In good times and bad, everyone wants the best wine for their money, which is why we like to bring you a few favorite new bargains on occasion.
In the past few months, we have tasted more than 500 Northwest wines under blind conditions, meaning we didn't know who made them or how much they cost. Of those, nearly 100 were priced at $15 and under, and more than a third of those were reds.
These are among the best of the bargains we sorted through, and they taste like they should cost at least twice what you will pay at your favorite wine merchant -- and that makes them an even better bargain. All are priced for everyday quaffing, so load up on these to enjoy as temperatures grow cooler.
Boomtown 2008 syrah, Washington, $15: The nose brings in hints of boysenberry, bacon, chocolate, mince meat, fresh-cut cedar and a nice spice blend of black pepper, anise and allspice. On the palate, it's loaded with Marionberry, boysenberry and blackberry jam, followed by lots of chocolate. Bright acidity steers this toward a plate of barbecued ribs.
Pine & Post NV Red, Washington, $6: This blend leads with syrah (73 percent), followed by cabernet franc, lemberger and sangiovese. It opens with aromas of boysenberries over vanilla ice cream, as well as Marionberries, blackberries and Cocoa Krispies. On the palate, this is a deliciously ripe wine without being sweet. Lively acidity backs up flavors of boysenberries and black cherries, and we were even reminded of Milk Duds in the finish.
StoneCap Wines 2010 Estate cabernet sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $8: Aromas of chocolate, cherry, smoke bacon and charred oak evolve into juicy flavors of boysenberry and huckleberry. It's an easy drink as the fruit shows from beginning to end, capped by more cherries and chocolate. The tannins are easy.
Ridge Crest 2008 cabernet sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $10: This opens with classic aromas of black and herbal teas, black currants, dark cherries and mint, followed by rich, delicious flavors of black cherries, cassis liqueur, chocolate and cranberries. It's a big wine all the way around, with bold flavors backed up with plenty of acidity and bold tannins. Pair this with grilled meats, pizza or casseroles.
Magnificent Wine Co. 2009 Steak House cabernet sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $10: This opens with aromas of plum, black cherry and inviting dark chocolate. A bit of tannin grips the front of the palate but gives way to mouthcoating flavors of plum, chocolate, cherry and ripe fig.
Flying Fish 2009 merlot, Columbia Valley, $14: This delicious wine opens with aromas of blueberry syrup, raspberries, leather and minerality, followed by bright flavors of cranberries, blueberries and black tea, all backed up with smooth tannins.
Powers Winery 2008 cabernet sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $14: Kick-started with scents of sticking your nose in a bag of Craisins, this is followed by fresh Red Vines and green peppercorns. Bing cherry and cranberry flavors bring in midpalate acidity of purple blackberries. The firm finish is akin to candied fruit and a cup of orange pekoe tea.
Farm Boy Wine 2009 Red, Columbia Valley, $15: Smoky blueberry, baked plums, cranberry and cedar aromas waft out of this blend of cabernet sauvignon (54 percent), syrah (35 percent) and malbec. The Syrah component makes this especially enjoyable in the mouth with ripe blackberry and boysenberry flavors, backed by rich black cherry and plums. It's balanced by juicy acidity and a thin layer of tannin.
Primarius 2009 pinot noir, Oregon, $15: This is a dandy at a great price. It opens with aromas of ripe Rainier cherries, Dr Pepper, vanilla, raspberries and violets. A tilt of the glass offers flavors of strawberry-rhubarb pie, milk chocolate, loganberries and even Asian pears. Beautifully balanced and nicely textured throughout, this should pair well with veal topped with sautéed wild mushrooms.
*Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman run Great Northwest Wine, a website that provides news and information about the wines of Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho.