I have recently had the opportunity to try some value Reds from Washington. These are all wines priced at 15 dollars and under that you can easily pick up in your local Northwest grocery stores, such as QFC, Fred Meyer or Safeway. The 2012 vintage was a spectacular one in Washington that ended up being the largest crop in the history of Washington winemaking. Washington vintners are overjoyed at what they are tasting after a growing season that tracked very much like 2008, one of the best vintages in memory. Depth of color and flavor in an abundant crop that retained its desired acidity seem to have put a smile on most winemakers’ faces. Pretty much everyone produced good wine in 2012 because of the incredible growing conditions. 2010 and 2011 were relatively cool vintages that presented ripening and moisture challenges, but 2012 had the heat that allowed the vines to ripen normally. Many winemakers think that the ripening also allowed for structure and elegance, due to the combination of cool nights and warm days.
Out of the 15 bucks and under tasting, I was particularly impressed with the 2012 Chateau St. Michelle ‘Indian Wells’ Vineyard Cabernet. The wine had a richness and complexity that I have never seen in any vintage of this wine. It is truly the rockstar out of the 15 bucks and under category and can be readily found at Costco or area grocery stores. Another strong performer was the 2012 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet. This wine was layered and rich as well – and was probably the best bargain of the bunch at $9.99 at Costco. These are all wines that are ready to drink now but can also cellar for a few more years.
Here are some of my recommended 2012 Washington Red wines for under 15 dollars.
2012 Chateau St. Michelle 'Indian Wells' Merlot- Plush nose with plum and red cherry with oak. Palate is smooth. Vanilla cherry, plum, blackberry and black olive. Very nice, drink now. -91
2012 Novelty Hill Syrah- Nose has heavy oak with smoked meats, blackberry, and dill. Palate has black cherry, smoked meats, black olive and vanilla. Needs an hour in the decanter to open up. Balanced, drink now. -91
2012 Hogue Cabernet- Candied fruit nose with raspberry, candied cherry and oak. Palate is medium bodied with tile red cherry, raspberry and herbal nodes. Drink now. -88
2012 14 Hands Cabernet-Smoky nose with red bell pepper, dill, blackberry and oak. Palate has candied red cherry, raspberry, plum and dried raisin flavors. A bit heavy handed but tasty. Drink now. -88
2012 Sagelands Cabernet-Red bell pepper and smoked meats with sage and oak on the nose. Palate has medium weight with blackberry, red cherry and raspberry flavors. Would like a bit more depth for the vintage, but an excellent value. -87
2012 Barnard Griffin Cabernet- Violets, oak and blackberry on the nose. Palate has nice minerality with blackberry, black olive, black cherry and anise. Excellent juice for the price. -90
2012 Pendulum- This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Malbec, Grenache, Petit Verdot, and Mourvedre. Stewed strawberry and blackberry on the nose with some oak. Palate has blackberry, anise, plum and Christmas spice. Delicious now and well-balanced. -90
2012 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet- Oak prune and blackberry on the perfumed nose. Palate has raspberry, blackberry, anise and red cherry. Almost guava too. Delicious and ripe. -89
2012 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet-smoke, anise and blackberry on the nose. The palate is polished. Nice richness and mouthfeel with blackberry, mocha and anise.
2012 Chateau St Michelle 'Indian Wells' Cabernet- Nose has anise, smoke and oak. Palate is viscous. Anise, blackberry liqueur, black cherry and a long finish. This is the rockstar out of the 15 and under category. Run to the store and grab a case of this juice. Drink now. -92