Five Under Fifteen - July

Recently my sister sent me a note saying, “I'm not very likely to be buying $54 bottles no matter how good you say they are!” Ah I remember those days. Don’t worry winemakers, I’ll work on her.

While Washington is making great wine at competitive price points, it is also making a lot of good wine at the so-called “value” price point of $15 and under. These wines are not only great values, but a number of them are also produced at scale and receive large distribution, meaning you might actually be able to find them outside of the state.

So in the interests of providing Elizabeth information on wines she might actually be able to find and be inclined to buy if she does, this is the first in a series of reviews of 5 wines $15 or under.

Of the wines below, the Desert Wind Ruah and Waterbrook Melange have consistently been good across vintages. This is a quality I admire in a value wine as it means if you’re looking for a good wine at this price point, you’ve got something reliable regardless of what vintage it is.

Have a favorite Washington wine at $15 and under? Write a comment or send me an e-mail and I will review it in a future entry.







Desert Wind Ruah Wahluke Slope 2006

Light in color, the 2006 Ruah has a complex nose with bright red fruit, raspberry, mineral, and mocha notes. The wine opens and expands with a very even attack, mid-palate and finish. An exceptionally well-balanced wine at this price point and a steal if on sale. Cab Franc; Cabernet; Merlot. Note: Needed to open up for 30+ minutes to shake off the greenness.



Waterbrook Melange 2005

White pepper, sage, and mineral on the nose. An even mid-palate with a nice, puckering finish. Not a big wine but well put together. Consider buying if you find it on sale, otherwise you can do better for $15. 40% Merlot; 32% Caberbet; 18% Sangiovese; 7% Cab Franc; 3% Syrah.



Hedges Family Estate CMS Red Columbia Valley 2006

Lots of mineral notes, red currant, and red fruit on a nose reminiscent of a Rhone-style wine. A medium-bodied wine that builds to a crescendo. 52% Cabernet; 44% Merlot; 4% Syrah.



Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

A decent but not particularly complex nose with spicy plum mixed with dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and mocha powder. Black cherry dominates the taste and finish. A doughnut hole wine that is round on the front and edges but is thin on the mid-palate.



Columbia Winery Columbia Valley Merlot 2005

A good nose, fitting of a more expensive wine, with spice, cedar, and boysenberry. The taste is a bit of a let down, being focused up front and finishing with a real sandpaper feeling on the tongue. This wine improved quite a bit over the course of an hour with the tasted being tamed a bit. However, if it’s not “drink me now” at this price point, I don’t drink it ever.


Sean P. Sullivan

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Sean,

    I am a friend of Pat S and am using your Spring Barrel Tasting report to make a pigrimage to Walla Walla this weekend.
    Like your sister I am more of a $15 to $20 price point drinker but your report will definately be steering me to those wines that are just a little bit better. I'll let you know what my not so expert palette thinks. Also I think your reports are great!



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