Washington Bordeaux Blends

Washington State Bordeaux-Style Blend

The Fifty Best Washington State Bordeaux-Style Blend Tasting of 2015


The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of recent release Washington State Bordeaux-Style Blends with 17 members of our wine judging panel. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Each of the wines were poured into fresh wine glasses from new sealed bottles and served at room temperature. Only ice water and white peasant bread were available to cleanse the palate.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each wine on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the best. Double-Gold, Gold and Silver medals are awarded based on a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no bronze medals awarded for this tasting.

The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The appellations are identified for each brand. Prices indicated do not include tax.


Chateau Ste. Michelle
2012 Artist Series "Chihuly"

(Columbia Valley) $65

Fashioned by winemaker Bob Bertheau from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Merlot (26%), Cabernet Franc (2%) and Malbec (2%), this product underwent 22 months of aging in French oak (69% new) after fermentation.

Aroma: Dark cherry, black currants, black plum, berries, blueberry jam, blackberry liqueur, rich integration of fruit, vanilla, cola, coffee roast, espresso, leather, classic.
Palate: Blackberry, blueberry, ripe cherry, black currants, pomegranate, cassis, black plum, integrated black fruit, balanced fruit, tobacco, spice, pepper, oak elements, rich, dense, smooth, balanced, complex, real nice, perfect.
Finish: Black cherry, coffee roast, pepper, leather, tannin, smoky, good length.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Chateau Ste. Michelle - 2012 Artist Series

Hedges Family Estate
2012 Red Mountain Blend


Sarah and Pete Hedges produced this wine from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (26%) Cabernet Franc (4%), Syrah (8%) and Malbec (2%) grapes grown at Hedges Estate, Vel’Villa, Les Gosses, Magdalena and Rockwell Brown vineyards.

Aroma: Dark cherry, ripened cherries, currants, cassis, cocoa, floral, violets, spicy fig, black pepper, red pepper, slightly spicy, baking spice, earthy, mushroom, leather, cedar.
Palate: Red plum, raspberry, blackberry, black cherry, briar fruit, dired cherry, raisin, strawberry & balsamic, tangy, ginger, spice, black pepper, mushroom, tobacco, earthy, aged Bordeaux wine, Bordelais style very acidic, big tannins, well integrated, balanced, complex, rich, vibrant, lots of character.
Finish: Fruit, chocolate, mint, spice, toast, mineral, earth, hint of wood, oak, complex, great.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Hedges Family Estate - 2012 Red Mountain Blend

2012 Bel Canto - Cara Mia Vineyard, Red Mountain


This wine was made by Benjamin Smith (Seattle Magazine 2012 Winemaker of the Year) from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (84%), Merlot (8%) and Petit Verdot (8%).

Aroma: Plum, briar fruit, blackberry, blueberry, cherry, red fruit, fruity, chocolate truffles, mint, anise, pleasing herbal note, floral, smoke, clean, French oak, Old World, attractive.
Palate: Red plum, blackberry, blueberry, cherry, dark berry fruit, dark forest fruit, cassis, dried cherry, sour apple, tart, black pepper, minerality, lovely vanilla, oak, smoke, Old World, smooth, lush, bright, complex, balanced, good structure, nice acidity, elegant.
Finish: Black fruit, boysenberry, sour cherry, mild pepper, tannin, wood, soft, bright, pleasant, very nice, elegant.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Cadence 2012 Bel Canto - Cara Mia Vineyard, Red Mountain

2011 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


Produced under the direction of UC Davis School of Enology graduate Kendall Mix, this wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (82%), Merlot (8%), Malbec (6%) and Petit Verdot (4%) that was fermented in stainless steel and aged for over two years in French oak barrels.

Aroma: Black currant, very fragrant blackberries, black cherry, ripe black plum, cherry cola, sweet spices, coffee roast, oak, intense.
Palate: Blackberry, deep berry, big berry fruit, red cherry, dark cherry, black currants, black plum, mint, spice, clove, licorice, flint, slate, mineral, pepper, umami, earthy, oak, clean, bright, complex, silky, rich, robust, good with steak.
Finish: Dark cherry, stone fruit, herbal, pine, peppery, rich, balanced, soft, nice, gentle, pleasant, long.

Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal

Cadaretta 2011 Columbia Valley


North By Northwest
King Estate Cellar - 2012 Columbia Valley Red Blend


This wine was made from a blend of Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes grown at Horse Heaven Hills in Walla Walla Valley.

Aroma: Blackberry, strawberry, cherry, dark plum, ripe plum, black currants, blueberry pie, honey, cinnamon, hint of green pepper, attractive.
Palate: Blackberry, blueberry, cherry, strawberry, raspberry, red fruit, black currants, black plum, stewed cherries, dried cherry, green pepper, herbaceous, eucalyptus, spice, black pepper, smoky, some oak, very clean, soft, easy, rounded, balanced intensity, very well balanced, good integration.
Finish: Chocolate, chocolate covered raisins, leather, earth, peppery, smoky, simple, nice, soft, mellow, pleasant, elegant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

North By Northwest - King Estate Cellar, 2012 Columbia Valley Red Blend

Côte Bonneville
2007 Estate Bottled - DuBrul Vineyard

(Yakima Valley) $65

This wine was made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (57%) and Merlot (43%). Following “small-lot” fermentation the wine was aged for 23 months in 100% new French oak barrels.

Aroma: Wild berry, blackberry, ripe blueberry, strawberry jam, plums, stewed plums, cassis, grapey, melon, honey, spice, pine, faintly herbal, mineral, smoky, Old World.
Palate: Black cherry, blackberry, strawberry, blueberry, teaberry, ripe black plum, red plum, cranberry, boysenberry jam, cherry liqueur, chocolate, juicy, light toast, spice, complex, well balanced, smooth, rounded, lots of acidity.
Finish: Cherry, strawberry, lightly spicy, clean, elegant minerality, Old World style, wood barrel, long.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Côte Bonneville - 2007 Estate Bottled, DuBrul Vineyard, Yakima Valley

Chateau Walla Walla
(Claar Wine Group)
2008 The Artisan Series "Series #2" - Masterpiece Red


For this bottle, winemaker Brian Carlson used a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (75%) and Merlot (25%) from Zorba Vineyard in Walla Walla Valley. Following fermentation it was aged in 40% new American and European oak.

Aroma: Ripe cherry, concentrated cherries, blackberry, currants, strawberry, very fruity, prune, vanilla, floral, port, pepper, earth, leather, smoke, lovely oak, delicate, elegant.
Palate: Blackberries, currants, black cherry, blueberry, plum, stewed prunes, dried plum, chocolate, cocoa, mint, black pepper, tobacco, leather, eucalyptus, woody, heavy oak, Old World, rich, complex, lively, good with steak, elegant.
Finish: Raspberry, cocoa, red pepper, spicy, smoky, dusty, soft, lingering tannin, fantastic.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Chateau Walla Walla - 2008 The Artisan Series

Columbia Crest
2012 Walter Clore Private Reserve Red Wine

(Columbia Valley) $36

Winemaker Juan Muroz Oca made this wine from hand-picked grapes (80% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec) from Cold Creek, Horse Heaven Hills and Wahluke Slope vineyards. Following cold soaking, maceration and fermentation, the wine was barrel aged in predominantly new French oak for 16 months.

Aroma: Black plum, deep black currant, cherry, cranberry, blackberry, light prune, peaches, floral, pepper, leather, some cedar, oak notes.
Palate: Blackberry, black plum, cranberry, cherry, dried cherry, dates, jammy, mint, licorice, black pepper, barrel, cedar, smoke, earthy dominant over fruit, rich, silky medium tannins, balanced structure, elegant.
Finish: Blackberry, cocoa, mint, vegetal, peppery, mineral notes, tannin, wood, light, good length.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Columbia Crest 2012 Walter Clore Private Reserve Red Wine

Plain Cellars
2012 Eclipse

(Columbia Valley) $30

This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (61%), Merlot (28%), Malbec (7%) and Petit Verdot (4%) that was aged for almost two years in a combination of French and Bulgarian oak.

