with its Tuscan theme. This delicious example provides aromas and flavors of blueberry, strawberry and a hint of earthiness. Crisp acidity and solid tannins provide ample structure through the moderate finish. (242 cases; 14% alc.)

Helix by Reininger 2011 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Sangiovese, Columbia Valley • $30 Chuck Reininger dips into one of our favorite Washington vineyards for this bright and classic Sangiovese. Aromas of cigar box, strawberry and blackberry meld with flavors of red currant and Marionberry. This beautifully structured wine provides everything you need through the long, satisfying finish.(431 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Cavatappi 2012 Molly's Cuvée Sangiovese, Columbia Valley • $20 This riserva-style Sangiovese is rich, dark and a little more brooding than most, giving it the structure and flavor to pair with braised or grilled meats. It opens with aromas of Bing cherry, plum and cocoa powder, followed by flavors of blackberry, boysenberry, molasses and dark chocolate.(200 cases; 11.8% alc.)

Best Buy!
Cavatappi 2015 Sangiovese, Columbia Valley • $12 This deliciously fresh Sangiovese from Cavatappi is priced for everyday enjoyment. It opens with plenty of energy, thanks to aromas of black raspberry, sarsaparilla and forest floor. On the palate, it’s all about red and dark fruits, including Bing cherry and boysenberry. Bright acidity gives everything a lift. (1,500 cases; 12.8% alc.)

Tsillan Cellars 2013 Estate Barbera, Lake Chelan • $25 Lake Chelan winemaker Shane Collins has put together a delicious Barbera using estate grapes. Aromas of strawberry and graphite lead to flavors of cherry, strawberry jam and red currant. Classic bright acidity and moderate tannins provide balance and length. (294 cases; 14% alc.)

Harbinger Winery 2013 Primitivo, Horse Heaven Hills • $30 Winemaker Sara Gagnon’s first vintage of Primitivo is a superb wine, thanks to a little expert blending with Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of raspberry jam, vanilla and blackberry give way to rich flavors of bold blue and purple fruit, including huckleberry. (147 cases; 14%% alc.)

Ancestry Cellars 2013 Heritage Series di Donato Sangiovese, Columbia Valley • $25 This Woodinville, Wash., winery now has a second tasting room in Manson, on the north shore of Lake Chelan. This delicious Sangiovese is a big, dark style with aromas and flavors of pomegranate, blackberry and blueberry. RIch acidity and bold tannins provide ample structure. (150 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Claar Cellars 2010 White Bluffs Sangiovese, Columbia Valley • $22 Using estate grapes overlooking the Columbia River, this longtime Washington winery has created a luscious Sangiovese with aromas and flavors of black cherry, vanilla, black tea and chocolate shavings. Mild tannins and firm acidity make for a deliciously rustic finish. (128 cases; 13.3% alc.)

Maryhill Winery 2013 Barbera, Columbia Valley • $22 Winemaker Richard Batchelor has crafted a luscious, drink-now Barbera that unveils aromas and flavors of dusty strawberry, raspberry and rose petals. Its bright acidity and mild tannins give this youthful exuberance. (627 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Wilridge Winery 2013 Clifton Vineyard Nebbiolo, Wahluke Slope • $25 Winemaker Paul Beveridge is dedicated to Nebbiolo, considered one of the finest red grape varieties in the world. This example from the warm Wahluke Slope offers expressive aromas and flavors of caramel, licorice, cherry and red currant. Hints of coffee and pipe tobacco add layers of complexity. (224 cases; 0% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2012 Howling Wolfe Reserve Zinfandel, Horse Heaven Hills • $30 This is one of two Zins made by Wade Wolfe, one of Washington’s longest-tenured and most talented winemakers. This example offers aromas and flavors of cocoa butter, strawberry, blackberry and juicy blueberry. It’s silky smooth with a sensual finish. (100 cases; 15% alc.)

Maryhill Winery 2013 Sangiovese, Columbia Valley • $24 Winemaker Richard Batchelor loves working with different grape varieties, and this is one of more than two dozen he brings in. Aromas of smoky autumn leaves, raspberry and cedar meld with flavors of strawberry, loganberry and dusty minerality. It’s a bright, mouth-filling red. (1,649 cases; 14.3% alc.)

