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Northwest Wines: Searching out affordable red wines

In the not-too-distant past, wine was seen as a luxury product. In many cases, it still is.

But when you get to a price point that’s below $20 per bottle, the red wine can be enjoyed on an everyday basis without worry or guilt.

We recently tasted through several red wines that retail for $15 or less per bottle, and there still are several choices out there in this price range.

For the most part, these wines should be readily available in groceries or larger wine stores or contact the wineries directly.

Waterbrook Winery 2014 Malbec, Columbia Valley, $15: Malbec is best known in Argentina, and this example from Washington competes on quality and price. It opens with plummy aromas with cherry, milk chocolate, vanilla and chai spices. The drink is clean, luscious and round with complexity among its flavors of Marionberry, ripe plum and blackberry cobbler.

Lone Birch Winery 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, $13: This second label for Airfield Estates opens with enticing aromas of cassis and blueberry backed by complex tones of vanilla, coffee and sweet herbs. Inside, there’s a great structure with Rainier cherry and sweet plums flavors. Black olive and blueberry carry into a finish of more cherry.

Bonair Winery 2012 Chateau Puryear Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Rattlesnake Hills, $15: Charming barrel notes of chocolate allow for aromas of cassis, ripe blueberry and dark plum as well as a rub of sage in the background. The palate shows elegance with black currant, black cherry and black licorice. Sandy tannins lead to a complex finish of cherry, chocolate, dried sage and pipe tobacco.

Columbia Crest 2013 Grand Estates Merlot, Columbia Valley, $12: An abundance of dark toast, coffee and smoke aromas meld with black cherry, anise, cedar and chalkboard dust. On the palate, the oak program takes a backseat to the flavors of cherry and black currant as vanilla and chocolate fill in behind. Its medium structure creates nice balance as the fruit pushes through the finish. Suggested pairings range from beef, duck and veal to dark chocolate and blue cheese.

Indian Creek Farm Winery 2012 Star Garnet Red, Snake River Valley, $14: Cabernet Sauvignon (45 percent), Merlot (38 percent), Petit Verdot (9 percent) and Malbec make up this superb red blend from the Gem State. On first whiff, there is a lovely pinch of herbs de Provence leading to dark cherry, blackberry and plum with chocolate, spice and forest floor earthiness. That complexity continues to the palate featuring black cherry and dark plum, flavors framed by a tremendous mouth feel to the interplay of tannins and acidity. Its combination of Old World elegance and huckleberry juice makes for a remarkably extensive finish.

Sagelands Vineyard 2013 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $10: This Merlot from vineyard sites such as Canyon Vineyard Ranch and The Benches offers a mellow nose of milk chocolate, ripe red plum, black cherry and Assam tea. There’s a pleasant and rich approach to the palate, which brings luscious Bing cherry and black currant flavors, backed by moderate tannins and Marionberry acidity.

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2013 Merlot Columbia Valley, $15: This opens with aromas of dark toast, toffee and cherry pipe tobacco with black currant, Rainier cherry, raspberry jam, sweet thyme and a whiff of caramel corn. There’s a deft use of Syrah (11 percent) to sand down the tannin structure, allowing for an expression of Bing cherry, chocolate-covered pomegranate and dark blueberries. The flash of green tea in the finish makes for pleasing length. Suggested pairings include beef, lamb, grilled salmon and hearty pastas dishes.

Waterbrook Winery 2014 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $14: Its oak profile is signaled via hints of caramel corn and chocolate-covered blueberry with sarsaparilla, plums, strawberry and red cherry. Tones of those darker fruit spill out across the palate, which offers bold tannins, racy acidity and delicious length.

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

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