Spring 2011

Recent Releases: Red wines

The following red wines were reviewed in the "Recent Releases" section of the Spring 2011 issue of Wine Press Northwest.

Airfield Estates 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, $22

Recommended: Spicy raspberry and Van cherry hints include coffee and cedar. Then some jammy blackberry flavors on the midpalate give way to pinch of brambleberry seed tannin. (779 cases, 14.4% alc.)

Cathedral Ridge Winery 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $44

Outstanding: Hillside Vineyard in The Dalles, Ore., gave winemaker Michael Sebastiani all he needed to produce what may be his best effort for this scenic winery in Hood River, Ore. The influence of barrel is significant, with chocolate-chip cookie and cherry tobacco aromas, but there's still plenty of room in the nose for fruit that hints at dusty boysenberry, pomegranate and a whiff of sea air. The drink is light, bright and easy with chocolate-covered cherries, raspberry extract and a pinch of tobacco. (171 cases, 14.6% alc.)

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Chateau Ste. Michelle 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $16

Outstanding: A stunning wine at any price, and the scale of production is equally amazing. It's interesting to note that the components include Syrah (9%), Mourvedre and Grenache, which helps explain the tremendous breadth across the palate. There's blueberry, black cherry jam, lavender, lilac and minerality in the nose, followed by more cherry jam flavors. Oak and tannins show up mainly as Belgian chocolate, but a squeeze more of blueberry and some slate in the finish add to the layers of complexity. (240,000 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2007 Ethos Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $38

Excellent.: Aromas begin with boysenberry, cassis and stewed plums, backed by coffee and chocolate. It turns into an unctuous drink that blossoms with cherries, chocolate and plums, capped by black chai in the finish. The 2006 version of this won a Platinum in 2010, so this vintage likely needs just a bit more time to come around. (2,500 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Cliff Creek Cellars 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Southern Oregon, $24

Recommended: A straightforward, medium-bodied Cab, it's light in the aromas, but the drink is reminiscent of Red Velvet Cake with its theme of raspberry, red currants, strawberry and mocha coffee. (428 cases, 13.4% alc.)

Columbia Crest 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $40

Excellent: A younger brother to the much-acclaimed 2005 version, it's rather robust with barrel notes of tiramisu, root beer and Graham cracker crust, backed by blackberry. The drink features black cherry and currant jam with some brambleberry, earthiness, shaved chocolate and taut tannin. Suggested pairings include braised lamb shank, Peking duck or puttanesca. (5,000 cases, 14.4% alc.)

Coyote Canyon Winery 2008 Coyote Canyon Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $22

Outstanding: Mike Andrews and his family run one of Washington's largest vineyards, and this young winery in Prosser is growing in stature, too. This remarkable presentation comes with nicely concentrated aromas of poached plums, raspberry, blueberry taffy, leather, Red Vines licorice, toasted marshmallow and latte sprinkled with nutmeg. The drink is rich all the way with ripe Bing cherries, raspberry, dried blueberry, red currants and green peppercorns. There's a bit of grip, but acidity of red blackberries keeps it in the rear. (255 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Desert Wind Vineyard 2008 Desert Wind Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope, $18

Outstanding: Here's a wine that strikes out with soul and power from the raising of the curtain to the final note. Black currants, boysenberry, blackberry, dark chocolate, grilled Portobello mushroom and black olives create the vibe. And the proud, sinewy baseline of the drink is akin to the R&B sound of the Isley Brothers. There's gusto of bold cherry, French press coffee and black licorice, yet a suppleness of blackberry jam. It's a stone-cold lover. (3,760 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Dunham Cellars 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon XII, Columbia Valley, $45

Excellent: Two estate vineyards - Lewis in the Yakima Valley and Double River in the Walla Walla Valley - are blended for a rich delivery of red currant, black cherry and blackberries. Tucked into the corners are notes of gingerbread, mint, coffee and Earl Grey tea. (1,688 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Dumas Station Wines 2007 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $32

Excellent: The folks at Minnick Hills Vineyard celebrated their fifth vintage with this fascinating offering, which is warm with vanilla and smoke aromas that swirl with black cherry cola, rosemary, sage and thyme. It's a sturdy drink that stretches broadly across the palate with notes of plum, raspberry, salted caramels, saddle leather and a pinch of juniper berry. (511 cases, 15.3% alc.)

Dusted Valley Vintners 2007 V.R. Special Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $53

Excellent: The "Sconni boys" used Wisconsin oak and took extra care with their tribute to "Grandpa" Vernon Rhodes. His chocolate-chip cookies would warm anyone up, and this is chock-full of bittersweet chocolate, black currants, dark cherries, plums, hazelnuts and even some butterscotch chips in the back. A firm tug of tannin and DVV's remarkable skill with acidity make the finish sing. (225 cases, 15.3% alc.)

Gard Vintners 2007 Lawrence Vineyards Twenty Six Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $40

Excellent: The Lawrence family adopted a Scandinavian term for "farm" as the name of its winery operation in the Frenchman Hills of Washington. Wide-ranging winemaker Robert Smasne produced the blend of clones 2 and 6 into a huge offering of blackberry, chocolate and coffee. Its rich structure also carries cassis and black licorice into the finish of managed tannins. (73 cases, 13.9% alc.)

Heymann Whinery 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, $24

Recommended: The Heymanns continue their relationship with Harold Pleasant's vineyard near Prosser, and this bottling is rustic and an easy drink with cassis, pie cherries, crushed leaf, roasted bell pepper and tobacco. (60 cases, 13.6% alc.)

H/H Estates 2008 Coyote Canyon Vineyard Big John Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $32

Excellent: Here's the more elegant, top-tier label for Coyote Canyon Winery in Prosser, Wash. This Cab is a tribute to a bull that fetched a top price at a stock show. Indeed, open the barn door to a big drink of dark, unctuous black fruit, coconut and Graham cracker that keeps on moving and carries some hefty tannin. (114 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Jacksonville Vineyards 2006 Fiasco Cabernet Sauvignon, Applegate Valley, $30

Recommended: A straightforward 100% offering of Cab, it has a lot of offer, starting with sweet and spicy aromas of cassis, cedar, green olive, rose petal, leather and crushed leaf. There's a nice roll-out of cherries and currants again on the entry to the palate, and late tannins give it plenty of heft. (120 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Nk'Mip Cellars 2007 Qwam Qwmt Cabernet Sauvignon, Okanagan Valley, $30 CDN

Recommended: Those who warm up to barrel influences can cozy up to this as 18 months of 80% French oak cast off aromas of chocolate, black licorice, backed by cassis, pink peppercorns and a slice of jalapeno cheese bread. The structure features cassis and pie cherries, presented with high acidity and medium tannins. Hints of black olive, more licorice and earthiness give this an Old World feel with lots of food applications. (640 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Pyrenees Vineyard & Cellars 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Umpqua Valley, $35

Recommended: This easy-going Cab got its start two years before this young Southern Oregon winery opened its tasting room. It shows sweet Rainier cherries, currants, endearing chocolaty tones, cracked red peppercorns and a shy tannin structure. (200 cases, 12.8% alc.)

St. Laurent Winery 2007 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope, $30

Recommended: This full-on Cab provides notes of cassis, blackberry and cocoa powders. There's lots of spice from black pepper and cinnamon, some mintiness and firm tannins from the midpalate on back. (210 cases, 14.6% alc.)

Saviah Cellars 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $28

Excellent: Richard Funk makes this in an almost-trademark Walla Walla fashion - warm oak tones and hedonistic extraction of fruit from venerable Pepper Bridge, Seven Hills and McClellan Estate. Those who enjoy that will love the presentation of vanilla bean, cherry wood, plums, blackberry, eucalyptus, black olive and coffee aromas. It's silky on the attack with black cherry and marionberry flavors. In the back, you'll find lingering blueberry acidity, lots of bittersweet chocolate and a Coffee Nip. (640 cases, 14.1% alc.)

Syringa Winery 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Idaho, $21

Recommended: Mike Crowley's boutique winery serves in part as a tribute to his late sister, who left behind a daughter named after the Idaho state flower. The Cab, made in Garden City, gives a warm impression of black cherry with oak influences of chocolate malt, vanilla extract and a cup of coffee. (180 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Three Rivers Winery 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $21

Excellent: Holly Turner gave this broad appeal, building it for collectors' cellars and the dinner table. Its nose is brimming with blueberry, caramel, moist earth, capsicum and porcini mushroom, and the structure is one of finesse featuring black currants, pie cherry and green olive. The savory aspect and very late grip of tannin will play out well alongside a tapenade. (2,200 cases, 14.6% alc.)

Vale Wine Co. 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Snake River Valley, $20

Recommended: Skyline Vineyard near Caldwell, Idaho, and winemaker John Danielson worked together for a dark and lingering drink of cassis, cola, alder-smoked bacon, sarsaparilla and crushed leaf. Dusty tannins emerge in the tarry finish. (94 cases, 13.9% alc.)

