A go-to red that works with any meal

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Hot stuff: The 2010 Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red is a blend of nine grapes, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah dominating. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media

Walla Walla, Wash. is one of those obscure yet well known wine-growing regions of the world. Situated in the foothills of the Blue Mountains in southeastern Washington State, you’ll find names such as Leonetti, L’Ecole No. 41, Woodward Canyon, Seven Hills and, of course, Tamarack Cellars. This is a region where glacial flooding deposited layers of sand and silt, which, along with the cool balanced summer growing seasons, lends to the unique characteristics of the wines from Washington. It began with Blue Mountain Vineyards being the first bonded winery in 1950 and has grown to more than 100 wineries today.

Ron Coleman and his wife Jamie moved from Milwaukee in 1993, and founded Tamarack Cellars in 1998. Their unique winery is located in a restored World War II firehouse at the Walla Walla Airport. Ron has that laid-back type of personality that is deeply passionate about crafting a small lot of wines including a Cabernet Franc, Ciel du Cheval Cabernet Blend, Merlot and others. The Firehouse Red has always been their value red and consists of a nine-grape varietal blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah dominating.

The 2010 Firehouse Red is always that go-to red that you can have with any meal during the week. It is never overdone and after tasting this blend you’ll understand Ron’s logic in using so many components to create the final product. The color is a beautiful ruby hue with restrained floral notes reminiscent of something European, perhaps Italian. There are elements of stone cherry, tart cranberry, anise, leather and black tea that are pronounced. There is a subtle ripeness to the wine but it is deep within the core. The tannins are silky and need a few minutes to find harmony with the acidity in the background. This wine may be the antithesis of many California creations but it is also a wine of balance, freshness and one that you may never tire of drinking.

Suggested Retail: $ 17.99

W. Peter Hoyne has been a wine journalist for over 20 years, covering stories of national and international significance. While his professional relationships in the wine industry have allowed him to share a unique perspective of wine, he is also intrigued by the culinary aspect and harmony that exist between wine and food. As a wine advocate, he is committed to consumer education and is focused on upcoming trends and American wine-buying habits. Email him at wphoyne@att.net.