Dec 18, 2014

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15 Outstanding Pacific Northwest Wines Under $15 Dollars

Once a month, I wake up extra early and head into KPNW’s 1120 AM Newradio’s studio to talk wine with Robb Holloway and Bill Lundun of the Wake Up Call.  Every time I’m there Robb asks, “So, what wines are out there that are in the $8-$12 range?” Without a doubt, I’m like a deer in headlights since most wines that immediately pop into my head are in the $25 dollar range. This doesn’t happen because there’s a lack of great wine out there in the price range that Robb is looking for, but simply because most of the wine I personally drink (mainly Oregon Pinot Noir), starts at about $25 dollars per bottle on average.

Remy three wives rose

The stellar Three Wines Germaine Gabrielle 2013 from Remy Wines | photo: Remy Wines

This morning, I’m heading into the studio for the annual Christmas wine show with Robb and Bill, and this time, there will be no deer in headlights!  I’ve turned to some valuable friends in the wine industry that are not only knowledgeable about wine, but knowledgeable about solid wines at unbeatable prices.  Thanks to Jon Thorsen of The Reverse Wine Snob, Mary Cressler of Vindulge and Nannette Eaton of the one and only Wine Harlots for their excellent recommendations, many of which have been included in my list of exceptional Pacific Northwest wines under $15 dollars.

valye rascal

The unbelievably low priced Rascal Oregon Pinot noir.

This list is for the super-cool, Robb Holloway, “Mr. Wine-On-A-Dime,” who keeps me on my toes.  I believe this compilation of stellar wine from the Pacific Northwest will fit nicely into his, mine and so many others conscious budgets.  Although Robb had requested $8-$12 dollar wines, I couldn’t help but slip in some super outstanding wines that are just a couple dollars more – this list would be lacking without them.  What makes them splurge-worthy is their outstanding balance and characteristics, and they truly are worth far more than what their suggested retail prices are.  These wines are the finds that make you feel as though you’ve hit the jackpot.

Beautiful representation of Oregon, both inside and outside the bottle.

Beautiful representation of Oregon, both inside and outside the bottle.

OREGON:

  • Kramer Vineyards Müller-Thurgau Estate 2012 ($14):  This juicy, fruity, off-dry Müller-Thurgau could easily be twice as much in price.  Appealing floral notes are highlighted by apricot, pineapple, honeysuckle and nutmeg in both aromas and flavors.  Light and refreshing with a bit of lemon zest on the finish – a juicy down-right scrumptious delight.
  • Remy Wines Three Wives Germaine Gabrielle Rosé 2013 ($14):  Juicy strawberries and vibrant orange blossom nuances were incredibly memorable with just one sip of this gorgeous Rosé that left quite an impression.  Great complexity, depth and balance shown through and through in this 100% Rosé of Pinot Noir with a touch of elegance.  Plus, with each bottle sold, all proceeds benefit local breast cancer research through a donation to the Oregon Health Sciences University Knight Cancer Research Institute.
  • Rascal Oregon Pinot Noir 2009 ($8.29):  Produced by the Great Oregon Wine Company in McMinnville, Oregon, the ’09 Rascal Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is definitely worth every cent.  Light ruby-brick in color, I really enjoyed the subtle nuances of cola, spice and violets.  Although it was quite light bodied, I was able to capture the expected flavors that are found in many Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs – cherries, strawberries and earth with a little smoke on the finish. The finish wasn’t really lengthy, but at $8.29 a bottle, it’s really not worth complaining about –  this wine is equally as easy on the palate as it is on the wallet.
  • J. Scott Cellars 2011 Pinot Blanc ($15):  This lovely, lively fresh Pinot Blanc demands oysters and Oregon Dungeness Crab – it’s lemon zestiness with Key limes, orange blossom and pineapple notes call for a day at the Oregon Coast.  An elegant mouthfeel comes alive mid-palate with crisp, bright acidity – I love it.
  • Duck Pond Chardonnay ($12):  This stainless steel fermented Chardonnay displays the characteristics of the Chardonnay varietal without manipulation.  It’s clean and streamlined with fresh acidity and crisp green apple characteristics that flow together in seamless waves from the entrance to the finish with palate pleasing ease.
  • Misty Oaks Rosé of Pommard 2011 ($15):  Chock full of juicy strawberries, this rosé displays incredible depth and character.  Lush and juicy on the palate, waves of strawberries and raspberries are balanced by super vibrant acidity, leaving the palate refreshed and wanting more.
  • Delfino Vineyards Vin Gris de Zinfandel 2011 ($14):  This unique and very special wine is like fresh watermelon alongside cherry pie sprinkled with cinnamon. Gorgeous aromas burst from the glass and beckon a sip, which reveals a lovely balanced and fruit forward, elegant wine.
  • Sokol Blosser’s Evolution Red 3rd Edition ($15):  This syrah-based blend is big, bold and beautifully easy to drink – it’s a wine everyone will enjoy with its dark berry fruits and velvety finish.
  • Rainstorm Pinot Noir 2012 ($12.99):  While at Target getting some stocking stuffers this evening, I ran into the Rainstorm brand of wines – a brand I was not familiar with.  There was the 2012 Pinot Noir and 2013 Pinot Gris at really low prices with labels that I simply could not resist.  The big question was, would the wine inside the bottle depict Oregon as much as the uber -cool labels?  Why yes, indeed they did.  I was so pleasantly surprised, that I am incredibly excited to write in detail about this bargain Pinot Noir.  It’s a 50/50 blend of the two largest AVAs regions in Oregon: Willamette Valley and Umpqua Valley, which gives it an interesting and complex spin.  Lush fruits are balanced by lively acidity and the finish is fresh, focused and streamlined.  It’s truly an impressive Oregon Pinot Noir at a shockingly low price.
The cool old photo label of the Bombing Range Red