Aroma: Cherry, black briar fruit, blackberry, plum, vanilla, toast, spice, mint, menthol elements, slightly herbal, peppery, coffee, tobacco, smoke, dusty, earthy, lively, robust.
Palate: Bing cherry, black cherry, concentrated ripe blackberries, raspberry, strawberry, red plum, jammy, chocolate cherries, hint of chocolate, bitter chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, tobacco, white pepper, black pepper, oriental spice, smoky, leather, cedar, oak, smooth, intense, rich.
Finish: Cherry, concentrated berries, tobacco leaf, flinty, oaky, smooth, complex, rich, memorable, nice, long.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Plain Cellars 2012 Eclipse

Robert Karl Cellars
2010 Horse Heaven Hills "Inspiration" Reserve


Grapes for this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Merlot (10%), Cabernet Franc (10%), Petit Verdot (5%) and Malbec (5%) were sourced from four different vineyards in Horse Heaven Hills. Following temperature-controlled fermentation the wine was aged for 35 months in new French oak.

Aroma: Black currant, dark cherry, blackberry, strawberry, cassis, plum, peach, cola, mint, violet, vegetal, subdued, oak.
Palate: Raspberry, blackberry, black currant, plum, bright red cherry, dark cherry, gooseberry, rhubarb, olives, tobacco, black pepper, slight spice, perfume, bright, clean, well balanced, elegant.
Finish: Cherry, spicy, well integrated, good length.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Robert Karl Cellars - 2010 Horse Heaven Hills

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon

(Columbia Valley) $40

This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (80%), Merlot (10%) and Cabernet Franc (10%) was made from grapes grown at Weinbau, Heather Hills and Sagemoor vineyards that were aged in French oak (40% new) for 22 months following fermentation.

Aroma: Deep dark cherry, big cherry, blackberry, plum, currants, cassis, black pepper, spicy, cinnamon, nutmeg, under brush notes, earthy, leather, smoky, oak.
Palate: Raspberry, boysenberry, lip smacking black cherry, black plum, stewed plums, licorice, clove, tobacco, black pepper, some spice, some wood, oak, well balanced tannins, powerful, clean.
Finish: Black cherry, chocolate, spice, peppery, rich, smoky, very clean, very nice, good length.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

DaMa – 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon

Gamache Vintners
2010 Nicholas Reserve

(Columbia Valley) $51

This “limited-release” wine (392 cases produced) was made under the direction of consulting winemaker Charlie Hoppes from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (24%), Cabernet Franc (12%) and Malbec (13%) grown on Gamache (88%) and Champoux (12%) vineyards. Following fermentation the wine was aged in French oak (80%) and American oak (20%).

Aroma: Black cherry, black currant, cassis, blackberry, plum, jam, black pepper, leather, clean, robust.
Palate: Black cherry forward, dark cherry, blackberry, cranberry, strawberry, juicy, chocolate notes, baking spice, sweet spice, cloves, black pepper, tobacco, rocky soil, dusty, nice balance, well integrated fruit & oak, good acidity & structure.
Finish: Cherry, leather, hint of pepper, dry earth, some tannin, smooth, good length.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Gamache Vintners 2010 Nicholas Reserve


Gilbert Cellars
2013 Columbia Valley, Left Bank


For this bottle winemaker Justin Neufeld used a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (63%), Merlot (16%), Carmenere (8%), Cabernet Franc (7%) and Petit Verdot (6%) from vineyards along the left bank of the Columbia River. After fermentation the wine was aged for 19 months in a combination of new and neutral oak barrels (80% French and 20% American).

Aroma: Cherry, raspberry, raspberry jam, strawberry, strawberry tart, wild berry, dark currants, plum, raisin, brandied cherries, licorice, molasses, baking spice, earthy, oak, subdued.
Palate: Blackberry, bramble fruit, plum, cherries, sour cherry, black cherry, maraschino, strawberry, fruit forward, tart, bell pepper, anise, earthy, mineral, medium tannins, nice acidity, rich, very bright, pleasant.
Finish: Plums, strawberry, dark chocolate, peppery, mineral, zesty, crisp. bright, long lasting.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Gilbert Cellars 2013 Left Bank




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