Cloudlift Cellars 2013 Panorama Merlot, Columbia Valley, $26

A product of South Seattle Community College’s Northwest Wine Academy, Tom Stangeland devoted more Merlot than ever before to his proprietary Panorama red blend – enough (78%) to prompt him to label it it as Merlot. He pulled from Joel Hattrup’s acclaimed Elephant Mountain Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills, Arianses…

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Merry Cellars 2013 Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley, $46

Palouse winemaker Patrick Merry helped create a culture for Pacific Northwest wine in Pullman, Wash., and he uses fruit from acclaimed Seven Hills Vineyard in Oregon to burnish his reputation with Bordeaux varieties. A product of a warm vintage, the fruit came in from the field at 26 Brix on…

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Barnard Griffin 2014 Rob’s Red Blend, Washington, $14

Best Buy! Rob Griffin takes the credit for stitching together this remarkably approachable blend of Merlot (53%), Cabernet Sauvignon (33%), Syrah (8%) and Malbec (6%) that’s loaded with milk chocolate, black cherry, dark plum and vanilla bean aromas. Cherry juice and chocolate-covered almonds begin to describe the flavors, backed by…

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Dumas Station Wines 2013 Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $32

This bottling marks a first for Walla Walla Valley grower/winemaker Jay DeWitt and Dumas Station – a full-on, 100 percent Merlot – and the results from Birch Creek Vineyard and Minnick Hills Vineyard are superb. His program of 40% new oak creates aromas reminiscent of black raspberry jam, black cherry…

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Canoe Ridge Vineyard 2014 The Expedition Merlot, Horse Heaven Hills, $15

Best Buy! Canoe Ridge Vineyard has given “The Expedition” title to its wines, playing off the ridgetop site named by Lewis and Clark after they noted in 1805 that it looked like an overturned canoe. The winery’s 2014 Merlot from the Horse Heaven Hills offers a hint of pepper, then…

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Sleeping Dog Wines 2014 Buoy Vineyards Sweet Aurora Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Yakima Valley, $21

Larry Oates traditionally produces this dessert-style with Sauvignon Blanc as a cheery memorial to founding mascot Aurora, the beautiful rescue dog who passed on in 2013. The nose of honey, apple, Asian pear, straw and minerality leads to flavors of baked apple pie with notes of kiwi. Ample acidity akin…

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Heymann Winery NV Cranberry Wine, Washington, $16

The Heymanns continue to excel with fruit wines, particularly cranberry, and their latest release offers remarkable complexity. It starts with aromas of pure cranberry with dried pineapple and a touch of earthines. Inside, there’s brightness on the entry with this high-acid fruit, and the residual sugar of 7 percent gives…

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Scatter Creek Winery 2012 Koko Indulgence, Washington, $25

South Sound winemaker Terril Keary continues to recruit adventurous winesters to Tenino, Wash., and his delicious dessert offerings continue to impress. Chocolate is the focus of this fortified wine, and the enticing nose is akin to Devil’s Food Cake with raspberry sauce. Its flavor profile takes you on quite a…

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Chateau Ste. Michelle 2014 Limited Release Chenin Blanc, Horse Heaven Hills, $24

Bob Bertheau and white winemaker David Rosenthal are doing some of Washington state’s top work in spotlighting this Loire Valley grape, and their comparatively small-lot work with Chenin Blanc from their 34-year-old Horse Heaven Vineyard is beautiful. They refer to this as their “melon-style wine,” and it’s brimming with tones…

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Burnt Bridge Cellars 2013 Blend X Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley, $40

College Cellars graduate Ben Stuart continues to enjoy his homecoming to the Portland/Vancouver area as the new winemaker for Burnt Bridge Cellars, not far from historic Fort Vancouver. The Walla Walla Community College product recently took over for cancer researcher/winemaker David Smith, and Stuart did an impeccable job blending this…

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