21. Cadence Winery Red Wine Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Mountain 2007, $45
92 points | Cadence winemaker Benjamin Smith worked for 14 years as a mechanical engineer at Boeing. There, he began exploring his interest in winemaking via the Boeing Wine Club. When the four wines he entered in the Club’s annual competition won first through fourth place in the Best of Show category, his colleagues recommended that he consider a new career. The Old World styling of Smith’s wines makes them unique in Washington, and they’re clearly built for the long haul.
Nose is initially quite closed. As it opens up it shows earth, light floral notes, chocolate, and black cherry. Restrained on the palate with elegant fruit and fine-grained tannins. Give three-plus years. 39 percent cabernet sauvignon, 35 percent cabernet franc, 13 percent merlot, 13 percent petit verdot. Aged 18 months in French oak (40 percent new). 14.4 percent alcohol. 495 cases produced.
22. Buty Winery Columbia Rediviva Phinny Hill Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills 2006, $48Buty Winery. All of the fruit came from the Phinny Hill Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills near famed Champoux Vineyard; it’s a plot of land producing an increasing number of exceptional wines, many of them vineyard designated.
Nose is marked by dusty chocolate, earth, plum, and red and black fruit. Palate is dry and gracefully balanced with a huge dollop of fruit. 55 percent cabernet sauvignon and 45 percent syrah. Phinny Hill Vineyard (Horse Heaven Hills). 14.5 percent alcohol. 930 cases produced.
23. L’Ecole No 41 Apogee Red Wine Pepper Bridge Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2007, $50L’Ecole No 41’s winery, a 1915 schoolhouse just west of Walla Walla, is as iconic as any in Washington State. In addition to its excellent, varietally labeled wines, L’Ecole also makes two vineyard-designated blends. The Apogee shows Walla Walla fruit at its best.
A gorgeous, aromatic wine with floral notes, spice, currant, high-toned black cherry, anise, and light herbal streaks. Palate is tart and tightly wound up with tannins at present. Finish goes on and on. Give two to three years. 60 percent cabernet sauvignon, 30 percent merlot, 5 percent malbec, and 5 percent cabernet franc. Aged 22 months in small oak barrels (50 percent new). 14.5 percent alcohol. 1,630 cases produced.
24. Sleight of Hand Cellars The Archimage Walla Walla Valley 2007, $40Sleight of Handwas named for a song by Busch’s beloved Pearl Jam, and each of his labels is styled after circus magic-show posters. But there is also plenty of magic inside the bottle of the 2007 Archimage, the winery’s homage to Bordeaux’s Right Bank wines.
A moderately aromatic wine with spice, pepper, light chocolate, herbal notes, and cherry. Delicious fruit on a seamless palate that hangs on and on at the finish. 54 percent merlot, 46 percent cabernet franc. Aged in French oak (30 percent new). 14.5 percent alcohol. Less than 300 cases produced.
25. Andrew Will Winery Red Wine Ciel du Cheval Red Mountain 2007, $53Andrew Will Winery, located on Vashon Island, is named for winemaker Chris Camarda’s nephew Andrew and his son Will. Camarda focuses largely on single-vineyard blends, each of them a compelling expression of the land where the fruit is grown.
An alluring nose with floral aromas, licorice, light herbal notes, and chocolate. Opens up and expands on the palate with tightly wound red and black fruit flavors. 45 percent cabernet franc, 40 percent merlot, and 15 percent cabernet sauvignon. Ciel du Cheval Vineyard. Aged 21 months in French oak (35 percent new). 1,408 cases produced.
VALUE WINE: 26. Novelty Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2007, $25Novelty Hill consistently offers outrageous quality for the price. The 2007 cabernet sauvignon is a big, rich wine with generous amounts of fruit and new French oak.
Nose is initially closed up. As it opens it shows blackberry, anise, and light herbal notes. Well put-together on the palate with rich fruit flavors and supple tannins. 90 percent cabernet sauvignon, 8 percent merlot, 1 percent cabernet franc, and 1 percent petit verdot. Aged 20 months in new and used oak (predominantly French). 14.4 percent alcohol. 3,964 cases produced.
27. Efesté Jolie Bouche Syrah Yakima Valley 2007, $34Efesté —pronounced like the letters F-S-T—has, in a short time, made a large impression on the Washington wine scene. With his Jolie Bouche, winemaker Brennon Leighton (he cut his teeth at Chateau Ste. Michelle) has used fruit from famed Boushey Vineyard to craft a big, bold, distinctly Washington syrah.
Dark purple in color. An expressive nose with game, berries, chocolate, and bacon fat. Big and rich on the palate with gobs of fruit. 100 percent syrah. 100 percent Boushey Vineyard. Aged 15 months in French oak (16 percent new). 14.35 percent alcohol. 360 cases produced.
28. K Vintners Syrah Milbrandt Wahluke Slope 2008, $25K Vintners is that the wines span a range of price points. Everyone can play. This wine, which comes from Sundance and Pheasant sites at Milbrant Vineyards, offers an outrageously high quality-to-price ratio for a Washington syrah.
Fairly light in color. An intensely aromatic, to-die-for nose with black olive juice, floral notes, game, and orange peel. Glides effortlessly across the palate with lithe fruit and umami flavors. 100 percent syrah. 90 percent Sundance and 10 percent Pheasant vineyards. 13.9 percent alcohol. 830 cases produced.
29. Soos Creek Wine Cellars Artist Series #7 Red Wine Columbia Valley 2007, $27Soos Creek, founded in 1989, focuses on blended wines from Bordeaux grape varietals. They’re bold, distinctive, and filled with exquisite red fruit flavors.
An enjoyable, aromatic nose with lots of red fruit, herbal notes, and light cranberries. Big and rich with chewy red fruit flavors and well-integrated tannins. An exceptionally long finish. 52 percent cabernet franc, 48 percent cabernet sauvignon. Aged 18 months in French oak (40 percent new). 14.1 percent alcohol. 350 cases produced.
30. Bergevin Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2007, $26Bergevin Lanewith Annette’s father Gary in 2002 to create rich, hedonistic wines like this cabernet sauvignon.
An aromatic nose marked by chocolate-covered cherries, anise, and earth. Rich and intense on the palate with gobs of fruit and a long finish. Shows a good deal of French-oak influence. 76 percent cabernet sauvignon, 15 percent merlot, 6 percent cabernet franc, and 3 percent petit verdot. Pepper Bridge, Les Collines, Minnick, Alder Ridge, and Stone Tree vineyards. Aged 20 months in French (76 percent), American (17 percent) and Eastern European (7 percent) oak. 14.4 percent alcohol. 815 cases produced.
All labels courtesy the wineries.