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

For a Song Wines is the house wine for Vinum Wine Importing and Distributing. The Syrah reviewed below comes from winemaker Kyle Johnson, former winemaker at the now defunct Olsen Estates and now at Purple Star Wines and Native Sun (look for reviews of wines from the latter in an upcoming post). The 2009 For a Song Syrah is quite simply the highest quality $15 and under wine I’ve come across this year, drinking like a wine literally twice the price. The fruit here all comes from Olsen Vineyard, which Johnson is obviously more than familiar with. This is one to stock up on.

Chateau Ste. Michelle obviously needs no introduction. The winery made a splash earlier this month when Wines & Vines wrote that it was the top table wine in the $8 to $11 range. Why is this the case? Well priced, varietally correct wines like the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc below.

Columbia Crest also sits under the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates umbrella, and its Grand Estates wines were also in the top 20 wines in the $8 to $11 range. Moving up a bracket, we arrive at the winery’s H3 series which it continues to ramp up. The winery produced 58,000 cases of its 2009 H3 Merlot, reviewed below, up from 40,000 cases in 2008. Watch out world. The Horse Heaven Hills is coming to a store near you!

Willow Crest Winery is part of Precept Wines. The winery was founded in 1995 by Dave Minick and is devoted to producing wines from its Minick Family Estate Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. Six Prong Winery is also part of Precept, which has in a very short time grown into one of the state’s largest wineries. Six Prong is named after a road leading into the winery’s estate vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills.

Have an under $15 find from the Northwest? Leave me a comment and I’ll check it out.

For a Song Syrah Columbia Valley 2009 $15
(Excellent) Dark ruby. Aromatically luxurious with spice, chocolate, and dark fruit. The palate is plush and creamy, full of dark fruit flavors and spice. This is a thoroughly delicious bottle of wine at a can’t-be-beat price. 100% Syrah. Olsen Vineyard. 14.4% alcohol. 1,600 cases produced. Sampled at 69 degrees.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley 2011 $11
(Good)Pale lemon green. An aromatically appealing, very varietally correct wine with white grapefruit, herbal notes, and citrus. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied with crisp, tart fruit flavors. 96% Sauvignon Blanc and 4% other white grape varieties. 35% barrel fermentation for five months in neutral French oak. TA 0.67 g/100ml. 12.5% alcohol. Sample provided by winery. Recommended

Columbia Crest H3 Merlot Horse Heaven Hills 2009 $15
(Good) A moderately aromatic wine where the oak is at the fore with vanilla, coconut, and red fruit. The palate has a creamy texture with prominent oak flavors and soft red fruit flavors. The oak plays a big part in the show here but, for fans of the style, there is much to enjoy here. 96% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Malbec. Aged 18 months in French and American oak (33% new). 14.5% alcohol. 58,000 cases produced. Recommended

Willow Crest Winery Pinot Gris Yakima Valley 2010 $13
(Good) An aromatically intriguing wine with aromas of pear, lemon custard, and spice. The palate is medium bodied and broad becoming leaner on a tart, lemony finish. Drinks dry. 100% Pinot Gris. Minick Family Estate Vineyard. 13.5% alcohol. 0.4% Residual Sugar. 5,400 cases produced.

Six Prong Red Wine Columbia Valley 2010 $12
(Good) An aromatic wine with white and black pepper, raspberries, spice, and vanilla. The palate is medium bodied with soft tannins and a tacky feel, tapering off slightly toward the finish. A great pizza/pasta accompaniment. 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Syrah, 11% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 2% Sangiovese, and 1% Zinfandel. Zephyr, Harold Fries, Frenchman Hills, Cowan, ST, 9 Canyon, and Heintz vineyards. 13.5% alcohol. 3,740 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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