★ ★ ★Exceptional ★ ★Excellent ★Very Good
Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be available at additional stores. Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.
Continuing on the holiday theme, here are three more sparkling wines worthy of your celebrations, plus an intriguing French red and a port for dessert.
★ ★ ★
Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Champagne, France, $70
This is a rich and powerful champagne, brimming with ripe fruit and toasty oak flavors of a top cuvée. The current release has a disgorgement date of July 2013 on the label, with the blend from the 2003, 2002 and 2001 vintages. It shows the depth and complexity of a wine left on its lees for a decade. I also recently tasted an older bottle (disgorged in 2008), and it showed more golden color and yeasty notes. Alcohol by volume: 12.5 percent.
Kacher/Washington Wholesale: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, MacArthur Beverages; on the list at Brasserie Beck, Marcel’s.
★ ★ ★
Monticello, Va., $29
Soft and elegant, like a satin pillow for your palate. While the wine is still a brut, signaling dryness, Claude Thibaut leaves a hint of sugar to emphasize the fruitiness. The result is a wine ideal for sipping alone, with a light first course or even as a palate cleanser with dessert. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Margaux & Co.: Available in the District at Cordial Fine Wine & Spirits, Cork & Fork, DCanter, Glen’s Garden Market, MacArthur Beverages; on the list at Brasserie Beck, Eno Wine Bar, Le Diplomate, Peacock Cafe, Plume. Widely available in Virginia, including at Arrowine in Arlington; Clifton Wine Shop; Culpeper Cheese Company, Vinosity in Culpeper; Dominion Wine and Red, White & Bleu in Falls Church; Grape+Bean, Planet Wine & Gourmet, Society Fair, Unwined in Alexandria; Leesburg Vintner; Town Duck in Warrenton; Vienna Vintner; Whole Ox in The Plains; Wine Cabinet in Reston; on the list at America Eats Tavern in McLean; Ashby Inn in Paris; L’Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls; Restaurant Eve and the Majestic in Alexandria; Gypsy Soul in Merrifield; Red Fox Inn and Salamander Resort in Middleburg; Trummer’s on Main in Clifton.
★ ★ 1
Penedès, Spain, $16
This vibrant cava, made without a “dosage” of sugar, is a prime example of why cava is often champagne’s best cheap imitator. This is an excellent budget choice for holiday toasts — stock up and use the unopened bottles to turn average weekdays into celebrations. ABV: 12 percent.
Grapes of Spain/Elite: Available in the District at Arrowine and Spirits; on the list at Minibar, Sequoia. Available in Maryland at Montgomery Gourmet Beer & Wine in Bethesda, World Gourmet Wine & Beer in Potomac; on the list at Grapeseed, Jaleo, Wildwood Kitchen in Bethesda, La Tasca in Rockville. Available in Virginia at Opera House Gifts & Gourmet in Manassas, Whole Ox in The Plains; on the list at Ashby Inn in Paris, Goodstone Inn & Restaurant in Middleburg, the Knife in Woodbridge, Market Table Bistro in Lovettsville, Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg.
Porto, Portugal, $18
Noval makes several excellent ports, including this straightforward tawny that goes down way too easy. Fine by itself or with chocolate desserts. ABV: 19.5 percent.
M Touton: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Best in Liquors, Bloomingdale Liquor, Capital City Wine & Spirits, Capitol Hill Wine and Spirits, Central Liquors, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Harry’s Reserve Fine Wine & Spirits, Mayfair Liquors, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Tenley Wine & Liquor, Virginia Market; on the list at Petits Plats. Available in Maryland at Beer, Wine & Co. in Bethesda, Frank’s Den in Glen Burnie, Old Farm Liquors, Riverside Liquors in Frederick, Party Time Liquors in Mt. Rainier, Tilghman Island Country Store, Thirsty’s Wine & Spirits in Oxon Hill, World Gourmet Wine & Beer in Potomac. Available in Virginia at Chain Bridge Cellars and the Vineyard in McLean, Market Street Wineshop in Charlottesville, Vintage Wines in Harrisonburg.
Côtes du Tarn, France, $13
What an intriguing and delightful little red! From the Gaillac region of southwestern France, this wine will appeal to lovers of Loire Valley cabernet franc — it features similar bing cherry and smoky leather flavors. It’s a bit tart and bitter, but it smooths out nicely on the finish. It’s easy to open, too — bottled under a crown cap. New to the market, look for it soon on more shelves. ABV: 11 percent.
Wine Traditions: Available in the District at Cork Market, D’Vines. Available in Virginia at Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market in Richmond.