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

In the waning days of summer, we focus on white wines including three Rieslings. Washington is the largest producer of Riesling in the U.S with Chateau Ste. Michelle the largest producer of Riesling in the world. While oft maligned due to its association with lesser varietals and the misperception that it is always sweet, Rieslings are not only extremely enjoyable wines, they are also generally very well priced.

Riesling comes in a variety of styles – from dry to sweet. How sweet a wine will taste is a result of balance among a variety of factors. Among these are:

Residual Sugar (RS): the sugar remaining after fermentation stops, often measured in grams of sugar per milliliter (g/ml)

Total Acidity (TA): the measurement of the total of all acids present. Also sometimes called Titratable Acidity.

Alcohol level

The differences in styles can lead to consumer confusion. Some producers attempt to address this by labeling the bottle “Dry” or by describing the wine on the back label. If you are looking for a particular style, when it doubt, ask a wine steward.

This month we tried three Rieslings side by side – one from Chateau Ste. Michelle, one from Columbia Crest’s Two Vine series, and one from Barnard Griffin’s Tulip Series. Both the Ch. Ste. Michelle and Barnard Griffin wines were dry Rieslings and the Columbia Crest off-dry. Of these, the Barnard Griffin was a standout.

In addition to the Rieslings, we tried Barnard Griffin’s Semillon and Jones of Washington Viognier, both of which are recommended.

If you have favorite Washington wines under $15, send them along and I will check them out.







Barnard Griffin Riesling Columbia Valley 2008

The lightest in color of the three. Aromas explode from the glass with butterscotch (which fades as the wine opens up), Honey Dew melon, and white grapefruit. This is a textured, layered wine with a great deal of complexity on the palate. Fruit flavors – predominantly white grapefruit – step forward and back, undulating on and on. Settles in to an extended finish. Caroway & Arête vineyards (Columbia Valley). 1.2% RS, .82g/100ml TA, 11.7% alcohol. 3,870 cases produced.

Purchased for $8.39 at Pete’s Bellevue



Barnard Griffin Semillon Columbia Valley 2007

An appealing nose marked by lemon zest and river creek aromas. A clean, crisp taste with a rounded mouthfeel. 12.8% alcohol. Recommended.

Purchased for $10.29 at Pete’s Bellevue



Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling Columbia Valley 2007

Pale straw colored. An alluring nose with Honey Dew melon and lime popsicles. Tart, dry, and crisp with an acidic zing. 0.78g/100ml RS, 0.70g/ml TA, and 13% alcohol. Recommended

Purchased for $6.99 at Pete’s Bellevue



Jones of Washington Viognier Wahluke Slope 2008

Almost completely clear in color. A jubilant nose of peaches, mineral, and citrus. A touch of residual sugar gives the wine a little weight on the palate which I liked but some might not. Recommended

Purchased for $10.19 from Pete’s Bellevue



Columbia Crest Two Vines Riesling Columbia Valley 2007

Golden colored. A strong floral bouquet along with petroleum, Mandarin oranges, and apple. The palate is all about apples and has a fair amount of residual sugar. Dies off quickly toward the finish. 3.52g/100ml RS, 0.78 g/100ml TA, 11.5% alcohol

Purchased for $5.99 at Pete’s Bellevue