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  • Five Precept Wine Brands named NW Bargains to Buy

    Wine Adviser

    Willow Crest 2010 Pinot Gris, Apex Ascent 2010 Sauv. Blanc, Washington Hills 2010 Sauv. Blanc, and Waterbrook 2009 Merlot and 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon were mentioned in this Feb. 5, 2012 Seattle Times Pacific NW Magazine column on Nortwest bargain wines worth snagging. Enjoy!

    NW regional wine bargains worth buying

    Paul Gregutt
    Special to the Seattle Times (Copyright, Seattle Times)
    It’s no surprise that the list of cheap and really good wines is almost entirely dominated by whites, especially rieslings, says Wine Adviser columnist Paul Gregutt. Washington is the riesling capital of the country, and Oregon does some fine versions, also.

    BARGAIN HUNTING seems to be on everyone’s to-do list these days, and though across-the-board price increases are predicted for many domestic wines, it hasn’t happened yet. And while Washington and Oregon cannot churn out the vast ocean of $6 or $7 wine that California’s Central Valley does, this region can produce its fair share of outstanding wines at modest prices.

    Looking through the past few months of tasting notes, I found a number at suggested retail prices of $15 or less. For many of these, suggested retail is two or three dollars higher than what you can actually find if you do a little looking around. Not all the small brands are made in sufficient quantities to be found on supermarket aisles, but a call to the winery tasting room will almost always give you a lead on where to buy them.

    It’s no surprise that the list of cheap and really good wines is almost entirely dominated by whites, especially rieslings. Washington is the riesling capital of the country, and Oregon does some fine versions, also. Other white wines do well here, and when fermented in stainless steel and kept out of expensive oak barrels, these are wines that may be released early and enjoyed when quite young, which keeps prices down. Here are recommendations, grouped by grape variety and price:

    RIESLING
    Ch. Ste. Michelle 2010 Dry Riesling ($9)
    Ch. Ste. Michelle 2010 Riesling ($9)
    Pacific Rim 2010 Riesling ($10)
    Oak Knoll 2008 Semi-Sweet Riesling ($10)
    Willamette Valley Vineyards 2010 Riesling ($12)
    Columbia Crest 2010 Grand Estates Riesling ($12)
    NxNW 2010 Riesling ($12)
    Firesteed 2008 Riesling ($12)
    Milbrandt Vineyards 2010 Traditions Riesling ($13)
    Ch. Ste. Michelle 2010 Cold Creek Riesling ($15)
    O• S 2010 Champoux Vineyard Riesling ($15)
    Ponzi 2010 Riesling ($15)
    J. Bookwalter 2010 Anecdote Riesling ($15)
    The Jack 2010 Riesling ($15) PINOT GRIS/GRIGIO
    Hogue 2010 Pinot Grigio ($8)
    Willow Crest 2010 Pinot Gris ($10)
    Firesteed 2009 Pinot Gris ($12)
    Lujon 2009 Pinot Gris ($12)
    Terrapin Cellars 2010 Pinot Gris ($13)
    Ponzi 2010 Pinot Gris ($15)

    OTHER WHITES
    Washington Hills 2010 Sauvignon Blanc ($9)
    Gordon Brothers 2009 Chardonnay ($10)
    Apex Ascent 2010 Sauvignon Blanc ($11)
    Olsen Estates 2009 Blanc des Coteaux ($12)
    Preston 2009 Estate Grown Chardonnay ($14)
    Foris 2009 Dry Gewerztraminer ($14)
    L’Ecole 2010 Semillon ($14)
    L’Ecole 2010 Chenin Blanc ($15)

    REDS
    Inexpensive red wines that rise above the level of the ordinary are more difficult to find. Although my Pick of the Week often features red wines from around the world, the cost of production for both grapes and barrels makes local reds generally more expensive. That said, you will be more likely to get a better bottle of cheap Washington red if you buy syrah or merlot.

    Hogue 2008 Red Table Wine ($7)
    Waterbrook 2009 Merlot ($11)
    Waterbrook 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($11)
    Columbia Crest 2008 Grand Estates Merlot ($12)
    Columbia Crest 2008 Grand Estates Syrah ($12)
    Chateau Ste. Michelle 2009 Syrah ($13)
    Three Rivers 2009 River’s Red ($14)
    Olsen Estates 2008 Red ($15)
    Milbrandt Vineyards 2009 Traditions Cabernet Sauvignon ($15)

    Want to spend just a few bucks more for reds that really outperform the competition? Here are two to look for:
    Three Rivers 2009 Merlot ($19). This is a powerfully built wine that mixes ripe berry and plum fruit with polished, astringent tannins.
    Woodinville Wine Cellars 2009 Little Bear Creek Red Wine ($20). A Bordeaux-style blend, loaded with ripe black fruits, notably cherry and cassis.

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