TNs: Are There Any QPR's In Washington?? Plus a Few Others

I got together with a few folks at my local wine shop, Mills in Annapolis, to taste through some Washington whites and reds to see if there were any values to be had. We also mixed in a few selections for the hell of it. Rather than assign a point score to each, I’ll simply rate them as a “WINNER”, “LOSER” or “PLAYER” (Player is your middle of the road rating) for those wines that are well matched to their price category. Should I include a “DEFINITE” in any of the scores, well then…I feel strongly one way or another. So…are there any QPR’s in the Washington region??

  1. 2011 Charles Smith Eve Chardonnay (unoaked)- $12.99- what this lacked in length it made up for in crispness. Granny Smith apple with some mineral notes. Unfortunately, the mid to back palate was shot. The flavors died off before you could really appreciate the wine. Not a bad showing…just not great. At this price point, though, I’d consider it a borderline “PLAYER”

  2. 2010 Hyatt Vineyards Pinot Gris Rattlesnake Hills- $15.99- Quite the interesting pinot gris as it had both body, mouthfeel and brought with it some sweet melon fruit. Interesting take on the varietal and one I’d likely buy for some summertime enjoyment. I’d almost put this somewhere between a Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. At this price point, “DEFINITE PLAYER”

  3. 2010 Long Shadows Poet’s Leap Riesling- $22.99- This was just way too funky. Strong petrol notes right out of the gate with notes of rubber band and a chalky aftertaste. Just not a well made wine but serviceable in some situations. BUT…at the price point…“DEFINITE LOSER”

  4. 2011 Eroica Riesling- $22.99- this is one of those go to domestic rieslings for those that enjoy fat rich fruit and a creamy mouthfeel without venturing into the sweetness levels of some of the German counterparts. Much like a ripe Kabinett but with some depth and clarity. I’d say it’s a strong representation for it’s price point. “DEFINITE PLAYER”

  5. 2011 Chateau St Michelle Reisling- $11.99- Now this is the QPR in it’s class. It has everything that the Eroica has but a bit more liveliness and crispness to the fruit. Great lift and solid structure. This will please all walks of wino. For the price, “WINNER”

  6. 2011 Charles Smith The Velvet Devil Merlot- $17.99- I’m noticing a pattern amongst some of the Washington reds and it’s not good. In many cases, the fruit seems to be lacking and it’s compensated by a large shot of oak in the way of vanilla extract and milk chocolate. Such is the case here. Completely devoid of length or fruit substance. Oak completely covers over any fruit that might exist. Fine for a party wine but at this price point, “LOSER”

  7. 2009 Roza Ridge Vineyards Rattlesnake Hills Syrah- $15.99- GIANT nose of fresh blueberry pie with burnt sugar crust. Well, this might be a nice little wine for the money. Unfortunately, the promise doesn’t follow through to the palate as it comes off light with little finish. The fruit is there but not in any measurable amount to excite anyone. I’d give it a slight nod on aroma and a slight frown on the palate. “PLAYER”

  8. 2009 Lenore Syrah- $18.99- This also has a decent nose but once again, it fails to follow through on the finish. Comes off a bit “country wine” like for me. Sweet fruit but dominated by vanilla. I’m on the fence but I’d have to say “LOSER” if only for the fact that it’s above the $15 price point.

  9. 2011 Charles Smith Boom Boom Syrah- $21.99- Now this is a much bigger, heftier wine with real fruit weight from the nose to the palate. SLightly superficial given the solid dose of oak. It’s made in the vein of Mollydooker but can certainly act as a crowd pleaser at your next non-wino party. Solid effort at this price point though not a barn burner. “DEFINITE PLAYER”

  10. 2010 Six Prong Red Wine Blend Horse Heaven Hills- $15.99- What can I say other than this was the least exciting or controversial wine of the night. Just not a lot here to talk about. Not bad, not good, not much of anything. Lacking in fruit, weight, mouthfeel and finish but not severely in any department to give it a terrible score. For the money, simply put…“LOSER”

  11. 2008 Long Shadows Nine Hats Red Wine- $27.99- Another unexciting wine that lacks in all departments. Lacks any personality or distinct flavor profile. Short on fruit, depth, finish and backbone. At this price point, “DEFINITE LOSER”

  12. 2009 Desert Wind Ruah Bordeaux Blend- $26.99- Now here’s something to talk about. Dark fruits on the nose. A bit of spice box and caramel notes. The palate shows great depth of well ripened fruit with some a solid backbone of dusty tannins and no notes of being over manufactured or manipulated. Everything seems to be nicely balanced. A nice diamond in the rough. A great QPR and one worth seeking out in the price range. “DEFINITE WINNER”


