Check out these wines if you want good value for your money

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJanuary 21, 2013 

"Fiscal cliff," "superstorm," "bucket list:" I don't know about you but I've had just about enough of these overused buzzwords and phrases that seem to pop up almost everywhere nowadays.

But when it comes to wine, there's one phrase I never tire of: "good value for the money."

As I've noted in the past, the definition of "value" is highly subjective. Price points always seem to come into play, with $10-, $20- or $25-a-bottle common markers that many of us use as guidelines for determining good wine value.

Regardless of your budget, there's one thing about value we should all agree on. If a wine provides you with satisfaction - or, better yet, exceeds your expectations - relative to its price, then it most certainly earns the "good value for the money" label.

Over the past several weeks my "it's-a-tough-job-but-somebody's-got-to-do-it" quest for finding what I consider to be good wine values has yielded the following recommendations:

Leese-Fitch 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $10) - Here's a seriously good-value cabernet from California that's a lot of fun to drink. Big black cherry, ultra-ripe plum and cola berry flavors combine in a guilty pleasure wine that's perfect for late-night sipping.

Lost River Winery 2010 Rainshadow (about $15) - I enjoyed this wine while visiting Lost River's tasting room near Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. A 60/40 semillon/sauvignon blanc blend, it explodes with tropical pineapple and ripe pear flavors. Partial malolactic fermentation gives the wine a bit of a creamy mouthfeel with a finish of lemon chiffon.

L'Ecole No. 41 Winery 2010 Semillon (about $16, or $10 for 375 mL) - Blended with 14 percent sauvignon blanc, this Walla Walla white offers outstanding value, especially when compared to similar wines from France's Bordeaux region. It's filled with a sweet, rather than savory, herbal profile, suggesting field flowers and sweet pea aromatics, and notes of honeysuckle, wheat grass and clover with a touch of citrus. Simply put, I enjoyed this wine because it was so different.

Tamarack Cellars 2010 Firehouse Red (about $16) - Walla Walla winemakers Ron Coleman and Danny Gordon have done it again with the latest release of this perennial favorite; a virtually unmatchable mixture of nine red varietals with cabernet sauvignon and syrah leading the way. Dark, brooding and mind-bogglingly underpriced, it delivers a palate-pleasing smorgasbord of black currant, dark plum and blackstrap molasses flavors and a plush, lengthy finish with a dusting of cocoa and spice.

Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.

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