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Five Wines Under $15 - The Final Chapter

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

With the holidays coming up and holiday parties aplenty, it’s time to take a look at value wines $15 and under. This will be the final segment of what has historically been the ‘Five Wines Under $15’ series over the years as I transition all of my Washington reviews to Wine Enthusiast. Look for postings on value wines based on Wine Enthusiast reviews in 2015.

Note: These are reviews for wines received and sampled prior to October 1st when my responsibilities changed for Wine Enthusiast to cover all of Washington.

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2012 $12
(Excellent) This is a moderately aromatic wine with notes of chocolate, cherry, berry, and mocha. The palate is medium bodied and richly flavored with fruit and coffee notes. 98% Cabernet, 2% Merlot. Aged 16 months in new oak (33% new). 13.5% alcohol. 234,500 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

A to Z Chardonnay Oregon 2012 $14
(Good/Excellent) This is a lightly aromatic wine with notes of grapefruit and mineral sitting in front of light tropical notes. The palate is medium bodied, fruit filled with citrus and banana notes with crisp, tart acidity. Sample provided by winery.

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Red Blend Columbia Valley 2011 $15
(Good/Excellent) Lightly aromatic with high toned notes of spice, chocolate, and dark fruit. The palate has rich dark fruit flavors and abundant coffeee and chocolate flavors. 61% Merlot, 27% Syrah, 6% Cabernet Franc, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% other. 13.5% alcohol. 7,500 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Pacific Rim Dry Riesling Selenium Vineyard Yakima Valley 2013 $15
 (Good/Excellent) A single vineyard Riesling made from the Riesling Geisenheim clone 239, it’s a medium-plus aromatic wine with abundant notes of tangerine, herbs, and jasmine. As labeled, the palate is dry with a broad feel and tart racy acidity, finishing with citrus rind flavors. Drinks best at a cool 45 degrees. 12.9% alcohol. 5,500 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend Columbia Valley 2012 $10
(Good) Moderately aromatic with notes of char, coffee, vanilla, and dark cherry. The palate drinks a hair off dry with abundant cherry and coffee flavors. Predominantly Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. 13.5% alcohol. 564,500 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Recommended

14 Hands Hot to Trot White Blend Washington State 2012 $10
(Good) Moderately aromatic with notes of peach, apple, and pear. The palate drinks a hair off dry with abundant pear flavors. Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Semillon. 13.0% alcohol. 140,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Recommended

14 Hands Merlot Columbia Valley 2012 $12
(Good) Moderately aromatic with notes of toast, dark coffee, and dark raspberries. The palate is medium bodied with sweet coffee flavors and soft tannins. 92% Merlot, 8% other varieties. 13.5% alcohol. 290,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Buried Cane Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2012 $14
(Good) An aromatic offering of Cabernet with notes of black currant, dark plum, dried tobacco, a whiff of vanilla, and herbs. On the palate – as in the aromas – there’s surprisingly little new oak influence given the percentage listed. It’s all very pretty, very varietal Cabernet Sauvignon flavors with just a bit of heft to the tannins and seemingly just a trace of residual sugar lifting the back end. Aged 10 months in French (70%) and American oak (60% new). 13.9% alcohol. 4,769 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Eufloria Aromatic Blend Washington 2013 $14           
(Good) Correctly labeled, this is an aromatic wine with notes of spice, peach, and honeysuckle. It drinks off dry with pleasing stone fruit and spice flavors leading to a crisp finish. 12% alcohol. Sample provided by winery. Recommended

Erath Pinot Gris Oregon 2013 $14
(Good) This is a moderately aromatic wine with notes of wet seashells, citrus, and whiffs of tropical fruit. The palate is medium-plus bodied with tart, racy acidity. Pair it with seafood. Stainless steel fermented with no malolactic fermentation. 13.0% alcohol. Sample provided by winery. Recommended