William Church Winery 2007 Molly's Vintage Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $29

Recommended: They've named this bottling in support of a late friend who launched a foundation for diabetes and transplant research. The Balsleys will donate some of the proceeds from this bottling of currants, blueberry, plums, horehound, fresh beets and hazelnut. (250 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Airfield Estates 2008 Merlot, Yakima Valley, $22

Outstanding: Boysenberry, dried cherry tomato, rich pizza sauce and chocolate aromas spill out into flavors of ripe president plums, red currants and boysenberries. It's a balanced, smooth and mouth-filling drink, and the berries and chocolate tones drift on forever. (852 cases, 15.8% alc.)

Bergevin Lane Vineyards 2008 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $26

Recommended: Classic notes of black currants, plums, leather and cocoa powder include some Rainier cherry juiciness and raspberry acidity. (292 cases, 14.4% alc.)

Bookwalter Winery 2008 Foreshadow Merlot, Columbia Valley, $40

Outstanding: Heady aromas explode like a chocolate smoke bomb, but there's also boysenberry, cherry, leather, coffee, cigar leaf and tar notes among the table of contents. On the attack, one gets the sense of the Syrah (11%) with the sweet blackberry flavors, met by boysenberry, blueberry and late tannin. The structure is both hedonistic and powerful - thanks to the Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun connection - with lots of chapters to go through. (1,468 cases, 15.2% alc.)

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2007 Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot, Horse Heaven Hills, $22

Outstanding: This prized site bears fruit that can shoulder a bold program of French oak for 18 months, and the interaction shows in notes of black cherry, blueberry jam, sun-ripened blackberry and a steaming pour of espresso. It's cherries and chocolate on the palate. Tannins are sinewy rather than brawny, which has come to be accepted from Merlot made in Washington. Then again, inserting Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) probably kept the tannin in check. Suggested fare includes lamb or fowl influenced by sweet herbs. (9,000 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2007 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $16

Outstanding: One seemingly cannot go wrong with a Cabernet or a Merlot made from this vintage by red winemaker Joshua Maloney and his boss, Bob Bertheau. It's supercharged with some Syrah (8%) and Malbec (3%), which give it aromatics of raspberry, pie cherry, Medjool date, saddle leather and chocolate. There's a subtle opulence on the approach as currants, cherries, chocolate and spicy tobacco play out in a medium structure with easy tannins. Bertheau refers to this an "everyday red," but it's more special than that. (160,000 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Columbia Crest 2007 Reserve Merlot, Columbia Valley, $25

Recommended: The portfolio for this lot features a lively approach with Black Republic cherry, blueberry, lean blackberry, Swisher Sweet cigar and cinnamon with Baker's chocolate, black coffee and slight gritty tannins. (2,000 cases, 14.4% alc.)

Gray Monk Cellars 2008 Odyssey Dry Creek Merlot, Okanagan Valley, $18

Recommended: Inviting density in the aromatics includes boysenberry jam, blueberry, nutmeg, Hoisin sauce and pencil lead. Marionberry leads the easy entry to the palate, followed by blueberry acidity, red currants and a bite of a Twix bar. The generous tannins will be nicely served with lamb chops and mint jelly. (2,950 cases, 14.6% alc.)

Foxy Roxy Wines 2008 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $20

Recommended: Idaho winemaker Kevin Rogers is working with this estate winery for StoneRidge Vineyards in the Frenchman Hills near Othello, Wash. Black cherry, plump blueberry, black licorice and smooth chocolate notes make this straightforward, tasty and ready to drink now. (175 cases, 13.9% alc.)

Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards 2008 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $20

Excellent: The Gordons are into their fourth decade of growing grapes along the Snake River near Pasco, Wash. Their winemaker, Tim Henley, developed a fruity and sturdy Merlot that carries tones of boysenberry, black cherry and Craisins with milk chocolate and Earl Grey tea. (2,128 cases, 13.7% alc.)

Hightower Cellars 2007 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $25

Outstanding: Tim and Kelly Hightower created a Merlot from mostly Red Mountain fruit that shows more finesse and feminine qualities than many of their neighbors. The sense of panache shows in the nose of raspberry, slate, Belgian chocolate, cinnamon and twist of lime. Envision fresh-picked president plums with black raspberries for flavors, joined by a light touch of oak. The finish includes black currants and a rub of lavender. (336 cases, 14.2% alc.)

NK'Mip Cellars 2007 Merlot, Okanagan Valley, $20 CDN

Excellent: Being as this vineyard is so close to the border, it makes sense that Randy Picton's release drinks similar to a Washington Merlot. Boysenberry, dark cherry, blackberry and tobacco aromas include hints of leather and beef juice. It's more boysenberry and marionberry to the tongue with a rich mouth feel, backed by chocolate-covered cherries and tannins that are chalky yet integrated. (3,879 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Page Cellars 2007 The Norseman Merlot, Red Mountain, $20

Outstanding: Woodinville, Wash., winemaker/pilot Jim Page names this wine after a 1935 fabric-skinned plane, and he made this a smooth ride. The construction from E&E Shaw Vineyard catches air with wide-ranging aromas of Bing cherry, raspberry, cedar, lime, celery stalk and chalkboard dust. He sticks the landing in opulent fashion with black cherry, boysenberry and loganberry, throttling down with bittersweet chocolate and black licorice. (241 cases, 14.4% alc.)

Pend d'Oreille Winery 2006 Merlot, Washington, $21

Recommended: Grapes from Wells Vineyard in Benton City and Coyote Canyon in the Horse Heaven Hills made their way to the Idaho Panhandle for this drink of cherry fruit leather, dark Muscovado sugar and pomegranate. (394 cases, 14.7% alc.)

Pentage Winery 2006 Merlot, Okanagan Valley, $20 CDN

Excellent: Bordeaux varieties continue to show well in British Columbia, and this Penticton winery crafted another fine example. Black cherry, blueberry, chocolate and red licorice aromas include juniper berry and oregano. There's nice richness to the fruity entry of boysenberry and cherry, followed by a lift of raspberry and noticeable but not overwhelming tannin and a finish of chocolate. (195 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Pyrenees Vineyard & Cellars 2009 Merlot, Umpqua Valley, $24

Recommended: Smooth blueberry, black cherry, smoky chocolate and dark olive accents play out nicely with ample acidity and balanced tannins. (900 cases, 13.2% alc.)

St. Laurent Winery 2007 Estate Merlot, Wahluke Slope, $25

Recommended: Compelling aromas of Rainier cherry, root beer, milk chocolate, tar and Bazooka bubble gum funnel into flavors of pomegranate, pie cherry and orange peel. Both the sturdy tannins and milk chocolate linger in the farewell. (105 cases, 14.6% alc.)

SuLei Cellars 2008 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $23

Excellent: Tanya Woodley has learned a lot about winemaking, both as a product of the Walla Walla Community College wine program and working at Whitman Cellars. Her interpretation of Merlot opens with whispers of cassis, black cherry, strawberry, dusty blueberry, pink peppercorns and hot cocoa. On the palate, it checks in with more strawberry, cherry and chocolate, before checking out with a cup of blueberry tea. (66 cases, 14.2% alc.)

The Pines 1852 2008 The Pines Vineyard Merlot, Columbia Gorge, $20

Excellent: Peter Rosback became famous in Oregon for Pinot Noir, but he's made exceptional Merlot from Columbia Valley fruit for years under his Sineann label. He seems entrenched as the hired gun at Lonnie Wright's winery in Hood River, Ore., with this easy offering of dark cherries, cranberry, Medjool dates, Days Work tobacco and allspice. (200 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2008 Merlot, Washington, $28

Excellent: Crawford Vineyard on the outskirts of Prosser helped Wade Wolfe bring out aromas of red currants, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and moist earth. The currants and confection carry onto the nicely packaged drink, backed by dark plums, raspberry and a hint of eucalyptus. (25 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Walla Walla Vintners 2008 Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $28

Excellent: This gathering of Pepper Bridge, Dwelley, Seven Hills, Killian and Spring Creek helps make for a lovely nose of Rainier cherry, rose petal, Nilla Wafer and hickory. There's more of the same on the palate with Chukar Cherry, nutty caramel, cloves, menthol and tobacco. (800 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Vale Wine Co. 2008 Merlot, Snake River Valley, $18

Excellent: John Danielson continues to develop his program, which has vineyards in Vale, Ore., along the Idaho border. Here's one of his best productions, and it features blueberry pie, red currant, Five-Spice powder and nice char. Hints of grilled pomegranate and creme soda make for a lengthy finish. (94 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Abacela 2008 Syrah, Southern Oregon, $19

Recommended: This plummy and jammy drink shows off lots cola and brown sugar accents, but its hallmark is the delicious mix of marionberry, blueberry, lingonberry and raspberry flavors and acidity. (292 cases, 13.7% alc.)

Agate Ridge Vineyard 2007 Syrah, Rogue Valley, $23

Recommended: Made in a lighter structure from estate blocks, this tribute by a Rogue Valley winery to France's Rhone Valley is chock full of boysenberry, pie cherry, tangerine and pink peppercorn tones. The acidity stays just ahead of the tannins, and there are fascinating notes of slate, hickory, salted caramels and even Mike & Ike candy. (211 cases, 13.8% alc.)

