Milbrandt Vineyards Merlot Columbia Valley 2017 $18

Merlot, sometimes and undeservingly, gets a bad rap, but the variety excels in our state, where it shows an intensity and tannic structure that’s rivaled only by Bordeaux wines. This remarkably balanced release, with its red fruit and herb, displays all of that. milbrandtvineyards.com

Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling Columbia Valley 2017 $10

Chateau Ste. Michelle is the world’s largest riesling producer, and its dry, entry-level version is always the best value offering from the state. I have been at blind tastings in rooms full of hundreds of riesling lovers, who burst into applause when this bottle is unveiled. You may rejoice too, with citrus, lime leaf, and green apple. For those wanting something a little sweeter, the winery’s Columbia Valley riesling is just as good. ste-michelle.com

Boomtown by Dusted Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2017 $19

Cabernets under $20 tend to either be overrun with wood flavors or come without the support (tannin, flavor) that aging in real oak barrels provides. But this wine comes full of what you expect from a pricier cab: full bodied, with herb, plum, and cherry on the nose, and cherry and cocoa on the palate. A tannic grip pulls it all together. dustedvalley.com

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