Five wines to try

March 12, 2013
Sandhi Chardonnay 2010 Sanford & Benedict Vineyard

★★★

Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County, Calif., $55

Sashi Moorman spent time in the kitchen at Obelisk restaurant near Dupont Circle before heading to California and becoming one of the state’s rising-star winemakers. (He also makes wine with Obelisk chef-owner Peter Pastan.) This mouth-filling chardonnay exhibits the magic combination of a prime hillside vineyard in a cool maritime climate and skillful winemaking that lets the fruit shine with an impeccable balance of acidity, oak influence and alcohol. Bravo. Moorman also makes a delicious Sta. Rita Hills pinot noir under the Sandhi label ($44).

J.W. Sieg: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, MacArthur Beverages, Pearson’s; on the list at Adour, Chef Geoff’s, CityZen, Range. On the list in Maryland at Chef Geoff’s in Rockville, Lia’s in Chevy Chase. Available in Virginia at Grape + Bean and Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, Oakton Wine Shop, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview); on the list at L’Auberge Chez Francois and the Inn at Little Washington.

Chelti Estate 2007

★★

Kakheti, Georgia, $15

Georgia is thought by many to be the birthplace of wine, and this delightful red from the country’s indigenous Saperavi grape shows that modern vintners can do their tradition proud. Think cherries and spice, with a hint of the herbal aroma that lingers in the air on a cool autumn evening. I’ve never described a wine this way before: It made me comfortable.

Potomac Selections: Available in the District at MacArthur Beverages. Available in Maryland at Chesapeake Wine Co. in Baltimore, Wishing Well Liquors in Easton. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, Le Tastevin in Alexandria, Market Street Wineshop in Charlottesville.

Dehesa Gago 2011

★★

Toro, Spain, $16

Star Spanish winemaker Telmo Rodriguez produces this sensuous red from old-vines Tinto de Toro, the local name for Spain’s flagship tempranillo. Fermented in concrete and stainless steel, this unoaked wine is lush and dense, almost chewy in texture. Any restaurant with a charcuterie plate should carry this bottle.

M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Bacchus Wine Cellar, Chinatown Liquor, Circle Wine & Liquor, Cork & Fork, Magruder’s, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits; on the list at Boqueria. Available in Maryland at Beer, Wine & Co. in Bethesda; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Rodman’s in White Flint; World Gourmet Wine & Beer in Potomac. Available in Virginia at Chain Bridge Cellars and the Vineyard in McLean.

Biutiful Cava Brut Nature

★★

Penedes, Spain, $14

Spanish importer Aurelio Cabestrero offers this sparkler, which lives up to its name. It’s richer than most cava, thanks to a 20 percent addition of chardonnay in the blend.

Elite: Available in the District at Bell Wine & Spirits, Capital Fine Wine & Spirits, Rodman’s, S&R Liquors; on the list at Brasserie Beck, Boqueria, Caucus Room, Marcel’s, Plume, Slate Wine Bar, Taberna del Alabardero. Available in Maryland at Annebeth’s and Crush Winehouse in Annapolis, the Bottle Shop in Potomac, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, Potomac Gourmet Market in National Harbor, Vino Volo in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, Cheesetique in Alexandria, Wine House in Fairfax, WineStyles in Dumfries.

Montgravet Cotes de Gascogne 2011

1 / 2

Gascony, France, $9

Gascony has become a reliable source of well-made, inexpensive white wine, and this 100 percent colombard is no exception. It is ideal for sipping on its own to fuel the conversation before dinner, and with light seafood dishes.

Country Vintner: Available in the District at D’Vines, Rodman’s; on the list at Proof. Available in Maryland at Chevy Chase Supermarket, Georgetown Square Wine & Beer in Bethesda, Franklin Liquors in Ijamsville, Rodman’s (Wheaton, White Flint), Old Line Fine Wine, Spirits & Bistro in Beltsville. Available in Virginia at Slaters Market and Society Fair in Alexandria.

Recommendations

★★Exceptional  ★Excellent ★Very Good

Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

A splurge on a wonderful California chardonnay with a local connection and a bargain sparkler for budget-conscious revelers are among my picks this week.— D.M.

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