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Here are terrific wines from Michel Gassier in Costières de Nîmes in southern France, plus a classic style Chateauneuf-du-Pape and a good value premier cru Burgundy.
Costières de Nîmes, France, $20
Whether the white or the red, these wines at $20 offer tremendous value. The white is a blend of Grenache blanc, roussanne, Viognier, clairette and bourbelanc. It combines the honeyed, lanolin character of a Rhone Valley white with the freshness of a cooler climate wine — the influence of the Mediterranean Sea. The red combines Grenache, carignan, syrah, mourvedre and cinsault into a beguiling elixir of earth, stones and fruit, seasoned with an herbal note of sea air. Alcohol by volume: 13.5 percent for the white, 14.5 percent for the red.
Distributed by Country Vintner: The red is available in the District at Lee-Irving Liquor; on the list at Le Chat Noir, Le Grenier, Tail Up Goat. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s in Bethesda, Pine Orchard Liquors in Ellicott City, Roland Park Wines & Liquors in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (Alexandria), Dominion Wine & Beer in Falls Church, Unwined (Alexandria). The white is on the list in the District at Rasika (Penn Quarter) and Tail Up Goat. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s in Bethesda; Cranbrook Liquors in Cockeysville; Longmeadow Wine & Liquors in Hagerstown; Old Line Fine Wine, Spirits & Bistro in Beltsville; Orion Wine & Spirits in Frederick, Wine Loft in Pikesville. Available in Virginia at Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview).
Cotes-du-Rhone, France, $16
The red Cercius, a Cotes-du-Rhone, is a blend of Grenache and syrah that soothes the palate and soul with flavors of tobacco leaf, cherry and fruit compote. At 15 percent alcohol, it’s a bit heady, but the wine manages to remain balanced without being “hot.” The white Cercius 2015 blends Grenache blanc, roussanne and sauvignon blanc, which give the wine a zippy acidity that adds beguiling freshness. The white is labeled as a Vin de France, because the sauvignon blanc is a foreigner to the Rhone Valley. ABV: 15 percent for the red, 13.5 percent for the white.
Distributed by Country Vintner: The 2014 red is available at Calvert Woodley, Dcanter and Lee-Irving Liquor; on the list at DBGB Kitchen & Bar, Garrison, Le Chat Noir, Le Grenier. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s in Bethesda, Beards Hill Liquors in Aberdeen, Cranbrook Liquors in Cockeysville, Goska’s Liquors in Severna Park, Roland Park Wines & Liquors in Baltimore; on the list at Fleming’s Steakhouse in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Unwined (Alexandria), Wegmans (Dulles); on the list at Fleming’s Steakhouse in Tysons Corner. The 2015 white is available in the District at Cordial Fine Wine & Spirits. Available in Maryland at Mills Fine Wine and Spirits in Annapolis, House of Liquors in Westminster. Available in Virginia at Wine Source in Baltimore; on the list at Lyon Hall in Arlington.
Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone Valley, France, $38
This is a classic Chateauneuf, with earthy flavors of blackberries, prunes and that appealing southern Rhone herbal character known as garrigue. Organic viticulture helps keep the alcohol in balance. ABV: 14 percent.
Distributed by Elite: Available in the District at the Bottle Shop, Cork & Fork, Rodman’s, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Whole Foods Market (Georgetown, P Street, Tenleytown); on the list at Bistro Bis, Bistro Cacao, Convivial, Et Voila, Tabard Inn. Available in Maryland at Annebeth’s and Wine Cellars of Annapolis; on the list at Corner Bistro and Fork & Wrench in Baltimore, La Ferme in Chevy Chase. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese and Grand Cru in Arlington, Balducci’s (Alexandria), Foods of All Nations, Market Street Wineshop (Uptown) in Charlottesville, Whole Foods Markets (various locations); on the list at Bistro l’Hermitage in Woodbridge; Brabo, Hunting Creek, Restaurant Eve and Yves Bistro in Alexandria; Goodstone Inn in Middleburg; Idylwood Grill in Falls Church; Le Mediterranean Bistro in Fairfax; Mele Bistro in Arlington; Passionfish in Reston; TenPenh in Tysons Corner.
Burgundy, France, $34
A premier cru Burgundy is hard to find at this price. This wine shows dark berry fruit — think blackberries, currants and the darkest cherries you’ve ever tasted, then add attitude. Fans of Russian River pinot noir from Sonoma County should enjoy this charmer. ABV: 13 percent.
Distributed by Dionysus: Available in the District at Arrowine and Spirits, Rodman’s, Whole Foods Market (Foggy Bottom, P Street). Available in Maryland at Balducci’s and Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean), Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), Whole Foods Market (Alexandria, Tysons); on the list at L’Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls.
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.