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Originally published Friday, August 17, 2012 at 11:00 AM

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Bargain blends from premium Washington winemakers

Wine Adviser Paul Gregutt says offering lower-priced blends keeps cash flowing and brings new customers to tasting rooms.

Special to the Seattle Times

Pick of the week

Crossfork Creek 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon; $20

THIS NEW label from Sheridan Vineyard will offer well-priced varietal wines such as this estate-grown cabernet. Pretty baking spices complement the tangy fruits. (Self-distributed by the winery)

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MORE THAN a few super-premium Washington winemakers have found that offering lower-priced blends keeps the cash flowing and brings new customers to their tasting rooms. With a bit of poking around, you can find wines that were often originally intended to be components of the pricier varietal offerings but somehow didn't make the final cut.

By the time they are knocked off center stage they have already been given star treatment in the vineyard, gone through meticulous sorting and fussing during fermentation, and spent some months in fancy French oak barrels.

Now I'm not promising that every wine on this list meets those criteria, but some do. And the rest are going to give you extra pleasure for prices well below their fellow actors.

AlmaTerra 2008 Teres White Wine; about $14. This wine was a revelation recently when it showed up a trio of far more expensive red wines as the perfect companion to a summer-evening meal of pan-grilled pork chops, homegrown red potatoes and broccoli crowns. A southern Rhône blend of viognier, roussanne and marsanne, it's already mature, with a light gold color and hints of sherry in the nose. But the wine opens magnificently in the glass, revealing layer upon layer of flower, fruit, tea and honey flavors. Available through the winery tasting room only.

Renegade Wine Company 2011 Rosé and 2010 Red; about $10. These wines, made by Sleight of Hand's Trey Busch, are among the best $10 wines I've tasted this year. The rosé is especially noteworthy.

Board Track Racer 2011 The Vincent Rosé; about $15. This is a Mark Ryan second label, and brings a mix of melon, peach and stone fruits, with a hint of toast and nougat in the finish. Smooth and lingering with exceptional body.

Board Track Racer 2010 The Vincent Red; about $20. A companion wine, this one is young, tight, tart and peppery with a jumble of berries and brambles. Don't look for too much complexity; just gulp it down for the enjoyable quaffer it is meant to be.

Sheridan Vineyard reserve-level wines have developed such a cult following that they often sell out before they are even released. Recognizing the need to broaden his consumer base, owner/winemaker Scott Greer is offering two lower-priced Sheridan reds as well.

Sheridan Vineyard 2010 Mystique and 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon; $25 each. The Mystique is a merlot-dominated red blend displaying classic Yakima Valley flavors, well-integrated and balanced for medium-term (6 to 8 years) aging. The companion cabernet sauvignon is lush and generous with blackberry fruit and barrel accents of sweet baking spices.

Paul Gregutt's blog is Email:

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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.


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