Cotes-du-Rhone, France, $15
The 2009 vintage of this mini-Chateauneuf-du-Pape was fantastic, and this 2010 follows closely in its footsteps. The wine is ripe and full of bing cherry and cocoa flavors, plus an appealing citrusy component of dried orange peel before its earthy, complex finish.
Dionysus: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, MacArthur Beverages, Wagshal’s Market, Whole Foods Market (P Street, Tenleytown). Available in Maryland at Balducci’s and Cork & Fork in Bethesda, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, Grand Cru and Wine Source in Baltimore, Wine Cellars of Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheesetique in Arlington, Grapevine of Warrenton, Tastings and the Wine Guild in Charlottesville, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), Whole Foods Market (Alexandria, Vienna).
Terra Alta, Spain, $12
Bright and lively, this white wine crackles with flavors of rosemary, thyme and talc, with an exotic citrus note of yuzu. It is delightful as an aperitif but also as a partner to casual, salty appetizers and simple seafood salads.
Elite: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Calvert Woodley, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Whole Foods Market (Tenleytown); on the list at BlackSalt. Available in Maryland at Crush Winehouse in Annapolis, Wine Bin in Ellicott City. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean), Whole Foods Market (Arlington, Fair Lakes, Reston, Tysons Corner).
★1 / 2
Central Coast, Calif., $13
This is a good, basic zin, with cranberry and raspberry flavors. It perks up with spicy foods, suggesting a good pairing between the sweet-ripeness of the wine and the pungency of the spice.
M Touton: Available in the District at Central Liquors, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Metro Supermarket, Oasis Gourmet Deli, Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Watergate Wine and Beverage. Available in Maryland at Franklin Liquors in Ijamsville, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, River Falls Seafood Market in Potomac, Rodman’s in White Flint, Rosewick Wine & Spirits in La Plata, the Wine Shoppe in Waldorf, Wine & Liquor Depot in Brandywine; on the list at Quench in Rockville. Available in Virginia at Fern Street Gourmet in Alexandria, the Vineyard in McLean, Vintage Wines in Harrisonburg.
★1 / 2
Bourgogne, France, $11
This basic Burgundy delivers true pinot noir character at an inexpensive price. This vintage is a bit toward the sour cherry end of the flavor spectrum, but it does deliver nice pinot character with an earthy, forest note that decidedly speaks French.
M Touton: Widely available in the District, Maryland and Virginia.
★1 / 2
Calatayud, Spain, $10
Garnacha (the same grape as grenache in France and elsewhere) is one of Spain’s best bargain red wines. This one is no exception. It offers terrific juicy fruits and lots of fun for casual meals.
Country Vintner: Available in the District at Circle Wine & Liquor, D’Vines, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Whole Foods Market (Tenleytown). Available in Maryland at Adega Wine Cellars in Silver Spring, Balducci’s and Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda, Dawson’s Market in Rockville, Franklin Liquors in Ijamsville, Pine Orchard Wine in Ellicott City, Roots Market and Olney Beer & Fine Wine in Olney, Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington. Available in Virginia at Unwined and Whole Foods Market in Alexandria, Total Wine & More locations, Wegmans locations.
★1 / 2
Frequently on sale for less than the full retail price, this wine always surprises me when I taste it. Despite being a corporate wine that is available by the boatload, it seems to pack a lively fruit punch and a lovely balance that makes it a good partner for casual foods.
Republic National: Widely available in the District, Maryland and Virginia.
r r rExceptional r rExcellent rVery Good
Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.