In this month’s Five Wines Under $15, we continue our series on summer whites in the belief that if you drink these wines, more summer-like days will surely follow.

The first two wines are both Pinot Gris, one from Washington and one from Oregon. Pinot Gris is, somewhat surprisingly, the third most planted white grape in Washington although the wines seem scarce on the retail shelves. Meanwhile, Pinot Gris is Oregon’s most planted white grape, well ahead of Chardonnay and a (very) distant second to Pinot Noir in terms of overall plantings and production.

The first of these wines comes from Milbrandt Vineyards, with the fruit coming from the Ancient Lakes region (still awaiting AVA approval) and Yakima Valley. The second, the Cooper Hill Pinot Gris, comes from Cooper Mountain Vineyards in Beaverton, Oregon. Both are delicious representations of this variety at a great price.

The next wine comes from Bridgman Cellars. The winery is named after William B. Bridgman who first planted wine grapes in the Yakima Valley in 1914. The winery was introduced in 1993 and is now part of Precept Wine’s diverse holdings. The 2011 Bridgman Chardonnay is straight down the fairway with varietally correct aromas and flavors at a can’t be beat price.

The next wine is the 2011 L’Ecole No 41 Chenin Blanc. Formerly labeled the Walla Voila!, starting from the 2010 vintage, this wine now only bears the varietal label as part of the winery’s rebranding last year. The 2011 vintage boasts grapes from vines all planted in the late 1970s at Upland, Rothrock (Yakima Valley), and Phil Church (Yakima Valley).

The final wine is from Richland’s Barnard Griffin. The winery makes a staggering 9,200 cases of its Tulip Series Sauvignon Blanc – more than the total production of many wineries in the state. Sauvignon Blanc is Washington’s fourth most produced white grape behind Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris.

Here’s to more warm days of summer! Read previous Five Wines Under $15 here.

Milbrandt Cellars Traditions Pinot Gris Columbia Valley 2011 $13
(Good/Excellent) A lightly aromatic wine with apple, mineral and spice. The palate is medium bodied with crisp acidity and tart fruit flavors that stretch out across the palate. 12.5% alcohol.

Cooper Mountain Vineyards ‘Cooper Hill’ Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2011 $13
(Good) Lightly aromatic with yellow apple, green apple, and spice. The palate is medium bodied with a textured feel and green apple-like acidity that draws out on the finish. 100% Pinot Gris. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 13.0% alcohol. 0.58g/L Residual Sugar. 4,500 cases produced. Recommended

Bridgman Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2010 $11
(Good) Pale lemon yellow. Lightly aromatic but appealing with apple, tropical fruit, and spice. The palate is medium bodied with abundant fruit flavors leading to a lemony finish. Straight down the fairway, this is an enjoyable, varietally correct, well-priced wine. 100% Chardonnay. 13% alcohol. 840 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Recommended

L’Ecole No 41 Chenin Blanc Columbia Valley 2011 $14
(Good) An aromatically appealing wine with mandarin orange, spice, citrus, and floral notes. The palate is medium bodied and fruit filled with abundant citrus flavors. Drinks just a hair off dry with Chenin’s natural acidity showing through. 100% Chenin Blanc. 100% Chenin Blanc. Upland, Rothrock, and Phil Church vineyards. 7.4g/L TA, 0.86% Residual Sugar. 13.5% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

Barnard Griffin Fume Blanc Columbia Valley 2011 $9
(Good) A lightly aromatic wine with herbal notes and citrus. The palate is medium bodied with citrus flavors. 97% Sauvignon Blanc, 3% Semillon. Sagemoor, Gunkel, and Malli vineyards. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 12.8% alcohol. 9,200 cases produced.

Rating System

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

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