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

is a rare variety in Washington with a limited plantings of old vines at Upland Vineyard on Snipes Mountain (Notably, Smasne
Cellars also makes a varietal bottle from Upland Vineyard). The grape is
perhaps best known as the other white grape of Burgundy, although there
are widespread plantings in other areas of the world. California’s Steele Wines has made the Shooting Star Aligoté for a number of years with the fruit for this wine all coming from Upland.

Chateau Ste. Michelle
is the world’s largest producer of Riesling. The winery’s Columbia
Valley Riesling is by far their largest production wine coming in at a
staggering 900,000 cases produced. This wine consistently offers good
value and can frequently be found on sale.
The J Bookwalter Wine
non-vintage Bookmark Red Wine was easily last year’s value wine of the
year. The winery follows this wine up with the Notebook NV2, with the
name change presumably due to a trademark issue. Whereas over half of
the first release came from the warmer 2008 and 2009 vintages, more than
two thirds of this wine comes from the cooler 2010 vintage. It shows,
with the overall style of this wine leaner and quite tart. The NV2
Notebook also sports less use of new French oak. While fans of the NV1
won’t find that level of quality here – and a wine that quality at that
price is truly a rare, rare find – the latest release, which can
frequently be found on sale for $10 and under, still presents value.
The final two wines come from Hogue Cellars.
Over the years, Hogue has made its mark by producing well-priced,
varietally correct wines. That is exactly what we have here on the
winery’s Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. These wines won’t turn any
heads, but they also won’t break anyone’s budget.

Read previous Five Wines Under $15 here

Shooting Star Aligoté Washington State 2011 $12
(Good) An
aromatically appealing wine with melon, white grapefruit, smoke, and
beeswax. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied, full of
white grapefruit flavors with a citrus peel filled finish. Dips a bit in
the middle but, overall, an enjoyable offering of this seldom seen
varietal. Barrel fermented in 30% new oak. 13.2% alcohol.
Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling Columbia Valley 2011 $9
(Good) A
moderately aromatic wine with pear, peach, and citrus notes. The palate
is off dry, full of tart fruit flavors accented by crisp acidity. 11.0%
alcohol. 900,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Recommended
J Bookwalter Notebook Red Wine Columbia Valley NV2 $15
(Decent/Good) An
aromatically quiet wine that starts out with dust, spice, and red and
black fruit with alcohol noticeably present before opening up to reveal
chocolate, cocoa, and cherry cola. The palate is medium bodied with oak
and cherry flavors leading to a quite tart finish. 42%
Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 18% Syrah, and 7% other varieties. 7%
2011 vintage, 69% 2010, 7% 2008, 4% 2007, and 13% other vintages. Aged
in stainless steel and used French oak. 14.1% alcohol.
Hogue Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley 2010 $11
(Decent/Good) An
aromatically appealing wine with citrus, herbal notes, and touches
tropical fruit. The palate is medium bodied, dry and tart broadening out
toward the finish. 13.1% alcohol.
Hogue Pinot Grigio Columbia Valley 2011 $11
(Decent) Moderately
aromatic with melon, ripe banana, white flowers, and a citrus spritz.
The palate is medium bodied with melon and citrus flavors that taper on
the back half.  

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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