★ ★ ★Exceptional ★ ★Excellent ★Very Good
Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be sold at additional stores. Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.
These wines aren’t by any means limited to springtime or warmer weather, but their freshness and light or medium body make them ideal when the mercury and our spirits are rising. All are great values.
★ ★ ★
Douro, Portugal, $20
Most Douro reds are blends of several traditional grape varieties used in port. This is 100 percent Tinta Barroca, known for contributing dark color without excessive tannin. It starts off a little surly, as though awakened from a long nap, but once it stretches, the bing cherry and boysenberry flavors give a bright and refreshing contrast to the Douro’s signature stoniness. The distributor is just bringing in the 2013, so the (also excellent) 2012 vintage might be more available. Alcohol by volume: 13 percent.
Winebow: Soon to be available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, MacArthur Beverages, Paul’s of Chevy Chase; on the list at Del Campo, Roof Terrace Restaurant.
Touraine, Loire Valley, France, $13
Just about as fresh as a rosé can be, this is vibrant with acidity, finishing with a slightly sour strawberry note. As the summer progresses, the acidity should mellow a bit and let the fruit take first billing. ABV: 13 percent.
Elite: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Metro Supermarket, Modern Liquors, Rodman’s, Virginia Market, Whole Foods Market (P Street). Available in Maryland at Edgewater Liquors; Fairgrounds Discount Beverages in Timonium; Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold; Graul’s Market in Towson; Midway Discount Liquors in Joppa; Mt. Airy Liquors; Riverside Liquors in Frederick; Wooden Keg Liquors in Hagerstown; Yes! Organic Market in Hyattsville; on the list at 8407 Kitchen Bar, Urban Butcher in Silver Spring; Mia’s Pizzas in Bethesda; Le Parc Bistro in Frederick; Sushiko in Chevy Chase. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (McLean), Libbie Market and Shields Market in Richmond, Whole Foods Market (Alexandria, Arlington, Charlottesville, Fair Lakes, Springfield, Tysons, Reston).
Oregon pinot noir has become pricey in recent years as quality and popularity have increased. Yet there are still several moderately priced wines that give a true taste of Oregon pinot noir character. The Underwood is a blend of grapes from the Willamette and Rogue valleys. It offers bing cherry and oolong tea flavors. It will soon be available in 12-ounce cans, ideal for picnics and any venue where glass bottles are a problem. ABV: 13 percent.
Constantine in the District and Maryland: Widely available. Virginia Imports: Available in Virginia at Red, White and Bleu in Falls Church, Westover Market in Arlington; on the list at Dogwood Tavern in Falls Church; Fuego Cocina & Tequileria, Ragtime and Ristorante Murali in Arlington.
Clarksburg, Calif., $16
Chenin blanc has been scarce in California for years, thanks to the popularity of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. But in Clarksburg, in the delta area near Sacramento, chenin still shines. Vinum Cellars has done a good job producing wines from some of California’s old vineyards that haven’t been plowed or planted over. This is soft and ripe, without the mineral acidity common to chenins from the Loire Valley or the citrusy character it gets in South Africa. This California expression focuses on ripe tree fruit such as apples and pears. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Country Vintner: Available in the District at Rodman’s; on the list at Tryst. Available in Maryland at Franklin Liquors in Ijamsville; Petite Cellars in Ellicott City; Pinky & Pepe’s Grape Escape in Gaithersburg. Available in Virginia at the Wine Cabinet in Reston.
Vin de France, $11
Fans of Mâcon-style chardonnay should enjoy this tasty wine, made with grapes grown in Provence and “the outer reaches of Burgundy.” Simonnet-Febvre is a high-quality Chablis producer that has done a good job going beyond the boundaries of that region to produce good-value wines at reasonable prices. ABV: 12.5 percent.
M. Touton Selection: Available in the District at Best DC Supermarket, Cairo Wine & Liquor, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Magruder’s, Metro Supermarket, OpenDoor Market, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Union Wine & Liquors. Available in Maryland at Bay Wine & Spirits in North Beach; Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda; Chesapeake Wine Co. in Baltimore; Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Rodman’s (White Flint); Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington; on the list at Liv2eat in Baltimore, Mike’s Bar & Crab House in Riva.