1. Tenet The Pundit Syrah Columbia Valley 2014 $25
Tenet is a new project from Ste. Michelle and two Rhone Valley stars, Michel Gassier and Philippe Cambie. Their second release is a knockout, packed with fresh aromas and flavors of plum, currant, and spice. It’s far and away the best Washington value on shelves today.
2. Baer Malbec Columbia Valley 2013 $25
After building a reputation for impressive Bordeaux-style blends, the Woodinville stalwart released its first-ever varietal malbec. And the wine itself is every bit as notable as Baer’s decision to make it, exuding plush, generous aromas and flavors of dark plum, blackberry, and fig.
3. Casa Smith Cinghiale Sangiovese Wahluke Slope 2014 $20
Blind taste this wine from Charles Smith’s new Italian-variety-focused label, and you might not think sangiovese on the first sip—it’s more plush than expected, with notes of blue fruit rather than the typical red. By the second sip, it’s hard to care—the stuff is so brazenly delicious.
4. Intrinsic Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2014 $22
A new project from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates ages much of this wine on skins for nine months—unheard of in an industry where 10 to 30 days is the norm. Also unusual for cabernet: Its aging involves no new French oak, instead relying on the tannins and texture from that nine-month maceration.
5. Waters Winery Interlude Red Wine Washington 2012 $28
This wine makes frequent appearances on our annual Top 100, due to Jamie Brown’s knack for making well-priced Bordeaux-style blends. Principally merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet franc, it offers notes of herbs, red and black fruit, and flowers, plus a depth of flavor uncommon for the price point.
6. Angel Vine Zinfandel Alder Ridge Vineyard Columbia Valley 2012 $24
Washington isn’t generally known for its zinfandel, but this wine from the oven-hot Horse Heaven Hills appellation shows California’s often jammy signature grape can succeed here. Raspberry, cranberry, and fruit leather aromas are somehow both pure and broad, with a properly tart finish.
7. Maison Bleue Métis Red Wine Columbia Valley 2013 $30
It’s rare to find a grenache, syrah, and mourvèdre blend at this price range—even more so at this level of quality. Four top sites (Boushey, Pepper Bridge, Olsen, and Minnick) deliver exuberant aromas of orange peel, black pepper, and red and blue berries, with a sensuous mouthfeel and spot-on balance.
8. Savage Grace Cabernet Franc Copeland Vineyard Rattlesnake Hills 2015 $28
No one releases red wines as young as Michael Savage. His cabernet franc ages in neutral French oak, imparting a sense of freshness rather than heavy tannins, and hits the market months before other reds from the vintage. It defies expectations that a wine this young can be this good—Savage captures something in the variety nobody else can.
9. Fall Line Winery Exhibition Red Wine Yakima Valley 2013 $22
This is what winemaker Tim Sorenson does best: high-quality wines that punch above their weight class. A blend of merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and petit verdot, it brings aromas of anise, flowers, red fruit, and garden herbs and feels sumptuous and nuanced on the palate.
10. Secret Squirrel Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2012 $25
This side project from the folks at Corliss Estates seems guaranteed not to remain a secret for long if they keep delivering such quality wines at this price. Generous aromas of barrel spices mix with herb and black cherry flavors.