A week ago, Friday, August 17th and Saturday the 18th, we made an overnight excursion to Red Mountain, Kennewick and Prosser. Here are the highlights.

Our first stop was at the end of Sunset Road on Red Mountain. At Hightower, we tasted top one Estate wines, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Red Blend to be reviewed in the October issue of the Review of Washington Wines. At Tapteil, there were five Rhone and BDX reds. Then we went on down to Fidelitas for some fine 2015 reds and Frichette for new 2016 BDX reds, all to be in the October Review of Washington Wines.

After Red Mountain, we drove back to Kennewick to have or VW Beetle Convertible serviced while visiting the Bartholomew Winery. There, we tasted two distinctive reds that are nearly sold out. Here are the reviews.

2015 Bartholomew Malbec, Columbia Valley ($29) - Sourced from the Lawrence Vineyard, this shows an inky purplish-ruby color and seductive aromas of blackberry, blueberry, wild currants, crushed roses, sweet tobacco and violets. The flavors are velvety yet precise, with notes of licorice, cocoa, French roast and Royal Slope alluvial minerals. The back picks up pressed berries, roasted nuts and graphite, followed by a long, dryish ripe tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.

2015 Bartholomew Tannat, Rattlesnake Hills, Konnowac Vineyard ($33) - Tannat is a grape originating in Southwest France. This version shows a deep ruby color and a rich, smoky nose of raspberry, cherry, plum, rosebuds, tobacco, and spiced incense. The flavors are thick and chewy, with loads of forward dark fruits that are intermixed with licorice, cocoa powder, French roast and Rattlesnake Hills scorched earth. The intensity continues on the back with sensations of roasted berries and nuts, toffee, dried cherries and charcoal, followed by a robust yet smooth ripe tannin finish. 19/20 points.

After Kennewick, we drove back to Prosser to check in at the Best Western Inn at Horse Heaven. We had dinner at Wine O'Clock, a restaurant we highly recommend, run by Susan Bunnell, featuring wines made by her husband, Ron Bunnell. If you ever go East on I-82, be sure to get off at exit 80 into Prosser. The restaurant is fantastic, using fresh local ingredients and fine wines. The wine bar was featuring two terrific half price deals: a flight of three 2011 Syrahs for $19, from a greatly underrated vintage from three AVAs, Yakima Valley (Boushey) Horse Heaven and Red Mountain, and a 2015 Cabernet at half off from $24 to $12, a steal of a deal. 

The next morning, we drove up north of Prosser on Gap Road to visit for the first time, Barrel Springs with owner-winemaker Jim Madison and tasting room manager Annette Alfsonnett. The 2015 Chardonnay at $15 (18.5/20 points) and the 2014 Estate Syrah at $25 (18.5/20 points) are super bargains. Watch for them in the October issue of the Review of Washington Wines.

We then returned to the Winemakers' Village in Prosser to taste at Gamache Vintners (lovely 2017 Viognier and Semillon and tasty 2014 reds) and Milbrandt (outstanding 2014 Estate reds from the Northridge Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope. For lunch, we returned to Wine O'Clock for a tasty wood oven baked pear and bacon pizza, with three featured Wine O'Clock wines, a 2017 Pinot Gris, a non-vintage Snipes Creek Redd and a bargain $24 Syrah.

After lunch, we stopped at WIT Cellars for the newly released Malbec and Petit Verdot Dessert Wine and Alexandria Nicole Cellars for the 2017 Viognier, 2016 Jet Black Syrah and 2016 Little Big Man Petit Verdot. After that, we headed back to Walla Walla.

Watch for these wines in the October issue of the Review of Washington Wines which goes on line September 25.