Airfield Estates 2009 Reserve Syrah, Yakima Valley, $35

Outstanding: No holding back here, it's 100% Syrah and ready to drink. Black cherry, blueberry, blackberry, pomegranate, chocolate, vanilla bean and savory sage aromas find redemption in the mouth. Flavors ramp up with cherry jam and blueberry jelly in a somewhat lighter structure with some smokiness, nice acidity and a fresh-brewed mocha. (191 cases, 14.7% alc.)

Bergevin Lane Vineyards 2007 Barrel Select Syrah, Columbia Valley, $59

Excellent: Tedd Wildman's StoneTree Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope continues to pop up in some of the best reds made in Washington. Smoky oak aromas don't stand up to the hints of blueberry, spicy tomato and beef blood spattering on a hot grill. The drink is filled with blackberry and marionberry flavors that make this juicy. Red licorice and peppermint saunter onto the midpalate, and the oak tones impart some chocolate in the finish. (240 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Bergevin Lane Vineyards 2008 Francisca's Vineyard Princess Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $48

Outstanding: Tim and Cisca Rogan's parcel has become a major cog for the female-owned winery. It's unmistakably Syrah with in-your-face gaminess and gunmetal aromas, supported by cordial cherries, dark plums, black pepper and vanilla bourbon extract. Slice up a blackberry pie, toss in some blueberries and black currants and you've got a sense for the flavors. It's a smooth and stylish wine as the tannins merely carry the fruit along. (150 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Bergevin Lane Vineyards 2007 She-Devil Syrah, Columbia Valley, $20

Outstanding: It's not clear how co-owners Annette Bergevin and Amber Lane arrived at the name of the wine. Danish winemaker Steffan Jorgensen may not say, but he's got a heavenly touch with this variety. Here, he blended StoneTree (73%) and Francisca's vineyards into one helluva Syrah - regardless of price. Chocolate-covered cherries, allspice, sage, roasted coffee and black pepper aromas help prepare the palate. There, the focus is ripe blackberry with black cherry pie, allspice and chocolaty tannins that make it dark and lovely. (650 cases, 14.6% alc.)

Cinder Wines 2008 Syrah, Snake River Valley, $27

Recommended: Melanie Krause's gathering from Sawtooth, Skyline and Williamson vineyards creates a mood of black cherry, plums, cinnamon and bacon. Its acidity is reminiscent of blueberries, and there's a sweet farewell of Milk Duds. (380 cases, 14.1% alc.)

Claar Cellars 2008 White Bluffs Syrah, Columbia Valley, $17

Outstanding: This second-generation vineyard/winery near Tri-Cities, Wash., continues to amaze, and here's one of the best expressions of Syrah you will find at any price. It's plummy and smoky from the first whiff with bacon, scraped vanilla bean, Starbuck's liqueur, brown sugar and Graham cracker. The drink is hugely hedonistic with blackberry, plum and French-press coffee. Its acidity is lively with late-arriving tannins and French vanilla ice cream in the finish. (256 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Cliff Creek Cellars 2005 Estate Syrah, Southern Oregon, $25

Outstanding: The Garvin family's Sams Valley Vineyard in Gold Hill provides a shining example of age-worthy Syrah in the Northwest. Hints of bacon fat, black pepper, boysenberry syrup and violets in the aromas lead to smooth and lengthy flavors of blueberry and smoky chocolate. Critical to the structure is the remarkable way the acidity overwhelms the tannins, which are reminiscent of black tea and a Fuji apple peel. (1,785 cases, 14.1% alc.)

Columbia Crest 2008 Coyote Canyon Vineyard Reserve Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills, $35

Excellent: Here's quite a feather in the cap of the Andrews family, who make some outstanding wines under the name of their own vineyard. Blueberry, vanilla, gunmetal and minerality aromas also bring to mind savory notes of duck breast in a reduction sauce. On the palate are juicy boysenberry, pomegranate and fresh cranberry, bringing more acidity than one normally would expect from a Syrah. Beets and sandy tannins in the back make this a savory drink. (400 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Dunham Cellars 2006 Syrah, Columbia Valley, $35

Recommended: A variety of rich and sweet notes come packaged, primarily blackberries, smoked bacon and gingersnap cookie dough. It's a plummy drink that's ready to roll now because of its low acidity and mild tannin. (1,647 cases, 14.6% alc.)

Eaglemount Winery 2007 Syrah, Wahluke Slope, $19

Recommended: This small Olympic Peninsula winery released a lively drink with blueberry, cranberry, pie cherry and red pepper flakes, making it spicy and juicy. (100 cases, 13.5% alc.)

El Corazon Winery 2009 With Love Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills, $23

Excellent: The teeny-weeny operation just a block from the Whitman College campus picks up more followers every semester. Wines such as this are the reason, and their booty from Phinny Hill Vineyard opens up with a nice extraction of boysenberry, black cherry, a raspberry Danish, a cedar strip and some gaminess. The flavors are of a bubbling boysenberry and Old Orchard Pomegranate-Cherry Juice and smooth chocolate with a core of ample acidity and minimal tannin. (90 cases, 14.9% alc.)

Heymann Whinery 2007 Syrah, Yakima Valley, $20

Recommended: No, it's not a typo. The fun-loving Heymanns put the "whine" in their Chehalis, Wash., winery. Black cherry, chocolate, root beer and boysenberry accents are the hallmarks of this drink. There's nice richness of fudge-covered, backed by frontal acidity, then it yields to tannins akin to graphite. (75 cases, 13.8% alc.)

Hightower Cellars 2008 Murray Syrah, Red Mountain, $20

Recommended: The winery dog gets his name and his face on this bottle, which will help you retrieve thoughts of blueberry, stewed plums, mincemeat pie, black pepper and currant jam. There's nice tartness and spice to its medium body, trailed by white pepper and a dusting of cocoa powder. (198 cases, 14.4% alc.)

Lake Chelan Winery 2008 Rivers Bend Estate Vineyard Syrah, Columbia Valley, $28

Outstanding: Ray Sandidge continues to create some great wines to serve at the family's fun barbecue stop overlooking the lake. However, this crop is from a site that overlooks the Yakima River near Benton City, Wash. It's a nose filled with boysenberry, blackberry, smoke and leather. The drink is stylish, smooth, juicy and fruit-forward, leading with those brambleberries and finished with some black tea. (400 cases, 13.7% alc.)

LeVieux Pin 2008 Syrah, Okanagan Valley, $45

Excellent: Golden Mile and Black Sage vineyard grapes were cropped down to 3.1 tons per acre. That begins to explain the condensed nature of this juice. A quick nosing draws in bacon fat, raspberry, blueberry, saddle leather and cigar. There's no disappointment on the palate, which drinks lively and evenly with smoky and peppery notes. (487 cases, 13.9% alc.)

Lost River Winery 2007 Cote-Wall, Columbia Valley, $26

Outstanding: John Morgan's Methow Valley winery brought in Syrah (92%) from Wallula Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills and co-fermented it with Viognier - and seemingly Cascade huckleberries. The nose is mountainous with marionberry, moist earth and minerality, backed by plums, black cherry, black licorice, cigar and gaminess. It's melt-in-your-mouth huckleberry on the palate, chased by dark black cherry, allspice and coffee. (192 cases, 13.9% alc.)

McKinley Springs Winery 2007 Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills, $20

Excellent: Blueberry ice cream, boysenberry and peaberry accents pick up lots of chocolate, some meatiness and assertive tannins in the finish. (365 cases, 15.2% alc.)

Mission Hill Family Estate 2007 S.L.C. Select Lot Collection Syrah, Okanagan Valley, $37 CDN

Recommended: This icon in the Okanagan Valley offers up a drink that carries notes of pomegranates, pie cherries, saddle leather, minerality, Milk Duds and a sense of gaminess. The acidity and smooth finish will pair well with fowl. (14% alc.)

OS Winery 2007 Dineen Vineyard Syrah, Yakima Valley, $25

Excellent: Some of the top wineries in Washington are drawn to these plantings in Zillah. Bill Owen and Rob Sullivan were among the early shoppers, and here's their fourth release from this vineyard. The nose shows cherry chocolate milk, boysenberry, root beer candy, molasses and a Fig Newton. They built this with a medium body and made it juicy with a depth of boysenberry, blackberry and strawberry. (45 cases, 14.6% alc.)

Pentâge Winery 2007 Syrah, Okanagan Valley, $25

Excellent: There's such a presence of fresh-picked blueberries throughout this offering that you might be tempted to pour it over a stack of flapjacks. It's a nose filled with pure blueberry syrup with some plum, blackberry, raspberry and earthiness. Blueberry leads the flavors, which are soon overtaken by a blackberry jam midpalate and a farewell of black pepper and coffee. (100 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Pyrenees Vineyard & Cellars 2007 Reserve Syrah, Umpqua Valley, $35

Excellent: The Apodacas hail from the Basque region of Spain, and their young winery along the banks of the South Umpqua River offers up a version of Syrah that's more versatile than most. There's a rustic quality to the nose of cassis, cedar, anise, beef juice and smoky cedar. The drink is lively with lots of raspberry, boysenberry and more currants. It's bright acidity and bite of raspberry seed tannin will pair well with tomato-based dishes or venison. (600 cases, 12.9% alc.)