Bunnell Family Cellar 2011 Wine o'Clock Boushey Vineyard Sangiovese, Yakima Valley • $24 Ron Bunnell worked with grape grower Dick Boushey for this bright and delicious Sangiovese. Aromas of red cherry, raspberry and mild oak lead to rich, round flavors of strawberry, Rainier cherry and red currant. It’s all backed by solid tannins and bright acidity. (237 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Ledger David 2013 Sangiovese, Rogue Valley • $26 Winemaker John Quinones crafted this delicious red using estate grapes in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley. Elegant aromas of blackberry, black cherry and vanilla give way to flavors of black licorice, blackberry and black tea. It has beautiful weight in the mouth and a long finish. (400 cases; 14.6% alc.)

College Cellars 2014 Barbera, Walla Walla Valley • $18 Using grapes from Myles Anderson Vineyard, the faculty and students at Walla Walla Community College have crafted a marvelously rich and fun red wine with aromas and flavors of purple fruit, strawberry taffy and boysenberry. (110 cases; 13.1% alc.)

Abacela 2013 Dolcetto, Umpqua Valley • $24 Andrew Wenzl is the man in the cellar at this iconic Southern Oregon winery. He used estate grapes for this rare Northwest Dolcetto. Aromas of mint and dark cherry lead to flavors of blackberry and plum. Bold tannins and rich acidity provide ample structure for pairing with grilled steaks or rich lasagna. (301 cases; 13% alc.)

Maryhill Winery 2013 Zinfandel, Columbia Valley • $24 If Maryhill has a signature wine amid its 60 or so bottlings, this is the one that cemented its reputation as a serious winery in its first couple of years of operation. This current release offers aromas and flavors of dusty cherry, strawberry, cola and cranberry. It’s a bright, approachable, drink-often red.(3,666 cases; 14.5% alc.)

Claar Cellars 2013 White Bluffs Sangiovese, Columbia Valley • $22 Winemaker Joe Hudon has produced a delicious and approachable Sangiovese with classic Washington-style aromas of pomegranate, red currant and rose petals, followed by rich, round flavors of plum and smoky cherry. (110 cases; 13.8% alc.)

Spangler Vineyards 2013 Sangiovese, Oregon • $29 Roseburg, Ore., winemaker Patrick Spangler has put together a delicious Italian-style red with aromas and flavors of strawberry, cranberry and raspberry. Firm tannins on the entry linger throughout, providing ample structure and length. (257 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2013 Zephyr Ridge Vineyard Zinfandel, Horse Heaven Hills • $20 Zephyr Ridge is a favorite vineyard for winemaker Wade Wolfe, who began learning his way around Washington wine country when he arrived in the mid-1970s. This tasty Zin offers aromas and flavors of fresh mint, strawberry and hints of cranberry, all backed by mild tannins. (890 cases; 15% alc.)

Recommended

Coyote Canyon Winery 2012 Sangiovese, Horse Heaven Hills • $20 Aromas of vanilla, black cherry and oak spice lead to flavors of Rainier cherry, red plum and red currant. This is backed by round, smooth, polished tannins that give way to a long, energetic finish. (168 cases; 14.3% alc.)

Woodward Canyon Winery 2013 Estate Barbera, Walla Walla Valley • $29 This longtime Walla Walla Valley winery grows Barbera at its estate vineyard just north of the winery in Lowden, Wash. This example unveils aromas and flavors of pomegranate, pie cherry and dried strawberry, all backed by fine-grained tannins. (356 cases; 14.3% alc.)

Valley View Winery 2013 Anna Maria Zinfandel, Applegate Valley • $24 This longtime Southern Oregon winery has crafted a tasty Zin with aromas and flavors of dried strawberry, raspberry, pomegranate and a hint of Western serviceberry. The structure is based on food-friendly acidity. (400 cases; 15.5% alc.)

Other Varieties What didn’t fit into our other categories went into the “Other red wines” bucket. This category focuses on Tempranillo but also includes wines such as Lemberger, Baco Noir, Tannat and a fortified dessert wine.

Outstanding

FairWinds Winery 2007 Lemberger, Horse Heaven Hills • $21 Port Townsend, Wash., winemaker Micheal Cavett crafted this delicious and well-aged Lemberger using grapes from famed Champoux Vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills. Aromas of lilac, bright cherry and spice lead to flavors of black cherry, blackberry and warm spice. A hint of chocolate reveals itself in the finish. It’s a beautifully made wine with good viscosity and a plush mouth feel. (105 cases; 13.5% alc.)

Melrose Vineyards 2012 Baco Noir, Umpqua Valley • $28 This French-American hybrid grape was first planted in Oregon in 1971 in the Umpqua Valley. This example from a top Southern Oregon producer reveals aromas of black cherry, forest floor and spicy oak. On the palate, it offers flavors of cherry, blueberry and pomegranate, all backed by plush tannins and juicy acidity. (260 cases; 13.4% alc.)

