★★★ 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 five wines easy to appreciate for their quality and value. They were not tasted blind, nor was a syrah poured into a cabernet bottle to make a fool of anyone. These stand on their own merits, without subterfuge.— D.M.
★★ (Great Value)
Saint Chinian, Languedoc, France, $22
Promex/Bacchus: On the list in the District at Azur, Le Diplomate, Heritage India, Petits Plats. Available in Maryland at Quarry Wine & Spirits in Baltimore; on the list at Clementine in Baltimore.
Russian River Valley, Sonoma, Calif., $29
Hartford is known for its single-vineyard chardonnay, pinot noir and zinfandel from the western reaches of Sonoma County. It would be easy to dismiss this appellation blend from the Russian River Valley as its “entry-level” wine, but it is an excellent example of chardonnay from this part of Sonoma. It offers honeysuckle, white flowers and citrus notes, showing the influence of the cool ocean fog in its acidity and structure. Don’t go making comparisons to other famous chardonnays, though. As winemaker Jeff Stewart says, “I get insulted when someone tells me my wine tastes like Burgundy. We are not Burgundy.”
Majestic/RNDC: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley; on the list at BlackSalt, Corduroy, Marcel’s. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s (Bethesda) and the Potomac Dispensary (Montgomery County); on the list at Black’s, Grapeseed and Food, Wine & Co. in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Out of Site Wines in Vienna; on the list at Bazin’s on Church in Vienna, Lightfoot Restaurant in Leesburg.
★★ (Great Value)
Kamptal, Austria, $15
Simon N Cellars in the District: Available at Arrowine and Spirits. Select in Northern Virginia: Available at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean), Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Leesburg Vintners, Market Cellars and Wine Cabinet in Reston, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview); on the list at L’Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls, Euro Bistro in Herndon.
★ (Great Value)
Fleurie, Beaujolais, France, $16
M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Wine Specialist; on the list at Equinox. Available in Maryland at Beer, Wine & Co. in Bethesda; Old Farm Liquors and Spin the Bottle in Frederick; Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington; Wine Harvest (Gaithersburg, Potomac).
★1 / 2 (Great Value)
Rioja, Spain, $10
Dionysus: Available in the District at Broad Branch Market, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Rodman’s, Wagshal’s Market, Whole Foods Market (Tenleytown); on the list at Estadio. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage and Cork & Fork in Bethesda; Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring. Available in Virginia at Continental Divide in Charlottesville, Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market in Richmond, Whole Foods Market (Alexandria, Vienna).