John Freeman has entered his second decade as winemaker at Waterbrook Winery in the Walla Walla Valley. (Photo by Richard Duval Images)

John Freeman has entered his second decade as winemaker at Waterbrook Winery in the Walla Walla Valley. (Photo by Richard Duval Images)

Stock up on inexpensive white wines for the holiday season

Northwest Wine experts share some of their favorite whites all available for $15 or less.

As autumn heads toward winter, it is time to think about holiday meals. It’s always good to load up on a few lower-priced bottles to give you room to purchase and serve some higher-priced wines for your Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts.

Here are a few Northwest selections of white wines under $15. Look for them at your grocer, favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.

Mercer Family Vineyards 2017 Chardonnay, Horse Heaven Hills, $13: Jeremy Santo, who grew up in Mercer family’s hometown of Prosser, took over the winemaking for the Mercers with this vintage. His debut with America’s favorite white wine under their new Mercer Family Vineyards label sets the tone in marvelous fashion. Enticing aromas of pear, lemon and apple invite the first sip, which delivers silky flavors of dried banana and pineapple. The texture is creamy, and the perfect acid level keeps it bright and fresh. This merited a gold medal earlier this month at the Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition.

Waterbrook Winery 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, $12: Oasis Vineyard in the Yakima Valley remains a core component for John Freeman’s sauvignon blanc for Waterbrook in Walla Walla. As a result, it’s lemony crisp along the transition from starfruit and spearmint to gala apple and Asian pear in the finish.

Jones of Washington 2016 Pinot Gris, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley $14: Put Victor Palencia in charge of a batch of grapes from Washington’s Ancient Lakes region, and the result is almost certain to be impressive. It opens with aromas of starfruit, minerality and Asian pear, then on the palate combines those elements with a hint of papaya in its finish, plus a touch of white pepper. This was chosen as the best pinot gris at the Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition.

Nine Hats Wines 2017 Riesling, Columbia Valley, $14: Walla Walla winemaker Gilles Nicault worked for years with famed German producer Armin Diel on the Poet’s Leap project for Long Shadows Vintners, and that experience shows in the latest riesling release under Long Shadows’ sister brand named Nine Hats. This is a classic, beautifully done example of riesling. Aromas of peach, pear, lemon and lime come through in a medium-bodied and delectably viscous wine. The finish is long with a touch of gardenia, a combination that earned it a gold medal this fall at the Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition.

Cavatappi Winery 2017 Pinot Grigio, Columbia Valley, $11: Seattle restaurateur/founding winemaker Peter Dow’s tribute to Italy — “cavatappi” translates to wine opener. The Minick family’s Willow Crest Vineyard in the Yakima Valley has served as the source of this bold style of pinot gris that opens with notes of tangerine, baked peach and minerality, then finishes a heavy push of clementine.

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2017 Harvest Select Sweet Riesling, Columbia Valley $9: Bob Bertheau will make riesling any way you want it, from nearly bone-dry to sticky-sweet ice wine. For the 2017 Harvest Select version, he settled on medium-sweet. It’s a delightful drink reminiscent of orange, peach and nectarine that’s polished off with enough acidity to sweep away its residual sugar in irresistible fashion.

Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman operate Great Northwest Wine, an award-winning media company. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.

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