A warm reception for the first red wines from Washington’s sizzling 2015 vintage

The lessons of 2013 and 2014 served growers and winemakers well during the record-hot 2015 season.

WASHINGTON’S 2015 VINTAGE will be remembered as the warmest on record, from a heat-inspired jump-start to the growing season through a historically early harvest.

That June, the average high temperature in the heart of the Columbia Valley was 104. That’s hot even by Eastern Washington standards.

Now we’re getting a first glimpse of 2015 reds, which followed two vintages that also were hotter than usual, and I’m liking what I see so far.

Three to try

Here are three delicious and broadly available reds from the 2015 vintage:

Nine Hats 2015 Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $20: This playful blend of Bordeaux and Rhône varieties from Long Shadows Vintners opens with aromas of shaved dark chocolate, ripe raspberry and black pepper, followed by flavors of intense black fruit, including plum, blackberry and black cherry. It’s all backed by supple tannins that lead to a long finish.

Drumheller Wines 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $12: This value-minded label from Ste. Michelle is available primarily in restaurants and online. It’s a deep, dark, intense wine with aromas of black currant, cocoa powder and vanilla, followed by flavors of ripe plum, strawberry jam and huckleberry pie, all backed with bright acidity and mellow tannins.

Saviah Cellars 2015 The Jack Syrah, Columbia Valley, $18: Walla Walla winemaker Richard Funk has crafted an astounding wine with smoky aromas of cured meats, ripe plum and white pepper, followed by supple flavors of blackberry pie, vanilla, forest floor and boysenberry syrup. Perfect for barbecued ribs.

The 2015 reds I’ve tasted have been filled with ripe fruit without being over the top. They have balanced acidity and supple, approachable tannins. The promise we saw a year ago when the young white wines were…

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