Wine Tasting Dinner: Washington Single Vineyard Red Blends



By Kori ~ March 17th, 2010.

Oftentimes, wineries in the United States produce blends from their leftovers. They put their best grapes into their varietal wines and then produce a blend from the grapes that don’t quite make the cut. There are some wineries, however, who strive to produce Bordeaux-style blends using the very best grapes that they can get. Over the past few years, we’ve had the pleasure to visit a number of the top vineyards in the state of Washington and have come to respect the “sense of place” that is evident in the wines from each particular vineyard.

Last Friday evening, we had the pleasure to taste six single vineyard red blends from Washington State in our monthly wine tasting dinner. It was another fabulous evening of good wines, the company of wonderful friends, and Mom’s excellent food.

Not only did four of the six wines receive a Quality rating of 4 stars or higher (out of 5), but the top three also received a QPR rating of 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5). Even though these wines are not inexpensive, they are well worth the money.

All six wines paired well with Mom’s dinner of tomato basil soup, candied walnut gorgonzola salad, prime rib, braised kale, cilantro lime mashed sweet potatoes, and topped off with a German chocolate dessert with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.

The consensus favorite was the 2005 Côte Bonneville Carriage House Red Wine. Côte Bonneville, located near Sunnyside, Washington, is the estate winery for DuBrul Vineyard. Both the winery and the vineyard are owned by Hugh and Kathy Shiels. The Shiels planted their first wine grapes in 1992 and started their own winery in 2001 after their last child left home. They are running a first class operation: amazing fruit, amazing wines, and amazing people. [To read more about DuBrul Vineyard, check out my article in the current Spring 2010 issue of Washington Tasting Room Magazine.]

I would encourage you to try any of these wines, especially with a meal, to get a sense of how Washington wines can stack up against the world’s best such as French Bordeaux.

From 1st to last in the group consensus rankings:

2005 Côte Bonneville Carriage House Red Wine (DuBrul Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington): 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc. Deep, dark purplish red and very aromatic. Black fruits, spice, oak, and a hint of bacon come through on the nose; more black fruits and spice on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with medium to high, drying tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a long, lingering finish. Great from the first sip right on through the meal.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $50; Available elsewhere, $45 to $65

2006 Soos Creek Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Wine (Ciel du Cheval, Red Mountain, Washington): 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, 9% Merlot. Dark purplish red and very aromatic. Aromas and flavors of juicy red fruits and black cherry along with nicely integrated oak. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium to high tannins, and a long finish. Really shines with food.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Full Pull Wines (Seattle, Washington), $27; Available elsewhere, $25

2006 Sheridan Vineyard Mystique (Sheridan Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington): 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc. Dark, dense red in color and very aromatic. Aromas and flavors of black fruits, smoked meat, leather, and tobacco. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium to high, drying tannins, and a long finish. Big and bold when sipped by itself, yet tannins soften and almost seem a bit sweet with food.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Full Pull Wines (Seattle, Washington), $23; Available elsewhere, $30

2006 L’Ecole Nº 41 Apogee (Pepper Bridge Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley, Washington): 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 8% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Franc. Deep purple and very aromatic. Oak and vanilla dominate the nose with dark fruits and earth showing through as well. Loads of oak on the palate along with blackberry, black cherry, and spice. Medium to full-bodied and lively with very drying tannins and a long finish. Well-balanced and gets better with food.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $50; Available elsewhere, $38 to $53

2006 Cadence Camerata (Cara Mia Vineyard, Red Mountain, Washington): 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc. Deep, dark purple in color. Aromatic with cinnamon, vanilla, and a hint of coconut coming through on the nose. Cinnamon and black fruits show through on the palate. Full-bodied with lively acidity and medium to high, drying tannins and a long finish. A little heat is present on the back end but improves with food.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: McCarthy & Schiering (Seattle, Washington), $55; Available elsewhere, $53 to $63

2005 Grand Rêve Collaboration Series I Red Wine (Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, Red Mountain, Washington): 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 13% Petit Verdot, 12% Merlot. Winemaker Ben Smith of Cadence Winery. Deep, dark purplish red with black licorice, black cherry, and leather aromas along with hints of spice and cloves. More black fruits, spice, and coffee come through on the palate. Full-bodied with high, drying tannins and a long, smooth finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $55; Available elsewhere, $55


Filed under: American Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Red Wine, Vineyards, Washington State Wine, Wine Tasting Dinners, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Chris | March 17th, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Great review, I have heard of a couple of these wineries before and will definitely try out some of these suggestions over the next few weeks.

  2. Kori | April 1st, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Chris,
    Glad you enjoyed the reviews. Would love to hear what you think of these wines when you have a chance to try them. Cheers!

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