Quady North 2007 Syrah 4-2, A, Umpqua Valley, $25

Excellent: While it may be difficult to decode some of Herb Quady's labels and names for his wines, drinking them comes easily. A 2010 Platinum winner for his 2008 Cabernet Franc, he blends Serenade, Sams Valley, Steelhead Run and Fly High vineyards. It runs the table of plums, milk chocolate, bacon, gun metal and graphite. The palate is nearly bulletproof because of the concentrated fruit core and growing brambleberry acidity. A slab of pork ribs will tastefully deal with its bite of blackberry seed tannin. As for 4-2, A? It was coined by his daughter, who described her blend of water and juice as "fortooay" - as in Cabernet, Chardonnay (420 cases, 13.7% alc.)

St. Laurent Winery 2007 Estate Syrah, Wahluke Slope, $28

Excellent: The Mracheks were among the savvy folks to sink vines in the Wahluke Slope, and the ripeness of the fruit shows here. It's Syrah, so of course there's a tone of blackberry to the nose, then come strawberry, pomegranate, coffee and a malted milk ball. Lush and juicy describes the spilling of plum and strawberry flavors. On the midpalate is boysenberry acidity, followed by hints of soft pencil lead and vanilla bean. (105 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Saviah Cellars 2007 Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $32

Recommended: Finding an oak-filled Syrah with gobs of food-friendly acidity isn't easy, so here's one to take note of. Smoky bacon, blackberry, cherry, vanilla bean and molasses accents come with blueberry tartness amid a low tannin profile. (217 cases, 14.1% alc.)

3 Horse Ranch Vineyard 2008 Reserve Syrah, Snake River Valley, $19

Outstanding: Greg Koenig's winemaking talents and Gary Cunningham's organic vineyard are proving to be a delicious partnership. Toasted oak aromas are akin to a fresh-baked brownie and readily joined by blackberry, black cherry, black raspberry and leather. Skill shows on the palate with a smooth entry of soft fruit, vibrant acidity and a nice hit of sweet chocolate before the arrival of tannin. Pair alongside tenderloin with a berry reduction sauce. (675 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Torii Mor Vineyard & Winery 2008 Syrah, Rogue Valley, $28

Recommended: The Willamette Valley's Jacques Tardy headed to Southern Oregon for these grapes, and he brought back a wine filled with juicy boysenberry, blueberry and cherry extract, backed by Intriguing minerality, herbs and chocolate syrup. (196 cases, 14.6% alc.)

Tsillan Cellars 2007 Barrel Select Syrah, Lake Chelan, $28

Recommended: Darker accents of dusty plums, cola, cordial cherry, dates and moist earth gather up enjoyable acidity and get a late grab of tannin. (490 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Walla Walla Vintners 2008 Morrison Lane Vineyard Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $32

Recommended: Abundant oak often serves as the thumbprint from Walla Walla's famous red-roofed barn. Their fans should relish this production featuring deep dark cherry, blueberry and boysenberry with smoked bacon, chocolate and Black Silk tobacco. (96 cases, 14.5% alc.)

William Church Winery 2008 Jennifer's Vintage Syrah, Columbia Valley, $25

Excellent: Three highly regarded vineyards - Dineen, Red Willow and Stillwater Creek - play significant roles in this opulent offering. The nose features hints of blackberry jam, black pepper, Aussie black licorice, smoked ham hock and celery leaf. Many features become capitalized on the palate, starting with a sweet blackberry approach, rolling acidity and thick tannins. A slice of chocolate cake with raspberry jam shows up, along with vanilla extract. Enjoy with a porterhouse steak or pork bellies with cracklings. (200 cases, 15.1% alc.)

El Corazon Winery 2009 First Crush Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley, $23

Recommended: Cassis, crushed leaf, pie cherry, milk chocolate, tar and leather make up the theme of this savory, high-acid, low-tannin drink. (80 cases, 14.8% alc.)

Mount Baker Vineyards & Winery 2008 Proprietor's Limited Release Cabernet Franc, Yakima Valley, $18

Outstanding: This winery along the gateway to North Cascades National Park does consistent work producing food-friendly wines. The trip to Kiona (55%), Dineen (33%) and Pleasant vineyards sets the table for aromas of raspberry, pie cherry, strawberry candy and black pepper, backed by minerality and crushed leaf. The palate screams "take me to the Loire" because of the juicy red cherry and cranberry acidity. A turn of the peppermill, some anise and reduced tannin open the cupboard to possibilities. (225 cases, 14.4% alc.)

OS Winery 2008 Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Horse Heaven Hills, $28

Excellent: The plan to reduce the alcohol in their work with this variety is paying dividends at this winery near Seattle's Boeing Field. Its nose flashes lots of cedar, pomegranate and blueberry, along with Dr Pepper and slate. Between the lips are lots of pie cherries, juicy raspberry and lean blackberry. (245 cases, 14.1% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2008 Cabernet Franc, Washington, $28

Outstanding: Only one barrel's worth was created using grapes from McKinley Springs Vineyard, which makes this even more coveted. Influence from American and Hungarian oak makes for an incredibly expressive and smoky nose of strawberry, Van cherry, chocolate cake and vanilla, backed by whiffs of cedar frond, pink peppercorn and crushed leaf. In the mouth, there is a solid core of maraschino cherry, lively strawberry and fresh-picked raspberry with a stray leaf. Lovely acidity, balanced alcohol and a gradual tannin structure make this enjoyable on its own or delicious with Salisbury steak. (25 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Saviah Cellars 2007 Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla Valley, $28

Excellent: As a drink, it's dreamy. The only knock is that there's almost none of the leafy character some Cab Franc fans adore. The product of McClellan, Seven Hills and Watermill vines comes with aromas of raspberries, cherries dusted with cocoa powder, pleasing minerality and a dab of resin. Richard Funk tailored the drink for a silky extraction that shows sweet black cherry and dark raspberry flavors. Acidity finishes just ahead of the tannin and leaves room for a pinch of horehound. (262 cases, 14.1% alc.)

Walla Walla Vintners 2008 Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley, $28

Outstanding: Myles Anderson and Gordy Venneri launched their winery in 1995 and are recognized as the first winemakers in Washington to prominently feature this less-appreciated Bordeaux variety. They haven't lost their touch with fruit from Weinbau, Sagemoor, Cordon Grove and Dwelley vineyards. The nose hints at black cherry, blueberry and boysenberry, with milk chocolate, leather and fallen autumn leaves. On the palate, it's more of a crowd-pleaser than most bottles of Cabernet Franc because of the focus on fruit rather than leafiness. It opens with blue fruit before the arrival of black cherry, leather and chocolate on the midpalate. Inky tannins yield to a beautiful cascade of more cherries in the finish. (757 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Coyote Canyon Winery 2006 Sangiovese, Horse Heaven Hills, $16

Excellent: Aromas of boysenberry, marionberry, brownie mix, roasted meat, tobacco and slate evolve into a very fruit-forward palate of more brambleberries. There's nice cranberry-like acidity with barely a nibble of tannin. (216 cases, 14.8% alc.)

San Juan Vineyards 2008 Sangiovese, Yakima Valley, $23

Recommended: New on our radar is Les Vignes DeMarcoux Vineyard, sister to famed Red Willow Vineyard near the Mount Adams foothills. It supplied to fruit to this island destination winery that has turned out a brisk drink of juicy cranberry, raspberry and blueberry tea. (175 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Sinclair Estate Vineyard 2008 Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $28

Excellent: This marks just the second vintage for this winery in Walla Walla, and Amy Alvarez-Wampfler creates volumes of interest with grapes from Desert Hills Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. French oak barrels, Malbec (12%) off Les Collines and Cabernet Sauvignon (12%) from Lewis give it the feel of a Super Tuscan with scents of raspberry, boysenberry, Graham cracker and roasted coffee. The Italian grape shines on the palate with boysenberry and lots of blueberry acidity to override what little tannin there is. And in the finish is a fun bit of cherry jellybean. (222 cases, 14.35 alc.

