2016 Sheridan Vineyard Mystique – Yakima Valley, Washington

Grape: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc

Owner/Winemaker: Scott Greer

Approximate Retail Price: $28

Website: sheridanvineyard.com

TASTING NOTES:

Color: Deep ruby, reflective, opaque

Aroma: Intense cassis laced with violet petal, black cherry, leather, mild tobacco and black tea

Taste: Rich plum and cherry with a hint of blue fruit, balanced minerality and acid, long mouthwatering finish

Sheridan Vineyard was founded in 1997 by Scott Greer in the Yakima River Valley of Washington State. Having originally purchased 76 acres there, Greer initially planted cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and syrah, with the first bottling in 2000. Since then, he has added merlot and chardonnay, for a total of 100 acres planted to vine with a total production of 6,000 cases.

The Yakima Valley American Viticultural Area – Washington’s first AVA (1983) – occupies the southern part of the state, in and around the city of Zillah, extending to the west. It neighbors other AVAs and sub-AVAs such as Rattlesnake Hills, Horse Heaven Hills and Red Mountain. Known not only for its wine production but also for several orchards of apples, cherries, nectarines, plums and so forth, Yakima Valley otherwise produces nearly 80 percent of the hops in this country.

Sheridan’s wines are, in a word, big. Even its chardonnay, La Belle Blonde, though elegant, balanced and smooth, boasts a fair oak treatment and malolactic fermentation – a winemaking process involving the conversion and softening of one sort of acid into another – giving it the oaky-buttery style so widely adored. Similarly, Sheridan’s 100 percent cabernet franc, Boss Block, can easily be marked among the best such wines from the nation’s western coast. Sheridan’s self-described “hedonistic” L’Orage, a cabernet/cabernet franc blend, makes a more outspoken brother to the winery’s Block 1, being a more elegant, sexy 100 percent cabernet sauvignon. And Sheridan’s syrah, Singularity, reigns as an intense, inky, rich, smoky king among wines, easily mimicking Northern Rhône’s finest.

Finally, the aptly named Mystique – a blend of cabernet, cabernet franc and merlot – turns the mind to the macabre with its velvety texture, spice and rich complexity. The exact blend on this wine changes from vintage to vintage, helping to preserve consistency in style and appeal. For the price, Sheridan’s Mystique remains leagues ahead of its competitors, demonstrating superior quality and affordability. Drinkable now and easily over the next 10 to 15 years, the 2016 ranks as a must for any “big red” devotee.

Food Pairings: Grilled rib-eye, roasted lamb, anything smoked, pan-roasted duck and stinky cheeses all would pair nicely with this wine.

Certified Sommelier Stanley Browne owns Robust Wine Bar in Webster Groves.