This inky-dark wine defies expectations in one important respect: It’s only 13.5 percent alcohol on the label. Most petite sirahs are at or over 15 percent; if you are accustomed to those, this wine might seem anemic at first sip. But with just a few minutes’ exposure to the air, the wine’s fruit emerges. The result is a jammy expression without the burning sensation at the back of the throat that follows so many high-octane wines.
Bacchus in the District and Maryland, Republic National in Virginia: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Pearson’s; on the list at Article One, DC Coast, Veritas Wine Bar. Available in Maryland at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits and Eastport Liquors in Annapolis, Pine Orchard Wine in Ellicott City, Roundabout Fine Wine & Spirits in Laurel. Available in Virginia at Fern Street Gourmet in Alexandria, Norm’s Beer & Wine in Vienna; various Total Wine & More and Wegmans locations; the Wine Cabinet in Reston.
Evening Land Chardonnay 2010
Burgundy, France, $30
This wine comes from a U.S. project focusing on pinot noir and chardonnay from around the world. Though pricey for a “basic” Bourgogne, this tastes more like a meursault: rich and full, with plenty of minerality and toasty oak to balance the depth of the fruit.
J.W. Sieg: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits. Available in Virginia at Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview).
Domaine des Roches Neuves 2010
Saumur-Champigny, Loire Valley, France, $23
From a ripe vintage in France, this cabernet franc from the Loire Valley does not have the typical “Grandpop’s library” character of old leather books and tobacco smoke. Rather it is fruity and ripe, yet elegant, as though the winemaker took what the vintage gave him rather than seizing an opportunity to experiment. Good choice.
Elite: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Cork Market, MacArthur Beverage, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, Whole Foods Market (P Street, Tenleytown). Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (Alexandria), Out of Site Wines in Vienna; on the list at Bistro l’Hermitage in Woodbridge.
Torbreck Woodcutter’s Semillon 2010
Barossa Valley, Australia, $18
Aussie semillon (they pronounce it SEM-a-lawn) is one of the world’s more underrated white wine values. This example is softer than most, its acidity cleverly cloaked by a limpid, mouth-filling texture and a soft, citrusy palate. It has a long finish that makes the wine delicious by itself and with casual foods. I suspect this wine was designed to drink early, in contrast with the searingly dry, age-worthy semillons from Australia’s Hunter Valley.
Elite: Available in the District at Cork and Fork, MacArthur Beverage, Rodman’s; on the list at Range, Ris, the Source by Wolfgang Puck, Vidalia. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington; Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean); Grape + Bean, Society Fair and Planet Wine and Gourmet in Alexandria; Out of Site Wines in Vienna.
Jumilla, Spain, $16
This cuvee of monastrell (mourvedre), tempranillo and cabernet sauvignon is a delicious blend of traditional Spanish grape varieties with the international cabernet to produce something modern and delicious.
Country Vintner: Available in the District at DeVines, D’Vino’s, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Georgetown Square Beer and Wine in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Slater’s Market in Alexandria, Total Wine & More (Alexandria, Fairfax, McLean, Springfield), various Wegmans locations.
Domaine Leon Boesch Les Pierres Rouge Sylvaner 2010
Alsace, France, $15
This is my sleeper pick of the week: Delicious and dry from an unheralded grape, it is unfortunately hard to find because most retailers are reluctant to stock wines that don’t sell themselves. This one should sell easily, if only because it says “Thomas Calder Selection” on the back label — a reliable indication of quality.
Potomac Selection: Available in Maryland at Dawson’s Market in Rockville, State Line Liquors in Elkton. Available in Virginia at Ellwood Thompson Natural Market in Richmond; on the list at Lyon Hall in Arlington, Vermilion in Alexandria.