The chateaus and winemakers of France’s Rhône Valley built their reputations on skillfully blending the region’s many red grapes. And Washington winemakers are using these same varieties to produce complex wines rich in earthy and fruity aromas.
Grenache and Syrah are typically the backbones of these red blends. Grenache can bring strawberry, raspberry and floral aromas. While Syrah can match it with black pepper, smoke and earthy tones. Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Carignan and even the white grape Viognier bring the blend into balance with perfumed aromas and rich colors.
The layers of red fruit and earth make these Washington Rhône-style blends the perfect complement to a winter evening. Check out some of our favorites below.
Devison 2018 GPR (Columbia Valley); $29, 92 points. Syrah makes up 57% of this wine, with the rest Grenache (40%) and Mourvèdre. The aromas are reserved, with notes of crushed rock, wild raspberry, dried herb and whiffs of baker’s chocolate. The cherry and cranberry flavors bring a sense of volume and density, coating the palate. Give it some time to open up, but it delivers big time and is an excellent value to boot. Editors’ Choice. —Sean Sullivan
Lydian 2018 G-S-M (Columbia Valley); $25, 92 points. This wine is 38% Grenache, 31% Syrah and 31% Mourvèdre. The aromas are fruit forward, with notes of dark raspberry, orange peel, bramble, plum and Rainier cherry. The plum flavors are fresh and pure, with a lovely texture. Coffee and spice notes linger on the finish. It’s thoroughly delicious. Editors’ Choice. —S.S.
Kevin White 2018 Red (Yakima Valley); $20, 92 points. Syrah makes up 45% of this wine, with the rest Grenache (40%) and Mourvèdre, with the fruit coming from all of the vineyards that the winery works with. Boom! The aromas explode, with notes of blue fruit, dried herbs, orange peel and kirsch, showing a classic Yakima Valley profile. The palate is packed, absolutely packed full of intense fruit flavors. Coffee notes linger on the finish. There’s a sense of hedonism and yet purity that is nothing short of captivating. But it’s the balance that puts this wine where it is. Wow! Editors’ Choice. —S.S.
Time and Direction 2018 Diamond Cutter (Columbia Valley); $30, 92 points. Though labeled as a red wine, Syrah makes up fully 95%, with the rest Mourvèdre. The aromas are effusive, with notes of blueberry, raspberry, white pepper, herb and flower, showing an appealing sense of purity. The silky smooth, fresh-feeling palate more than delivers on all of that promise, while bringing a real sense of freshness. It’s as complete delight and a superb value. Editors’ Choice. —S.S.
Virtue 2018 Unity G-S-M (Columbia Valley); $24, 92 points. Syrah makes up 48% of this wine, with the rest 32% Mourvèdre and 20% Grenache. With fruit coming from Wallula, Des Etes Long, and Thunderstone vineyards and seeing only second-fill and neutral oak, the aromas are light but intriguing, with notes of smoked meat, medicine, fresh parsley, plum and berry. It’s beautifully textured but still sleek and velvety in feel, showing exquisite polish, structure and a long finish. It’s gorgeous stuff at a can’t-be-beat price. Editors’ Choice. —S.S.
Cairdeas 2018 Diffraction (Yakima Valley); $18, 91 points. Syrah makes up 62% of this wine, with the rest bits of Mourvèdre, Petit Sirah, Cinsault, Grenache, Carignan, Alicante Bouchet and Counoise. The aromas pop, with notes of blueberry pie, raspberry, bacon fat, herb, stem and berry, showing a piercing sense of purity. The blue-fruit flavors are achingly pure. Smoked meat notes linger on the finish. It shows a lot of staying power. Editors’ Choice. —S.S.
Kerloo 2017 Majestic (Columbia Valley); $26, 91 points. In this blend of 63% Grenache, 27% Mourvèdre and 10% Syrah, the aromas aren’t quite ready to reveal their charms out of the gate, with notes of dried stick, stem, dried herbs, strawberry gummy and white pepper in the lead with raspberry following behind. The palate shows a lot of elegance, purity and detail—all hallmarks of this producer. Editors’ Choice. —S.S.
Syncline 2018 Subduction (Columbia Valley); $25, 91 points. Syrah makes up half of this wine, with the rest Grenache (18%) and near equal parts Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault. The aromas are arresting, with notes of blue fruit, smoked meat, strawberry and dried herb, showing pleasing complexity. The palate starts out quite elegant in style, fleshing out with time, juicy, with bright, focused, pure fruit flavors. A long, fruit-filled finish caps it off. There’s a lot going on. Pair it with roasted pork loin. Editor’s Choice. —S.S.
Ott & Hunter 2017 Double Bluff Whidbey Island Landmark Series (Columbia Valley); $23, 90 points. Grenache, Mourvèdre, Counoise and Cinsault all make up equal parts of this wine. It’s light in color, reminiscent of a cool climate Pinot Noir. The aromas provide notes of strawberry and cherry gummy, along with pine and peppery spice. The palate is light and juicy, extending on the finish. It’s a pretty, elegant offering. —S.S.
Owen Roe 2018 Sinister Hand (Yakima Valley); $26, 90 points. Grenache makes up 55% of this wine, with the rest Syrah (19%), Mourvèdre (17%) and Cinsault. The aromas rise out of the glass, with notes of raspberry, flower, white pepper and orange slice. Light, elegant red fruit flavors follow, almost tasting like a Pinot Noir. It shows an appealing sense of balance. —S.S.
Paplow 2016 Boushey Vineyard G-S-M (Yakima Valley); $30, 88 points. Grenache makes up 57% of this wine, followed by near equal parts Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault along with a dollop (6%) of Viognier. The aromas bring notes of black pepper, manure, flower and an assortment of red and black fruit. Full-feeling flavors follow, with the acids offering freshness. —S.S.