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WS 88

Dark and peppery, with a tangy edge to the firmly textured blackberry, fresh sage and tar flavors that play against refined tannins on the finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Best after 2014.

- Harvey Steinman, Wine Spectator (Nov, 2012)
WE 93, WA 92

The medium-ruby colored 2013 Sangiovese Guido comes all from Jack’s Vineyard in the Rocks region of Walla Walla. It has juicy acidity and an elegant, medium to full-bodied style, as well as lots of kirsch and cherry fruit characteristics, spring and spice. It shines on its purity and finesse, and should keep nicely through 2023.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2016)
WA 95

Another wine that overachieves is the 2013 Syrah Morrison Lane. Easily the best vintage of this cuvee to date, it has a killer bouquet of olive tapenade, grounded, peppered meats and a core of darker fruits. Medium to full-bodied, seamless, elegant and with fine tannin, it’s terrific and will drink nicely for 10-15 years.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2016)
WA 95

Coming all from the Sundance Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope, the medium-ruby colored 2013 Syrah The Deal Sundance Vineyard is a unique, singular Syrah that gives up beautiful notes of kirsch, blackberries, sandy, dried soils and hints of olive tapenade. Full-bodied, concentrated, with a great mid-palate and satin-textured tannins, it will benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age and cruise for a decade after that.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2016)
WA 93, WE 93, WS 93

The 2012 Tapteil Vineyard is elegant and complex, with lots of minerality in its red plums, blueberry and floral bouquet. Full-bodied, mouth filling, layered and pure, with lots of tannin on the mid-palate and finish, it needs short-term cellaring and will be another 2012 from Ben that will see its 20th birthday in fine form. The blend here is 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 19% Cabernet Franc, all of which spent 18 months in 40% new French oak.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2015)
WA 93-95, WE 94

Tasted as a barrel sample and Betz’s take on a right bank Bordeaux, the 2012 Clos de Betz is 67% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon and the balance Petit Verdot. Inky-purple in color (has anyone seen a Betz wine not inky purple?), if offers impressive cassis, plum liqueur, spring flowers and underbrush-style aromas and flavors to go with a mouth-filling, layered and voluptuous style on the palate. I love the mid-palate here, and the tannin builds through the finish, so, while it should have plenty of up-front appeal, it should also evolve for 15+ years.

As always, my visit with Bob Betz and Tyson Schiffner at Betz Family Winery (which has been owned by the Griessel family since 2011) is always one of the highlights of my trip through Washington. For the tasting at the domaine, we focused on the 2012s (I tasted the 2011s from bottle at my office in Colorado), and they are easily some of the greatest wines I’ve tasted from this estate to date. While these wines always have considerable structure and focused profiles, these 2012 have an extra dimension of depth and texture, and should not be missed!

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2014)
WS 90

Ripe and sleek, with underlying tobacco and chocolate notes adding to the deftly balanced beam of black cherry. Comes together smoothly on the refined finish. Drink now through 2018.

- Harvey Steinman, Wine Spectator (Dec, 2014)
The nose is packed with ripe strawberry, raspberry and cherry fruit as well as a lot of floral undertones. The structure of this wine is abundant with juicy, velvety tannins.

Blend: 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, 4% Malbec
WA 94

The 100% varietal 2013 El Jefe Tempranillo Stoneridge Vineyard (23 months in 40% new oak) is another terrific example of this variety in Washington, and while there’s not many Tempranillo based releases out there, the ones that are, are seriously good. This 2013 gives up lots of darker fruits (black currants maybe), lots of spicy oak, toasted spice and licorice to go with a full-bodied, elegant, sexy profile on the palate. It continues to open up with time in the glass, and the tannin, while present, are incredibly polished and perfectly ripe.

Feel free to drink bottles anytime over the coming decade. These latest releases from Charles Smith check in at the top of the pyramid and are flat out incredible wines that I wish every reader could taste. Readers should also check out the new label, Wines of Substance, which are also included in this report. Going forward, the K Vintners label will be for the Rhone inspired blends, and all Bordeaux blends will be moved to the Wines of Substance label.


- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (May, 2016)
WA 94

Another wine that’s possibly the best vintage to date, the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Mays Discovery is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that spent 18 months in 35% new oak. Inky colored, full-bodied, concentrated and layered, with impressive black raspberry, plum, licorice, wild herbs and spring flower-like aromas and flavors, it has enough texture and fruit to shine now, yet will be better with short-term cellaring, and have two decade of overall longevity.

These latest 2012s from Chris Camarda are easily some of the best wines I’ve tasted from him and they have everything; texture, richness, balance and structure. Chris continues to think 2007 is his best vintage (we tasted his 2007 Sorrella during the visit and it’s an incredible wine) to date, and he describes 2012 as a “bigger 2008.” Nevertheless, I think these 2012s will rival the 2007s in another 4-5 years. In addition, they have a new vineyard near Two Blondes called Pollard Vineyard that’s planted to Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I visited earlier this year and the 2013s had not been put together, so I’ll review those (possibly from barrel) next year. These are great wines.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2015)
WA 93+, WS 92, WE 91

One of the reserve wines from Ben Smith, the 2013 Bel Canto is a fabulous blend of 75% Cabernet Franc and 25% Merlot that saw just under two years in 50% new French oak. It shows the lengthy elevage on the bouquet with a spicy, ripe, incense, dried flowers and currants driven style that shows a hint of evolution at first, yet continues to gain freshness and purity with time in the glass. This gives way to a complex, layered red that has fabulous mid-palate depth, building, ripe tannin and a big finish. Even with the slightly evolved style, this beauty will age gracefully. Give bottles 3-4 years and plan on drinking through 2030.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2016)
The 2014 Pirouette is a multi-layered wine with aromas and flavors of dark fruits and hints of sweet oak, licorice and cocoa that gain complexity across the palate. Richly textured, with refined tannins and a beautiful mouthfeel that provide a lengthy finish.
WA 94

A cuvee that continues to become more and more Cabernet Sauvignon dominated (Bob Betz loves Cabernet and think it’s the top grape of Washington), the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Pere de Famille (89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot) is utterly seamless and elegant. It is full-bodied and open, with forward notes of cassis, crushed flowers, red currants and licorice. Where the 2014s are more exuberant and dense, this 2013 excels on its pretty, pure and overall elegant style. Drink it anytime over the coming 15+ years. While there's a long history of terrific wines from this estate, I think they've hit another level in the past few vintages, and these latest releases show a purity, elegance and textural quality not found in early bottlings. I'm sure this is in part due to the creation of a second wine, and even a stricter selection for all of the top cuvees. In short, don't miss a chance to try these wines.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (May, 2016)
WA 94, WE 93

Up there with the best vintages of this cuvee to date, Col Solare's 2012 Proprietary Red (a Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated blend that spent 22 months in 100% new French oak) has textbook Red Mountain structure and depth, as well as lots of crème de cassis, black raspberries, chocolate, melted licorice and spice. Big, voluptuous, layered and ripe, with a dense, chewy texture and a big finish, it’s certainly fun to drink now, but will be better with short-term cellaring and have two decades of overall longevity.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2015)
WA 95

A truly fabulous wine is the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, which incorporates 7% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec, all of which was aged 22 months in 75% new French oak. This inky colored, sensationally textured and polished 2013 gives up classic young Cabernet notes of cassis, licorice, graphite, sweet oak and spring flowers. Full-bodied, pure and nicely concentrated, it has a solid kick of ripe tannin, and needs to be forgotten for 5-6 years. This beauty will have two to three decades of overall longevity.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (May, 2016)
WS 91

Elegant, almost aristocratic, offering subtle layers of blackberry, cherry, tar and licorice aromas and flavors, finishing harmoniously. Tannins are firm but not intrusive. This one should develop beautifully in the cellar. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.

- Harvey Steinman, Wine Spectator (June, 2006)
WS 91

Elegant, almost aristocratic, offering subtle layers of blackberry, cherry, tar and licorice aromas and flavors, finishing harmoniously. Tannins are firm but not intrusive. This one should develop beautifully in the cellar. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.

- Harvey Steinman, Wine Spectator (June, 2006)