Washington Red Blends 

Both cabernet and merlot helped to put Washington on the wine map, and that state still makes some of the best you'll find. Today, syrah is making a big splash there, as well. All are great on their own, but when you mix things up a bit, the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts. So continuing the blend trend from the last Wine Sipper, here are the panel's top picks from a field of blended Washington reds:

2006 Bergevin Lane Calico Red, $15.99

A coming together of five different grapes (merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, zinfandel and cabernet franc), the Calico wins the "Most Varieties" award. It offers an intriguing combo of bright cherry and berry with secondary aromas of leather, grilled meat and fennel. On the succulent side, the creamy red fruit flavors are impeccably balanced by just the right hit of acidity. A definite best buy.

2007 Otis Kenyon Matchless Red Wine, $23

Soft berry and sweet plum pudding aromas dominate this wine with a nice whiff of smoke adding an interesting touch. Definitely made in a crowd-pleasing style, the blend is two-thirds merlot to one-third cabernet sauvignon. The palate is a spicy mix of dark berry and red currant with a velvety texture and a nicely persistent finish.

2006 Ross Andrew Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon, $25

With rich and ripe aromas of fresh blueberry and cherry liqueur colored by a nice hit of vanilla and toasty oak, this is an immediately appealing wine. The palate is lush and seamless and offers dark cherry and plum fruit flavors, again colored by silky oak. The tannins are soft with bright, cleansing acidity coming through on the finish.

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