Walla Walla Vintners 2008 Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $24

Excellent: A former student of Myles Anderson, Bill vonMetzger, has taken over as the winemaker, and the focus of this Italian program will shift as their on-premise vines mature. For this vintage, though, Dwelley, Desert View and Kiona fit the bill. It's a presentation of purple blackberry, Van cherry and cranberry that stays juicy through the midpalate. Sweet chocolate and a rub of tannin could match with tomato-based meat dishes or chicken mole. (845 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Abacela Winery 2008 Tempranillo, Southern Oregon, $20

Recommended: Alluring aromas of plums, Dr Pepper, horehound, chocolate and dusty roses funnel into a bold drink of cherries and chocolate. It comes backed by racy blueberry acidity and tannins that will relax over time. Enjoy now with osso buco or some Famous Dave's barbecue. (1,835 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Airfield Estates 2009 Tempranillo, Yakima Valley, $20

Recommended: A relatively new grape to the Yakima Valley, this hits a lighter theme than most with accents of raspberry, strawberry/rhubarb compote, cherry extract, chalkboard dust and bit of tar. (562 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Columbia Crest 2008 Reserve Tempranillo, Wahluke Slope, $35

Excellent: Winemakers enjoy working with small lots of different varieties, and here is the second vintage of a limited bottling for this Paterson, Wash., giant. "Temprano" is Spanish for "early," and this lot was harvested Oct. 14. It makes for aromas of boysenberry jam, dark plums, allspice and cherry cream candy. Plums come back in the drink, joined by black currants and blueberry acidity. The good grip of tannin makes a good pairing with braised ribs, lamb chops or a hearty stew. (200 cases, 14.1% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2008 Tempranillo, Washington, $25

Excellent: Wade Wolfe's skills in the vineyard and in the winery with this Spanish variety show he's a quick study. It opens with warm barrel tones and aromas that hint at Double Cherry Sundae, backed by blackberry, mint, lilac and sweet tobacco. It's blackberry and Bing cherry on the palate with nice sweetness, black olive, coffee and late-arriving tannins. Enjoy with paella. (65 cases, 14.4% alc.)

Zerba Cellars 2008 Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley, $38

Outstanding: Doug Nierman won a Platinum from us with his 2007 Temp, and this may be its match. A blend of Les Collines and the Zerbas' estate Cockburn vineyards, it's ensconced in enchanting oak that yields aromas of fresh-baked brownie and cinnamon bark, joined by black cherry, raspberry, plums, blackberry and mint. Complexity shows on the plumy palate with blackberry, black licorice, black olive and chai. Its tannin structure is assertive, yet not over the top. (14.4% alc.)

Agate Ridge Vineyard 2008 Primitivo, Rogue Valley, $19

Recommended: Eagle Point, Ore., isn't too far from the California border, and this has the feel of a California Zin with its strawberry jam, vanilla bean and brown sugar aromas. A dive into the drink brings up flavors of black cherry compote, Nutella, sweet prune whip and a fascinating texture of tannin that's akin to flannel. (236 cases, 13.9% alc.)

Columbia Crest 2008 StoneTree Vineyard Reserve Primitivo, Wahluke Slope, $35

Outstanding: One would expect some zaniness as winemaker Ray Einberger collaborated with vineyard owner Tedd Wildman for this vintage debut of this project. And the product is seriously fun, starting with hints of blueberries and pomegranates covered in chocolate, backed by dark plum and licorice. The structure is one of a fist in a velvet glove as the plums and figs take over on the palate. Pencil lead as well as brown and black NECCO wafers finish it. (200 cases, 14.8% alc.)

Columbia Crest 2007 StoneTree Vineyard Zinfandel, Columbia Valley, $35

Recommended: This bold drink, harvested Sept. 21, is filled with notes of cola syrup, vanilla extract, peppermint and a Cinnabon. It's tied together with big acidity and hefty tannins. Suggested fare includes a zesty chiliburger. (300 cases, 14.9% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2008 Zephyr Ridge Primitivo, Washington, $25

Outstanding: It's believed that Wade Wolfe blazed the trail in Washington for this Italian clone of Zinfandel, being the first to plant and bottle it. Inviting aromas of blueberry, mocha, coffee, cocoa and lime oil carry into ripe flavors of more blueberry, plums, strawberry and raspberry. Remarkable depth to the structure points out chalkiness and spice. (72 cases, 15.5% alc.)

Airfield Estates 2008 Malbec, Yakima Valley, $28

Recommended: Charming barrel notes of white chocolate are joined by aromas of boysenberry, raspberry, rose petal and cedar shaving. The palate carries red blackberry and chalky tannins with a bit of tartness and vanilla bourbon in the finish. (219 cases, 14.8% alc.)

Columbia Crest 2008 Reserve Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills, $35

Excellent: The giant in Prosser, Wash., adds this lesser-known Bordeaux variety to its reserve line for the first time. Char and tarry notes fill the nose before yielding to aromas of poached plums, toasted sesame, candied cherries and a chocolate-covered Graham cracker. There's less oak and more fruit on the palate with plums and boysenberries. The approach is rather bold, with coffee, tar and black licorice in the finish. (200 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Fraser Vineyard 2009 Malbec, Snake River Valley, $25

Outstanding: Our 2011 Idaho Winery of the Year won a gold with this at the state competition, and it's plain to see why. The nose features raspberry, cherries, chocolate and lime zest, but there are footnotes of pink peppercorns, cherry tomato and tobacco leaf. The theme of raspberry and cherry continues with the drink, emboldened with that cherry tomato acidity. Black pepper, not tannin, is the focus of the finish. (125 cases, 14.4% alc.)

H/H Estates 2008 Canyon Vineyard Vineyards G.W. Smith Reserve Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills, $32

Excellent: While the influence of oak in the aromas might be distracting for some, there's much to appreciate. Beyond the scents of cola syrup, shaved chocolate, dill and reddish blackberries, the palate is marvelous. Black currants, boysenberry and açaí berries get mashed together. There's a long trail of vanilla extract, chocolate, minerality and lots of spiciness. (53 cases, 14.8% alc.)

Martin-Scott Winery 2008 Malbec, Columbia Valley, $25

Outstanding: One of the lesser-known Bordeaux varieties is gaining traction in Washington, and this Wenatchee-area winery has a track record with it, earning our top rating for the second straight vintage. Dense aromas feature blueberry, black cherry, chocolate-covered Graham cracker, coconut, graphite and gunmetal. It's an opulent drink of boysenberry and blackberry that's backed by cinnamon bark and tannins akin to Belgian chocolate (53 cases, 15.4% alc.)

Mount Baker Vineyards & Winery 2008 Proprietor's Limited Release Malbec, Yakima Valley, $20

Outstanding: One might need to hire a guide service to track down a Malbec better than this for less money. Blueberry ice cream, boysenberry, a Triscuit cracker, crushed leaf and a sneeze of black pepper send the mind racing. The structure to the palate is well hung with sweet tannins and a remarkable buildup of acidity, showcasing the rewarding flavors of huckleberry jam, black cherry creme soda and Craisins made possible by Crawford Vineyard. (358 cases, 13.7% alc.)

Pend d'Oreille Winery 2007 Freepons Vineyard Malbec, Washington, $28

Outstanding: Stephen Meyer in Sandpoint, Idaho, has long relied on Yakima Valley fruit for his red program. Here's a telling example why. The nose features an assortment of fruit, spice and herbaceousness with plum, cracked black pepper, green bell pepper, dill, wintergreen and teriyaki. There's a match of palate that's dynamic, luscious and youthful with red blackberry, more plum, dried cranberry, beef blood and oregano. The combination of high acidity and supreme tannin management makes this an ideal match for grilled meats or smoked shoulder roast. (74 cases, 13.3% alc.)

Pend d'Oreille Winery 2007 Wood River Vineyard Malbec, Snake River Valley, $28

Recommended: This site near Eagle, Idaho, now accounts for half of the Malbec made at this North Idaho winery. It helped produce a drink of cassis, cranberry and plums, backed by minerality, allspice and acidity that override the tannin. (73 cases, 13.4% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2008 Malbec, Washington, $28

Excellent: Much of the fruit for this Prosser, Wash., winery is grown in the Horse Heaven Hills, and McKinley Springs fruit shows well in this bottling. Black cherry, rose petal and cedar aromas are backed by cinnamon and leather. Blueberry flavors take the lead, followed by pie cherry acidity and underlying minerality with chalky tannin. (25 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Walla Walla Vintners 2008 Malbec, Columbia Valley, $30

Outstanding: Sagemoor Vineyard serves a wide range of Washington wineries, and the bottling by winemaker Bill vonMetzger of this Bordeaux variety will bring more requests. It reveals complex aromas of dark cherry, orange zest, toasted almond, dark chocolate, vanilla, caramel and dried herbs. The drink pleases from stem to stern with blackberry, cassis, dark cranberry and Rainier cherries. There's inkiness to the structure, and flecks of minerality add to the elegance as tannins are mollified. (95 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Walla Walla Vintners 2008 Pepper Bridge Vineyard Malbec, Walla Walla Valley, $32

Excellent: This triumvirate of winemakers seems to take a lighter hand with its barrel program in terms of this variety because here's a real effort to feature the fruit tones of black currant and pomegranate. It starts in the aromas that include plums, pink grapefruit, rose hips and green peppercorns. The real payoff is the gorgeous drink of more black currants and pomegranates with seamless tannins, lingering acidity and cocoa powder. (188 cases, 14.2% alc.)

