Every year for the past decade-and-a-half, Wine Press Northwest magazine has conducted a year-end competition. Called the Platinum Judging, it is meant to showcase some of the best wines in the Northwest.
To gain entry into the competition, a wine must have won a gold medal or better at a professionally judged wine competition somewhere in the world. This year, Northwest wineries earned more than 1,700 gold medals — with many winning multiple golds across the country.
For the 15th annual Platinum Judging, Wine Press Northwest magazine in Kennewick received more than 600 entries, making this a true best-of-the-best beauty contest.
The results of all Platinum winners are in the Winter issue of Wine Press Northwest, which is out this week to subscribers and on newsstands. This week and next, we will take a look at some of the top wines. This week will focus on the reds. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant, or call the wineries directly. For full results, go to www.winepressnw.com.
Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2011 Mr. Big Petite Sirah, Horse Heaven Hills, $45: This big, broad-shouldered red is rich in aromas of blueberry and blackberry, followed by bold, jammy flavors of blackberry, black pepper and boysenberry. Hints of spice and oak add depth and complexity, and a surprisingly gracious midpalate helps make this a complete wine. (14.6 percent alcohol)
William Church Winery 2011 Gamache Vineyards Malbec, Columbia Valley, $36: Aromas of cherry and spices are followed by suave flavors of dark fruit and black pepper backed by elegant tannins. As great as this wine is now, another two years of patience will likely reap greater rewards. (14 percent alcohol)
Kyra Wines 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $20: Moses Lake owner/winemaker Kyra Baerlocher is best known for making some of the finest Chenin Blanc in the Pacific Northwest, but she also crafts delicious reds, including this superb and affordable Cab. (13.5 percent alcohol)
Dusted Valley Vintners 2011 V.R. Special Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $53: The Dusted Valley boys continue to craft some of the finest red wines anywhere in the Northwest. While their specialty has been on rich Rhône varieties, they’ve shown a knack for Bordeaux reds, too. (14.7 percent alcohol)
Whidbey Island Winery 2012 Dolcetto, Yakima Valley, $25: This luscious Italian variety opens with beautiful purple color followed by aromas and flavors of raspberry, cherry and dried blueberry. It’s perfectly round with sweet tannins and beautifully balanced. (14.9 percent alcohol)
Daven Lore Winery 2011 Grenache, Yakima Valley, $35: Yakima Valley winemaker Gord Taylor's Grenache is about as good as it gets in Washington. It opens with aromas of blueberry, pomegranate, Baker’s chocolate and fresh tarragon. On the palate, incredible flavors of ripe raspberry and cranberry intermingle with a hint of sage in the finish. (14.5 percent alcohol)
Clearwater Canyon Cellars 2012 Merlot, Idaho, $25: This Lewiston winery is winning big awards and accolades for nearly every wine it makes. This luscious Merlot — the best of this competition — comes from grapes in the proposed Lewis-Clark Valley. (13.7 percent alcohol)
Zerba Cellars 2010 Grenache, Columbia Valley, $38: This bright red wine is a spectacular achievement, thanks to aromas and flavors of blueberry pie, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper and just a hint of oak. Everything is in place, and the refreshing acidity gives this liveliness. (14.4 percent alcohol)
Two Mountain Winery 2009 Copeland Vineyard Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon, Rattlesnake Hills, $74: This astonishing Cab from a small producer operated by two brothers near the Yakima Valley town of Zillah, Wash., opens with notes of coffee, black cherry, mocha and clove, followed by flavors of blueberry, blackberry and vanilla. The tannins are firm without being too heavy-handed, and the finish is long and memorable. Enjoy this small-production wine with prime rib. (13.9 percent alcohol)