7 Northwest red wines under $15 made for picnic weather

Last week, we wrote about value white wines to enjoy as spring transitions into summer here in the Pacific Northwest. This week, we take a look at value reds.

Finding reds in the Pacific Northwest that retail for $15 and under has become a little bit more difficult in recent years, but it can still be done.

Here’s a look at seven value reds from the Northwest that we’ve tasted in the past couple of months. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.

Ginkgo Forest Winery 2010 Ginkgo Red, Wahluke Slope, $15: Wahluke Slope grower/winemaker Mike Thiede blends and prices this cabernet sauvignon, syrah and merlot to move quickly through his Old Town Tacoma tasting room. It accounts for about 25 percent of his annual total case production. The nose hints at crushed red currant, pie cherry, Marionberry and cherry SweeTart, joined by notes of barrel spice and cedar. There’s a smooth entry leading with cherries and currants with bright acidity and a raspberry finish, making it an easy drink that Thiede pairs with blue cheese.

Kiona Vineyards Winery 2011 Lemberger, Red Mountain, $15: A red wine of this quality from Red Mountain at this price? For decades, the Williams family has been using its delicious lemberger to help white wine drinkers transition into the world of red wine consumption. Fascinating aromas include Bing cherry, dark plums, lilac and horehound. Inside are enjoyable flavors of dark cherry and cranberry with ample acidity and a pinch of black pepper.

Farm Boy Wines 2011 Bunk House Red, Columbia Valley, $15: This entry-level brand by Robert Smasne continues to deliver bang for the buck. His wide-ranging blend of tempranillo, mourvèdre, malbec, zinfandel, syrah and grenache offers a nose of plum, Marionberry and blueberry with hints of cinnamon bark and dark cherry. There’s an amazing level of integration to the easy-drinking notes of black currant, red cherry and dark chocolate. An undertone of graphite leads into the rewarding acidity and tannin.

Sharecropper’s Wine Co. 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $15: David O’Reilly’s ever-growing Sharecropper’s Wine Co. brand produces a delicious cabernet sauvignon from the Yakima Valley that’s priced for everyday consumption. Aromas of Bing cherry, fresh strawberry and plum pick up hints of milk chocolate and earthiness. Inside is a friendly, entry-level cab that’s rich, fresh and fruity with dark plum and boysenberry flavors backed by supple tannins.

Columbia Winery NV Composition, Columbia Valley, $14: This is a stunning blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah. There’s a greeting from aromas of strawberry candy, plum, violets, lilac, cocoa powder and vanilla. On the attack, it’s a bold presentation of strawberry and cherry with good richness on the entry. The medium structure of tannins leads to a lingering finish of milk chocolate. Suggested pairings by the Woodinville winery’s culinary team include duck, lamb or ratatouille.

Charles &Charles 2012 Post No. 35 Cabernet Sauvignon &Syrah, Columbia Valley, $14: This combination of cabernet sauvignon and syrah opens with aromas of black cherry, boysenberry, chocolate and vanilla, while the palate seems to allow the syrah to take the lead with dark plums and boysenberry. Acidity pushes ahead of tannin, while oak influences of dark chocolate and vanilla make for a lingering finish.

Sawtooth Winery 2011 Vineyard Select Skyline Red, Snake River Valley, $13: This longtime Idaho winery continues to produce delicious wines at affordable prices. The blend is built with Bordeaux varieties, but it gets a significant boost from syrah. It opens with aromas of cherry pie filling, vanilla, espresso and milk chocolate, but there’s also a pinch of crushed herbs and celery salt. The rich drink brings hints of sweet cherry and black currant. The dab of residual sugar doesn’t keep it from serving as a pleasant greeting after a rough day at the office.

Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company. Listen in on their weekly podcast at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.

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