1. Cadence Bel Canto Red Wine Cara Mia Vineyard Red Mountain 2012: $60
Wines from Ben Smith of South Park’s Cadence winery always evince Red Mountain’s nuance rather than its sheer power, focusing more on structure than opulent fruit. This cabernet franc–dominant blend is dazzling in texture with notes of earth, flowers, and herbs.
2. Betz Family Winery Clos de Betz Red Wine Columbia Valley 2012: $57
Merlot makes up just over two-thirds of this wine with the rest cabernet franc and petit verdot. It’s flat-out spectacular, inky and dark with great aromatic complexity and waves of red and black fruit, and is the best Clos the winery has produced.
3. Alleromb La Gran Flor Scarline Vineyard Columbia Valley 2012: $80
This blend of 60 percent malbec and 40 percent cabernet sauvignon commands attention with its aromas of plum, herbs, and flowers. The supple feel and sense of purity are where this wine truly shines however, opening up further with each swirl of the glass.
4. Corliss Estates Red Wine Columbia Valley 2010: $75
Though Corliss wines get extended time in barrel and in bottle prior to release, this one is still on the young side. The coffee, cherry, and blackberry flavors are rich and concentrated. It’s hard to keep your hands off it now, but the wine has an easy 15 years of enjoyment ahead of it.
5. Woodinville Wine Cellars Indomitable Red Wine Columbia Valley 2012: $50
Winemaker Sean Boyd often flies below the radar, but his wines reach up into the stratosphere. So it is with this arresting mixture of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, which offers layer upon layer of coffee and dark cherry.
6. Lauren Ashton Cuvée Arlette Columbia Valley 2012: $50
Kit Singh is a dentist by day and a winemaker by night, producing a merlot- and cabernet franc–dominant blend that is immediately appealing with herb, coffee, and cherry notes; the result is both intense and balanced.
7. Rasa Vineyards Fiachetto XL Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2012: $95
From an up-and-coming vineyard in the southern section of the valley comes this blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and merlot; it starts out slowly, picking up steam over time with aromas and flavors of cherry, plum, coffee, and vanilla. Its best days are far in front of it.
8. Swiftwater Cellars Proprietary Red Wine Columbia Valley 2011: $50
Petit verdot—known for its brawny tannins—is often used in minute amounts in bordeaux blends; it makes up a full 40 percent of this wine. The variety shows through on the wine’s dried flower aromas and firm, structured tannins.
9. Alleromb Cuvée B Red Wine Scarline Vineyard Columbia Valley 2012: $40
A blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, it has appealing cherry and blackberry aromas and an overall sense of freshness. The palate offers densely packed dark fruit that carries through on the finish.
10. Tenor 2:2 Red Wine Columbia Valley 2011: $55
Merlot, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon make up the majority of this blend, which hails from Stillwater Creek, Red Mountain, Weinbau, and Bel’ Villa Vineyards. The cherry, blackberry, and coffee flavors display both grace and power.