Our wine expert’s annual ‘best-of’ list gets better, with a broader reach and a smaller investment.
TWO COMMON COMPLAINTS about my annual lists of Top 50 wines go like this:
1. These wines are too expensive.
2. My favorite wines are missing.
To No. 2, I say: It’s time to explore the world of Pacific Northwest wine beyond your comfort zone.
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To No. 1: We offer a new feature: our top 50 wines under $30. (The “regular” Best-Of list will publish next week.)
Why $30? First, it’s a reasonable amount to spend on a great bottle of wine. Second, it opens the options a bit for a list such as this. Already, we see a number of choices here from producers such as Precept Wine in Seattle and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Woodinville. If I were to lower the budget to, say, $20 a bottle, my list of producers would be considerably less diverse (see complaint No. 2). Face it; that wouldn’t be as much fun.
Tips for getting better deals:
• Buy in bulk. Wineries and merchants often offer discounts for buying a case at a time.
• Look for end-of-vintage sales. When a winery wants to release a new vintage, it sometimes discounts the few cases left of a previous vintage.
• Join the wine club. It commits you to a few bottles per quarter, but also earns you discounts on wines, tasting fees and events — plus the occasional club-only release of a unique wine. If you are a fan, it’s well worth it.
Here are the top 50 wines from the Pacific Northwest that retail for $30 or less:
1. Saviah Cellars 2015 The Jack syrah, Columbia Valley, $18: From Rich Funk, maybe the best winemaker in Walla Walla, this would be a stunning red even if it were twice the price.
2. 14 Hands Winery NV brut, Columbia Valley, $15: This might be the best bubbly on the market. Buy by the case for the holidays.
3. L’Ecole No. 41 2015 Old Vines chenin blanc, Columbia Valley, $15: This should convince…