Canoe Ridge Vineyard 2014 The Explorer Red Blend, Horse Heaven Hills, $22

Downtown Walla Walla winemaker Bill Murray pulls from beyond Canoe Ridge Vineyard for this Syrah-dominant blend with Cabernet Franc (27%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (24%), yet he stays within Precept’s other vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills as Wallula and Alder Ridge combine to supply most of the fruit. Nearly 18 months in a barrel program of nearly 50% new French oak produces aromas of blueberry and chocolate with smoked meat, tobacco and black olive notes. Flavors of a Hostess Berry Pie, plum and vanilla are met by a balanced structure of resolved tannins and blackberry acidity. Production of this is a fraction of Murray’s Merlot-dominant Expedition, yet The Explorer’s colorful new label should help it stand out on the shelves of grocers. Enjoy this with barbecued pork, charcuterie, grilled beef or lamb kabobs.

Rating: Outstanding!

Production: 1,260 cases

Alcohol: 14.8%

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