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Reviewed Wineries

Five Wines Under $15 - November 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012







In tough times, we continue the search for good, inexpensive wines.

For a Song Wines is the house wine for Vinum Wine Importing and Distributing.  Back in August I sung the praises of the winery’s 2009 Syrah, my favorite $15 and under wine this year. This month, it’s the winery’s Southern Rhone-style blend called The Melody, which also comes from winemaker Kyle Johnson of Purple Star and Native Sun. This wine is mostly Grenache and Mourvèdre along with a healthy dose of the seldom seen Cinsault and Counoise along with a pinch of Petite Sirah. The Melody receives a caliber of oak treatment (very) rarely seen at this price. While on occasion the oak gets a bit out front, this wine still delivers far above its price point.

Apex Cellars is part of the Precept Wine family. The winery’s 2011 Sauvignon Blanc delivers deliciously fresh fruit flavors at a great price.

Pinot Gris is a distant second behind Pinot Noir in terms of plantings in Oregon. Erath’s 2011 Pinot Gris displays the vibrant acidity of this vintage. For people looking for something a bit off the beaten path for Thanksgiving, look no further. Meanwhile, somewhat surprisingly, Pinot Gris is Washington’s third most planted white grape. The 2011 Willow Crest Estate Pinot Gris has a broad palate with abundant citrus flavors.

Finally, we end with one of the first red wines to be released from the 2011 vintage. This one comes from Renegade Wine Co., a project from Trey Busch of Sleight of Hand Cellars. At Renegade, Busch buys juice from other wineries and offers the wines at compelling prices. Hard to think of another producer this size pricing wines at ten dollars.

For A Song The Melody Red Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $15
(Good/Excellent) An aromatic wine with roasted coffee bean, game, mineral, and dark spices. The palate is full of coffee and dark fruit flavors with soft, silky tannins and an open finish. Not shy on the oak, but this wine delivers a whole lot of enjoyment and punches far above its weight. 34% Grenache, 32% Mourvèdre, 16% Cinsault, 13% Counoise, 5% Petite Sirah. 14.2% alcohol.

Apex Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley 2011 $15
(Good/Excellent) An aromatic wine with gooseberry, fresh white grapefruit, and citrus peel. The palate is tart and medium bodied, drinking just a hair off-dry with abundant citrus flavors that linger on the finish. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Aged in neutral oak (10%) and stainless steel. Willard and A&R vineyards. 13% alcohol. 0.2% Residual Sugar. TA 8g/L. 1,700 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Erath Pinot Gris Oregon 2011 $14
(Good) A lightly aromatic wine with yellow and green apple, pineapple, mineral, and spice. The palate is tart, almost austere in feel with vibrant citrus flavors. 13% alcohol. Sample provided by winery. Recommended

Willow Crest Estate Grown Pinot Gris Yakima Valley 2011 $14
(Decent/Good) A minerally wine that also has aromas of petroleum jelly and Meyer lemon. The palate is medium bodied with a broad feel and abundant citrus flavors. 100% Pinot Gris. Minnick Family Estate Vineyard. 13% alcohol. 0.25% Residual Sugar. 7.5g/L TA. Sample provided by winery.

Renegade Wine Co Red Wine Columbia Valley 2011 $10
(Decent/Good) An aromatic wine with abundant raspberries, cherries, herbal tones, and a touch of cracked and poblano pepper. The palate is fairly light bodied with ripe cherry flavors and soft tannins. There’s not a whole lot of complexity here but – at this price - but that’s missing the point


Rating System

Please note, my rating system was revised at the beginning of 2012 as follows. Read additional details here.

 (Exceptional)
 (Excellent)
 (Good)
 (Decent)
 (Not recommended/Flawed)


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