These days everyone is looking for a value. $15 is the new $25 when it comes to wine prices. Finding quality wines at $15 and under can be little bit of a challenge. Never fear, I have tackled the often unenviable task of sipping through some swill to present 10 wines worthy of showcase. My top 10 list for 2010 contains several local favorites and a few nationally distributed stars as well. As I looked back through the reviews I discovered that 105 wines competed for these 10 spots. The white wines stood taller than the reds and Washington was a showcase for value.
Tasted during a whirlwind tasting tour of Maryhill wines, this flagship red wine is available for anywhere between $10-$15 – “Dark red fruits with fragrance of lilacs and campfire with a medium mouth feel, well integrated oak and tannin.”
While this blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah may be bottled in Oregon, the fruit comes from the Desert Wind Winery vineyards on the Wahluke slope. A slight sweet cherry fruit on the front palate with a woodsy chalkiness that settles on the back part of the tongue. Moderate acidity with subtle vanilla and cocoa spices on the finish. A fairly complex wine with good structure. Leading with heavy oak keeps this one from scoring high. It’s a great value and a wine for lots of occasions. Better with food. $10-$12 3+/5
Very tight on the nose with only slight floral blossom and citrus present. What was lacking on the aroma comes out to gently play on the palate. The Cono Sur is what you would expect from a traditional Sauv Blanc. Tropical fruit, pineapple, good minerality. Wine blogger, winefoot, described this wine as a grassfield creamsickle. I couldn’t agree more. At only $13, this classic presentation of Sauv Blanc showcases the potential of this Chilean variety. Easily the best value Sauvignon Blanc I’ve had in a while! 4/5
100% Sauvignon Blanc from Bacchus Vineyards in Washington. Cut open a pineapple, squeeze some lemon and spray a small spritz of vanilla room spray and you have the nose of this wine. Strong acidity on the upper palate with a smooth citrus and lemon peel flavor across the tongue. There is no tartness and the alcohol is not hot. Not overly huge in structure but has great flavor for the price. $11 retail but only $7 at Cost Plus World Market. 4/5
Aromas of boysenberry, toasted almonds, and dark red fruit on the nose. Very aromatic and full with subtle notes of campfire. Medium bodied Syrah that is slightly thin on the front but opens up nicely to dark red fruit, hints of smoke and a beautiful long velvet finish. An easy sipping Syrah that will have you wanting more. Retail is $15 but I scored this wine for only $10. At that price this well balanced, nicely flavored Syrah scores a 3+/5 and will be a definite re-buy.
A fantastic display of character on this wine. Wonderful flavors of honey, granola, and peach make for a very enjoyable experience. A touch of sweetness balanced with good acidity make this an elegant mouth feel that begs for more. At only $15, another fantastic display of quality and value from Finger Lakes. The 2007 Heron Hills Riesling is a lesson in quality and value for the region. Classic Riesling aromas of petrol, mint, and citrus translate into elegant medium-dry flavors of honey, granola and peach. A fantastic showcase that scores 4+ out of 5 ($15)
Overheard on Twitter:
|canapes45:||RT @pinotblogger: Heron Hill! Wow petrol. I’m smitten. Perfumy fruit balancing it. Off dry, great acid, long finish. Price is right. A fav! #flxwine|
Wholly wow, this is a big wine. There is some decent fruit on the front end which is immediately attacked by the strong tannin on the back end. This wine needs food! I look forward to pairing it with some BBQ, spicy pork, or a steak. At only $10 this is a big wine with some big back end structure that deserves a 3+/5. I would definitely consider this for a future purchase to pair with food.
100% Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon – Moderate hints of black and blue berries. The strongest scent is green briar or evergreen. Nice notes of spice dance around on the back end. A pleasing front end with some sweet fruit that is Syrah-like. A subtle vanilla oak pokes through right before the tart tannins grip your tongue on the back end. It’s not a Darth Vader death grip, but still pretty stout. At only $14, this is a heck of a value and a well made every day Cabernet. If you ever find this wine on sale for $10-$12, buy several bottles. 4/5
100% Chardonnay from Connor Lee Vineyards with 100% Malolactic fermentation. Two months in French oak. 760 cases Thicker viscosity, more pale yellow than a traditional CA Chardonnay. Mild nose with hints of pear and honey. Big and rich butter, vanilla and pear. No oak to speak of. Felt thick and meaty. Finished with a beautiful acidity that washed across the back of my mouth. At a retail price of $12, this is a very well made Chardonnay. I score it a 4+. So far this is one of the best “value” Chardonnay’s that I’ve had. Kudo’s, Mike! I’m not really a Chardonnay fan but this was an incredible offering for the money. I would venture to guess that it could be found for under $10 in certain locations, depending on sales.
The Kiona Lemberger has quickly become a go to wine for around $10. The wine pairs well with a variety of food and is gentle enough to enjoy without. On the nose I enjoy bright strawberry and cherry with moderate earthiness and minerality. In the mouth a sweet wash of cherry, vanilla and some cola flavors. The wine is sweet and soft with more substance on the back end with some spice and tannin. At just $11 this is easily a 4 (out of 5). This is another incredible Kiona value and a stand out in their wine arsenal.