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Great Northwest Wine: Finding your wine-buying price threshold

Brian Carter is the owner and winemaker for Brian Carter Cellars in Woodinville, Wash. His Abracadabra red wine is a blend of nearly a dozen grape varieties. (Andy Perdue Great Northwest Wine)
Brian Carter is the owner and winemaker for Brian Carter Cellars in Woodinville, Wash. His Abracadabra red wine is a blend of nearly a dozen grape varieties. (Andy Perdue Great Northwest Wine)
By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue Great Northwest Wine

How much are you willing to spend for a bottle of wine to enjoy tonight? What is your threshold for everyday wine?

For some, $30 is the highest price they’ll pay for a bottle of red for a random evening. For others, it’s $20 – or less.

In the new issue of Wine Press Northwest magazine, we tasted more than 300 red wines priced at $30 and less. Here are a few of our favorite red blends from that tasting. Find the complete results of this tasting at

Robert Karl Cellars 2013 Claret, Horse Heaven Hills, $22: This Spokane winery has been earning gold medals for this wine for more than a decade. It leads with cabernet sauvignon and provides aromas of clove, black pepper and black cherry, followed by big flavors of bittersweet chocolate, pomegranate and a hint of underlying earthiness. (14.5 percent alcohol)

Dunham Cellars 2014 Three Legged Red, Washington, $19: Dunham is based in Walla Walla and has long been known for crafting some of the best wines in Washington. This opens with pleasing aromas of mint, plum, vanilla and blackberry, followed by velvety flavors of Marionberry, gooey brownie and raspberry jam. It’s all backed by harmonious acidity. (13.8 percent alcohol)

Pondera Winery 2011 Salon Series, Horse Heaven Hills, $30: Pondera is based in Woodinville, Wash., and led with Syrah for this luscious red blend. It opens with inviting aromas of oak, dark chocolate, ripe plum and Christmas spices, followed by flavors of dark, rich, ripe fruit. (14.2 percent alcohol)

Brian Carter Cellars 2013 Abracadabra, Columbia Valley, $24: Longtime Washington winemaker Brian Carter blended no fewer than 11 grape varieties, leading with malbec. The result is a complex red with aromas of dusty minerality, cocoa powder and plum, followed by big, dark, focused blackberry and ripe raspberry. Layers of spice reveal themselves on the finish. (13.8 percent alcohol)

Thurston Wolfe 2013 D.R. Wolfe’s Family Red, Columbia Valley, $16: Wade Wolfe is one of Washington’s great winemakers, and he expertly blended zinfandel, petite sirah, lemberger and syrah to craft a racy and approachable red. It opens with complex notes of blackberry, vanilla and caramel, followed by flavors of blackberry pie and plum. (14.5 percent alcohol)

Jones of Washington 2012 Barrel Select Red Blend, Wahluke Slope, $30: Victor Palencia crafted this blend using cabernet sauvignon, carménère and syrah, and the combination works beautifully. It opens with aromas of black currant, black cherry and blueberry, followed by well-balanced flavors of ripe dark fruit. (14.2 percent alcohol)

Convergence Zone Cellars 2013 Squall Line, Red Mountain, $29: Scott Greenberg is the man behind this Woodinville winery. For this Bordeaux-style blend, he leans heavily on cabernet sauvignon, and it offers aromas of strawberry, cherry and cocoa powder, followed by flavors of cherry cola, bittersweet chocolate, blackberry and a hint of black cherry. (14 percent alcohol)

Wildhaven Winery 2014 Blazing Red, Columbia Valley, $13: This value label for Precept Wine in Seattle leads with cabernet sauvignon followed by syrah to craft this rich, dark red. It provides aromas of raspberry jam, dark chocolate and black currant, followed by gorgeous flavors of cherry cola, strawberry and black tea. (13.8 percent alcohol)

Lost River Winery 2013 Western Red, Columbia Valley, $18: Winemaker John Morgan crafted this Right Bank-style blend from merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. It unveils aromas of sweet herbs, red cherry and pomegranate, followed by flavors of milk chocolate and blackberry. (14.5 percent alcohol)

Lodmell Cellars NV Sublime, Columbia Valley, $28: Walla Walla winemaker Kristie Lodmell led with merlot for this Bordeaux-style blend. It offers aromas of sweet blueberry, light toffee and black tea, followed by flavors of Bing cherry, huckleberry and black currant. Rich acidity and plush tannins shape this wine into a delicious and approachable red. (15.2 percent alcohol)

Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, an award-winning news and information company. Learn more about wine at

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