Exceptional Excellent Very Good
Just because it's autumn doesn't mean we have to abandon white wines. Here are three delicious examples to start or even sustain you through a meal — a fruity albarino from California, a minerally gruner veltliner from Austria and a Riesling from New York's Finger Lakes region. For reds, try this New York cabernet franc and a rich, earthy Rhone from France.
Tangent Albariño Paragon Vineyard 2014
Edna Valley, Calif., $18
Racy and intense with apricot and peach flavors, this is a lovely albariño. If you and your guests can avoid sucking it down as soon as you twist off the screw cap, try pairing it with anything seafood, but especially a seafood salad with some citrus. It is also fruity enough to match spicier dishes. Certified sustainable. Alcohol by volume: 13.5 percent.
Distributed by Country Vintner: On the list in the District at Barcelona (14th St.), District Commons, Firefly, Logan Tavern, Tadich Grill. Available in Maryland at Bel Pre Fine Wine in Silver Spring, the Bottle Shop in Potomac, Old Town Market in Kensington; on the list at 1157 Bar and Kitchen in Baltimore, Aida Bistro in Columbia, Isabella's and Reina in Frederick, Summer House Santa Monica in North Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Classic Wines of Great Falls in Great Falls, Unwined (Alexandria).
Weingut Josef Bauer Ried Spiegel Grüner Veltliner 2016
Wagram, Austria, $17
Racy, minerally, with aromas of white flowers, chalk and talcum powder, this is textbook gruner. Still young, it will only improve for several years, but it's hard to resist now. Try this with anything seafood or pork, especially spicy dishes. ABV: 12 percent.
Distributed by Siema: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Cork & Fork, DCanter. Available in Maryland at Cork & Fork in Bethesda, Cranberry Liquors in Westminster, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer and Pinky & Pepe's Grape Escape in Gaithersburg, Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring, Old Farm Liquors and Ye Old Spirit Shop in Frederick, Franklin Liquors in Ijamsville, Wine Bin in Ellicott City; on the list at In Bloom in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Cork & Fork in Gainesville, Vienna Vintner; on the list at Northside Social in Arlington.
Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard Dry Riesling 2015/2016
Seneca Lake, New York, $22
Wiemer was an early standard bearer for the Finger Lakes, still one of the most exciting wine regions in the United States today. I often prefer the semi-dry Rieslings most wineries produce over their dry Rieslings, but this dry version is textbook, in the style of the Rheinhessen region of Germany. Added bonus: It's exceedingly food friendly, especially if pork is on the menu. I tasted the 2016, which is just entering the market, but if you find the 2015, don't hesitate. ABV: 12 percent.
Distributed by Bacchus in the District and Maryland, Hop & Wine in Virginia: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Calvert Woodley, Cork Market, Harry's Reserve Fine & Spirits, MacArthur Beverages, Paul's of Chevy Chase; on the list at Cafe Milano, Johnny's Half Shell, the Liaison, Maxwell Park, Proof, Rasika (Penn Quarter, West End), Tail Up Goat. Available in Maryland at Shawan Liquors in Cockeysville, Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington; on the list at Parts & Labor in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview); on the list at Brabo and Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Field & Main in Marshall, Mount Vernon Inn in Mount Vernon.
Eric Bonnet Reserve Saint Dominique Lirac 2014
Rhone Valley, France, $19
This blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre, organically farmed, is textbook Rhone — deep cherry flavors with hints of fig and wild herbs. As the air cools into autumn, open this beauty when you season your steak for the grill. By the time the coals are hot and the steak properly charred, the wine will be ready to sing in your glass. ABV: 14.5 percent.
Distributed by Simon N Cellars: Available in Maryland at Wine Cellars of Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Leesburg Vintner, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview).
Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2015
Seneca Lake, New York, $23
The Finger Lakes is a cool-climate wine region known for its Rieslings. This cabernet franc is a great example of what the region can accomplish with red grapes. Wine lovers will think of the Loire Valley in France: smoky dark fruit, medium body and food-friendly acidity. This is lighter than we'd expect from the French version, but the purity and focus of its fruit flavors are textbook. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Distributed by Bacchus in the District and Maryland, by Hop & Wine in Virginia: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Cork Market, MacArthur Beverages; on the list at Bourbon Steak, Charlie Palmer Steak, District Distilling Co., Proof, Rasika (West End), Salt Line, Tadich Grill, Tail Up Goat. Available in Maryland at Drink in Timonium, Eddie's Liquors and Wine Market in Baltimore, John Brown General and Butchery in Cockeysville; on the list at Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview); on the list at Brabo and Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Field & Main in Marshall, Mount Vernon Inn in Mount Vernon.
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.