★ ★ ★Exceptional ★ ★Excellent ★Very Good
Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be sold at additional stores. Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.
This week’s picks include a lovely pinot noir from California’s Santa Cruz Mountains, a Bordeaux-style red from Long Island, two Riojas that demonstrate modern and traditional styles, and a quirky blend from Calabria in southern Italy.
★ ★ ★
Santa Cruz Mountains, Calif., $33
It took me a while to like this wine, which started off tart, almost sour, as though it didn’t approve of me. But then the fruit softened into a velvety cherry flavor that lingered and caressed my palate. In weight and structure it resembles a lighter Burgundy, such as a Savigny-lès-Beaune. I suggest decanting this an hour before drinking, to allow it to get comfortable. Alcohol by volume: 13.9 percent.
The Spanish Wine Importer: On the list in the District at Del Campo, Tel’Veh Cafe & Wine Bar. Available in Virginia at Bottle Stop in Occoquan, Opera House Gifts & Gourmet in Manassas, Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, Solare Wine Room in Purcellville, Swirl & Sip in Fairfax, Tastings of Charlottesville, the Vineyard in McLean, Vino Market in Midlothian, Winestyles in Montclair.
★ ★ ★
Long Island, N.Y., $30
This stylish red blend from one of Long Island’s pioneering wineries combines American flair with European sensibilities — by which I mean there is ripe fruit with medium body and good acidity to leave your palate refreshed for the next sip. The slightly provocative label is another American touch. ABV: 13 percent.
Siema: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Glen’s Garden Market; on the list at 1789, Oya, Teddy & the Bully Bar. Available in Virginia at Foods of All Nations in Charlottesville, Little Washington Winery, the Whole Ox in The Plains, Wine Cabinet in Reston; on the list at Fleurie in Charlottesville.
★ ★ 1 / 2
Calabria, Italy, $14
I love this type of wine, a blend of unusual grapes from an unheralded wine region, offering impeccable flavor and balance that tastes more expensive than it costs. For those keeping track of the grape varieties they’ve sampled, this includes four grapes indigenous to Calabria, in southern Italy: gaglioppo, greco nero, nerello cappuccio and magliocco canino, with a sploosh of the familiar sangiovese thrown in for good measure. The result is a somewhat spicy wine with dried sour-cherry flavors and a hint of deep forest. Worth stocking up on for your late-summer cookouts. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Siema: Available in the District at A. Litteri, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, DCanter; on the list at Al Tiramisu, Iron Gate, Lupo Verde, the Partisan, Two Amys. Available in Maryland at Gemelli Italian Market in Gaithersburg, Old Town Market in Kensington, Perfect Pour in Elkridge; on the list at Liberatore’s Timonium, Pacci’s Pizzeria and Pacci’s Trattoria in Silver Spring, Pazo in Baltimore, Pizzeria da Marco in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (Alexandria), Clifton Wine Shop, Foods of all Nations and Market Street Wineshop in Charlottesville, Grapevine in Warrenton, Little Washington Winery, Norm’s Beer & Wine in Vienna, Swirl & Sip in Fairfax, Vintage Wines in Harrisonburg, the Whole Ox in The Plains; on the list at Assaggi Osteria in McLean, Café Rustica in Richmond, Mona Lisa Pasta & Pizza in Charlottesville, Tallula in Arlington.
Rioja, Spain, $19
A blend of tempranillo with a bit of garnacha, it’s clean and modern in style, with polished fruit and nice oak treatment from French and American barrels. ABV: 14 percent.
Kysela: Available in the District at Circle Wine & Liquor; on the list at Crane & Turtle. Available in Maryland at Cafe Liquor and Halfway Liquors in Hagerstown; Dj Liquors, Orion Wine & Spirits, Riverside Liquors and Ye Olde Spirit Shop in Frederick; McHenry Beverage Shoppe and Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Aldie Peddler, Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Foods of All Nations in Charlottesville, Kroger (Charlottesville, Henrico, Mechanicsville), Locke Modern Country Store in Millwood; on the list at Fire Works Pizza in Arlington, Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg, Magnolias at the Mill in Purcellville.
Rioja, Spain, $9
Here’s a lovely, quaffable red that won’t break the bank. It is just a tad rustic, with earthy tones to its straightforward fruit. Try it with burgers or sausage from the grill. It’s new to the market, so more stores should be stocking it soon. ABV: 13.5 percent.
M Touton: Available in the District at Capitol Hill Wine and Spirits, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits. Available in Maryland at Castle’s Liquors in Mount Airy, Old Farm Liquors and Riverside Liquors in Frederick, the Liquor Store and the Wine Shoppe in Waldorf. Available in Virginia at Chain Bridge Cellars and the Vineyard in McLean.