My friend Greg flipped over Lance Baer's wines. They met years ago in Seattle and had that connection when wine lover meets winemaker who makes a style that excites him. Over the years, Greg acquired a sizeable stash of Baer's wines. One of his favorites was the 2004 Ursa, a Bordeaux-inspired cuvée from Washington's Columbia Valley that was a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.
A couple of years ago, Lance died rather suddenly. Along with his memory, Greg still had a few bottles of the 2004 Ursa. I've tried it on several occasions and recently drank a bottle with a winemaker friend, who found it impeccably balanced. Ripe, complex and layered, with black licorice, espresso and currant flavors, it was rich yet light on its feet. The next day it had fleshed out even more, worthy of a 92-point non-blind score for me.
Baer Ursa Columbia Valley 2004 (91, $30 on release)