    Moving on to non Washington wines:

2009 Chateau Labrie St Emilion- $65.99- My second go at this wine in the last few days. This is the type of BDX that is likely to bridge the gap between steadfast Cali cab drinkers and the BDX fan. VERY New World in style with a solid dose of oak adding to the vanillin and ripe red fruit profile. Solid sweet and silky tannins frame out this well made and adventurous merlot. If you don’t mind a slutty BDX…“WINNER”

2009 Canon La Gaffelier- $95.99- I posted on this one a few weeks back. This is a barn burner of a value in BDX. The depth and purity of the fruit and the explosion on the nose makes you think that this would be a $250-300 wine but, alas, it’s sub $100. Simply put, a stunning wine that will only improve with some bottle age. RUN RUN RUN to grab this one. “DEFINITE WINNER”

2010 Shatter Grenache Languedoc (I believe made by Orin Swift)- $27.99- you’d have a hard time convincing me this was made across the pond but it certainly is. This is an ultra ripe grenache and a bruiser at that. Boozy, punchy and lots of heat, this is the Swarzenegger of grenaches fully cocked, locked and loaded. If you like a raspberry liquor, this is your wine. Can’t say it’s poorly made but can’t say it’s in my stylistic range either. But hell, at this price point, it will make people smile…or at least most. “DEFINITE PLAYER”



Funny, CSM Riesling is routinely on sale for $5.99 here in WA.

Interesting to see price points outside WA.

Wow! I’ve never seen it that cheap but MD is on the three tier system.

So are we! [wow.gif]

CMS Riesling is $6-7 in CA, great value and easy to find!

With a case discount it’s usually right around $9-10 here. Guess the difference lies in the high cost of shipping coast to coast.

Nope - it’s between $7-9 in Total Wine in Virginia, depending on which specific riesling of theirs you meant. And for what it’s worth, most of the other prices you mentioned look about $5 higher than I’ve seen for the same wines on this side of the Potomac.

Time for a day trip, maybe?

Enjoyed this report.
For a really solid WA QPR bottle, try out the L’ecole Semillon if you come across it. It’s a lot of wine that speaks to its place for about $15. I think there’s a decently large production level for what is not a huge winery. I see it here and there in Virginia.

Andrew Will just sent out a mailer for their 2008 Two Blondes and Ciel Du Cheval for $27 each. Solid QPRs.

Fyi, Wine Shopper currently has the Eroica for $14.49. If you like it at $22.99…

We sell CSM, but give the Dry Rielsing a shot if you see it, not sure how wide distribution is, should be the same price as regular Riesling.

Mills was recently purchased as the prior ownership was not doing the business any justice (as seen by the pricing). I think you’ll not only find the pricing to be more competitive moving forward but the selection to start getting back to what made Mill’s one of the powerhouses on the East Coast. The new owners seem to be willing to make the substantial investment to reestablish the store. Obviously, I have no affiliation other than being a previous customer and a hopeful future customer should they be able to recreate the selections of old.

I would say that Charles Smith, Long Shadows, and Chateau St. Michelle are not exactly representative of what Washington has to offer. You can find some really great wines that don’t have the national distribution of the ones above. Gifford-Hirlinger, Amavi, and The Jack from Saviah all over deliver for the price, IMHO.

I completely agree. Unfortunately, Maryland can only get what the distributors can offer. I have the likes of Sheridan, Cayuse, QC and others at home but this was more of an “available retail” tasting.

I had to go in for a case of each - outstanding wines. Might be above the ‘effective QPR’ rate, but at slightly over $30 with shipping/tax, couldn’t do much better.

Maison Blueu Jaja - nice QPR

Justin, great notes and loving reading through them. Please be sure to do this again!

I think PB Wines has some excellent QPR for Washington state. It’s the second label for Rasa. I haven’t seen it in Va or DC, but both Gary’s and Shoppers Vineyard carry them and ship down here. Both the Rasa Vineyard Syrah and Kiona Red Mountain from 2008 were good bottles in the $20 range.

  1. Those prices are 50% higher than I would expect to pay.
  2. I wouldn’t buy any of them anyway.
  3. When you get into the $30-$60 range, Washington can provide killer deals compared to California and Bordeaux. Just a few examples are Cadence, Fielding Hills, Januik, Saviah. That’s out of dozens. I have no idea what national distribution is.

P Hickner

We were trying to keep it in the $10-30 range in order to appeal to the general wine drinking market. I agree that once you move to the $30-60 range, you pick up a ton of quality but also lose a larger general audience.