Ten more killer wines for less than 20 bucks

  • By Jeff Wicklund Special to The Herald
  • Thursday, January 17, 2008 4:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

I was flooded with requests for wines I reviewed in the last column, Wick’s Picks top 20 under $20 (first 10), and I’d like to apologize for not including distributor contact information with the wines reviewed.

As always, I enjoy seeking out lesser-known, smaller-production boutique wines to showcase, as I believe the large conglomerate wineries receive plenty of attention.

But that isn’t to say there aren’t nice wines being produced by many big producers. Perhaps in the next installment of the Top 20 under $20 we’ll focus entirely on my opinion of the best (and easiest to find) mega-production, grocery-store-available, refinery-winery wines.

Included with this column are the distributors and contact info for the wines reviewed previously, and I’m also adding distributors in this second part.

Speaking of which, here they are:

Fleur de California 2005 Chardonnay $10 (Cordon Selections, 206-264-9594)

Although the focus of this winery is on pinot noir, this French-style chardonnay is delightful. You don’t have to spend a great deal of money to drink a good chardonnay. Every once in a while I taste a chardonnay that makes me stop and shout, “Yes!” This is one of those wines.

It offers an exotic nose of pineapples, lime and creme brulee. Don’t think this is going to be a wine without structure. The wine delivers a mouthfeel that is succulent, but with a bright acidity. This is a gorgeous wine for $10.

Fauna 2005 Sauvignon Blanc $10 (Cavatappi Distributors, 206-282-5226)

New Zealand has long been famed for its stunning, unspoiled landscape. Equal to the international acclaim for its beauty is that for its fine wines. Fauna Sauvignon Blanc displays those classic Marlborough characteristics — crisp aromas and flavors of tropical fruits and lime. This light straw wine presents with aromas of gooseberries, citrus and lime. Lean and refreshing, the straightforward fruit offers lime and light grassy notes.

Goose Ridge 2006 Pinot Gris $13 (Noble Wines, 206-326-5274)

This Washington pinot gris is zippy and crisp with balanced acidity, fruit and silky sweetness. Fresh and lively, this wine has a complex array of tropical fruit, pear and honey flavors enhanced by aromas of orange blossom, peach and citrus.

Primo Estate 2006 “La Biondina” Colombard $17 (Cavatappi)

This Australian 100 percent colombard is racy and mouth-watering good. The wine is named La Biondina, or young blond, for its consistent vibrancy, youthful zest and propensity to strut its stuff. Pineapple and passionfruit characters are there in bulk with elements of lemon zest, melon, herbs, musk, guava, banana — and the list goes on.

La Zerba 2005 Gavi $18 (Cascade Trade, 206-223-0410)

This is truly exceptional Gavi from the best Gavi-growing region in the northern Italian region of Piemonte. Gavi is made primarily from the grape Cortese and appears to be indigenous to this area. At its best, Gavi is fruity and aromatic, occasionally with mineral notes and a tangy, citric finish. La Zerba is all of this and adds complex flavors of ripe apple, almonds and a subtle mineral flintiness. The finish is long and memorable.

Bodegas Nekeas 2006 Vega Sindoa $8 (Elliott Bay Distributors, 206-935-9453)

This tempranillo-merlot blend from the Navarra region of Spain has bright flavors of plum, black cherry and spice that swirl around this medium-bodied red with a silky ease.

Woop Woop 2006 Shiraz $10 (Epicurean Wines, 206-923-1376)

I showcased the Woop Woop verdelho in the previous column and this juicy Aussie shiraz just can’t be ignored, either. This 100 percent shiraz from South Australia sees some oak, a small amount of which is new wood. (New barrels impart more flavor than those that have been used before.) Notes of flowers, black currants, licorice and tar are discernible, but the emphasis is on oodles of up-front fruit, an opulent burst of flavors, sweet tannin and a lush, heady mid-palate and finish.

Bogle 2005 2005 Old Vine Zinfandel $13 (Noble Wines, 206-326-5274)

Head-trained, dry farmed old vines are again the source for Bogle’s Old Vine Zinfandel. These gnarly old vines produce concentrated fruit of unsurpassed quality and intensity. This supple and mouth-filling vintage leads with juicy blueberry and ripe blackberry fruit. Black pepper and hints of chocolate notes integrate well with this soft, plush body. Subtle hints of spicy oak and pipe tobacco create structure, allowing this wine to stand up to a variety of fare.

Michael &David 2005 “7 Deadly Zins” $18 (Young’s Columbia Distributors, 425-235-2689)

A blend of seven old vine zins from seven of Lodi’s best growers. As you might imagine, this is ripe and rich with lots of spice — quite a bargain at this price. Soft, supple pepper and licorice-clove notes merge into a sinful marriage of deep, brambly blackberries and lustful cherries. The finish is clean on the palate with hints of rich vanilla, cocoa and mild tannins.

Ash Hollow 2005 “Nine Mile” Red Blend $19.99 (Unique Distributors, 425-255-8646)

Named in honor of the hill upon which the first Ash Hollow vineyard sits, this beautiful blend of 68 percent cabernet sauvignon and 32 percent Merlot is full of earthy scents, the most noticeable being smoked cedar, cocoa and wild rose. This earthiness continues on the palate with cocoa, leather and tobacco, along with wonderfully dark and lush Northwest fruits. Well-proportioned balance and body build to a delicate tannic finish that is both smooth and bright with subtle notes of blueberry and pine. Enjoy with Tuesday night spaghetti.

Jeff Wicklund can be reached at 425-737-2600, 360-756-0422 or wick@purplesmilewines.com.

Last week’s wines

  • Las Brisas Blanc 2006: Elliott Bay Distributors, 206-935-9463
  • Woop Woop 2006 Verdelho: Epicurean Wines, 206-923- 1376
  • 14 Hands 2005 Chardonnay: Sound Distributors, 425-252-6100
  • Barnard Griffin 2006 Semillon: Noble Wines, 206-326-5274
  • Ferrari Carano 2006 Fume Blanc: Young’s Columbia, 425-235-2689
  • Apaltagua 2005 Pinot Noir: Cascade Trade Imports, 206-223-0410
  • Altos las Hormigas 2006 Malbec: Elliott Bay Distributors, 206-935-9463
  • Castle Rock 2005 Petite Sirah: Elliott Bay Distributors
  • Tamarack 2005 “Firehouse Red”: Noble Wines, 206-326-5274
  • A to Z 2006 Pinot Noir: Cavatappi Distributors, 206-282-5226

    I might also mention that you can take this info to any wine specialist at a grocery store or to any specialty wine retailer and they should be able to assist in acquiring these wines.

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