★★★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 stellar wines from southern France to introduce you to the delicious 2010 vintage.
Rhone Valley, France, $40
This deep and intense wine tastes like a Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the king of southern Rhone wines, and is priced accordingly. It smolders with earthy complexity and minerality that hint of treasures to be unfurled with age. Buy it for later this decade, or decant it a few hours before dinner to allow its flavors to develop.
Kysela: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Calvert Woodley. Available in Maryland at Bacchus Wine and Spirits in Hagerstown, Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis, Pinehurst Wine Shoppe and Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s in Alexandria and McLean, Classic Wines in Great Falls, Out of Site Wines in Vienna; on the list at L’Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls.
Cotes du Rhone, France, $15
Alain Jaume produces an exceptional line of wines from throughout the southern Rhone Valley, and I heartily endorse all of them, especially his Rasteau ($27). The Grand Veneur Reserve is the most widely available, and it shows classic Cotes-du-Rhone characteristics of lavender, thyme, rosemary, dark fruit and earth.
Kysela: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Capitol Hill Wine and Spirits, Circle Wine & Liquor, Kogod Liquor, MacArthur Beverages, Magruder’s, Marvelous Market of Capitol Hill, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Sheffield Wine & Liquor Shoppe. Available widely in Maryland, including at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis, Calvert Discount Liquors in Cockeysville, Decanter Fine Wines in Columbia, Eddie’s of Roland Park in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s, Unwined and the Winery in Alexandria; Kybecca in Fredericksburg.
Cotes du Rhone, France, $21
Jean-Louis Chave is one of the most famous Rhone winemakers, and this bottling helps explain why. It tastes of stones, silly as that sounds, and earth, with gritty and grippy tannins that draw you in and make you want to meet this wine again in four or five years.
Bacchus: Available in the District at Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Rodman’s; on the list at the Source by Wolfgang Puck. Available in Maryland at Wine Merchant in Lutherville, Wine Source in Baltimore.
★★1 / 2
Cotes du Rhone, France, $18
Eric Texier is a darling of the “natural wine” movement, and this wine is as natural as they come. It tastes almost raw at first, but electric in its energy. Before long it shows delicious fruit and length. Decant at least an hour before drinking.
Bacchus/Williams Corner: Available in the District at Cork & Fork, Cork Market, MacArthur Beverages, Weygandt Wines; on the list at Mintwood Place and PS 7’s. Available in Maryland at Calvert Wine & Spirits in Hunt Valley, Cork & Fork in Bethesda, Roots Market in Olney, Wine Cellars of Annapolis, Wine Source in Baltimore; on the list at Bolton Hill Bistro in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Market Street Wineshop in Charlottesville, River City Cellars in Richmond.
★★1 / 2
Languedoc, France, $16
This blend of syrah, carignan and grenache follows the classic southern France model for reds and offers up an inky, mineral wine with hints of the herbs and sea air that wine lovers refer to as “garrigue.” It should develop nicely for a few years.
Kacher: Available in the District at Cork & Fork, Dixie Liquor, MacArthur Beverages, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor; on the list at Marcel’s. Available in Maryland at California Wine & Spirits in California, the Perfect Pour in Elkridge, Quarry Wine & Spirits in Baltimore; on the list at Isabella’s Taverna and Tapas Bar and the Tasting Room in Frederick.
★★1 / 2
Rhone Valley, France, $23
It is awkward at first, but after several hours, and even up to the next evening, the wine develops clear, pure flavors of blackberries and exotic herbs. Cellar it for two to three years. It won’t disappoint.
Kysela: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Wide World of Wines. Available in Maryland at Friendship Wine & Liquor in Abingdon; Jason’s Wine & Spirits in Ellicott City; Mt. Washington Wine Co., North Charles Fine Wine & Spirits and Wells Discount Liquors in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s in Alexandria and McLean.