MY LONGTIME FRIEND Bob Woehler, the dean of Washington wine writers, who passed away in 2011, was known for sniffing out bargains. He loved nothing more than finding a delicious wine at a great price.
Bargain Bob was my inspiration when I put this list together: wines that cost $20 or less, whose quality exceeds their price tag.
1. Thurston Wolfe Winery 2015 Zephyr Ridge Vineyard Petite Sirah, Horse Heaven Hills, $20: These first two wines, both from Thurston Wolfe Winery, are so good, they made last week’s list of my favorite 25 wines, regardless of price. Petite sirah is one of my favorites, and this one features a Northwest style not as domineering as those from Napa/Sonoma. This is a great wine, and a great deal.
2. Thurston Wolfe Winery 2018 Albariño, Yakima Valley, $18: This Spanish variety features aromas of apples, lemon zest, orange blossoms and spices, backed by bright acidity. Albariño grows well in Washington, and has become more popular recently with the state’s winemakers. This is a perfect wine for crabcakes.
3. Chateau Ste. Michelle 2017 Dry Riesling, Columbia Valley, $10: Of the Woodinville giant’s many rieslings, this is among the most interesting, thanks to bright flavors of peach and Honeycrisp apple. This dry, Mosel-like example will become really interesting with time in your cellar.
4. Thurston Wolfe Winery 2018 PGV (pinot gris and viognier) White Blend, Columbia Valley, $15: Owner/winemaker Wade Wolfe crafts this delicious blend annually, pairing pinot gris to add acidity and body to viognier. This is a brisk, delicious white. Pair with pasta in a white sauce, grilled fish or baked chicken.
5. Airfield Estates 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Yakima Valley, $15: A deliciously crisp example of this white from a Prosser winery. With aromas of butterscotch, pear and honeydew melon, this will pair beautifully with chicken, halibut, fish and chips, or veggie pizza.
6. Barnard Griffin 2018 Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $14: Arguably among the best pink wines on the West Coast, this rosé from a top Richland winery is loaded with aromas and flavors of cranberry, fresh strawberry and bright cherries. A lively wine with bright flavors backed with luscious acidity.
7. Williamson Orchards & Vineyards 2017 Dry Riesling, Snake River Valley, $12: Crafted by winemaker Greg Koenig, this remarkable dry riesling is loaded with aromas and flavors of ripe pear, melon and crisp apple. Pair it with sweet potatoes, grilled fish, curried dishes and roasted root veggies.
8. 14 Hands Winery 2016 Limited Release Kentucky Derby Red Blend, Columbia Valley, $12: This Bordeaux-style blend is a bold red with notes of plum, black licorice, vanilla and spice, backed with firm tannins. Perfect with grilled meats.
9. Jones of Washington 2018 Rosé of Syrah, Ancient Lakes of the Columbia Valley, $14: A richly structured, deeply flavored pink from a top Columbia Basin winery, this is loaded with flavors of Rainier cherries, fresh strawberries, hints of red currants and just a kiss of sweetness.
10. Kiona Vineyards 2018 Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley, $15: A stylish white made from some of the original Red Mountain vines, this reveals notes of pear, green apple, melon and honey, all backed by bright acidity.
11. Prayers of Sinners & Saints 2017 Red Blend, Columbia Valley, $12: This playful wine (complete with a glow-in-the-dark label) from Ste. Michelle is a blend of syrah and merlot, resulting in a brooding red wine with smoky flavors of plum and dark chocolate, backed with smooth tannins and bright acidity. Priced for case purchase and delicious enough to be your house red.
12. Milbrandt Vineyards 2018 Riesling, Ancient Lakes, $13: This crisp white from a cool corner of the Columbia Valley is luscious, with notes of minerality, pear, apple and melon. Pair with roasted vegetables, fish or grilled sausage.
13. Ryan Patrick 2017 Naked Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $12: “Naked” typically refers to a chardonnay made without oak, rather than the state of the winemaker’s undress during the process. For wine lovers seeking purity of fruit, a “naked” wine can be wonderful, with this example revealing fresh pear, orange rind, lime and white flowers, all backed with unadulterated acidity and unclouded by oak.
14. Jones of Washington 2017 Riesling, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $10: This riesling from the Ancient Lakes might be among the most interesting in Washington because it is such a cool region.
15. Barnard Griffin 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $17: A great red at a nice price. Tastes like a $40 red, loaded with flavors of black currants, ripe plum and black licorice, all backed by supple, approachable tannins.
16. Pacific Rim and Company 2016 Dry Riesling, Columbia Valley, $12: This riesling specialist near Red Mountain crafts this dry-style wine that has a perfect balance. Aromas of green apple and Asian pear give way to balanced flavors to pair with grilled halibut, vegetable stew and roasted vegetables. A delicious example that will age beautifully.
17. Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2017 Private Reserve Dry Riesling, Okanagan Valley, $14: Among my favorite wines in the Northwest, this riesling from north of the border is perfectly balanced and loaded with delicate flavors backed with juicy acidity. I expect this to be spectacular in a decade, if I have the willpower to wait.
18. Columbia Crest 2017 Grand Estates Syrah, Columbia Valley, $12: I love Washington syrah, and the folks at Columbia Crest wielded their magic wand to craft an example that competes with Australia on quality and price.
19. Nine Hats Wines 2018 Julia’s Dazzle Rosé, Columbia Valley, $18: We tend to think of pinot gris as a white grape, but it does have a tint of red that makes the resulting wine a bit pink. This sister label for Long Shadows turns it into a delicious and affordable rosé packaged in a cool bowling pin bottle.
20. Maryhill Winery 2016 Zinfandel, Columbia Valley, $16: This Washington giant crafts a zin that competes with the best of Sonoma County at a nice price. Flavors of cherry, strawberry and cranberry are backed by lip-smacking acidity.
21. Skagit Crest Vineyard & Winery 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Puget Sound, $16: This delicious pink wine uses estate grapes from Sedro-Woolley. Aromas of cherries, raspberries and spices are backed with ample acidity.
22. College Cellars of Walla Walla 2012 Clark Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Walla Walla Valley, $12: The grapes come from a vineyard at the Walla Walla airport named to honor the late Washington wine legend Stan Clark. The resulting wine is loaded with aromas and flavors of kiwi, melon and dried pineapple, all backed with great acidity.
23. Naches Heights Vineyard 2012 Riesling, Naches Heights, $13: This grape-growing region near Yakima has proved to be a great spot for riesling, and this example holds that opinion true, thanks to notes of apple, tropical fruit and spiciness, all backed with impressive acidity.
24. Thurston Wolfe Winery 2010 Touriga Naçional Port, Yakima Valley, $16: A delicious dessert wine made with a traditional Portuguese grape. Loaded with flavors, this is perfect with blue cheeses. This comes in a half-bottle.
25.Snoqualmie Vineyards 2012 Winemaker’s Select Riesling, Columbia Valley, $8: A delicious white on the sweeter side, this is the kind of wine found in the Yakima Valley 20 years ago. Perfect with Indian and Thai dishes.