As an occasional service to readers of this fine blog I comb through a few weeks worth of tastings and pick out the best values that I’ve come across. Naturally, most, though not all, are from Washington and Oregon, as those wines still comprise the majority of my tastings. But I am always on the hunt for value wines from around the globe, and welcome submissions from importers and distributors.
How do I define “bargain”? Well, in order to keep it simple, I stick to the Wine Enthusiast guidelines for wines designated Best Buy. Best Buys are wines are priced at $15 or less that reach a certain level of quality – reflected in both the score and the review – that places them in the top rank of similarly-priced wines. Some varieties meet this criteria more easily than others. But listed below you’ll find a wide-ranging list of wines in good distribution that will bring pleasure without causing your pocketbook pain.
Kings Ridge 2012 Willamette Valley Riesling; $13
1200 cases; 12% alcohol
Finished dry, this tart and fruity Riesling brings a bracing mix of citrus and stone fruit flavors. Serve it chilled with salty appetizers.
L’Ecole No 41 2012 Columbia Valley Sémillon; $15
5365 cases; 14.5% alcohol
The blend includes 13% Sauvignon Blanc. It’s well-built, full-bodied, with a mix of citrus and stone fruits, generous acidity, and some finishing skin flavors.
Castle Rock 2012 Columbia Valley Chardonnay; $11
7600 cases; 13.5% alcohol
This is a straight-ahead, crisply-defined, well-ripened Chardonnay. Bright flavors of jicama and green apple are set in a toasty frame.
Milbrandt Vineyards 2012 Traditions Chardonnay; $13
4000 cases; 12.5% alcohol
A creamy, tasty, delicious wine, this offers a rich mix of vanilla, lemon curd, peach and melon flavors. It coats the tongue generously, with a seamless, appealing finish.
Underwood Cellars 2012 Oregon Pinot Noir; $12
32000 cases; 13% alcohol
Underwood is fast-becoming one of Oregon’s best values in Pinot Noir. Light and pretty raspberry fruit gains mass and flavor interest with well-integrated veins of stem and earth.
Castle Rock 2011 Columbia Valley Merlot; $11
7600 cases; 13.5% alcohol
Ignore the generic label – what’s inside the bottle is well-made with no cheap frills. Light flavors of black cherry, soft tannins and a finishing flourish of mocha and red apple give this both lift and length.
Alamos 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon; $13
55,000 cases; 13.7% alcohol
Pure Cabernet, grown in the foothills of the Argentine Andes, with a soft, fruity palate loaded with cherry and berry flavors. This is easy-drinking, ready right now, and aged briefly in neutral oak. A good every day red for late summer.
Castle Rock 2010 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon; $12
21000 cases; 13.5%
Castle Rock again surpasses expectations with this Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s got clear Cabernet character, a soft mix of black cherry and cassis fruit, delivered with a smooth and supple mouthfeel. Ready to drink right now, with enough stuffing to stand up to most grilled meats.