Michelle Brut Columbia Valley NV $14
(Good) An aromatic sparkler marked by the underside of a pineapple and other tropical notes along with yeast accents. The palate drinks off dry, finishing sweeter. 63% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Noir, and 18% Pinot Gris. 11.5% alcohol. 175,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Michelle Brut Rose Columbia Valley NV $14
(Good) A moderately aromatic wine with raspberry and yeast notes. The palate drinks off dry, looking for a bit more acid to clean up the finish. 93% Pinot Noir, 7% Pinot Meunier. 11.5% alcohol. 15,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Michelle Extra Dry Columbia Valley NV $14
(Good) A moderately aromatic wine with abundant tropical notes and spice along with citrus rind. The palate is sweet with a frothy feel. 63% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Noir, and 18% Pinot Gris. 11.0% alcohol. 25,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Pacific Rim  Chenin Blanc Hahn Hill Vineyard Yakima Valley 2013 $15
(Good) An aromatic offering of this variety that hails from the oldest Chenin Blanc plantings in the state (1968). It has notes of flowers, peach, overripe cantaloupe, and a tinny note. The palate drinks off dry with abundant pink grapefruit and pith flavors that linger on the finish. 12.9% alcohol. 2,500 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Three Rivers Steel Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2013 $14           
(Good) A moderately aromatic wine with abundant notes of apple, melon, and pear. The palate is medium bodied with a slightly viscous feel. A very enjoyable representation of the style at a great price. 100% Chardonnay. Weinbau, Bacchus, and Sagemoor vineyards. Aged 4 months in stainless steel with no malolactic fermentation. 13.50% alcohol. 4,626 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Recommended

Pacific Rim Gruner Veltliner Spring Creek Vineyard Yakima Valley 2013 $15
(Decent/Good) A moderately aromatic wine with notes of pear and overripe red apple. The palate drinks quite dry with abundant pepper flavors, finishing slightly bitter. 12.9% alcohol.  300 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Snoqualmie Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2012 $13
(Decent/Good) A moderately aromatic wine with high toned notes of vanilla along with dried cherry, cough syrup, and pencil shavings. The palate is medium bodied with slightly astringent tannins, tart acids, and abundant fruit leather flavors. Aged 16 months in American oak (12% new). 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot. 14.0% alcohol. 4,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Snoqualmie Gewurztraminer Columbia Valley 2013 $13
(Decent/Good) An aromatic wine with notes of rose petal and lychee. The palate is off dry and perfumed with a rounded feel. 100% Gewurztraminer. 2.10 Residual Sugar. 12.0% alcohol. 2,200 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Snoqualmie Merlot Columbia Valley 2012 $10
(Decent/Good) A moderately aromatic wine with notes of milk chocolate, vanilla, and red fruit. The palate is medium bodied with tart, sharp edged acids and chewy tannins. 97% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Petit Verdot. Aged 11 months in American oak (12% new) and French oak staves (25% new). 13.5% alcohol. 9,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Two Vines Chardonnay Washington State 2012 $6
(Decent/Good) Lightly aromatic with notes of peach and apple. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied with a creamy feel. 86% Chardonnay, 14% Pinot Gris. 13.5% alcohol. 205,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Recommended

Two Vines Sauvignon Blanc Washington State 2013 $6
 (Decent/Good) A moderately aromatic wine with tropical notes of papaya and pineapple along with herbs. The palate is dry and medium bodied but doesn’t quite have the concentration or acidity to stand it up. 89% Sauvignon Blanc, 11% Semillon. 13.5% alcohol. 19,500 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Erath Pinot Blanc Oregon 2013 $14
(Decent) Lightly aromatic with herbs and citrus. The palate is medium bodied with banana flavors, finishing a bit short. 13.5% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

Pacific Rim Gewurztraminer Twin Vineyards Yakima Valley 2013 $15
(Decent) A brightly aromatic wine with notes of rose petal, lychee, lavender, and mandarin orange peel. The palate is medium bodied, on the sweeter side of off dry with a lightly oily feel. 12.9% alcohol. 3,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Snoqualmie Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2012 $13
(Decent) Lightly aromatic with notes of apple and ale. The palate is dry with apple flavors. On the low end of this section of the scale. 13.5% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

Snoqualmie Whistle Stop Red Blend Columbia Valley 2012 $10
(Decent) A moderately aromatic wine with notes of mocha, cherry, and vanillin. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied with gritty tannins. 13.5% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

Three Rivers Riesling Columbia Valley 2013 $15
(Decent) Lightly aromatic with notes of Bosc pear and stone fruit. The palate is off dry with stone fruit flavors. 12.0% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

Two Vines Gewurztraminer Washington State 2013 $6
(Decent) An aromatic wine with notes of rose petal, pear, and grapefruit. It tingles the palate with lightly spritzy, medium sweet tangerine flavors. 100% Gewurztraminer. 11.5% alcohol. 20,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

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