Boxed wines: They're a great value, and the wine is actually drinkable

Tuesday, August 31, 2010; 4:03 PM

Doña Paula "Los Cardos" Malbec 2009

* 1/2
Mendoza, Argentina, $12 (750 ml)

This wine skews toward the earthy side of malbec, with nice restraint and complexity.

Vineyard Brands/Bacchus: Widely available, including in the District at Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Rodman's, Safeway L Street, S&S Liquors, Whole Foods Market P Street; available in Maryland at Calvert Discount Liquors in Cockeysville, Corridor Wine & Spirits in Laurel, the Depot in Arnold, Gateway Farm Market in Thurmont, Graul's Wine & Spirits in Baltimore, Harbour Spirits in Severna Park, I.M. Wine in Fulton. Country Vintner in Virginia: available at most major chains.

Big House White/Red 2009

*
California, $19 (3 liters)

This popular California brand was sold four years ago by Bonny Doon. Good news: It's still good, and widely available in a new octagonal box called Octavin that takes up less space and uses a spout that doesn't drip. I prefer the white slightly over the red, but both are good.

Republic National: Widely available, including in the District at Rodman's, Sherry's Fine Wine & Spirits, Watergate Wine & Beverage, various Whole Foods Market locations. Available in Maryland at more than 200 outlets, including Beltway Fine Wine & Spirits in Towson, Corridor Wine & Spirits in Laurel, Wine Source in Baltimore, Ye Old Spirit Shop in Frederick. Available in Virginia at various Kroger and Total Wine & More locations.

Maipe Malbec 2009

*
Mendoza, Argentina, $25 (3 liters)

Compared with the Doña Paula listed above, this is juicier and more fruit-forward.

Kysela: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Magruder's, Paul's of Chevy Chase, World Market, various Marvelous Market and Whole Foods Market locations. Available in Maryland at the Bottle Shop in Potomac. Available in Virginia at Bottle Cork in Belle View, Magruder's locations in Vienna and Falls Church, Norm's Beer & Wine in Vienna, Total Wine & More in Fairfax and Springfield, Unwined in Alexandria, Wilkinson Wine Cellar in Fairfax, World Market locations in Falls Church, Fairfax, Pentagon Row and Sterling; on the list at Eventide in Arlington.

Bodegas Osborne Seven 2009

*
Spain, $19 (3 liters)

Also packaged in the Octavin format, this red blend of seven varieties is ideal for casual sipping by itself or with unpretentious grilled meat. No need to discuss its varietal character, since there isn't any. Just enjoy it.

Republic National: Widely available, including in the District at Rodman's, Sherry's Fine Wine & Spirits, Watergate Wine & Beverage, various Whole Foods Market locations. Available in Maryland at more than 200 outlets, including Beltway Fine Wine & Spirits in Towson, Corridor Wine & Spirits in Laurel, Wine Source in Baltimore, Ye Old Spirit Shop in Frederick. Available in Virginia at various Kroger and Total Wine & More locations.

Cuvee Saint Vincent 2009

*
Comte Tolosan, France, $8 (750 ml)

A simple, refreshing blend of colombard and ugni blanc with appealing fruit flavors and soft, undemanding acidity.

Dionysus: Available in the District at Rodman's, Wagshal's Deli, Whole Foods Market Tenleytown and P Street. Available in Maryland at Balducci's and Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, Wine Cellar of Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Balducci's locations in Alexandria and McLean, and Whole Foods Market Alexandria, Arlington, Fair Lakes, Vienna.

Key

*** Exceptional ** Excellent * Very Good

Prices are approximate. Availability information is from distributors and might not reflect current inventory; call wine stores to verify, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.


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