William Church Winery 2008 Philip's Vintage Gamache Vineyard Malbec, Columbia Valley, $30

Recommended: This Woodinville, Wash., winery releases its third vintage of Malbec, this from the Columbia Basin, and it's a bit on the hedonistic side. The nose sends out hints of black cherry, strawberry, root beer, tar and Cocoa Puffs. The palate comes soaked with sweet cherries, Raisinets and white pepper. (180 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Airfield Estates 2009 Counoise, Yakima Valley, $28

Excellent: A privilege of being in a wine club such as Marcus Miller's is that you get a chance to experiment with a Rhone variety that's relatively new to the Northwest. The angle of high-toned red fruit is akin to a Pinot Noir, and there's also a whiff of blueberry milk shake. Cranberries, that milkshake and freshly toasted bread spill out into the mouth, where there's plenty of acidity and a bit of a cherry-skin tannin. (94 cases, 15.1% alc.)

Coyote Canyon Winery 2008 Canyon Canyon Vineyard Mourvedre, Horse Heaven Hills, $22

Excellent: It looks as if the Andrews family, which sells off most of its 1,110-acre vineyard, keeps just a barrel or two of this Rhone red for itself. Its share offers hints of sweet plums, boysenberry, root beer, chocolate-covered pomegranates and soy sauce. The texture is a bit syrupy with some late acidity and an intriguing absence of tannin. (28 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Desert Wind Winery 2008 Sacagawea Vineyard Barbera, Wahluke Slope, $20

Outstanding: Huckleberry jelly, raspberry and black cherry aromas transcend into more of the same on the palate with nice acidity to balance. The influence of oak is minimal and there's a reddish tinge to the finish with strawberry and watermelon candy. (374 cases, 14% alc.)

Dusted Valley Vintners 2008 Petite Sirah, Columbia Valley, $42

Recommended: Many critics would view this as over the top, but to PS fans, this is right in their wheelhouse. Buckle up for a wild ride, starting with a snootful of tutti frutti, a Dum Dum root beer sucker, black cherry, tobacco, chocolate, white pepper and lots of tar. Huge extraction makes this a big drink of black cherry, spearmint, tobacco and bubblegum. Don't look at your teeth after a couple gulps of this. (75 cases, 15.9% alc.)

Kyra Wines 2009 Purple Sage Vineyard Dolcetto, Wahluke Slope, $20

Excellent: We've come to expect nothing short of excellence from Kyra Baerlocher, who crafts her wines near the airport in Moses Lake, Wash. She and her husband own Purple Sage Vineyard, and this Italian variety obviously does well there. The package opens with black cherry cola aromas, backed by plums, Spanish almonds, flint, rose petal and eucalyptus. Its sweet entry stays true to the variety, a light-bodied quaffer of boysenberry, raspberry and blueberry with building acidity and a touch of tannin. If you know of someone new to red wine, here's an icebreaker. (118 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Martin-Scott Winery 2008 Petite Sirah, Columbia Valley, $23

Outstanding: Small, hedonistic lots are part of the portfolio for this family winery. They made this sweet and sassy, reminiscent of a fresh waffle cone and a Hostess cherry pie. Its tannin structure shows more restraint than most Petite Sirahs, and the finish brings a piece of Aussie black licorice, a pinch of pipe tobacco and dab of vanilla extract. (71 cases, 15.2% alc.)

Melrose Vineyard 2009 Estate Dolcetto, Umpqua Valley, $22

Excellent: Most folks wouldn't consider planting a vineyard near a flood plain, which makes this one of the most fascinating parcels in the Northwest. There's proof in the glass. Aromas of lingonberry, white strawberry, pie cherry and rose petal transcend into a casual drink of blueberry, Rainier cherry and Craisins with sandy tannins. (199 cases, 13.8% alc.)

Mount Baker Vineyards & Winery 2008 Proprietor's Release Dolcetto, Yakima Valley, $18

Excellent: Bottling wines as standalone varieties is a hallmark at the winery not far from Bellingham, Wash. The choice to include Sangiovese (7%) and Cabernet Franc proved to be prescient, as the wine shows off accents of Rainier cherries, blueberries and dried cranberry. It brings sweet fruit and tartness in accord, and the tannins are firmly in place. (188 cases, 13.7% alc.)

Saviah Cellars 2007 Petit Verdot, Walla Walla Valley, $30

Outstanding: Walla Walla winemaker Richard Funk indulges oak lovers once again with an opulent bottle that launches with aromas of black cherry, rum raisin ice cream and mincemeat pie. Black currant jam, dark black cherries and gobs of raspberries make for a silky drink that's finished with leather, tar and Nutella. (190 cases, 14.7% alc.)

Airfield Estates 2008 Aviator, Yakima Valley, $30

Outstanding: Marcus Miller tried his hand at blending during his days at Tsillan Cellars in Chelan. Now he's working with family fruit, and the young winemaker ranks among the best in the Northwest at blending. By gathering up the five primary Bordeaux varieties - Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (25%), Cabernet Franc (10%), Petit Verdot (10%) and Malbec - he's made for a nose of rich black cherry, cassis, fresh-cut herbs, a chocolate milk shake and a slice of pepperoni. The drink carries some slender elegance with dark strawberry and a blending cherries, chocolate and tannin. A late burst of mouthwatering acidity merely revives the palate. (467 cases, 15.1% alc.)

Airfield Estates 2009 Bombshell Red Vineyard Salute, Yakima Valley, $16

Excellent: This rolls right out of the hangar with a chassis of Merlot (45%), Syrah (41%), Malbec (8%), Sangiovese (4%) and Petit Verdot. It's loaded with boysenberry and blackberry with some bittersweet chocolate and pie cherries. It's a persistent palate but not too demanding, yielding to a finish of loganberry jasmine tea. (2,443 cases, 15.1% alc.)

Airfield Estates 2009 Mustang, Yakima Valley, $25

Outstanding: The Millers in Prosser, Wash., form quite a team with father growing the grapes and son making the wine. This blend of five Rhone varieties, led by Syrah (61%), whistles through aromas of boysenberry, raspberry, milk chocolate, mincemeat and pink peppercorns. It's lighter in style and rather seamless on the palate as brambleberries and blueberry stream from beginning to end. There's great balance, leading with acidity and barely a pinch of tannin. (548 cases, 15.2% alc.)

Airfield Estates 2009 Spitfire, Yakima Valley, $25

Recommended: Sangiovese (61%) leads this blend, backed primarily by Cabernet Sauvignon (27%), and there's a presentation of blackberry, boysenberry, huckleberry and baked plums. The package is spun tightly with assertive tannins and a presence of oak. (548 cases, 15.1% alc.)

Bergevin Lane Vineyards 2007 Intuition, Columbia Valley, $59

Recommended: Cassis, cranberry, pie cherry and saddle leather tones toggle between strong oak and tannin influences inside this Cabernet Sauvignon-led Meritage style. There's a nice trailing finish of raspberry, and the structure is ideal for a well-marbled steak. (150 cases, 14.4% alc.)

Black Hills Estate Winery 2008 Nota Bene, Okanagan Valley, $60 CDN

Excellent: Annually, this is one of Canada's most coveted wines. And this vintage from 12-year-old vines appeals particularly to Cab Francophiles as it sets the vibe for the Cabernet Sauvignon (48%) and Merlot (41%). Pie cherry, vanilla, blackberry, cedar and earthy aromas don't overwhelm the leafy notes from the Franc. The same fruits turn jammy on the palate and herbaceousness gathers in a remarkable slatiness. Brilliant acidity and green olive lend it to many food pairings. (14.2% alc.)

Caprice Vineyards 2007 Claret, Rogue Valley, $28

Recommended: Estate and Jacksonville Vineyard fruit gives this blend of Bordeaux varieties aromas of cassis, dusty rose petal, black licorice and dark chocolate. It's big and dark on the palate with more cassis, accompanied by pie cherry and cranberry and finished by hints of lime peel and a chocolate wafer. (140 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Cathedral Ridge Winery 2008 Rock Star Red, Columbia Valley, $48

Outstanding: A past Oregon Winery of the Year, this Columbia Gorge producer creates an encore performance with this expressive blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%) and Syrah (50%) from its reserve program. Nothing is in short supply. Blackberry, black pepper, black walnut and chalkboard dust fill the nostrils. Bold flavors follow with black currant, blackberry and pomegranate. It rides like a Cadillac with glossy acidity and sturdy tannins. There's a late burst of Jelly Belly Very Cherry jellybean, licorice, beef jerky, vanilla bean and graham cracker on the way out. (192 cases, 14.8% alc.)

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2007 Artist Series Meritage, Columbia Valley, $50

Excellent: How time flies. This marks the 15th anniversary of this blending of Bordeaux varieties, and the artwork came from the late T.L. Lange. A showy barrel program of 88% new oak makes for aromas of strawberry, sassafras, a box of Red Hots and a Brown & Haley Mountain Bar. Ripe strawberry, cola and citrus flavors take hold on the sloped shoulders of tannin. The hint of milk foam with cinnamon makes for a long and showy finish. (2,200 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Columbia Crest Winery 2007 Walter Clore Private Reserve, Columbia Valley, $30

Recommended: All the fruit came off on the same day - Sept. 25 - for this Old World-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (65%), Merlot (32%) and Cabernet Franc. The structure shows more oak and tannin influence than we've come to expect from this line, which carries with it tones of a baked cherry pie, huckleberry jam, plums and vanilla cola. (4,000 cases, 14.4% alc.)

Coyote Canyon Winery 2008 Canyon Canyon Vineyard Tres Cruces, Horse Heaven Hills, $18

Outstanding: This isn't the first time Mike Andrews has earned our top rating with this blend of Rhone reds. Here, his work with Syrah (61%), Grenache (30%) and Mourvedre offers sweet smells of dusty blackberry, blueberry, dried strawberry and milk chocolate. The ripeness of the fruit shows on the palate, too, with boysenberry, red blackberry and more strawberry. It's a juicy and meaty drink. (205 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Daven Lore Winery 2008 Aridsol Red, Columbia Valley, $25

Outstanding: Gordon Taylor's wife is soil scientist Joan "Dr. Dirt" Davenport, and this is a tasty tribute to the five arid soil types they both work with. It's a blend of Bordeaux varieties off Alder Ridge, Newhouse and Lonesome Spring Ranch, and Taylor's oak treatment features aromas of crushed walnut, chocolate-covered cherries, marionberry, black olive, vanilla bean and minerality. The entry to the palate is easy, gathering up raspberry and boysenberry flavors. Hints of boot leather and firm tannins call for a thick porterhouse steak. (75 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Domaine Pouillon 2009 Katydid, Horse Heaven Hills, $23

Outstanding: Alexis and Juliet Pouillon moved to the Columbia Gorge town of Lyle, Wash., to launch a winery. The young couple seem to be hitting their stride. Their skill with Rhone varieties is keen with this blend of Grenache (60%), Syrah (30%) and Mourvedre, mostly from McKinley Springs. Juicy red fruit aromas are backed by lightly toasted oak, and its lovely approach to the palate isn't unlike a Dundee Hills Pinot Noir. There you'll find pomegranate, pie cherry and cranberry flavors as the acid level stays ahead of the subdued tannin. It remains smooth through the finish of milk chocolate and boysenberry. (277 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Dunham Cellars 2008 Three Legged Red, Columbia Valley, $19

Excellent: One of the most touching stories in the Northwest wine industry is Eric Dunham's rescue of a dog from a pit bull attack. He adopted Port, who lived a long life before passing in 2008, but this blend lives on. It's a fetching drink made in a lighter style, providing tones of blackberry, cherry pie and coffee. Chocolate-covered pomegranate makes for a lengthy farewell. (5,076 cases, 13.8% alc.)

Dunham Cellars 2007 Trutina, Columbia Valley, $26

Excellent: A trio of estate vineyards - Double River, Frenchtown and Lewis - came together for a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon (55%) Syrah (23%), Merlot (17%) and Cabernet Franc. The result is a food-friendly and stylish drink loaded with cassis, cola nut, raspberry and Craisins. A pinch of tannin merely adds complexity, giving way to a finish of Whopper and milk froth. (5,588 cases, 13.9% alc.)

Eaglemount Winery 2007 Reserve Raptor, Washington, $32

Recommended: Here's a rewarding presentation of sugared cranberry, raspberry and pie cherry, with citrusy acidity. Additional support comes from notes of slate, saddle leather, mint and toffee. (150 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Emerson Vineyards NV Brother Red, Willamette Valley, $16

Excellent: Understand the components and you'll better appreciate this eclectic effort. Tom Johns took hybrid grapes Marechal Foch (41%), Leon Millot (28%), Baco Noir (4%) and Oberlin Noir (3%) and blended in Pinot Noir (24%). Aromas focus on a Snickers bar, roasted coffee and bell pepper. The drink brings red cherries and red currants inside a structure that's dense, balanced and smooth with some cherry skin tannin. (410 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Eaglemount Winery 2008 Osprey Reserve, Washington, $27

Outstanding: Jim Davis crafts cider in Port Townsend, but he also shows off his winemaking skills here. Merlot (83%) leads the way for aromas of strawberry, plum, pomegranate, blueberry, cedar and smoked jerky. The drink is clean and smooth with nice acidity from flavors of Bing cherry, boysenberry and raspberry. (85 cases, 13.8% alc.)

Foxy Roxy Wines 2007 Vixen Red, Columbia Valley, $18

Excellent: StoneRidge Vineyard in the Frenchman Hills is the source for this estate blend of Cab, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. A 27-month barrel program with Hungarian oak leaves an imprint of cinnamon, dill and black olive, but there's still room for plums and black cherry aromas. And oak lovers will see the drink as seductive with juicy black cherry and crushed walnut. A rush of pomegranate brings acidity and tartness. (150 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Gard Vintners 2008 Lawrence Vineyard Don Isidro Red, Columbia Valley, $20

Recommended: Winemaker Robert Smasne's blend of Syrah (70%) and Cabernet Sauvignon develops tones of dark black cherry, purple blackberry, licorice, tar and gun metal - often a sign of Syrah. Robust tannins do allow for a finish that is dark and warm with black currant jam. (285 cases, 13.9% alc.)

Hightower Cellars 2008 Out of Line Red Wine, Red Mountain, $25

Excellent: The Hightowers are quick to note they named this estate blend of Bordeaux varieties in reference to the way the vines were planted. Many will appreciate the lofty use of oak, which helps create a mood of rich black cherry, deep pomegranate, crushed walnut and charcoal. Look for a bit of chalkiness and pinch of black pepper at the end of the row. (308 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Hightower Cellars 2008 Pepper Bridge Vineyard Red, Walla Walla Valley, $28

Excellent: Perhaps the movie Sideways discouraged them from labeling it as Merlot, but this Red Mountain winery has a knack with the grape, evident again here with this 100% production. A youthful and lively nose contains hints of lilac and black pepper with pie cherry, blueberry and cedar. There's a show of restraint on the palate with more high-toned red fruit, drip coffee, shiny acidity and fine-grained tannins. It would be well-served with flank steak cooked medium-rare. (199 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Hightower Cellars 2007 Red Wine, Red Mountain, $50

Excellent: The Out of Line estate and nearby Shaw vineyards combined for a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (63%), Cabernet Franc (16%), Merlot (11%), Petit Verdot and Malbec. Time spent in small oak barrel for 20 months imparts aromas of toffee, brown toasted and Tootsie Pop, backed by blueberry, lime and chalkboard dust. The payoff comes between the lips with juicy plums and black cherries, packaged with nice acidity and lively tannin, finished with chocolate-covered almonds. (247 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Jacksonville Vineyards 2007 Fiasco Claret, Applegate Valley, $23

Recommended: A rich blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%) and Merlot (35%) gets a nice boost from Malbec, providing aromas of dark plums, black tar, black olives and huge Bing cherries. Those cherries burst through onto the sweet and rich palate, backed by notes of mincemeat, blackberries, nice acidity and bittersweet chocolate. (150 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Lake Chelan Winery 2006 Maximum III 10th Anniversary Red, Columbia Valley, $45

Excellent: Longtime Washington winemaker Ray Sandidge deserves credit for this blend of Merlot (58%) from StoneTree on the Wahluke Slope, Cabernet Sauvignon (20%) and Syrah (11%) from the estate Rivers Bend, and Cabernet Franc from nearby Dulia Vineyard. Spicy oak helps creates a mood of cedar, tar, plums and pomegranate. It's a plummy and jammy drink with marionberry, cherry chocolate cake and licorice. Tannins offer fascination rather than distraction. (202 cases, 13.8% alc.)

Liberty Lake Wine Cellars 2007 Gary's Legacy Red, Red Mountain, $19

Recommended: Dedicated to the late Gary Reed, who helped build this Spokane Valley winery, it's packaged with black cherry, chocolate, mint and woodruff. Those sweet herbs are a sign of the Cabernet Franc (50%), which leads the blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The sizeable tannin structure and lime peel acidity should allow this to be enjoyed for several years. (96 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Martinez & Martinez 2007 Cesár Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $22

Excellent: Sergio Martinez has grown grapes in the Horse Heaven Hills since 1981. This marked the third vintage his son, Andrew, made wine for the family winery in Prosser. There's a lot stuffed into this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (66%), Malbec (15%), Merlot (10%) and Syrah. Plums, blueberry, black cherry, black olive and black pepper aromas funnel into a drink that opens with lively cherries and red currants. It gets dark toward the finish with more blueberry, black currant jam, horehound and well-managed tannins. (215 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Nk'Mip Cellars 2007 Qwam Qwmt Meritage, Okanagan Valley, $30 CDN

Recommended: This is mostly Merlot (75%), but the inclusion of Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) and Cabernet Franc (10%) satisfies one requirement of the Meritage Society. And it's styled like an Old World Bordeaux with its cassis, pie cherry and saddle leather notes. There's a rub of thyme, bold acidity and bittersweet chocolate tannins. (2,694 cases, 13.9% alc.)