Valley View Winery 2009 Anna Maria Port, Applegate Valley • $30 This delicious fortified dessert wine comes from grapes in the relatively high-elevation vineyards of the Applegate Valley in Southern Oregon. This example provides aromas and flavors of plum, dates, spice and caramel, as well as hints of fig. The lingering sweet dried fruit finish calls out for a second sip in front of a crackling fire. (200 cases; 18.5% alc.)

Bunnell Family Cellar 2014 Wine o'Clock Tempranillo, Columbia Valley • $24 Winemaker Ron Bunnell brought in grapes from famed Lonesome Spring Ranch in the eastern Yakima Valley to craft this superb Tempranillo. It hints at aromas of clove, mint, Graham cracker and blueberry on the nose, followed by flavors of Mexican chocolate, blueberry and pomegranate on the palate. It is beautifully balanced with a delicious finish. (42 cases; 13% alc.)

Excellent

Seven of Hearts 2013 Tannat, Columbia Valley • $29 Tannat is native to the Madiran region of France, which borders Spain in the southwest. This example from the Oregon side of the Columbia Valley is one of the best we’ve tasted. Aromas of Marionberry, blueberry and cream lead to rich flavors of black cherry and blueberry. The variety’s famous tannins have been reasonably tamed here. (125 cases; 13.6% alc.)

David Hill Vineyards & Winery 2013 Tempranillo, Rogue Valley • $30 Longtime Oregon winemaker Jason Bull reached into Southern Oregon for the grapes for this Tempranillo, and it’s a beauty. Aromas of dusty blueberry, oak and sage, followed by flavors of smoky blueberry, pomegranate and cranberry. It’s a firm wine without being too brawny. Notes of bittersweet chocolate show up in the finish. (232 cases; 14.4% alc.)

Coyote Canyon Winery 2013 Tempranillo, Horse Heaven Hills • $25 Winemaker Justin Michaud crafted this Tempranillo using estate grapes in the Horse Heaven Hills. Aromas of dried blueberry, cedar and pomegranate lead to flavors of strawberry, cherry and cranberry. It’s a bright, fruit-driven, easy-drinking red. (211 cases; 14.1% alc.)

Valley View Winery 2012 Anna Maria Tempranillo, Applegate Valley • $24 Valley View has been crafting wines in Southern Oregon since the 1970s and continues to produce delicious reds and whites. This Tempranillo offers aromas and flavors of savory spices, sweet basil, red currant and plum. It’s all backed by bittersweet chocolate in the finish. (1,200 cases; 13.6% alc.)

Abacela 2013 Fiesta Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley • $23 The founders of the Tempranillo industry in the Pacific Northwest continue to make some of the best. This example from winemaker Andrew Wenzl opens with aromas of maple bar, cedar and elderberry, followed by flavors of pomegranate and Marionberry. It is backed by a rich mouth feel and sweet tannins. (1,675 cases; 13.9% alc.)

College Cellars 2014 Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley • $20 Using grapes from the estate Myles Anderson Vineyard, the staff and students at Walla Walla Community College crafted a tasty wine with aromas and flavors of sweet tobacco, blueberry, cherry and low oak. The flavors are matched by bright acidity and medium tannins. (110 cases; 13.8% alc.)

Wilridge Winery 2014 Crawford Vineyard Tempranillo, Yakima Valley • $25 This Tempranillo from a cooler area of the Yakima Valley unveils complex aromas and flavors of cherry cola, spice, raspberry and mint. Its juicy acidity and medium tannins provide ample structure for this fascinating cool-climate Tempranillo. (380 cases; 13.9% alc.)

Recommended

Indian Creek Winery 2014 Tempranillo, Snake River Valley • $24 Opening with a salvo of Bing cherry and roasted meat, this rich and complex Tempranillo offers notes of liquid smoke, sage and blueberry. Mild tannins and acidity make this a delicious, easy-drinking red. (300 cases; 13% alc.)

Silvan Ridge Winery 2013 Tempranillo, Rogue Valley • $26 Based in Eugene, this longtime Oregon winery stretched into the warm Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon to create this red. Aromas of saddle leather, blueberry and pomegranate lead to flavors of forest floor and pomegranate. (300 cases; 14.2% alc.)

Indian Creek Winery 2013 Tempranillo, Snake River Valley •  $24 This youthful Tempranillo shows off aromas and flavors of blueberry syrup on fresh-baked brownie, as well as notes of raspberry, president plum and pomegranate. (500 cases; 13% alc.)

Andy Perdue is editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine, an award-winning news and information company. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com. He’s also the wine columnist for The Seattle Times.

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