Best Wines of Washington's Winegrowing Regions
YAKIMA VALLEY AVA
The oldest AVA, Yakima has more than 16,000 acres of grapes planted. The region runs from Union Gap to the foot of Red Mountain, encompassing a huge range of climate conditions, soil types and changes in elevation. Yakima is known for large vineyards of premium-quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Riesling Chardonnay and other grapes. Red Willow and Boushey vineyards, for instance, were planted in the 1970s and 1980s and cared for meticulously to increase the quality of wines.
Betz Family Winery 2010 La Serenne Syrah, Yakima Valley, $55
This 100 percent Syrah is probably one of the most pampered wines in the lineup, in that winemaker (and Master of Wine) Bob Betz has personally “walked the rows,” with Dick Boushey of Boushey Vineyard for the past decade to grow the grapes for this wine. Betz calls La Serenne the “iron fist in a velvet glove,” with lush, earthy black fruits, anise, smoke and powerful intensity, but smooth and elegant on the finish. Although Betz is passing off the main winemaking to others, his touch will remain: a rich legacy of attention to detail and a focus on making a wine the best it can be.
Yakima Valley Syrah Finalists:
Avennia 2010 Arnaut, Yakima Valley, Boushey Vineyard, $45
Maison Bleue 2010 Liberté, Yakima Valley, Boushey Vineyard, $40
Mark Ryan 2010 Lost Soul, Yakima Valley, Red Willow Vineyard, $48
Manu Propria 2010 Ex Animo Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, Red Willow Vineyard, $35
For his first Cabernet, Manu Propria winemaker Mike Macmorran drew from one of the oldest vineyards in the state, Red Willow, which was planted in the late 1980s before the Yakima Valley was made an AVA 30 years ago. This Cabernet Sauvignon, whose name translates to “from the heart,” is 83 percent Cabernet from a 1991 planting, and 14 percent Merlot from a 1985 planting, with a bit of Malbec (3 percent). This luscious wine has elements of bittersweet chocolate, dark black fruit, dried herbs, pepper and leather—a beautiful represention of one of Yakima Valley’s classic vineyards.
Yakima Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Finalists:
Adams Bench 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, Red Willow Vineyard, $60
Fall Line 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, $32
Maison Bleue 2010 Le Midi Yakima Valley, Boushey Vineyard, $35
Winemaker Jon Meuret’s love for Rhône varieties is apparent in the focus he applies to creating Rhône blends and varietal wines. As sunny and bright as noontime (the name translated) in eastern Washington, this delicious, food-friendly wine shows black raspberry, plum and white pepper notes, along with dried herbs and a bit of smoked meat aromas. Great acidity and silky tannins round out the long finish. Everything you need for a midday picnic.
Yakima Valley Grenache Finalists:
McCrea Cellars 2008 Grenache, Yakima Valley, $28
Tempus Cellars 2010 Grenache, Yakima Valley, $25
Read more of Seattle magazine's Eighth Annual Washington Wine Awards here.