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

Barnard Griffin is one of Washington State’s value standard bearers. The winery makes a wide variety of wines in the value range. These wines are consistently well made with some reaching considerably higher. The 2009 Rosé of Sangiovese is one of the more pleasing rosés you will find from Washington. The wine is fresh and crisp with mouthwatering acidity. While it may not reach the heights of the great French rosés, the price point is more reminiscent of these wines than most of what is seen in the state.

Bottles of Washington State Malbec in a value price range are near impossible to find. Finding one that delivers the kind of quality that can stand alongside the slew of Argentinean Malbec that lines the shelves is unheard of. The Renegade Wine Co. Malbec is just that. While not necessarily a prototype of the varietal in Washington, this is a polished wine that delivers quality well above its price point.

In just thirteen years Milbrandt Vineyards has created a small empire. The Milbrandt family first came to the area as homesteaders, purchasing a small parcel of land for $40 an acre. In 1997, brothers Butch and Jerry Milbrandt decided to get into the grape growing business. They now have thirteen different vineyards, many located on the Wahluke Slope, totaling almost 1,600 acres. The winery started in 2007 with Gordon Hill serving as winemaker.

Domaine Ste. Michelle is a Ste. Michelle Wine Estates holding which focuses on sparkling wines made in the Méthode champenoise. The winery produces Blanc de Blanc, Blanc de Noir, Brut, and Extra Dry wines. The Luxe is the winery’s top label. Rick Casqueiro serves as winemaker. These make for excellent holiday wines at a reasonable price point.

Red Diamond is also a Ste. Michelle Wine Estates holding. The winery makes four wines, all in the value range – a Cabernet, a Merlot, a Shiraz, and a Chardonnay (see a review of the Merlot here).

Barnard Griffin Rosé of Sangiovese Columbia Valley 2009 $12
Rating: * (Excellent) Light cherry red in color. An aromatic nose with bubble gum, ripe red cherries, strawberries, and watermelon. The palate is dry and crisp with mouthwatering acidity. Fermented in stainless steel. 12.4% alcohol. 7,580 cases produced.

Renegade Wine Co. Malbec Yakima Valley 2008 $15
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Smoke, toasty oak, and spice on a nose that immediately introduces itself as a wine of some pedigree. The palate is understated but extremely well put together with a lot of dark fruit flavors and a chalky feel. Not necessarily the most prototypic varietal Malbec but a very, very well made wine for this price point.

Milbrandt Traditions Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2008 $14
Rating: + (Good) A lightly aromatic nose marked by chocolate, licorice, caramel, herbal notes, and dust. Palate boasts a fair amount of grip and dark chocolate notes on a very varietal expression of Washington State Cabernet. Tannins are a bit drying but the wine delivers a lot of bang for the buck. 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 4% Malbec. Aged 10-14 months in French and American oak (70% new). 13.5% alcohol. 9,061 cases produced. Recommended.

Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Columbia Valley NV $13
Rating: ./+ (Decent/Good) A straightforward but pleasing nose with lemon and lime aromas and light bread notes. On the palate, crisp, clean and acidic. 88% Chardonnay 12% Pinot Noir. 1.19% Residual Sugar. 12.1% alcohol.

Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon Washington State 2008 $10
Rating: . (Decent) Ash, toast, red fruit, and chocolate on a wine with a somewhat unusual aroma profile. The palate is marked by cranberry flavors and has an almost sweet taste to it. Cabernet Sauvignon with small amounts of Merlot and Syrah. Aged in a mix of American and French oak barrels for 12 months. 13.5% alcohol.