Perhaps just 15 years ago, red blends were just a small part of the Northwest wine scene. Today, it might just be the biggest category.
It’s certainly become the most interesting, with not only traditional blends from Bordeaux, the Rhône Valley, Italy and Spain coming into play, but also combinations not considered in the Old World.
Here are several red blends we’ve tasted recently from Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.
Stottle Winery 2012 Hombre Red, Columbia Valley, $32: Lacey, Wash., winemaker Josh Stottlemyre creates this blend using varieties found on the Iberian Peninsula — Tempranillo (54%), Malbec (33%) and Mourvèdre using grapes from Washington’s Columbia Valley. The nose is minty fresh with dark cherry notes, black tea, allspice and cardamom. There’s beautiful plush fruit on the delicious and round palate that hints at sweet pomegranate and blueberry. Moderate tannins make for a firm yet juicy finish. (14.6% alc.)
Laissez Faire 2014 Red Table Wine, Snake River Valley, $16: This red is a delicious and affordable blend of Sangiovese and Mourvèdre. Aromas of black currant, baked plum and raspberry give way to flavors of black pepper, blueberry and cocoa powder. It’s an easy-drinking red priced for weeknight enjoyment, and it earned best red wine at the 2015 Idaho Wine Competition. (14% alc.)
Dunham Cellars 2012 Trutina, Columbia Valley, $29: Dunham Cellars has a knack for creating wines that are easy to associate with food. Trutina smells like a blend of blackberry and blueberry compote dusted with spice and ready to be baked into a delicious fall pie. On the tongue, these aromas become lush flavors augmented by a bit of dark chocolate and sweet but firm tannins. (13.8% alc.)
Mt. Hood Winery NV Summit Red Wine, Columbia Gorge, $22: This unusual blend of Pinot Noir, Tempranillo and Syrah marshals diverse elements of Burgundy, the Rhône Valley and Spain to create surprising aromas of cherries, cranberries, a subtle bit of plum. The finesse of the Pinot Noir tames the Tempranillo’s closing tannins, which arrive after a midpalate filled by the jammy blackberries of the Syrah. (13% alc.)
Northwest Cellars 2012 Madrigal Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $24: This stunning GSM-style blend leads with Grenache (70%), followed by equal parts Mourvèdre and Syrah to create aromas of coffee, plum, fig, fresh mint and saddle leather. Inside, there’s a velvety structure of blackberry and black currant as the tannins and acidity work together to lift the fruit. (13.9% alc.)
The Conqueror 2012 Red Wine, Horse Heaven Hills, $31: This Syrah-based blend is redolent with aromas of President plum, chocolate-covered cherry, black raspberry, nutmeg and rose petals. On the palate, its fruit, oak profile and structure are stunning as beautiful blackberry jam and black currant flavors lead to a creamy midpalate with sandy tannins. A scrape of vanilla bean and Marionberry acidity make for a finish that offers tremendous length. (13.6% alc.)
Plumb Cellars 2010 Damn Straight, Columbia Valley, $32: This is an intensely expressive red filled with aromas of raspberry, ripe strawberry, black cherry, cocoa powder, oregano and gravel dust. The drink is smooth and rich with blackberry, plum and Baker’s chocolate, backed by Earl Grey tea and savory black olive that help make for a long and luxurious finish. Suggested pairings include duck, beef or tomato-based pasta. (13.9% alc.)
Chateau Faire Le Pont 2011 Confluence, Washington, $45: This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (33%,) Malbec (25%), Petit Verdot (18%), Merlot (16%) and Cabernet Franc reveals inky purple aromas that give way to flavors of raspberry, chocolate, grilled spicy meats and ripe plum, all backed with bright acidity and toasty barrel notes. This earned double gold at the North Central Washington Wine Awards. (13.7% alc.)
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine. Learn more about wine at greatnorthwestwine.com.