By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Last week, we reviewed several Pacific Northwest red wines priced at $15 or less. This week, we take a look at whites.
With few exceptions, white wines tend to cost less for several reasons. White wine grapes such as Riesling and Chardonnay can be grown in greater quantities. For example, in Washington an acre of Riesling can produce perhaps 6 tons of grapes, while an acre of Cabernet Sauvignon might only produce 2 to 4 tons. Some white wine grapes such as Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc are aged for short periods of time in stainless steel tanks that can be used over and over rather than expensive oak barrels that might be used four years before being discarded.
Here are some delicious whites priced for $15 or less that we’ve tasted in recent weeks:
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2013 Dry Riesling, Columbia Valley, $10: Beautiful and inviting aromas of lychee, mango, pear and lime don’t disappoint. There’s a quick burst of ripe tropical fruit flavors, followed by dried pineapple, Asian pear and Christmas spices. (12.5 percent alcohol)
Latah Creek Wine Cellars 2012 Familigia Vineyards Chardonnay, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $12: Big aromas of tropical fruit, apple and pear, with a hint of ghee and touch of toast lead to flavors of Granny Smith apple, pear and lime, backed by midpalate richness and a good finish of butter with pineapple. (12.5 percent alcohol)
Three Rivers Winery 2013 Riesling, Columbia Valley, $15: Fanciful aromas of Granny Smith apple, lime and dusty minerality give way to flavors of honeyed pear and apricot cobbler, backed by a sprinkle of ground clove and a shot of lime juice to balance the residual sugar of 2.3 percent. (12 percent alcohol)
Mercer Canyons 2012 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $13: This second label for Mercer Estates in Prosser tends to release wines that are terrific in quality and great in price. This is loaded with apple, pear and starfruit aromas and flavors, and backed by lemony acidity. (13.9 percent alcohol)
Jones of Washington 2013 Estate Riesling, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $12: Winemaker Victor Palencia produces a wine with a floral and tropical nose with notes of rosewater, apple, pear and Key lime. The drink is fruity, off-dry and luscious with ripe pear and Granny Smith apple on the entry. A squirt of lime balances the residual sugar (2.2 percent) with hints of mint and passion fruit in the finish. (11.6 percent alcohol)
Wild Meadows Winery 2012 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $11: Aromas of Golden Delicious apple, Asian pear, lemon/lime and jicama lead to flavors of fresh-sliced pear and Gala apple splash around amid a slightly creamy mouth feel prior to the finish of lime-like acidity and dusty minerality. (11.9 percent alcohol)
Snoqualmie Vineyards 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, $8: Last year’s rip-roaring summer allowed winemakers in Washington state to bring in many of their wines earlier than usual. In this case, winemaker Joy Andersen made the call starting Sept. 6, early enough to preserve ample acidity. Thoughts of Granny Smith apple, Asian pear, gooseberry and minerality make up the aromas. Ripe flavors of green apple, pear and lime juice pick up a slight sense of grassiness. (13.5 percent alcohol)
L’Ecole No. 41 2013 Old Vines Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley, $14: Fruity aromas of quince, lime and Jonagold apple are joined by hints of spun sugar and candy corn. On the palate, the presentation is bone dry with apple, starfruit and jicama flavors. In the background are notes of timothy hay and minerality. (13.5 percent alcohol)
Sawtooth Winery 2012 Estate Riesling, Snake River Valley, $12: Aromas of petrol, baked apple, kiwi and lemon. The residual sugar of 2.4 percent takes this down a path akin to late harvest at the start, but there’s plenty of acidity to balance as the flavor profile, which features peach, apricot and lingering lime. (13 percent alcohol)
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.