REMINDER: This month’s Virtual Tasting takes place this Thursday from 7-8pm. Read more about it here.

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

Pacific Rim is Washington’s Riesling specialist. The winery boasts a dazzling lineup of wines, from sparkling to dry to dessert. The Columbia Valley Riesling is off dry in style with 2.3% Residual Sugar beautifully balanced by acidity. The winery’s website states, “As wine lovers crave alternatives to heavy and oaky white wines, Riesling is experiencing a true revival (like a phoenix rising from the ashes — the inspiration for our label artwork).” Pacific Rim was recently purchased by the Mariani family.

The Brand Cabernet Sauvignon comes from Acme Wine Company. Fruit for this wine comes mostly from Pepper Bridge Vineyard – a rare occurrence for a wine at this price point.

The ‘Eve’ Chardonnay comes from Charles Smith’s ‘modernist project’ – Charles Smith Wines. This is a crisp, clean, varietal Chardonnay made in a leaner style than is frequently seen in Washington. Smith writes, “Sinfully tempting…fresh, crisp, the perfume of sweet apple blossoms lures you into The Garden of Eden. Silky, soft, mouth filling deliciousness…take the first sip!”

Columbia Crest is one of the ‘string of pearls’ in Ste. Michelle Wine Estates’ holdings. The H3 series stands for Horse Heaven Hills – the viticultural area where Columbia Crest is located.

Portteus is one of Washington State’s older wineries, founded in 1981. The winery’s website says, “In 1981 Washington State had 13 wineries. Only 2 or 3 of those were in the Yakima Valley. In 2009 there are over 600. Our advice to approximately the last 500 of them is to find something else to spend their money on. Of course this is what they told us in 1980. Who listens?”

Pacific Rim Riesling Columbia Valley 2009 $11
Rating: * (Excellent) Light diesel aromas along with lemon zest, honey, and mineral notes on an appealing aroma profile. Off dry in style, the palate has a full mouthfeel loaded with tangerine flavors. Beautifully balanced by a citric acidity. Alcohol 11.5% Residual Sugar 2.3%.

Brand Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2008 $15
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Earth, bright cherries, and red vines with oak notes in the background on a wine that introduces itself as having a higher pedigree than its price point would indicate. The palate is round and expansive with a good deal of structure and a slightly sour finish. An impressive bottle that delivers above its price point. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot.

Charles Smith ‘Eve’ Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2008 $12
Rating: + (Good) A very pleasing aroma profile with yellow apple, hay, and spice. The palate is crisp, clean, and acidic. Finishes slightly sharp on an otherwise very enjoyable wine. 100% Chardonnay. Sundance, Frenchman Hills, Upland, and Evergreen vineyards. Fermented in stainless steel. Aged in French oak for 10 months. 13.5% alcohol.

Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills 2008 $15
Rating: ./+ (Decent/Good) Lightly aromatic with oak notes at the fore along with dust, and herbal notes. The palate is dry with tacky tannins and paints around the edges. 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc. Aged 14-18 months in French and American oak (40% new). 14.5% alcohol. Tasted twice with consistent notes.

Portteus Bistro Red Red Wine Rattlesnake Hills 2008 $10
Rating: . (Decent) The aroma profile is smoky, green, and herbal with accents of red fruit. Dry and fairly even on the palate. Comes up a bit short on the finish. 54% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc. 13.8% alcohol.