Food & Drink

Northwest Wine: Value whites to enjoy into autumn

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 larger 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 for four years at a time.

Here are some delicious whites priced at $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% alc.)

Latah Creek Wine Cellars 2012 Famiglia Vineyards Chardonnay, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $12: Big aromas of tropical fruit, apple and pear, 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% alc.)

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%. (12% alc.)

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% alc.)

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%) with hints of mint and passion fruit in the finish. (11.6% alc.)

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 amid a slightly creamy mouth feel prior to the finish of lime-like acidity and dusty minerality. (11.9% alc.)

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. 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% alc.)

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% alc.)

Sawtooth Winery 2012 Estate Riesling, Snake River Valley, $12: Aromas of petrol, baked apple, kiwi and lemon. The residual sugar of 2.4% takes this down a path akin to late harvest at the start, but there’s plenty of acidity to balance the flavor profile, which features peach, apricot and lingering lime. (13% alc.)

Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company. Learn more about wine at greatnorthwestwine.com.

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