American bargain bottles

Columnist July 2, 2012

In honor of Independence Day, it seems only natural to recommend American wines that outperform for the price. These range from $9 to $18, including an exceptional California cabernet sauvignon, rivaled by a red blend from New York, a zesty rosé from Virginia and a delightful Riesling from Idaho. Cue the orchestra for “America the Beautiful.”

Dave McIntyre is a wine columnist for The Washington Post. He also blogs at dmwineline.com. View Archive

Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

★★

Paso Robles, Calif., $18

Delicious California cabernets under $20 are hard to find, and this widely available bottling is an ideal candidate for both outdoor cookouts and more formal meals. It shows depth and balance and should age well for four or five years, so stock up if you can. It can often be found for less than the full retail price.

Republic National: Widely available in the District, including Calvert Woodley, Circle Wine & Liquor, various Whole Foods Market locations. Widely available in Virginia, including at World Market, Giant, Safeway, Harris Teeter and Wegmans locations.

Wolffer Estate, Red Letter Red Table Wine 2010

★★ 1/2

Long Island, N.Y., $18

Anyone who says local or regional wine is too expensive should taste this beauty from the leading winery on Long Island’s South Fork. A blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon with a splosh of petit verdot, this wine could fool your friends into thinking it’s a Bordeaux at twice the price. It is not as widely available as the Liberty School, and it’s new to our area, so ask your District retailer to call Winebow and your Virginia store to order from J.W. Sieg. It will be available at the new Batch 13 retail store on 14th Street NW, which is set to open Friday. Wolffer also makes an excellent rosé.

Boxwood Estate Rosé 2011

★★

Virginia, $15

Boxwood is known for its red Bordeaux-style blends and has made a rosé of cabernet franc “bled” off the grapes during fermentation. In 2011, wine maker Adam McTaggart made what I call an “intentional” rosé, picking his malbec grapes early with high acidity and treating them like a white wine, and then blending in some juice siphoned off the other red varieties. The result is the best Boxwood rosé yet and one of the best produced locally.

Distributed by Country Vintner: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, MacArthur Beverages, Potomac Wines & Spirits, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill. Available in Maryland at Bin 201 Wine Sellers in Annapolis, the Tasting Room Wine Bar & Shop in Chevy Chase and National Harbor. Available in Virginia at Butcher’s Block in Alexandria; Grapevine in Warrenton; Home Farm Store in Middleburg; Leesburg Vintner; Locke Modern Country Store in Millwood; Olde Dominion Wine Shoppe in Occoquan.

Sawtooth Winery Riesling 2010

★★

Idaho, $13

The “Summer of Riesling” campaign to champion this grape started last month, and I can’t think of a better example than this beauty from Idaho. It is clean, crisp, fruity and refreshing, with just a hint of sweetness to keep it in balance. Bravo!

Siema: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits; on the list at Oya, Smith Commons, and Vinoteca. Widely available in Maryland, including at Bay Wine & Spirits in North Beach and Colonial Liquors in La Plata; Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold; Montgomery Plaza Liquors in Catonsville; Wine Underground in Baltimore; Old Town Market in Kensington; Pinky & Pepe’s Grape Escape in Gaithersburg. Available in Virginia at Crystal City Wine Shop, Curious Grape and Whole Foods Market in Arlington; Planet Wine & Gourmet, Rick’s Wine & Gourmet and Unwined in Alexandria; Vienna Vintner.

Wicked Good White

★1/2

California, $9

The bottle isn’t vintage dated and it doesn’t tell us what grapes are in the blend. The Web site says the wine is 100 percent chardonnay, though I wouldn’t have thought that; it tastes like one of those quirky, delicious blends of various grapes that still haven’t been ripped out for more profitable varieties. In other words, just the kind of fun wine I love. The red is quite good as well.

J.W. Sieg: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits and Harry’s Reserve Fine Wine & Spirits. Available in Virginia at Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, D’Vine Wines and Murphy Beverage in Winchester.

Chateau Julien Royalty Red 2009

★1/2

Monterey County, Calif., $11

This wine is an impressive, juicy blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and syrah from Monterey County, south of San Francisco. Pair with your hamburgers or steaks from the grill all summer. You won’t be disappointed.

Winebow in the District; J.W. Sieg in Virginia: Available in Virginia at Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria and Reid Super-Save Market in Charlottesville.

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