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Northwest Wines: Affordable white wines for autumn enjoyment

As summer fades into autumn, there's no time like the present to load up on delicious white wines to enjoy as the holidays approach.

White wines tend to be less expensive than reds for a number of reasons. The most important is that white wines often need less (or no) time in oak barrels, which cuts costs at the winery. In addition, white wines are often released the year after the grapes are harvested (a year or more sooner than their red counterparts). As such, wineries can sell their white wines more quickly.

Here are several examples of delicious Northwest white wines that cost $15 or less. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.

Mercer Estates 2014 Pinot Gris, Yakima Valley, $14: Aromas of kiwi fruit, Granny Smith apple, pear, dried lemon and rose petal lead to flavors of Golden Delicious apple and Asian pear. A kiss of sweetness picks up some tension from acidity and apple peel bite.

L'Ecole No. 41 2014 Old Vines Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley, $15: The aromas offer Meyer lemon, tree-ripened Golden Delicious apple and lemon peel with a hint of toasted marshmallow. It explodes with scintillating acidity and expressive flavors of Granny Smith apple, Key Lime juice and green banana, a combination that finishes very dry as the residual sugar settled out at 0.5 percent.

Milbrandt Vineyards 2014 Traditions Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley, $13: This offers a tropical nose of mango, sweet pineapple and cotton candy, but there are also hints of pear and minerality. The drink, however, is bone-dry, crisp and racy with flavors of white peach, Granny Smith apple and pink grapefruit. Stunning acidity leads to a finish of slate and a twist of lime.

14 Hands Winery 2013 Hot To Trot White Blend, Washington, $12: This wide-ranging blend leads with Chardonnay and Riesling. Aromas of apricot jam, lychee, pineapple and Honeycrisp apple lead to flavors of fresh-cut Pink Lady apple, dried apricot and mint. There’s a flourish of nectarine and lemon in the finish.

Buried Cane 2014 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $14: Rich and alluring aromas of mango lassi, marshmallow, cocoa butter, spice and lemon make their way to the palate. A lemon cream entry picks up hints of papaya and sweet butter on the midpalate, backed by a kiss of honey and bite of Golden Delicious apple for balance.

Columbia Crest 2014 H3 Sauvignon Blanc, Horse Heaven Hills, $15: Lovely aromas of gooseberry, lemongrass, lime, petrol and river rock lead to flavors of pear and wet stone, backed by Timothy hay and dried herbs. It’s finished bone-dry, yet the acid profile is far from aggressive.

Tsillan Cellars 2014 Estate Gewürztraminer, Lake Chelan, $14: This example of Gewürztraminer grabs your attention with a gorgeous nose of lychee nut, pink grapefruit, apricot jam, rosewater and honeysuckle. That tropical theme plays out on the palate, yet it’s clean and dry from start to finish. Underlying minerality and a steady stream of acidity serve it well, leading to a finish of classic grapefruit bitterness.

Kamiak 2014 Palouse River Rosé, Columbia Valley, $15: This pink is derived from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The slightly peachy color leads to aromas of dried strawberry, dusty Rainier cherry, rose petal and anise. Crisp and dry flavors focus on red currant and golden raspberry, backed by tangerine acidity, raspberry seed tannin and flecks of minerality.

Bitner Vineyards NV Coyotes High Desert White, Snake River Valley, $15: This off-dry blend of Riesling, Chardonnay and Viognier is filled with aromas and flavors of honey, lime peel, baked pear, vanilla and Granny Smith apple. The finish of Key lime pie provides some balance to the residual sugar of 2.5 percent.

Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine. Learn more about wine at greatnorthwestwine.com.

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