Taste wines of Spain and France, head to head

Columnist October 1, 2013

Recommendations

★★★Exceptional  ★★Excellent ★Very Good

Dave McIntyre is the wine columnist for The Washington Post. He also blogs at dmwineline.com. View Archive

Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be available at additional stores. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

This week’s recommendations offer two comparative tastings. A pair of Spanish tempranillos — one youthful and exuberant, the other classic and refined — spans generations. And from the Loire Valley in France, compare three expressions of chenin blanc, from the subtle minerality of a Savennières to the fruity intensity of a Vouvray and — in tandem with chardonnay — the liveliness of a sparkler.

Dehesa Gago G 2012

★★★

Toro, Spain, $16

I’ve been a fan of winemaker Telmo Rodriguez for several vintages. This year’s edition of his 100 percent Tinto de Toro (a local clone of tempranillo) is the best yet: lush and intense with black cherry and blackberry flavors, perfectly balanced with acidity and earthiness. It’s modern in style, unoaked and intended to be drunk young. Fist-pumping, table-thumping good. Alcohol by volume: 14 percent.

M Touton: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Washington Wine & Liquor. Available in Maryland at Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Rodman’s in White Flint; the Winery in Chester; World Gourmet Wine & Beer in Potomac. Available in Virginia at the Vineyard in McLean.

Dehesa la Granja 2006

★★★

Castilla y Leon, Spain, $23

Alejandro Fernandez, of Pesquera fame, takes a classic approach to this 100 percent tempranillo wine, aging it in oak barrels and releasing it only after it has matured in bottle and reached its prime. It’s spicy, with an air of intrigue. ABV: 14 percent.

Country Vintner: Available in the District at Rodman’s, Whole Foods Market (Tenleytown). Available in Maryland at Hops & Vines in Odenton; on the list at Ranazul in Fulton. Available in Virginia at Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), Wegmans (Gainesville), t

he Vineyard in McLean; on the list at Bazin’s on Church in Vienna.

Domaine des Baumard Savennières 2009

★★★

Loire Valley, France, $25

Savenièrres is an unheralded appellation that produces stunning chenin blanc, dry and sweet. This lovely (dry) example is subtle in flavor and limpid in texture. I liked it immediately, and my affection grew with each sip as the wine’s minerality demonstrated that it dances well with a variety of foods: fruity or spicy, tart or sweet. ABV: 13 percent.

M Touton: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, MacArthur Beverages, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill. Available in Maryland at Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville; Montgomery County Liquor Store in Potomac Village; Old Farm Liquors and Viniferous in Frederick; on the list at Bistro Provence in Bethesda, La Ferme in Chevy Chase. Available in Virginia at the Vineyard in McLean, Wegmans (various locations), Whole Foods Market (Alexandria).

Alexandre Monmousseau Clos le Vigneau Vouvray 2012

★★★

Loire Valley, France, $19

Vouvray, another Loire appellation that specializes in chenin blanc, makes wines that are bigger in mouth feel than Savenièrres. This single-vineyard example is concentrated and full-bodied, with a long, delicious finish. ABV: 12.5 percent.

Kysela: Available in the District at Cairo Wine & Liquor, Calvert Woodley, Circle Wine & Liquor, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Cork & Fork, DCanter, Fresh & Green’s, MacArthur Beverages, Magruder’s, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Silver Spork. Available in Maryland at Friendship Wine & Liquor in Abingdon; Old Line Fine Wine, Spirits & Bistro in Beltsville; Pine Orchard Wine in Ellicott City; Highland Wine & Spirits; Swirl Wine in Timonium. Available in Virginia at Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Crossroads Grocery in Winchester, Grateful Red Wine & Gift Shop in Arlington, Mom’s Apple Pie Co. (Occoquan), Vino e Formaggio in Front Royal, Wegmans (Gainesville, Sterling, Woodbridge).

Alexandre Monmousseau La Gaudrelle Crémant de Loire Brut

★★1 / 2

Loire Valley, France, $20

This is a charming sparkler made from equal parts chenin blanc and chardonnay. A great way to ease into an evening. ABV: 12.5 percent.

Kysela: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Fresh & Green’s, Harry’s Reserve Fine Wine & Spirits, Magruder’s, Paul’s of Chevy Chase. Available in Maryland at Cafe Liquor in Hagerstown; Hunt Valley Wine, Liquor & Beer; Dunkirk Wine & Spirits; Friendship Wine & Liquor in Abingdon; Midway Discount Liquors in Joppa. Available in Virginia at Mom’s Apple Pie Co. (Occoquan), Out of Site Wines in Vienna, Total Wine & More (Fredericksburg).

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