Skylite Cellars 2012 Verhey Vineyard Malbec, Yakima Valley, $32

Skylite Cellars 2012 Verhey Vineyard MalbecRobert Smasne’s winemaking skills helped put Skylite Cellars on the map in Walla Walla and beyond, and he also introduced the Hodgins to sites such as Dave Verhey’s vineyard – the source of this marvelous Malbec. It was planted in 2001, two years prior to Smasne beginning his work for the Hodgins. Greg Matiko recently took over the winemaking at Skylite, and this Malbec, the product of five barrels, shows sweet oak tones of vanilla bean, black currant, Marionberry and black licorice with touches of minerality, cedar and black olive. There’s terrific balance to the drink of elegant dark purple fruit as juicy and savory notes funnel into black tea tannins that arrive nicely at the end, joined by elegant black cherry in the finish. It earned a gold medal at the 2016 Capital Wine and Food Wine Awards, making it worth seeking out at the tasting room in downtown Walla Walla, the Skylite Cellars spot in Kirkland and at Nectar Tasting Room across from the Parkade in Spokane.

Rating: Outstanding!

Production: 118 cases

Alcohol: 13.4%

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