The cool old photo label of the Bombing Range Red

WASHINGTON:

  • McKinley Springs Bombing Range Red 2010 ($14):  A super easy to love wine.  Not just for its gorgeous cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruits with hints of brown spice and white pepper; along with, perfectly integrated tannins and nice acidity, but for the the fact that it’s a tribute to the U.S. military troops that was inspired by the history of the vineyard where the 2,000 acre estate was once used as a training site for fighter pilots during World War II. Read more here.
  • Mercer Canyons Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 ($14):  There’s no place else that makes a Cabernet this delicious at such an unbelievable price.  With three tiers of wines, ranging from $10 to $42 dollars and from Riesling to Cabernet Sauvignon, there’s a huge selection of wines to choose from, and they are all a superb value for the quality.  Blackberry cobbler and blueberries dominate hints of brown sugar and vanilla bean.  Well rounded tannins integrate beautifully with the lush, smooth mouthfeel, giving it depth and complexity.  The best $14 dollars ever spent on a Cab.
  • Columbia Crest H3 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 ($9.99):  As a professional wine judge for the Savor NW Wine Awards, I was not stunned when the results of the gold medal winners in the Cabernet category revealed a Cab from Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills (HHH) AVA – the 2012 Columbia Crest H3.  The 2011 vintage is just as delicious with its rich, dark, ripe fruit flavors highlighted by vibrant acidity and a silky mouthfeel.
  • Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Michelle Brut ($10):  No list is complete without bubbles, and this sparkling wine from Chateau Ste Michelle has all the classic Brut characteristics that I love: apples, oranges, lemons and limes with a touch of fresh baked bread. Delicious taste, delicious price!
  • Mercer Estates Yakima Valley Pinot Gris 2013 ($13):  Mercer Estates is simply busting at the seams with gorgeous wines from the Horse Heaven Hills that exude high quality along with a value that can’t be beat.  White stone fruit and fragrant white flower aromas are intense and wonderful, and the minerality brings palate pleasing vibrancy along with lively acidity.  Through and through, this wine is worth far more than its small price tag.
  • Alexandria Nicole Riesling 2012 ($12):  Once again, Horse Heaven Hills offers wines of unmatched quality and value, and this stellar Riesling is another perfect example.  Honeysuckle galore with tropical pineapple, pear and honeycrisp apples with a tiny bit of residual sugar balanced out to perfection with lovely, vibrant acidity.
Robb doesnt know it yet, but Im bringing him these two Mercer beauties from Washington tomorrow so he can enjoy some truly delicious value wines.

The guys at KPNW don’t know it yet, but I’m bringing them these two Mercer beauties from Washington so they can enjoy some truly delicious value wines.