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Originally published Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 7:08 PM

Wine Adviser

Washington whites with the-livin'-is-easy prices

Washington has reached a point where more than a few producers can and do offer excellent bargains, especially among their white wines and blends. These are most often the wines of choice in summer, especially on warm days when outdoor dining is the rule.

Special to the Seattle Times

Pick of the week

StoneCap 2009 Merlot; $8

A DELICIOUS merlot from StoneCap, the second label of Goose Ridge. First-rate, estate-grown fruit; 80 percent merlot, 15 percent syrah and 5 percent cabernet sauvignon. Like drinking ripe cherries wrapped in silky milk chocolate. (Distributed by Odom-Southern)

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FOR MANY years Washington wines were damned with faint praise by both buyers and some critics. Accused of being good enough, but too pricey, our wines' reputation always seemed to suffer in comparison with other new and emerging wine regions such as Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and even Old World regulars such as Italy and Spain.

In many foreign countries, government subsidies — along with land that has been owned for generations — make low prices possible. Closer to home, California has thousands of acres of grapes that are inflated by excess irrigation and harvested at 12 to 16 tons per acre. That certainly helps keep costs down.

Even without such advantages, Washington has reached a point where more than a few producers can and do offer excellent bargains, especially among their white wines and blends. These are most often the wines of choice in summer.

The recommendations listed here are all current vintages and have been finished in a dry style, except where indicated. Most are widely available. Feel free to chill them and serve them in tumblers or even paper cups; they are the sort of pleasant, no-fuss wines that you'd happily sip in a village cafe while on holiday.

Apex Ascent 2010 Sauvignon Blanc; $11

My personal favorite summer white is sauvignon blanc. This one is complex, crisp and balanced. You'll find flavors of mixed citrus, green apple and fruit rind.

Magnificent Wine Company 2010 Fish House Sauvignon Blanc; $11

Bright fruit flavors of melon and citrus have a lemony snap. This is the sort of wine that goes well with many types of seafood, from oysters on up to halibut steaks.

Three Rivers 2009 Sauvignon Blanc; $16

The price is a bit higher, but the grapes are first rate. You'll taste a mix of sweet herb, lemongrass and citrus, making for a crisp, stylish and smooth-drinking wine.

Willow Crest 2010 Pinot Gris; $10

Spicy and bursting with lime and fresh-cut pear, the estate-grown fruit displays a refreshing minerality.

Maison Bleue 2009 Jaja White; $15

An unusual blend of marsanne, chardonnay and roussanne, this is bright and fruity, with a streak of vanilla.

Waterbrook 2010 Mélange Blanc; $13

A lush blend of riesling, pinot gris, gewurztraminer, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and viognier, it mixes crisp citrus fruit with bright, floral highlights.

Script & Seal 2009 White Blend; $12

This dry, stylish and focused blend is mostly chardonnay, with green apple and melon fruit flavors. The Script & Seal red was a Pick a few weeks ago.

J. Bookwalter 2010 Anecdote Riesling; $15

Intensely fruity, searingly tart, yet rounded out with appealing sweetness. It's a lively and lingering mix of flavors, from grapefruit into pear and apricot.

Trust 2010 Riesling; $16

Trust makes a very fine off-dry riesling that weaves its sweet/tart fruits into scents of melon, citrus and orange peel.

Mercer Estates 2009 Riesling; $14

A delicate wine with a distinctly dry mouthfeel, showing green apple, pear, lemon zest, grapefruit and melon fruit flavors. A hint of lemon tea defines the finish.

Pacific Rim 2010 Sweet Riesling; $10

A sweeter companion to the regular Pacific Rim riesling featured recently in this column, this keeps the alcohol at just 8.5 percent. Though labeled sweet, it tastes off-dry; just tart enough to accompany a main course of poultry or seafood in a fruit sauce.

The revised second edition of Paul Gregutt's "Washington Wines & Wineries" is now in print. His blog is www.paulgregutt.com.

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About Wine Adviser

My column is all about sharing the joy of exploring all the world of wine. I want to guide people to make inspired choices, and encourage them to try as many different styles of wine as they can. I will always seek out the best wines at the best prices. Wine Adviser runs on Sunday in Pacific Northwest Magazine.
paulgwine@me.com

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