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Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.
Here are my monthly recommendations of bargain wines that overperform for the price. They include two inexpensive sparklers for parents who want to celebrate the beginning of the school year. Just like the grandest occasions, life’s minor victories deserve bubbles.
Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Terrific for the price, this is arguably the best bargain cabernet from California. It offers cab’s archetypal blackberry and currant flavors and just enough oak influence to give it a hint of sophistication without overpowering the fruit. It is also widely available, a bonus.
Bacchus in the District and Maryland, RNDC in Virginia: Widely available in the District, including at Ace Beverage, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Magruder’s, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Pearson’s, Rodman’s. Widely available in Maryland, including at Bin 604 Wine Sellers, Eddie’s Liquors, Old Vine, Wells Discount Liquors and White Marsh Plaza Liquors in Baltimore; Calvert Discount Liquors in Cockeysville; Corridor Wine & Spirits in Laurel; Eastport Liquors in Annapolis; Pine Orchard Wine in Ellicott City; State Line Liquors in Elkton. Widely available in Virginia, including at various Cost Plus, Total Wine & More, Wegmans and Whole Foods Market locations.
Veneto, Italy, $15
This lively prosecco shows bright red-currant fruit flavors and a perky bead of bubbles to tickle the palate. It’s a fine refresher to start a meal.
M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Best D.C. Supermarket, Harry’s Reserve Fine Wine & Spirits. Available in Maryland at Columbia Palace Wine & Spirits in Columbia; Frederick Wine House, Old Farm Liquors and Viniferous in Frederick.
Dernius Cava Brut
★1 / 2
Penedes, Spain, $9
It’s fun, it’s bubbly and it’s ideal for daily celebrations, balancing soft fruit with refreshing acidity and a touch of sweetness. Best of all, it’s inexpensive and won’t give you headaches (at least, the first bottle won’t).
Dionysus: Available in the District at A. Litteri, Batch 13, De Vinos, D’Vines, Rodman’s, Wagshal’s Market; on the list at Brasserie Beck. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage and Cork & Fork in Bethesda, Chesapeake Wine Co. in Baltimore, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia, Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring, Wine Cellars of Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Unwined in Alexandria and Belleview, Whole Foods Market in Alexandria.
Duxinaro Pinot Noir 2009
★1 / 2
Monterey County, Calif., $13
Usually I’m leery of wines with too-cute names, and it took me a few minutes to figure this one out. (Emphasize the first syllable.) If it smells like a pinot and it tastes like a pinot, it must be a pinot. And it’s actually a rather good one, a simple, tasty wine that is not trying to be something else (like syrah).
M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Capital Fine Wines & Spirits, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Harry’s Reserve Fine Wine & Spirits, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Rodman’s, Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits. Available in Maryland at Eastport Liquors in Annapolis; Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold; Hillcrest Beer, Wine & Spirits and Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Nick’s of Clinton in Waldorf; Patuxent Wine & Spirits in Lusby; River Falls Seafood Market in Potomac; Rosewick Wine & Spirits in La Plata; Wine & Liquor Depot in Brandywine.
Girardet 14 Vines, 2009
★1 / 2
Umpqua Valley, Ore., $15
Here’s one of those quirky wines that appeal to consumers who don’t approach the drink with preconceptions about what wine should taste like or score it on a 100-point scale. It’s a “field blend” of varieties that are not specified on the label, though because it’s from Oregon, one suspects pinot noir is prominent in the mix. It has a pinot-like lightness that carries through from aroma to finish, but there’s also some wood spice and earthiness from the other grape varieties. The result is a medium-bodied, aromatic wine that is enjoyable by itself or with uncomplicated dishes.
Siema: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits; on the list at Cities, Graffiato, Jack Rose Dining Saloon, Oya, Smith Commons, Sonoma. Available in Maryland at Capital Beer & Wine in Bethesda, Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring, Frederick Wine House, World Gourmet Wine & Beer in Potomac; on the list at Agrodolce in Germantown, Sushi Damo in Rockville. Available in Virginia at Virginia Wine Experience in Fredericksburg, Wine Cabinet in Reston; on the list at Boulevard Woodgrill in Arlington, Iris Lounge in McLean, Piero’s Corner in Fairfax.
Terre d’Aleramo Barbera 2010
Piedmont, Italy, $9
This is a delightful little bargain: simple, fruity and lacking any of the pretension typical of wines from Piemonte, the noble region of Barbera and Barolo in northwestern Italy. It’s an everyday style of table wine, a perfect partner for a weekday dinner tossed together between soccer practice and homework.
Downey: Available in the District at A.M. Wine Shoppe, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Cork Market, D’Vines, Mayfair Liquors, P&C Market, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Prego Again, Rodman’s, Sheffield Wine & Liquor Shoppe. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and the Italian Store in Arlington; Cheesetique in Alexandria and Arlington; Fern Street Gourmet, Grape + Bean and Society Fair in Alexandria; Leesburg Vintner; Red, White & Bleu in Falls Church; Vineyard Table in Herndon.