Northwest winemakers are building reputations as some of the best red wine producers anywhere in the world, as evidenced by numerous publications and competitions around the globe.
Their prowess was on display in March at the fourth annual Cascadia Wine Competition, which took place at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Ore. Of the more than 1,000 wines entered, about 70 percent were reds.
Here are some of the gold medal reds. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.
Brian Carter Cellars 2012 Corrida, Columbia Valley, $34: This Woodinville, winery’s blend leads with Tempranillo and offers aromas and flavors of cherry, blackberry, blueberry and plum, backed by tamed tannins. (14.2% alc.)
L’Ecole No. 41 2013 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $28: Aromas and flavors of refined oak, dark cherry, blackberry and blueberry give way to rich tannins. The team at this Walla Walla Valley winery has showcased Merlot for more than three decades. (14.5% alc.)
Maryhill Winery 2013 Proprietor’s Reserve Serendipity, Columbia Valley, $36: This red blend is a Bordeaux-style red that leads with Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s fruit-forward with bright Bing cherry, warm spice, and a kiss of red currant and blueberry. It finishes with silky, refined tannins. (14.8% alc.)
Ryan Patrick 2013 Rock Island Red, Columbia Valley, $20: Based in Leavenworth, this longtime winery has crafted a delicious blend of Merlot and Syrah. Aromas of blackberry and spice give way to flavors of ripe blueberry and boysenberry. (14.5% alc.)
Barnard Griffin 2014 Rob’s Red Blend, Washington, $14: Here’s a delicious wine at a great price from the dean of Washington winemakers, Rob Griffin. It leads with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and is loaded with aromas and flavors of black cherry, milk chocolate and vanilla bean. Drink it any night of the week. (13.6% alc.)
Smasne Cellars 2012 Cabernet Franc, Snipes Mountain, $44: Yakima Valley native Robert Smasne crafts some of the best wines in Washington. This opens with aromas of dried herbs, black licorice and black currant, followed by flavors of dark cherry and boysenberry. (13.9% alc.)
Westport Winery 2013 Jetty Cat, Columbia Valley, $29: This little winery on the Washington coast has put together a five-grape blend that leads with Cabernet Franc. It shows off aromas and flavors of cherry, blueberry, plum and dark chocolate, all backed by firm tannins. (14% alc.)
Amelia Wynn 2013 Petit Verdot, Columbia Valley, $32: Bainbridge Island winemaker Paul Bianchi has created an example of this Bordeaux variety that is more elegant than most, with notes of black licorice, blueberry, vanilla and dried cherry, all backed by moderate tannins. (14.4% alc.)
Barrister Winery 2013 Seven Hills Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $37: Based in Spokane, these attorneys bring in a lot of their grapes from the Walla Walla Valley. This is a gorgeous Cab with aromas and flavors of black and blue fruit, along with hints of vanilla spice and mint. (14.5% alc.)
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2012 Artist Series Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $65: The 20th anniversary of Ste. Michelle’s Artist Series is adorned with art from Dale Chihuly, and the wine inside is equally a masterpiece. Flavors of coffee, black cherry and black currant parade across the palate. (14.5% alc.)
Coiled Wines 2013 Black Mamba, Snake River Valley, $30: Idaho winemaker Leslie Preston’s big red focuses on Petit Verdot. It’s a smooth wine with notes of blueberry, black currant and black pepper. The tannins provide ample structure without getting in the way of the massive dark fruit. (14.3% alc.)
Stottle Winery 2012 Big Eddie, Columbia Valley, $35: This young winery near Lacey is crafting some delicious reds. Big Eddie leads with Merlot and Cab and offers opulent flavors of black cherry, raspberry and dark chocolate. (14.8% alc.)
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company. Learn more about wine at greatnorthwestwine.com.