Exceptional   Excellent Very Good


This week’s picks: Three reds and two sparklers. (Goran Kosanovic/For The Washington Post)

Need some good reds and bubblies for the holidays, or every day? Here you go.

Dave McIntyre

GREAT VALUE
Karas Red Wine 2014

Armenia, $16

Wow. This modestly priced wine tastes like something twice as expensive, maybe more. It is racy and energetic, with black- and red-fruit flavors, great body and a smooth, lingering finish. Try it with burgers or steaks, stir fries or stews. Amaze your friends with a stylish selection from a country whose wine they haven’t tried before. Alcohol by volume: 14 percent.

Distributed by G&B: Available in the District at Bell Wine & Spirits, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Jefferson Liquor, MacArthur Beverages, Potomac Wine & Spirits, Rodman’s, Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits, S&R Liquors, Stop & Go; on the list at Agora, Bistro Bohem. Available in Maryland at Capital Beer & Wine in Bethesda, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer and Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, European Delight Deli & Bakery and Kielbasa Factory in Rockville, Wine Harvest (Gaithersburg, Potomac).  Available in Virginia at Altura Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria.

Thibaut-Janisson Xtra Brut

Virginia, $35

This is a new release from Claude Thibaut, who has put Virginia on the sparkling wine map. The Xtra Brut is bigger, drier and more powerful than his popular Blanc de Chardonnay. ABV: 12.5 percent.

Distributed by Margaux & Co.: Available in the District at Cork & Fork; on the list at the Dabney, Fiola Mare, Iron Gate, the Source by Wolfgang Puck. Available in Virginia at Culpeper Cheese Co. in Culpeper, Foods of All Nations in Charlottesville, Unwined (Alexandria); on the list at L’Auberge Chez François in Great Falls.

Nicosia Vulka Etna Rosso 2014

Sicily, Italy, $20

Sicily produces some delicious wines, white and red. The most interesting, terroir-driven reds come from the slopes of Mount Etna, where the soils are derived from lava flows from the volcano, and the vineyards are always at risk of the next great eruption. The grapes in this delightful wine are Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. The blend gives flavors of dried cherries with perhaps a hint of scorched – well, okay, perhaps I’m channeling the lava a bit, but the firm minerality of this and other Etna Rosso wines in unmistakable. ABV: 13 percent.

Distributed by Lanterna: Available in the District at Batch 13, Capital City Wine & Spirits, Cork & Fork, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at the Italian Market and Wine Cellars of Annapolis, the Wine Bin in Ellicott City.

GREAT VALUE
Cuvée Darius Fitou 2013

Languedoc, France, $10

Here’s a bargain red for your holiday dinners. It combines dark fruit flavors with hints of earth and smoke in a way that suggests the hours just after sunset on a late autumn evening – just when you’d want to drink this, for its warmth and for the spice it would contribute to your dinner. ABV: 13 percent.

Distributed by M. Touton Selection: Available in the District at Capital City Wine & Spirits, Rodman’s, Sheffield Wine & Liquor Shoppe, on the list at LiLLie’s Restaurant and Bar. Available in Maryland at Cork 57, Lance’s Beer & Wine in Bethesda, Dawson’s Market, Grosvenor Market in Rockville, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer in Gaithersburg, Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville, Hillandale Beer & Wine, Quench! Beer-Wine-Deli in Silver Spring, Old Farm Liquors, Viniferous in Frederick, Rosewick Wine & Spirits in LaPlata, Village Pump Liquors in College Park. Available in Virginia at Market Street Wines (both locations), Rio Hill Beer & Wine in Charlottesville, the Vineyard in McLean.

GREAT VALUE
Laurent Dauphin Premier Cru Champagne

Champagne, France, $27

A Premier Cru champers at this price is rare, and while it may not excite fans of small grower champagnes, it’s really quite good. Think of it as chardonnay with bubbles. ABV: 12 percent.

Distributed by M. Touton Selection: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Cairo Wine & Liquor, Capital City Wine & Spirits, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Canton Crossing Wine + Spirits in Baltimore, Foundry Row Wine & Spirits in Owings Mills, Kings Contrivance Liquor Shop in Columbia, Old Farm Liquors and Viniferous in Frederick, Pine Orchard Liquors in Ellicott City, the Perfect Pour in Elkridge, the Wine Shoppe in Waldorf. Available in Virginia at Crystal City Wine Shop in Arlington, the Vineyard in McLean, the Wine Outlet in Vienna.

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.

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