OS Winery 2006 BSH, Columbia Valley, $30

Excellent: Many will agree this wine helped put Owen and Sullivan Winery on the map. This version brings black cherry cola, stewed plums, mint chocolate, vanilla, lime and cedar aromas. The entry of black cherry is followed by a firm punch from thick tannins - the hallmark that fans have come to know and like in this wine. There are also notes of blackberry, cracked black pepper, Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream and a 3 Musketeers bar. (382 cases, 14.6% alc.)

OS Winery 2006 Klipsun Vineyard M, Red Mountain, $25

Excellent: M stands for Merlot (70%), and the rest is Cabernet Sauvignon. They come together here for aromas of black cherry, strawberry taffy and devil's food cake. The pour brings in more black cherry, a slice of strawberry/rhubarb pie and a drizzle of molasses. Here's a rare instance where acidity is more apparent than tannin in a wine grown on Red Mountain, which allows for pairings with salmon or pork. (292 cases, 14.7% alc.)

OS Winery 2007 Red, Columbia Valley, $18

Excellent: It's a nicely proportioned blend of Bordeaux varieties, leading with Merlot and showing lots of savory Cabernet Franc notes. Dried black cherry, lavender, cedar, Ovaltine and cilantro aromas transition into a zingy approach to the palate. Fresh-picked raspberry, plum and white strawberry flavors include a touch of green pepper. This makes for excellent dinner company. (2,400 cases, 14.7% alc.)

Pend d'Oreille Winery 2006 L'OEuvre, Washington, $28

Outstanding: Idaho vintner Stephen Meyer takes particular pride in his high-end blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (57%), Merlot (29%), Malbec (7%) and Cabernet Franc, and this work of art may be his best. Pleasant use of French barrels makes for hints of clove, anise and mahogany alongside aromas of black fruit and banana. It drinks like Bordeaux with cassis, rich blueberry, bittersweet chocolate, firm tannins and late acidity. (174 cases, 14.4% alc.)

Revelry Vintners 2008 Reserve Blend, Columbia Valley, $35

Excellent: Jared Burns launched his uniquely shaped cask line in Western Washington, but he's now landed in Walla Walla and producing some high-end bottled wine. This blend of Merlot (44%), Cabernet Sauvignon (22%), Syrah (22%) and Cabernet Franc presents a sleek drink of blueberry and black cherry. There's a wafting of smoke, along with a pinch of dill weed and some malted milk. (220 cases, 13.9% alc.)

Revelry Vintners 2008 The Reveler, Columbia Valley, $20

Excellent: Most folks are looking to add some spice to their lives, and this blend goes in reverse of most by leading with Petit Verdot (52%) and backed by Merlot (38%) and Cabernet Sauvignon. Smoky plums, cherry and dark chocolate aromas include pizza sauce herbs. The delivery brings ripe - not sweet - fruit of boysenberry and cherry. Blueberry hustles in with racy acidity, then yields to chocolaty, yet smooth tannins. (1,800 cases, 13.9% alc.)

San Juan Vineyards 2008 Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $18

Excellent: Chris Primus not only runs the vineyards at this island winery, but he also makes the wine from fruit all across Eastern Washington. The Horse Heaven Hills provided Cabernet Franc (44%) from Destiny Ridge and Cabernet Franc (31%) off Alder Ridge. Kestrel grew the Merlot (19%), and Mike Sauer's new vineyard near Red Willow provided the Sangiovese. There's a synergy to the structure with boysenberry and marionberry, backed by underlying cassis and tobacco. Lively acidity creates a bridge with the chewy tannins, which are finished by barrel notes of creme brulee. (290 cases, 14.1% alc.)

Saviah Cellars 2007 Big Sky Cuvee, Columbia Valley, $35

Excellent: The Walla Walla winery makes its annual homage to its Montana roots via this melange of Merlot (69%), Cabernet Sauvignon (23%), Cabernet Franc (3%), Malbec (3%) and Petit Verdot. It gathers up reddish tones of dusty cherry, pomegranate, plum, raspberry compote, dried rose, leather and a Douglas fir frond with a jammy approach backed by medium tannins. (632 cases, 14.2% alc.)

SuLei Cellars 2008 Beet Red, Walla Walla Valley, $19

Recommended: Beet Road in Walla Walla is home to this young winery - pronounced soo-LAY. The blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Malbec (30%) and Cabernet Franc avoids confrontation and comes layered with tones of black cherry pie, blueberry, root beer, Aussie black licorice and a doppio. (100 cases, 13.2% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2007 The Geologist, Columbia Valley, $50

Excellent: Wade Wolfe crafts and names his wines carefully, and this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (56%), Cabernet Franc (17%), Merlot (15%) and Syrah honors another family scientist, his brother-in-law. There's boldness throughout with aromas of blackberry, mincemeat, Nutella and scrapes of slate. Blackberry jam and sweet marionberry swirl in the mouth, joined by a bite of the seed that supplies good sturdiness of tannin. (120 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Thurston Wolfe 2008 The Spaniard, Washington, $20

Excellent: Here comes another blend, this a tribute to Spain because it uses Grenache, Tempranillo and Syrah. Some may think it's a Willamette Valley Pinot incognito because the Grenache comes across with high-toned red fruit of cassis, pie cherry and cranberry. Accents also include plums, boysenberry, sweet herbs and warm barrel tones. Tempranillo's grip of tannin slips just a bit beyond the acidity. (25 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Trium 2006 Grower's Cuvee, Rogue Valley, $22

Excellent: The kitchen staff will gravitate to this blend of Bordeaux varieties as it stays true to Cabernet Franc, allowing its savory tones of oregano and celery leaf to mingle with the plum and molasses. Dried strawberry, cassis and wet leather also come into play on the very approachable palate. (600 cases, 13.7% alc.)

Tsillan Cellars 2007 Bellissima Rossa, Columbia Valley, $28

Recommended: Nearly qualifying to be labeled as Cabernet Sauvignon (74%), the blending of Merlot (21%) and Cabernet Franc presents a lively package of red blackberry, boysenberry and pie cherries with chocolate. The broadcast of acidity and assertive tannins will play well with Tuscan short ribs in Sorrento's. (947 cases, 14.71% alc.)

Tsillan Cellars 2007 Piccolo Rosso, Columbia Valley, $28

Outstanding: Shane Collins grew up in Lake Chelan, and judging by his continued success, it doesn't look like he's going anywhere. This blend of Merlot (63%), Cabernet Franc (23%), Nebbiolo (7%), Barbera (5%) and Sangiovese shows a nose of Chukar Cherry, blueberry and peanut butter. It's a handsome drink with cordial cherry, vanilla and juicy blueberry as acidity and supportive tannins parallel each other across the palate. The finish mirrors that of warm fruit compote. (641 cases, 15% alc.)

Vale Wine Co. 2008 Rendezvous Red, Snake River Valley, $19

Recommended: Skyline Vineyard, which has played a major role in Idaho's Sawtooth Winery, made for this mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Plums, cherry cough syrup, chocolate and vanilla notes pick up some cracked white pepper and minerality. Together, they make for a fairly luscious and savory drink. (168 cases, 14.1% alc.)

Velocity Wine Cellars 2007 Velocity Red, Rogue Valley, $24

Excellent: Gus Janeway took RoxyAnn Winery in Medford, Ore., to new heights. Now, he's focused on his own label, named with regards to his love of cycling, and makes his wines at Pallet Wine Co. In years past, he's blended Malbec from Gold Vineyard in nearby Talent, Ore. This vintage, he's all in the Malbec, which makes for a nose of blackberry, black cherry taffy, boysenberry, vanilla bean and tobacco leaf. He made it an easy drinker that tickles the tongue with pie cherry, cranberry, coarse blackberry and mint. Serve with a blackened steak. (13.5% alc.)

William Church Winery 2007 Amy's Vintage Sur La Mer, Columbia Valley, $28

Recommended: This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Merlot (20%), Cabernet Franc (20%), Malbec (10%) and Petit Verdot is named after the French birthplace of winery co-owner Leslie Balsley. A warm Milk Dud joins blackberry, cherry and oregano aromas. The drink is a quaffer of the same fruit, all spice and chalkboard dust. Enjoy with braised buffalo chuck roast. (250 cases, 14.2% alc.)

William Church Winery 2008 Max's Vintage Bishop's Blend, Columbia Valley, $20

Excellent: Unofficially, this is viewed as the "cellar blend" at the Woodinville, Wash., winery. The components are Cabernet Sauvignon (39%), Malbec (38%), Syrah (11%), Merlot (9%) and Cabernet Franc, and together they make up a wine that's light and easy to get into. Aromas include hints of raspberry juice, Hershey's Syrup, cinnamon and slate. It's a full-flavored drink of blackberry jam, gobs of chocolate, pomegranate acidity and some lime in the finish. The tannin level is almost imperceptible. (750 cases, 14.5% alc.)

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