Some gems from Washington State

A chance to taste through a spectrum of wines from this Pacific Northwest region shows that Washington State is an interesting wine destination

It’s been a few years now since I did a big tour through Washington State. Starting off in Seattle, I went through the various appellations of the Columbia Valley, then Walla Walla, and finally the Columbia Gorge, before crossing the state boundary and ending up in Portland, Oregon. As with all wine regions, things are changing and progressing, and this was a pretty impressive set of wines – especially the reds.

Eroica Riesling 2017 Washington State
This collaboration between Ernst Loosen of the Mosel and Chateau Ste Michelle always performs well. Lively, bright and expressive with a hint of sweetness. Has a lovely lemony character and shows some elegance. 91/100

Reynvaan Grenache Blanc 2017 Walla Walla, Washington State
From a relatively new winery in Walla Walla, this is a really interesting textured wine with a hint of vanilla alongside the citrus and pear fruit, with some peachy richness and a twist of fennel. 90/100

De Lille Cellars Chaleur Blanc 2018 Washington State
A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, barrel fermented (60% new oak) and 10% in stainless steel. This is taut and crisp with lovely citrus and pear fruit, with fine spiciness, a touch of herbs and some grapefruit pith notes. 91/100

Gramercy Cellars Cagniappe Syrah 2016 Walla Walla, Washington State
Taut, fresh and peppery with some raspberry fruit and black cherries. Compact with lovely precision.  A really lovely taut wine of real focus and balance. 94/100

Hedges Red Mountain 2013 Washington State
This is a blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot and 2% Syrah. Vivid, spicy, savoury blackcurrant fruit nose. Lovely depth here, with a gravelly edge, a touch of softness on the mid palate but then good structure underneath. Shows lovely savoury complexity and a hint of nice wildness. Satisfying stuff. 93/100

Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Walla Walla, Washington State
Doubleback is a relatively new winery owned by ex-NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Rounded and expressive with rich, polished black cherry and blackcurrant fruit with good structure. Very fruit-driven and expressive with nice balance between the well integrated oak and the lush fruit. 93/100

L’Ecole No 41 Ferguson Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Walla Walla, Washington State
Ferguson is a remarkable vineyard planted on a high-altitude basaltic ridge at the southern end of Walla Walla (it’s actually in Oregon). 30 acres have been planted so far. This shows brooding, concentrated blackcurrant fruit with a nice savoury dimension. Powerful, balanced and quite classic with great structure and potential for development. 95/100

Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Columbia Valley, Washington State
Aromatic, pure blackcurrant fruit nose with some black cherries, too. Supple and elegant on the palate. This is ripe but it has nice balance with some tea and herb notes adding complexity. Floral and textured and well balanced. 94/100

Horsepower Sur Echalas Vineyard Grenache 2013 Walla Walla, Washington State
From a two-acre vineyard planted on stakes at 1 m x 1 m, farmed by horse. This is a really distinctive wine, with a floral sappy nose and some green hints under the sweet berry and cherry fruit. The palate has a savoury edge and some fine structure. It’s distinctive with lots of flavour but also a sense of elegance, and some pepper and olive complexity. 95/100

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