Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Monday, October 12, 2009

Half Price Wines

Eddie Murphy once had a routine where he kept repeating the word "half" and the audience kept cracking up. When he uttered some more obscene words the audience laughed even louder. While "the worst recession since the depression" is obscene, it is no laughing matter. Restaurants have closed, wine bars have closed, upscale eateries are trying to work off their excessive wine cellars, Deageo sales are down 6%, and wineries are having trouble selling wine over $30. While few have stopped drinking wine (some probably are just getting started), virtually everyone has moved down to half the price of what they paid before. Wines under $15 are doing great. Washington wines are too pricey is a frequent complaint, but it ain't so. It may be true that many of the "boutique" wineries offer most of their wine at over $30, but in fact roughly half the wine in the state is priced under $20.

Under $10

There are a number of wines from Chateau Ste. Michelle which are widely distributed throughout the states. The Riesling, Gewurz, and Pinot Grigio are representative of type and reasonably priced. Here is a list of reliable value wineries in addition to Ste Michelle with fairly wide distribution:

1) Columbia Crest Two Vines - The Merlot and Chardonnay can be had at any gas station in Washington and are usually "on sale" for about $8 at many supermarkets - amazing value.

2) Columbia Crest Grand Estates - these wines see some oak and are good food wines

3) Red Diamond -Another member of the Ste. Michelle portfolio - Outstanding Merlot, Cab, Syrah and Chard for less than $10 at supermarkets

4) Hogue - Excellent dry Chard and pretty good Rieslings of varying sweetness levels - good value at supermarkets

5) Sagelands - less widely distributed, but available in some supermarkets. good stuff

6) Barnard Griffin - excellent Syrah. all good values at State Liquor stores in Washington and some supermarkets

6) Pine and Post - frequently posted off to about $5. Excellent value, especially the Chardonnay

Under $20

These may be a little difficult to find but they are worth it. Check high-end supermarkets and wine shops.

1) Dusted Valley - all "Boomtown" wines

2) Balboa - all regular bottlings - Merlot, Cab Sauv, Syrah

3) Parejas - all of Mark's wines are excellent, especially the Gewurztraminer which is a great value

4) Vin Du Lac - Larry purposely keeps prices down and quality up, especially the whites

5) Eliseo Silva - This is a whole line of outstanding varietals at around $15 - Merlot, Cab Sauv, Syrah, Chardonnay

6) Randall Harris - a very acceptable Merlot at a very good price.

7) Northwest - Bob Deff offers good wines at good prices and you can have them personalized for special events such as a wedding or you can have your own label
( for a fee, of course)

8) Bergevin Lane - Who says Danes can't make wine. Look for Calico Red, Calico White, and Fruitbomb

9) Martinez & Martinez - Make really good, inexpensive wine on purpose. Some winemakers get it that we are not all billionaires.

10) Revelry - Another winery that gets it!

11) Ryan Patrick - Rock Island Red is usually rock solid.

12) Waterbrook - A variety of very good wines at very reasonable prices.

13) Goose Ridge - A whole line of delicious wines at reasonable prices made under the supervision of winemaker Charlie Hoppes.

14) Dunham - Not only is Eric an outstanding artist, but he is very fond of dogs, hence his Three Legged Red and his Four Legged White

15) Hightower - Speaking of dogs, try Murray Cuvee from Hightower way up on Red Mountain. Hint - a dog on the label often suggests a value wine from a good winery.

16) Apex - I've always been fond of Apex Chardonnay when it was made by Brian Carter. Now that the brand is owned by Precept Brands it may not be quite the same.

17) Kiona - Another Red Mountain winery. This one makes a huge variety of wines , almost all excellent, many of which are in our price range.

18) Terra Blanca - Ken Pilgrim's wines are almost always excellent. If you can't afford the flagship Onyx, you can usually find a Terra Blanca Merlot or Cab discounted to around $12 at some supermarkets and Costco.

19) St. Laurent - some lucky dog's gonna get some Lucky White or Lucky Red.

20) Gordon Bros - Jeff Gordon makes a variety of well priced wines that are outstanding values. The Merlot has garnered "90 plus" points and is frequently available at Costco for less than $20.

21) Brian Carter - Brian is a superstar winemaker, yet his Abracadabra blend can be had for about $18 at the winery.

22 Sleight of Hand - Superstar Trey Busch makes two very reasonably priced wines - the Magician Gewurztraminer and the Spellbinder Red - Trey is one of the few to put everyday wines in screwcaps and special wines that need cellaring have corks. Wish other wineries would follow his example.

22) Novelty Hill - Their motto should be "never a bad wine." Superstar Mike Janiuk makes their wines several of which can be had for less than $20. You can even get one or two Januik wines for around twenty at the winery - Januik Red?

23) Saviah - pricey but worth it. The Jack will give a whiff of this quality for under $20.

24) Cayuse - Christophe Baron is a Rock Star winemaker. Try the Rock Star Red for only $19.99. Sorry, just kidding.

25) Mountain Dome - This Spokane winery only makes bubbly. It is dry and yeasty and competes in quality with California and French sparklers in the same price range.
26) Wine of Substance - We end with a science lesson. Have you ever used the periodic table you were forced to study in high school chemistry. Here's your chance
except this time you can taste your chemicals or rather your varietals. Substance wines have names like RE, ME, CH, CS, SY meaning Riesling, Merlot, Chardonnay, etc.,. They are only twenty bucks each and they are excellent. What a great painless way to learn about varietal characteristics.

Not "half" bad - over 30 wineries offering over 100 quality value wines for under twenty bucks. Maybe I should have called this "100 Best Washington Values Under Twenty Dollars.


  • At 1:02 AM, Anonymous Justin said…

    If you pay more than $8.99 for the Eliseo Silva wines, you're getting ripped off.

  • At 6:56 PM, Blogger Rebecca said…

    Terra Blanca is consistent with making mediocre wines at best. Can't believe anyone thinks they have anything that great.


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