Northwest Wines: Reds and whites under $15
By Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman
Not all wine has to be expensive. Here is a selection of Northwest wines – reds and whites – that retail for $15 or less and should be readily available.
Eliseo Silva 2008 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $10: Aromas of black cherry with light toast, sandalwood, thyme and mint lead to a burst of flavors of juicy red currants, backed by more herbs and a scrape of minerality. Ample acidity yields grudgingly to sweet tannins in the finish.
Kiona Vineyards Winery 2009 Lemberger, Red Mountain, $12: The beautiful nose brings expressive aromas of sweet oak with cinnamon, rose hips and dark strawberry. On the palate, it’s assertive with its cherries and strawberries, finishing with great acidity and bold tannins.
Columbia Crest 2009 H3 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $15: This elegant Cabernet Sauvignon opens with inviting aromas of dense blackberries and a hint of eucalyptus, followed by rich and bold tannins intertwined with dense black fruit, raspberries and a hint of chalky tannins. Great structure and pleasantly lingering finish.
Roza Ridge 2008 Roza Ridge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Rattlesnake Hills, $15: A product of Hyatt Vineyards, it’s as tasty as it is affordable. Aromas of blackberry, cassis and leather abound, backed up on the palate by cassis, cranberry and raspberry underlain by subtle leather and tobacco notes.
Hyatt Vineyards 2009 Syrah, Rattlesnake Hills, $10: There’s a theme of chocolate and it’s crafted in a zingy style, President plum loaded with blueberry, boysenberry and backed by minerality and big acidity. And at $10, it was one of the best bargains in its class.
Maryhill Winery 2010 Winemaker’s Red, Columbia Valley, $12: Each component of this blend — Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc — becomes apparent at certain points of the experience, starting with Syrah’s nose bacon and gaminess, followed by cola, caramel, cedar and leafiness. The Cab Franc’s herbaceous qualities lead the flavors, which are concentrated dark black cherries, more cola and bacon.
1805 Wines 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $12: This new project for Ascentia Wine Estates offered a lighter-styled Cab built largely from wind-swept Alder Ridge Vineyard overlooking the Columbia River in the Horse Heaven Hills. The name of the winery was inspired by Lewis & Clark’s Corps of Discovery, which floated past Alder Ridge in 1805. A dose of Syrah (11%) pops out throughout the wine, beginning with aromas of boysenberry jam, blackberry, currant, coffee and leather. The big fruity entry of brambleberry and blueberry is backed by bittersweet chocolate and bold tannins. Serve with tri-tip or baby back ribs.
Duck Pond Cellars 2009 Syrah, Columbia Valley, $12: Not much oak gets in the way, as this wine spent just eight months in barrel, which allows for accents of fresh blueberry jam, rich blackberries, pomegranate and a pinch of furikake.
Ridge Crest 2009 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $13: This second label for Claar Cellars in Pasco, brings hints of red currant, raspberry, pink peppercorns and cedar. The structure offered juicy acidity and taut tannins.
Kudos 2010 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $15: This consumer-friendly wine made in McMinnville, Ore., offers aromas of dried raspberry, cherry, vanilla, chocolate and earthiness transcend into big, bold cherry flavors backed by cranberry, toasted cedar and truffles.
Columbia Crest 2010 Two Vines Gewürztraminer, Washington, $8: When done well, few grape varieties are as beautiful as Gewürztraminer, and here’s a prime example. It shows classic aromas of yellow grapefruit, lychee, dusty apple and Meyer lemon. The flavorful blend of Texas pink grapefruit, green apple and more lemon gets a boost with a bit of spritzy acidity before a finish of limeade. It’s a touch off-dry, making it appealing for enjoying on a warm day or in a hot tub.
Kyra Wines 2010 Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley, $13: This is a delightful drink because the combination of bright acidity and low alcohol creates balance for an off-dry approach, which is 1.8% residual for this vintage. Owner Kyra Baerlocher pairs her Chenin Blanc as an appetizer with calamari and a jalapeño dip, as a side dish with prawns and cilantro, an entreé with scallops in a butter infused with vanilla bean and for dessert with panna cotta.
Silvan Ridge Winery 2010 Semi-sparkling Early Muscat, Oregon, $14: The beautiful nose of this delightful wine screams with lychee, peach, luscious peach, lime and baking spices, and the flavors support that. It’s a veritable fruit bowl that’s almost impossible for a wine judge to spit. Serving it cold will help the acidity to balance the lofty residual sugar (12%). The low alcohol lends itself to Sunday brunch, and try serving it with lemon pie.
Covey Run Winery 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, $9: Aromas feature gooseberry pie, Meyer lemon, lime, peach, river rock and a whiff of tom cat. There’s delicious acidity to the drink that brings Key lime, lychee, more wet stone and some grapefruit bitterness. Those who enjoy dry Riesling will also appreciate this.
Latah Creek Wine Cellars 2010 Pinot Gris, Washington, $11: This Pinot Gris is approachable for many reasons, starting with aromas that are loaded with pear and backed by lime, lychee, almond, Mister Lincoln rose and slatiness. It’s far from cloying at 0.5% residual sugar and flashes flavors of Asian pear, Granny Smith apple, white peach, tangerine pith and peach pit. Enjoy with white fish or pasta in cream sauce.
Lost West Winery NV Old Shed White, Snake River Valley, $11: Martin Fujishin owns Fujishin Family Cellars in the Snake River Valley. The Idaho native now has launched this second label with two table wines. This off-dry white is a blend of Riesling and Viognier, and it is tasty. It opens with aromas of yellow grapefruit, lychee, lemon curd, spiced oranges and a sprig of mint, followed by delicious flavors of papayas, sweet limes and other tropical fruits, all backed with just a touch of sweetness and a nice roundness in the palate.
Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman are the editors of Wine Press Northwest magazine. For the freshest reviews, go to www.winepressnw.com/freshpress.