At the Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition, 20 judges worked in groups of four to work through the 561 wines entered from throughout the Pacific Northwest.
To win a gold, a wine must earn a top score from three of the four judges. If all four judges deem the wine a gold medal, then it wins a unanimous double gold.
Here are several of the red wines that won gold medals at the competition, which took place at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Oregon. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.
14 Hands Winery 2012 The Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $30: This delicious cab leans toward Bing cherry and loganberry fruit flavors and aromas, with chalky tannins and some length at the end. (14.5 percent alcohol)
Mercer Estates 2012 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $24: Spicy blackberries, vanilla and floral notes promise to delight, and winemaker Jessica Munnell delivers a mouthful of blackberry and blueberry fruit that finishes with a touch of caramel, chocolate and smooth tannins. (14.5 percent alcohol)
Saviah Cellars 2012 The Stones Speak Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $55: The Funk Estate Vineyard fruit in the Rocks District of Milton-Freewater, Oregon, produces aromas of minerality and loganberry that leads brambly blackberries and black plums, augmented by a dusty finish of old river rock that lingers. (14.5 percent alcohol)
Baer Winery 2012 Arctos, Columbia Valley, $43: This Bordeaux-style blend is named after the scientific name for the brown bear. And this version is a big brute, laden with hefty flavors of black and blue fruit, chocolate, spice and herbs. (14.5 percent alcohol)
DeLille Cellars 2012 Four Flags Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $68: Characteristic deep, rich fruit combine with earthiness and depth. In addition to its black cherry and blackberry aromas and flavors, it sports a hint of spice and a dash of mint in its finish, augmented by dark chocolate and fine-grained tannins. (14 percent alcohol)
Barnard Griffin 2013 Syrah Port, Columbia Valley, $17: Rob Griffin’s fortified dessert wine opens with sweet aromas of plummy blackberries and serves the fruit up on the palate with just a hint of spice, plus some sweet blackberries. When winter is coming, curl up with a glass of this in front of your fireplace and enjoy. (19.5 percent alcohol)
Eight Bells Winery 2012 Red Willow Vineyard Syrah 8 Clones, Yakima Valley, $32: The nose displays blackberry fruit and plum, topped by a gamey note. On the palate, the fruit also reveals a bit of red-toned loganberry and a nip of tobacco in its finish. (14.9 percent alcohol)
Wilridge Winery 2013 Estate Nebbiolo, Naches Heights, $40: Lovely rose aromas and a hint of tar lead to flavors of tart red cherries, bits of red raspberry, abundant acidity and woody tannins. With age, the tannins should soften a bit and its fruit and acidity will linger. (13.3 percent alcohol)
Woodward Canyon 2012 Erratic, Walla Walla Valley, $66: This GSM-style red blend of mourvèdre, syrah and grenache opens with aromas and flavors of blackberries, plums and blueberries laced seamlessly together with spices, leather, black pepper and slightly minty black tea tannins. (14.5 percent alcohol)
Reininger Winery 2012 Carménère, Walla Walla Valley, $51: This displays aromas of herbs, sweet late-summer blackberries and delicate spices. On the palate, blackberry and blueberry dominate, and it closes with firm black tea tannins. (14.1 percent alcohol)
Whidbey Island Winery 2013 Dolcetto, Yakima Valley, $27: Ripe plum, spice and cherry aromas promise to deliver a palette of fruit flavors that arrive with the first sip, showing off pie cherry flavors and closing with a hint of leather. (13.7 percent alcohol)
Barrister Winery NV Rough Justice X, Columbia Valley, $22: Two Spokane attorneys use merlot and syrah to lead off the blackberry aromas and flavors, with plums, blueberries and spices folding into this refined and delightful drink. (14.8 percent alcohol)
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, an award-winning news and information company. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.