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

I have written before – and I will write again now – that Chenin Blanc is a great grape for Washington, where the majority of vines still in the ground are more than thirty years old. Our first wine this month from Kyra Wines is just another example.

The 2010 Kyra Chenin is a single vineyard wine coming from Harold Pleasant Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. Whereas many of the white wines from the warmer 2012 vintage are clocking in at over 14% alcohol, this one is listed at a cool 11.5%. Still, there’s a lot of warm weather, ripe fruit flavors here. There’s residual sugar – 1.5% – but it’s more than offset by the grape’s natural acidity. It’s a superb wine, great for the summer or at the dinner table, at a price that seems silly given its quality. But that is the state of Washington Chenin Blanc at present. Consumers have turned their attention elsewhere, so prices remain low despite the level of quality.

Next up are the 2012 Riesling releases from Chateau Ste. Michelle. Ste. Michelle is the world’s largest producer of Riesling and has almost single handedly led to a revival of the grape in America. The Columbia Valley Riesling leads the charge at 800,000 cases annually. Next month’s Riesling Rendezvous – the fourth that the company has held – will bring together producers and devotees from around the world to discuss the grape and taste its spoils (note that there is a Grand Tasting on Sunday July 14th). The prices for the 2012 wines have gone up a dollar to $10 but this should be no cause for concern. The quality level remains high for the price and the wines can often be found discounted at the supermarket.

Finally we have Ste. Michelle’s 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, a delightful bottle for summertime and also extremely well priced. Did someone say summertime? Time to chill some wines, sit back and enjoy.

Kyra Chenin Blanc Columbia Valley 2012 $13
 (Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with floral notes, kiwi, green apple skin, and honeycomb. The palate is medium bodied, off dry but drinking considerably drier than its residual sugar might indicate, beautifully balanced by tart, citric acidity. An extremely enjoyable, refreshing summer wine and perfect for pairing with spicy fare. 100% Chenin Blanc. Harold Pleasant Vineyard. 11.5% alcohol. 1.5% Residual Sugar. 397 cases produced.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley 2012 $11
 (Good) An aromatically appealing wine with citrus and light herbs. It’s medium bodied, full of tart fruit flavors that carry through to the middle before moving toward the edges on the second half. 13.0% alcohol. Sample provided by winery. Recommended.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling Columbia Valley 2012 $10
(Good) A moderately aromatic wine with ripe peach, citrus, and jasmine. The palate is just off dry with tart, somewhat sharp edged acids. 13.0% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling Columbia Valley 2012 $10
 (Good) A moderately aromatic wine with ripe peach and honeysuckle. It’s off-dry, medium bodied with a lick of acid on the finish. 12.5% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Harvest Select Riesling Columbia Valley 2012 $10
 (Good) A moderately aromatic wine with peach and apricot. The palate is medium sweet with ripe fruit flavors. 10.5% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.