Best Wines of Washington's Winegrowing Regions
One of the hottest and driest areas in the state, Red Mountain has many small vineyards with about 1,000 acres of grapes, and many are in demand for their intensity of fruit and powerful tannins. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc are favored here, for classic Bordeaux-style wines.
Andrew Will 2009 Red Wine, Red Mountain, Ciel du Cheval, $57
A true Washington classic, Andrew Will has been making its intense and elegant red blend from Ciel du Cheval Vineyard since 1989. Winemaker Chris Camarda blends Cabernet Sauvignon (35 percent), Merlot (40 percent) and Cabernet Franc (25 percent) from vines that are an average of 23 years old. According to vineyard owner Jim Holmes, the high calcium carbonate content of the soil is the key to this much-lauded vineyard’s stellar fruit. The mineral content of this very warm site inhibits too much vigor, or leaf growth, and helps keep the berry size small, and therefore, the flavor intense. This blend shows deep plum, loganberry and bright acidity to balance the firm tannins.
Red Mountain Red Blend Finalists:
Cadence 2009 Camerata, Red Mountain, $55
Cadence 2009 Bel Canto, Red Mountain, $55
Fidelitas 2010 Merlot, Red Mountain, $45
Our Winemaker of the Year, Charlie Hoppes consults and makes wine for many wineries, but Fidelitas is his baby. Fidelitas built a sleek new tasting room a few years ago in the heart of its vineyards on Red Mountain, showing off the classic Washington-style wines—powerful, intense reds with Red Mountain finesse. Here, Merlot hits the mark—deep berry fruit tempered by dust and leathery notes, a bit of bramble and pie spice creates a full wine with a long, lush finish.
Red Mountain Merlot Finalists:
JM Cellars 2010 Merlot, Red Mountain, $35
Rasa Vineyards 2009 Plus One Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Kiona Vineyards, $75
Rasa’s first single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine is from one of the newer Washington wineries, sourcing fruit from one of the oldest Washington vineyards. This is an intense wine, showing all the power of Red Mountain, with dark fruit, licorice and coffee flavors balanced with mineral and dried herbs. Pinto and Billo Naravane’s Walla Walla winery has been garnering fans as they bring their attention to detail from the tech industry to every aspect of their winemaking.
Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon Finalists:
DeLille 2009 Grand Ciel, Red Mountain, $150
Sparkman Cellars 2010 Kingpin, Red Mountain, $62