Hedges Family Estate Three Vineyards 2006
Red Mountain, Columbia Valley, Washington, $26
This enticing blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and syrah is one of those rare American wines that combine fruit, oak and alcohol in balance to create something that will appeal to the jaded Europhiles among us.
Bacchus: available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Whole Foods Market Grover Park and Tenleytown; on the list at Corduroy, the Fairfax at Embassy Row.
Cantina del Taburno Greco 2007
Campania, Italy, $25
Greco di Tufo , as its name implies, was brought to Italy by the ancient Greeks. At its best, as it is here, the wine hints of roasted hazelnuts and quince, with a strong core of minerality; it's almost as if you can taste the lava that destroyed Pompeii. This is from importer Marc De Grazia, a name to look for in Italian wines.
Bacchus: available in the District at MacArthur Beverages; on the list at Bar Pilar, 2 Amys. Available in Maryland at Finewine.com in Gaithersburg.
Rutherglen Estates Red 2006
Think of the twist of the screw cap as an alarm clock, and allow this wine to stretch a little after awakening; it will reward you with enticing aromas of eucalyptus and mint, followed by flavors of dark fruits and a long, silky, herbaceous finish. This wine rocks, and the last sip will leave you wishing you'd bought more.
Country Vintner: available at Cleveland Park Wine & Spirits, U Street Mini Mart. Available in Maryland at Frederick Wine House; on the list at Monocacy Crossing in Frederick. Available in Virginia at the Wine Cabinet in Reston; on the list at Grey Horse Inn in the Plains, Lebanese Taverna in Tysons Galleria.
Cantele Salice Salentino 2004
Puglia, Italy, $14
Earthy mushroom flavors dominate this red, with fine balance and refreshing acidity. It's a nice wine for pizza or pasta, or for sipping when you just want something fun and casual, not ponderous and intellectual.
Country Vintner: available at Georgetown Square in Bethesda, Italian Gourmet Market in Gaithersburg; on the list in the District at Posto, Proof, Tabard Inn, 2 Amys.
Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne (Blanc) "Les Setilles" 2006
Burgundy, France, $26
If your experience with chardonnay starts and ends with California, you owe it to yourself to try the French version, and this basic Burgundy from Olivier Leflaive is a nice starting point. It features aromas of lemon curd and toast, though less in-your-face than in a California chard. Here, the charm is on the palate, with cream and roasted-fruit flavors, a hint of smoky toast and a long finish.
Republic National: available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, MacArthur Beverages; on the list at Hudson, Marvin.
Pazo de Monterrei 2007
Monterrei, Spain, $13
From Galicia in northwestern Spain, this wine is a 50-50 blend of godello and treixadura. It is crisp and refreshing on one hand, rich and enticing on the other, an excellent match for seafood of all types.
Touton: available in the District at Cairo Liquors, Calvert Woodley, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Paul's of Chevy Chase. Available in Maryland at Cork & Fork in Bethesda, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg; on the list at Jaleo in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Curious Grape in Arlington, Vienna Vintner in Vienna.