The holidays are a time for parties, gift giving and strained budgets. I asked friends and colleagues to share their suggestions for inexpensive Washington wines to make merry with and not go broke in the process. All of the Washington wines listed here are available for less than $15 dollars, four of them are under $10! These wine are such a great value, even the starving college student, of legal drinking age, can find cause to celebrate!
What’s with all the fuss about Washington Syrah? This is what all of the fuss is about. Charles Smith – 2009 Winemaker of the Year in Wine & Spirits magazine – is best known for his K Vintners wines that focus on high quality, low production Syrah. This wine gives you a sneak peak at what those significantly higher priced wines look like where smoked meat aromas mix with fruit and floral notes. While the barrel flavors occasionally get in the way, this wine is a winner and is pleasantly restrained at 13.5% alcohol. Consider this a gateway drug for Washington Syrah at only $13 a bottle.
One of our longtime everyday-favorite Cabs. Widely available (200,000 cases were produced) at about $9, it has excellent Quality-Price-Ratio (QPR). A great choice to grab on your way to a holiday party.
This wine is widely available at grocers in Washington and on-line for those outside the region. To me it represents an interesting concept, the Four Corners of Washington Wine Country. I’d encourage folks who are touring Washington Wine Country on the east side to stop into Sagelands tasting room in Wapato, to try the different cabs they produce and experience Washington AVA Cabernet, side by side, in one place.
Unlike so many California Chardonnays, this isn’t a wine that slaps you with an oak stave. For $11 a bottle, this is probably the best value in a great wine that I’ve found since the 2006 Cline Cashmere.
Dry Riesling 2007, Chateau Ste Michelle- recommended by Bean, Wine-Beer-Washington
At only $5.99 this is the least expensive wine on our list. This is a great party wine, at this price you can pick up a case that will please the those drinkers that are “tannin averse” , those that consider all white wines to be too sweet and of course the white wine lover. This quaffable wine is a great value for that price
Full bodied white wine, but not sweet. It has great acidity and body making it very food friendly. I recommend pairing it with your holiday ham. A great deal at under $10 at FredMeyers.
Gorman and Ryan; what more can you say. I just really like this blend that they collaborate on through the Giant Wine Company. For only $15 at Village Wines, this is a great bargain.
Notes: The Ghost of 413 Red is dark, generous and spicy. It’s delicious, loaded with dense black cherry, warm spices and mineral notes. Mostly Cab Sauv, with Merlot and Cabernet Franc as well. It’s quite a big wine, really especially well priced for this hugely appealing quaffer.
I suggest Woodhouse Family Cellars 2005 La Vie En Rouge Red Blend – it’s a great bang for the buck at $12 and was named in honor of winemaker Jean-Claude Beck who hails from Alsace France. This balanced red blends 28% Malbec, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Petit Verdot. It would make a great Secret Santa gift and a great bargain for the price.
The wine, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet sauvignon and Syrah, is fruit forward, food friendly, a crowd pleaser, and a great value for $15 a bottle! It was sold out when we visited the winery, but we’ve seen it in Seattle area grocery and wine stores. Anyone who receives a pour or a bottle will feel lucky!
My “all time go to wine” for $15 and under is Waterbrook’s Melange. It is a red blend of Merlot, Cab, Cab Franc, Sangiovese and some vintages, find a touch of Tempranillo added. It’s a wine, I believe, that a newbie to a seasoned wine lover would enjoy. It’s a great sipping wine, but also holds up well paired with food. But overall, in the Walla Walla Valley there are some great red blends that you can find under $20 that can stand up to some of the more expensive California wines.
It is widely available and an excellent, economical choice to pair with chicken or turkey during the holidays.
Don’t think you like Rieslings? Be prepared to change your mind. Here’s a Riesling that not only brings the thunder, it was also in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines of 2009. Not bad for an $8 wine from one of Washington’s older wineries. This wine is off-dry with just a touch of residual sugar – 1.2% – and is loaded with fruit aromas and flavor layers on the palate. Give it as a gift and say “It was in the Wine Spectator Top 100!” No one will ever guess it was $8 I promise you.
Roussanne 2007, McCrea Cellars – recommended by Bean, Wine-Beer-Washington
This maybe a bit of cheat because it get it for $14, I am talking about a small bottle. But that makes it perfect for a stocking stuffer! The wine lover on your list will appreciate this sophisticated Roussanne/Marsanne blend. Well balanced off-dry wine with exceptional fruit, acid and mineral balance
I served this with Thanksgiving dinner and it was fantastic. It is off dry at 1.4% RS and has great acidity, making it a great food wine with spicy dishes or a pleasant sipper. Retails for about $14 at the winery and at Ballard Market.
This Washington red is a real crowd pleaser. You can serve the Maryhill Winemaker’s red wine to wine geeks and the novice wine drinker and they can equally appreciate this unpretentious, yet delicious wine.
This is one that I share with friends who say they enjoy Cabarenet sauvignon or Merlot, prefer not to pay more than $15/bottle, and have not really seeked out a Washington red wine. It is a great introduction to Washington reds. When friends exclaim how delicious it is, it provides a chance to explain that many times a blend is more interesting than a varietal bottling.
Woodinville Red, Envious Winemakers – recommended by Shona, Woodinville Wine Update
This sleeper wine is made by Envious Winemakers. The mystery has been solved that Envious Winemakers is actually Sean Boyd at Woodinville Wine Cellars. Think Little Bear Creek with a better price. You find it for between $10 and $15 depending on location, it was $15 at Village Wines last week. It a saucy blend.
Notes: There’s a toasty meatiness and floral elements to the nose. It’s a big, ripe, mouth-filling wine with a good backbone that contrasts well with the brambly, cherry flavors. The wine has jammy fruit & peppery spice. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cab Franc.
What is your favorite bargain Washington wine for the holidays? Tell us!