★★★Exceptional ★★Excellent ★Very Good
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 high-value, low-cost wines. These range in price from $8 to $16.
Cotes du Rhone, France, $11
Wow. I’m tempted to stop there. In southern France, the 2010 vintage was terrific, and this inexpensive Cotes du Rhone from the producers of the famed Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Papes tastes like its more expensive sibling. There are deep fruit and gritty tannins, plus a laserlike focus that suggests this wine will age extremely well. There’s no excuse not to buy a case and enjoy it over the next several years.
Vineyard Brands: Bacchus in the District and Maryland; Country Vintner in Virginia. Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Bell Wine & Spirits, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, MacArthur Beverages, Metro K Supermarket, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Rodman’s, Rosebud Liquor, Safeway in Georgetown, Trader Joe’s, Yes Organic Market in Southeast; on the list at Barcode, Bistro Bis, Cafe Bonaparte, Morrison Clark Inn, the Willard Room. Widely available in Maryland, including at Snider’s in Silver Spring, the Wine Source in Baltimore, Wine Cellars in Annapolis.
★★1 / 2
Marlborough, New Zealand, $16
We tend to drink our white wines early; many 2011s from New Zealand have arrived on the market. But the extra time in the bottle has given this delightful single-vineyard sauvignon blanc time to flesh out and strut its stuff. That grassy character of New Zealand sauv is present but not aggressive, and the texture is downright silky.
Siema: Available in the District at A-1 Wines & Liquors, Ace Beverage, Bell Wine & Spirits, Cairo Wine & Liquor, Calvert Woodley, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Georgetown Wine & Spirits, MacArthur Beverages, Potenza Wine Shop, S&R Liquors; on the list at Agaiin, Bourbon Steak, Cities, Equinox, Oya, PS 7’s, Poste Moderne Brasserie, Sei, Sushi-Ko. Available in Maryland at 13.5% Wine Bar and North Charles Fine Wine & Spirits in Baltimore, Bay Wine & Spirits in North Beach, Crush Winehouse in Annapolis, Old Town Market in Kensington, Pinky & Pepe’s Grape Escape in Gaithersburg, the Wine Shoppe in Waldorf; on the list at Chef Tony’s in Bethesda, Sushi-Ko in Friendship Heights, Nano Asian Dining in Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington; Balducci’s in Alexandria and McLean; Leesburg Vintner; Norm’s Beer & Wine in Vienna; Oakton Wine Shop; Planet Wine & Gourmet, Rick’s Wine & Gourmet and the Winery in Alexandria; Red, White and Bleu in Falls Church; Unwined in Alexandria and Belleview; Wegmans in Lake Manassas; Wine Cabinet in Reston; Wine House in Fairfax; Whole Foods Market stores in Alexandria and Tysons Corner. On the list at Bangkok 54, Kora and Willow in Arlington, and Society Fair in Alexandria, among others.
★★1 / 2
Veneto, Italy, $15
Valpolicella has a reputation as a simple, quaffable wine, but this single-vineyard example shows the grape’s serious side. Excellent with roasts or grilled meats, and of course pizza and hearty pasta dishes.
M Touton Selection in the District and Maryland, Dionysus in Virginia: Available in the District at Burka’s Wine & Liquor, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Magruder’s, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Watergate Wine & Beverage. Available in Maryland at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis, Jason’s Wine & Spirits and Pine Orchard Liquors in Ellicott City, Nick’s of Calvert in Prince Frederick, Nick’s of Clinton in Waldorf, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington, Town & Country Wine Liquor Etc. in Easton. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s in McLean, Fern Street Gourmet in Alexandria, Opera House Gifts & Gourmet in Manassas, various Total Wine & More locations; on the list at Giorgio’s in Dumfries.
Old Mission Peninsula, Mich., $15
This eclectic blend of pinot blanc, pinot gris and a smidgen of pinot noir is what regional wine in America is all about: unusual blends from unusual places. What a treat to have some of the delicious whites from Michigan’s Old Mission Peninsula available here. This wine, with a touch of sweetness, is fine by itself, and versatile with Asian or other spicy foods. Worth seeking out.
Siema: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Wagshal’s Market; on the list at Graffiato. Available in Maryland at Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring. Available in Virginia at Crystal City Wine Shop and Screwtop Wine Bar & Cheese Shop in Arlington, Rick’s Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, the tasting room at Little Washington Winery, Wine Cabinet in Reston; on the list at Boulevard Woodgrill in Arlington, Inn at Little Washington.
Rioja, Spain, $10
Although this wine hails from Rioja, it’s made from garnacha, not the more common tempranillo grape. It’s zesty and refreshing — and cheap. What more could we ask for?
Dionysus: Available in the District at D’Vines, Rodman’s, Wagshal’s Market; on the list at Estadio. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage; on the list at Sushi-Ko in Friendship Heights, Tavira in Chevy Chase. Available in Virginia at Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Warrenton, Unwined in Alexandria and Belleview.
★1 / 2
Zippy and refreshing, this wine tastes a bit like Sprite, without the sugar and with a slight alcohol kick. The bright red crab on the label is a suggestion of what to eat with this ideal hot-weather wine. At this price, it should be a case purchase, to drink before dinner or with appetizers throughout the summer.
Dionysus: Available in the District at A. Litteri, Broad Branch Market, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Rodman’s, Wagshal’s Market; on the list at Policy. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage and Capital Beer & Wine in Bethesda, Brookville Market in Chevy Chase, Eddie’s of Roland Park in Baltimore, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold, Frederick Wine House. Available in Virginia at Fern Street Gourmet in Alexandria, Unwined in Alexandria and Belleview; on the list at Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg, Giorgio’s in Dumfries.