Five Wines Under $15 - September 2012

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

Aligoté is a rare variety in Washington with a limited plantings of old vines at Upland Vineyard on Snipes Mountain (Notably, Smasne Cellars also makes a varietal bottle from Upland Vineyard). The grape is perhaps best known as the other white grape of Burgundy, although there are widespread plantings in other areas of the world. California’s Steele Wines has made the Shooting Star Aligoté for a number of years with the fruit for this wine all coming from Upland.

Chateau Ste. Michelle is the world’s largest producer of Riesling. The winery’s Columbia Valley Riesling is by far their largest production wine coming in at a staggering 900,000 cases produced. This wine consistently offers good value and can frequently be found on sale.

The J Bookwalter Wine non-vintage Bookmark Red Wine was easily last year’s value wine of the year. The winery follows this wine up with the Notebook NV2, with the name change presumably due to a trademark issue. Whereas over half of the first release came from the warmer 2008 and 2009 vintages, more than two thirds of this wine comes from the cooler 2010 vintage. It shows, with the overall style of this wine leaner and quite tart. The NV2 Notebook also sports less use of new French oak. While fans of the NV1 won’t find that level of quality here – and a wine that quality at that price is truly a rare, rare find – the latest release, which can frequently be found on sale for $10 and under, still presents value.

The final two wines come from Hogue Cellars. Over the years, Hogue has made its mark by producing well-priced, varietally correct wines. That is exactly what we have here on the winery’s Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. These wines won’t turn any heads, but they also won’t break anyone's budget.

Read previous Five Wines Under $15 here

Shooting Star Aligoté Washington State 2011 $12
(Good) An aromatically appealing wine with melon, white grapefruit, smoke, and beeswax. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied, full of white grapefruit flavors with a citrus peel filled finish. Dips a bit in the middle but, overall, an enjoyable offering of this seldom seen varietal. Barrel fermented in 30% new oak. 13.2% alcohol.

Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling Columbia Valley 2011 $9
(Good) A moderately aromatic wine with pear, peach, and citrus notes. The palate is off dry, full of tart fruit flavors accented by crisp acidity. 11.0% alcohol. 900,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Recommended

J Bookwalter Notebook Red Wine Columbia Valley NV2 $15
(Decent/Good) An aromatically quiet wine that starts out with dust, spice, and red and black fruit with alcohol noticeably present before opening up to reveal chocolate, cocoa, and cherry cola. The palate is medium bodied with oak and cherry flavors leading to a quite tart finish. 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 18% Syrah, and 7% other varieties. 7% 2011 vintage, 69% 2010, 7% 2008, 4% 2007, and 13% other vintages. Aged in stainless steel and used French oak. 14.1% alcohol.

Hogue Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley 2010 $11
(Decent/Good) An aromatically appealing wine with citrus, herbal notes, and touches tropical fruit. The palate is medium bodied, dry and tart broadening out toward the finish. 13.1% alcohol.

Hogue Pinot Grigio Columbia Valley 2011 $11
(Decent) Moderately aromatic with melon, ripe banana, white flowers, and a citrus spritz. The palate is medium bodied with melon and citrus flavors that taper on the back half.  

Rating System

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

(Not recommended/Flawed)

Readers, please note that Blogger, where this site is hosted, has upgraded to a new version which has significant bugs and formatting issues. There are, at present, no work arounds, so you may see significant formatting errors within the posts. 

Sean P. Sullivan

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