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

Red Diamond is a Ste. Michelle Wine Estates holding. Laura Sorge serves as the winery’s winemaker. Red Diamond focuses on value wines. As with the previous vintage, the 2008 Merlot offers a lot of enjoyment for the price.

It is an extreme rarity to find a Washington State Malbec for under $20, let alone for $15. Powers Winery made its first varietal Malbec in 2007. The winery’s tasting room is located next to Badger Mountain in Kennewick. Greg Powers serves as winemaker.

McKinley Springs is located in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. Doug Rowell serves as winemaker; Rob Andrews is the grower. In addition to their own wines, fruit from McKinley Springs vineyards make in to numerous other wineries in the state, including vineyard-designated bottles. McKinley Springs has over 2,000 acres planted to more than twenty different varietals. The Bombing Range Red is a tribute to World War II troops who used the Horse Heaven Hills area for a fighter pilot training ground.

Whitestone Winery is located in Wilbur, Washington along Route 2. The winery was founded by Walter and Judy Haig in 1992. Nearby Lake Roosevelt was created in the early 1940s by the Grand Coulee Dam. Whitestone’s estate vineyard, Lake Roosevelt Shores Vineyard, was planted by the lake in 1994. Michael Haig serves as winemaker. The winery opened a Spokane tasting room in 2009.

14 Hands is also under the umbrella of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and is made in Patterson, Washington. Keith Kenison serves as winemaker. 14 Hands wines have long been standard fare as glass pours at restaurants but have recently made it on to consumer shelves with the ‘Hot to Trot Red Wine.’ The back label reads, “Born from the starkly beautiful hills of Washington State, 14 Hands Hot to Trot red blend is named for the unbridled spirit of the wild horses that once frolicked there. Right out of the gate, this smooth and easy drinking red wine immediately peaks your interest with its enticing ruby color.” Apparently it didn’t pique attention of the proofreaders.

If you have a favorite under $15, leave a comment and I’ll check it out.

Red Diamond Merlot Washington State 2008 $10
Rating: + (Good) A moderately aromatic nose marked by milk chocolate, coffee, cherries, and red fruit. Dry and fruit filled on the palate with silky chocolate flavors. A straightforward, easy drinking wine. 91.6% Merlot, blended with 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1.4% Cabernet Franc. Aged in French and American oak for 12 months. 13.5% alcohol. Recommended

McKinley Springs Bombing Range Red Horse Heaven Hills 2007 $14
Rating: + (Good) Burnt coffee aromas on the nose along with light game notes. The palate is round and plush offering up a lot of cherry fruit flavors. Brings a lot more fruit than typically seen in wines at this price point. Finishes quite hot. 55% Cabernet, 32% Syrah, 8% Mourvedre, 3% Petit Verdot, and 1% Malbec. Aged in neutral oak barrels for 18 months. 14.8% alcohol.

Powers Malbec Columbia Valley 2008 $15
Rating: . (Decent) Abundant plum and grape aromas on the nose along with a slight biscuit note. Brings a lot of grapey fruit on the palate but has a perceptible level of sweetness toward the finish. 13.5% alcohol.

Whitestone Winery Pieces of Red Red Wine Columbia Valley v24601 NV $15
Rating: . (Decent) Light in color. Shows lots of wood aromas on the nose, particularly pine, along with red currant, cinnamon, and some alcohol. Palate is a bit thin and lacking on concentration and displays lots of wood flavors. Trails off on the finish. 14.2% alcohol.

14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend Washington State 2008 $12
Rating: . (Decent) Raspberry compote on the nose along with abundant sweet fruit aromas. Palate is filled with fruit but has marked sweetness. 13.5% alcohol.