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

With spring upon us, this month we look at four white wines and one pink one.

Let’s start with the pink. The Gilbert family first arrived in eastern Washington in 1897 when Horace Mark Gilbert moved his family out from Illinois and started farming apples. The family agricultural business has subsequently been passed down from generation to generation, with Gilbert Orchards now encompassing 1,800 acres.

A fifth generation of Gilberts started Gilbert Cellars in 2004, focusing on fruit from estate vineyards in the Yakima Valley and Wahluke Slope. The 2011 Gilbert Cellars Rosé of Mourvedre is a perfect summer wine and a steal at $14. The winery’s website reads, “We are most interested in pursuing truth and beauty with family and friends. For us, wine is the gateway to that. We’d rather have a great dinner on our patio, candles lit, with a bottle of wine than almost anything else.” Who can argue with that?

Erath is one of Oregon’s pioneer wineries. Dick Erath moved up to Oregon in 1968 after completing coursework at UC Davis. After purchasing land on Chehalem Mountain, he planted 23 different varieties across four acres. The rest, as they say, is history. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates purchased the winery in 2006. Erath makes a variety of Oregon labeled, estate, and single vineyard wines. Pinot Gris is Oregon’s second most planted grape behind Pinot Noir.

Waterbrook was founded in Walla Walla in 1984 as the area’s fourth winery. The company was purchased by Precept Wine in 2006 with a new production facility built on the outskirts of town in 2008.

The 2010 NxNW Riesling may have the state’s most specific wine label. Information is provided on the front label about the vineyard (Wallula Benches), soil types (Ritzville Loam and Shano Silt Loam), clones (90, 198, 239), winemaking techniques (Pressed, Cold Settled, Racked, Slow Fermented, Cross-flowed, Cold Stabilized), as well as information about Residual Sugar (0.7 g/L), titratable acidity (0.9 g/100ml), and pH (3.09). Wow! This is a rare, almost bone dry Riesling and with the high acid of the 2010 vintage, it drinks dry.

Charles Smith Wines is Smith’s Modernist Project. The intent is to create wines that are immediately accessible but also are typical of their variety. The winery makes a diverse lineup of wines across a wide range of prices from $12 to $140. The 2010 Eve Chardonnay comes from a diverse group of vineyards across the Columbia Valley but lacks some of the fruit concentration this wine has displayed in previous vintages.

Gilbert Cellars Rosé of Mourvedre Columbia Valley 2011 $14
(Excellent) A very pretty, pale salmon color. An aromatically pleasing wine with spice and abundant sour cherry notes. The palate is tart, crisp, and bone dry with a white pepper filled finish. 100% Mourvedre. 80% 24K and 20% Chukar Vineyard. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 100% malolactic fermentation. 790 cases produced.

Erath Pinot Gris Oregon 2010 $14
(Good) A moderately aromatic wine with fresh red and green apple and spice. The palate is tart and lean, full of green apple flavors and bright acidity. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 13.0% alcohol.

Waterbrook Winery Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley 2011 $11
(Good) An aromatically appealing wine full of pineapple, gooseberry, and lime zest. The palate is full of tart, lively fruit flavors. A bit of a bite on the back end is all that holds this wine back. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. 0.3% Residual Sugar. Sample provided by winery.

NxNW Riesling Wallula Benches Horse Heaven Hills 2010 $12
(Decent/Good) A lightly aromatic wine with petrol, citrus, and mineral notes. Palate is dry and tart with a slightly sour finish. 0.7g/100ml RS, 0.9g/100ml TA, pH 3.05. 13.0% alcohol. 5,000 cases produced.

Charles Smith Wines Eve Chardonnay 2010 $12
(Decent) An aromatically appealing wine with green and red apple and spice. The palate is tart with a medium bodied feel and lean fruit flavors. A yeasty note on the finish. 100% Chardonnay. Sundance, Newhouse, Airport Ranches, and Ryan Patrick vineyards. Fermented in stainless steel, aged 10 months in French oak. 13.5% alcohol.

Rating System

Please note, my rating system was revised at the beginning of 2012 as follows. Read additional details here. (Exceptional)
(Not recommended/Flawed)

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