★★★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 some great-value wines for $15 or less. I’ll have a special list next week of Recession Buster sparkling wines for the holidays.
Cotes-du-Rhone, France, $15
Chateauneuf-du-Pape lovers, take note: This single-vineyard Cotes-du-Rhone from a noted Chateauneuf producer could easily convince even diehard imbibers that it came from the more expensive appellation. Rich, deep and intense, this gorgeous wine needs time, either a few hours in a decanter or some years in your cellar. I suggest buying a case and opening one bottle every other year until the wine is showing the way you like, then drink up.
Dionysus: Available in the District at MacArthur Beverages and at Whole Foods Market P Street and Tenleytown; on the list at Palena. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s, Bradley Food & Beverage and Cork & Fork in Bethesda; Finewine.com in Gaithersburg. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington; Balducci’s in McLean and Alexandria; Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean; Cork & Fork in Gainesville; Out of Site Wines in Vienna; Unwined in Alexandria and Belleview; Whole Foods Market Alexandria, Tysons Corner and Vienna.
Wagram, Austria, $13
Denizens of Beaujolais aren’t the only ones who celebrate autumn by drinking wine from the most recent harvest: The Austrians also enjoy their junker. The Anton Bauer Gmork has been one of my favorite bargain whites for years; this vintage arrives early because Austria experienced a warm growing season with an early harvest. The wine offers delicate aromas of white flowers and orange blossom, and limpid minerality. It is as refreshing as pure mountain spring water. It should develop a bit more complexity over the next few months.
Prestige Wines in the District and Maryland, Select Wines in Virginia: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Morris Miller, Rodman’s, all Whole Foods Market locations; on the list at La Chaumiere, various Clyde’s locations, Kafe Leopold, Old Ebbitt Grill, Ping Pong Dim Sum, Rice. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s in Bethesda, Bin 201 Wine Sellers and Wine Cellars in Annapolis, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, Pine Orchard Liquors in Ellicott City, Wells Discount Liquors and Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, Balducci’s in Alexandria and McLean, Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Rick’s Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, Unwined in Alexandria and Belleview, various Wegmans locations, various Whole Foods Market locations, Wine Cabinet in Reston.
Minervois, France, $14
This red captures the essence of southern France: wild herbs, sea air, gritty tannins and good value. The 2010 is coming into the market now, but don’t hesitate to buy up the ’09s, as the extra year in bottle gives it a little more complexity.
Elite: Available in the District at Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Cork & Fork, Rodman’s, Wagshal’s Market, various Whole Foods Market locations; on the list at Bistrot Lepic, Corduroy, Le Chat Noir, Montmartre. Available in Maryland at Rodman’s in Wheaton, the Wine Bin in Ellicott City. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, Market Cellars and the Wine Cabinet in Reston, Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, Vienna Vintner, various Whole Foods Market locations; on the list at Le Cote d’Or in Arlington, Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg.
Colchagua Valley, Chile, $12
Carmenere can be aggressively tough and weedy, but this fine version keeps that vegetal aspect in check with aromas of mint and a silky texture that makes the wine feel as if it’s dancing across your palate. It’s similar to some Virginia petit verdot, only lighter in body.
Country Vintner: Available in the District at Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Safeway in Georgetown, Union Wine & Liquor. Available in Maryland at Rodman’s in Wheaton and White Flint. Available in Virginia at various Wegmans locations.
Carinena, Spain, $9
This is the type of juicy, spicy red that has given Spanish garnacha (grenache) such a good name. GIt’s great with casual meat dishes or even by itself. This is new to the market, but expect — demand — to see it in more places.
Robins Cellars: Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Vienna Vintner.
Terre del Fohn Muller Thurgau 2010
Dolomiti, Italy, $10
From the Germanic-influenced regions of northern Italy, this wine offers crisp, refreshing acidity that makes it a good match with lighter fare and enough tree fruits that it makes an appealing aperitivo.
M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits and MacArthur Beverage. Available in Maryland at Franklin Liquors in Ijamsville; Georgetown Square Beer & Wine and Meridian Market and Wine in Bethesda; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Town Hall Liquors in College Park; Veridian Market & Wine in Silver Spring; and on the list at Bo Brooks in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at the Italian Store in Arlington and the Vineyard in McLean.