Posts for the next week will be coming from the road as I am out in Denver, Colorado doing get out the vote work for the 2008 presidential campaign.

Today’s posting is this month’s installment of five wines under fifteen dollars. Without further ado…

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

The first wine, Sageland’s Freddie’s Blend 2005 which I recommend, I had steered away from for a while. There were a couple reasons for this. The first was the name – “Freddie’s Blend.” I had some reaction to this name. Freddie Mercury? Freddie the Plumber? Not sure. The wine is named after winemaker Frédérique “Freddie” Spencer. The second reason I steered clear was that the branding confused me a bit. To have this wine, a blend, offered at the same price point as their Cabernet which I had tasted previously seemed strange. I’m used to the Cab being the more expensive wine or the blend being the more expensive wine but having both at the same (low) price point seemed a bit strange. Alas, I overcame this and was rewarded. This is an enjoyable wine for the money.

Red Diamond is a large production winemaker in Paterson, Washington. While I don’t know their overall numbers, the website states that they sold 25,000 cases their first year. I thought the 2006 Cabernet was quite interesting, especially on the taste which really surprised me for the rich chocolate flavors. However, the richness quickly became overwhelming and didn’t connect well to the taste.

The next wine is an interesting one. This wine has a complicated label. On the left it says “DPond Cellars” and underneath that in smaller print “Fries Family Cellars”. Already I am confused about who makes this wine. Looking up the Fries Family website listed on the back of the bottle leads to a dead site. Hmmm…A little research shows this to be made by Duck Pond Cellars run by the Fries Family. The winery is located in Dundee, Oregon although they sourced the grapes for this wine from the Wahluke Slope AVA in Washington. Continuing on the label, along the top “2003 Cabernet Sauvignon”. A 2003 wine on the shelves for under $10? This is quite an unusual thing as most on the shelves at this point are 2005 or 2006. Finally at the bottom it says “Columbia Valley Washington” followed by, again in smaller print, “Desert Wind Vineyard” and beneath this “Wahluke Slope”. Now of course the Wahluke Slope AVA didn’t exist in 2003 so this is correct but it still looks very busy on the label. Given the translation of “Red Wine” and “Product of the U.S.A” into French, perhaps this wine is made in large volume and is exported? Very strange label.

The final wine is a RiverAerie wine from Bunnell Family Cellars who I have written about before. The 2006 Spring Creek Redd – named after the word for the site where salmon spawn – is a decent wine but overall I did not find it that interesting. Perhaps pairing it with food would help. I’m thinking pizza or a tomato-based pasta dish would work well.

The search continues. If you have any under $15 wines you enjoy, please send them along to me in a comment or e-mail.

Score Name Notes $
Sagelands Vineyard Freddie’s Blend Columbia Valley 2005 A fairly light nose with cherry, black currant, spice, and some sweet oak aromas. On the taste, the wine coats the palate and opens up nicely. The wine is a little weaker at the very back end and finish, but this wine is a very good value. 56% Merlot; 33% Cabernet; 10% Malbec; 1% Petit Verdot. 14.1% alcohol. Purchased at Pete’s Bellevue for $8. Recommended.

Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Tons of black pepper and anise on the nose with chocolate and caramel appearing as the wine opens up. On the taste, the wine is mouth coating with rich chocolate and caramel. The nose and the taste seem a bit disconnected to me, and the wine becomes somewhat overwhelming after a glass or two. 80% Cabernet; 10% Syrah; 8% Merlot; 1% Cab Franc ; 1% Petit Verdot. 13.5% alcohol. Purchased at Safeway for $8. Recommended.

Goose Ridge Red Wine Columbia Valley 2005 A huge, smoky nose with chocolate and syrupy black fruit. The wine is thinner on the palate than expected and the taste seems very disconnected from the nose. 36% Syrah; 31% Merlot; 28% Cabernet; 5% Malbec. 14.3% alcohol. Purchased at Pete’s Bellevue for $15.

DPond Cellars Fries Family Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Desert Wind Vineyard, Wahluke Slope 2003 On first pour, the wine shows lots of coffee. After a few moments, this changes to black cherry, black currant, white pepper and aromas somewhat reminiscent of a Pinot. On the taste, the wine is marked by coffee grounds and a touch of tannins. The wine is sharp in the middle. 14.5% alcohol. Purchased at Safeway for $8.

RiverAerie Spring Creek Redd 2006 Raspberry and a touch of sage on the nose. On the taste the wine is crisp and tart. Not a bad wine. I just didn’t find it that interesting. 69.2% Cabernet; 15.4% Syrah; 7.7% Petite Syrah; 7.7% Mourvedre. 14.2% alcohol. 276 cases produced. Purchased at Pete’s Bellevue for $12. $12