5 wines for making memories

Recommendations

★ ★ ★Exceptional  ★ ★Excellent ★Very Good

Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be available at additional stores. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

Here are wines you’ll find memorable for either their sheer quality or their tremendous value.

Andrea Oberto Barolo 2009

VIENNA, VA, JANUARY 9, 2013: Winter salad of shaved cucumber, radish and endive with lemon vinaigrette. Dishware courtesy of Crate & Barrel. (Photo by ASTRID RIECKEN For The Washington Post)

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★ ★ ★

Piemonte, Italy, $60

This one is supple and rich, like a comfy couch you can sink into. Blackberry fruit shines through the middle of the wine, yielding to an appealing earthiness characteristic of the nebbiolo grape. Give it an hour or two in a decanter before dinner. Alcohol by volume: 14.5 percent.

Downey Selections: Available in the District at Arrowine & Spirits; on the list at Sorriso. Available in Virginia at Cheesetique (Del Ray, Shirlington).

Paulo Laureano Tinto 2011

★ ★ 1 / 2

Alentejo, Portugal, $10

What a classy little wine: nothing complex, just juicy fun with great balance of acidity and no pretensions of oaky grandeur. This is an outstanding candidate for your “house red” for 2014. Stock up and drink often. ABV: 14 percent.

Dionysus: Available in the District at A. Litteri, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, D’Vines, D’Vinos, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at the Bottle Shop in Potomac, Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, Wells Discount Liquors and Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Arrowine & Cheese and Lebanese Taverna Market in Arlington, Oakton Wine Shop; on the list at Carmello’s Restaurant in Manassas.

Gilles Louvet Mon Pré Carré 2012

★ ★

Languedoc, France, $14

This is a fruity wine made in a carbonic maceration style — similar to Beaujolais but from the marselan grape, a cross of cabernet sauvignon and grenache. Underneath that flirtatious fruit is a hint of earth and a saline minerality that gives the wine structure. ABV: 13 percent.

M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Capitol Hill Wine and Spirits, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor. Available in Maryland at Bethesda Co-op in Cabin John, the Bottle Shop in Potomac, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; on the list at Busboys and Poets in Hyattsville, Middletown Tavern in Annapolis. Available in Virginia at the Vineyard in McLean, the Wine Cellar in Staunton.

Tierra Divina Reds: A Wine for the People 2011

1 / 2

Lodi, Calif., $13

A juicy red blend from old-vine lots of zinfandel, carignane and petite sirah, it comes to us from Patrick Campbell of Laurel Glen fame. The oak treatment is a bit heavy for a wine of modest ambitions, but the fruit is excellent, making the wine a good foil for burgers, pizza or steaks. ABV: 13.5 percent.

Country Vintner: Available in the District at D’Vines, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Rodman’s, Yes! Organic Markets (various locations); on the list at Lincoln. Available in Maryland at Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda, Rodman’s (Wheaton, White Flint), Roundabout Wine and Spirits in Laurel. Available in Virginia at Total Wine & More (McLean, Springfield).

Orange River Cellars Star Tree Brut

1 / 2

South Africa, $10

Here’s an outstanding bargain sparkling wine, made from chenin blanc, a white wine specialty of South Africa. Don’t look for profundity, just fun. If you’re on a tight budget this holiday season, it’s an excellent choice for brightening your celebration. ABV: 12 percent.

J.W. Sieg: On the list in the District at Bistrot Lepic, Bourbon Steak, the Pig, Sax, Spices, Tash. Available in Maryland at the Bottle Shop and World Gourmet Wine & Beer in Potomac, Georgetown Wine and Beer in Bethesda, Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring, Village Fine Beer & Wine in Rockville. Available in Virginia at Ashburn Wine Shop, Oakton Wine Shop, Out of Site Wines in Vienna, River Market in White Stone, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), Wine House in Fairfax, Vinosity in Culpeper, Total Wine & More (various locations).  

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