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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.
Wines from Portugal’s Douro Valley run the price gamut from inexpensive to triple digits. Whites tend to be dry and slightly floral, while reds have the dark berry, dried fruit and leafy tobacco qualities of port without the sweetness or level of alcohol. And while the Douro is Portugal’s most prominent wine region, the country as a whole is a source of some of the world’s best wine values.
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Douro, Portugal, $28
Grown on relatively young vines planted on steep slopes of the Upper Douro (Douro Superior) near the Spanish border, this is an exuberant blend of touriga nacional, touriga franca, tinta roriz (the Portuguese name for tempranillo) and souzão, the last of which adds color and acidity. The wine doesn’t try to be highbrow, though it clearly can age well and develop for several years. In musical terms, it’s Paul Simon rather than Beethoven. Alcohol by volume: 14.5 percent.
Country Vintner/Winebow: Available in the District at Dean & DeLuca, S&R Liquors, Wide World of Wines. Available in Virginia at Market Street Wineshop (Uptown, Downtown) in Charlottesville; Wine House in Fairfax.
Lisboa, Portugal, $10
Even if there weren’t a dog on the label, this would be delightful. It’s light, berry-scented and nicely balanced. With a slight chill, it makes an ideal patio red for sipping or pairing with burgers and other casual foods off the grill. Stock up. ABV: 13 percent.
Stefano Selections: Available in the District at Potomac Wine & Spirits. Available in Maryland at Bin 201 Wine Sellers, Eastport Liquors and Mills Fine Wine and Spirits in Annapolis; Bin 604 Wine Sellers and Wine Source in Baltimore; Decanter Fine Wines in Columbia; Enchanted Forest Wine & Spirits, Jason’s Wine & Spirits and Wine Bin in Ellicott City; Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; the Perfect Pour in Elkridge. Red: Wine, Beer & Spirits in Clarksville; Yes! Organic Market in Hyattsville. On the list at Zí Paní Cafe in Frederick.
Douro, Portugal, $10
This is a nice introduction to the dry red wines of the Douro Valley. It features the classic flavors, with a lightness that keeps it refreshing. ABV: 13 percent.
Dionysus: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda; Canton Crossing Wine + Spirits in Baltimore; DJ Liquors in Frederick; Finewine.com in Gaithersburg; Red: Wine, Beer & Spirits in Clarksville. On the list at Tavira in Chevy Chase. Available in Virginia at Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Curious Grape in Arlington, Grapevine in Warrenton, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), WineStyles (Chantilly); on the list at Columbus Grill in Manassas.
Vinho Verde, Portugal, $10
What a fun little single-vineyard, single-variety vinho verde, the crisp, slightly fizzy style of wine famous in northern Portugal and ideal for summer sipping. Loureiro is a native Portuguese grape variety that produces medium-weight wines with tropical-fruit flavors. Think mango and pineapple. ABV: 11 percent.
Dionysus: Available in the District at Arrowine and Spirits, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, Wells Discount Liquors and Wine Source in Baltimore, Wine Cellars of Annapolis; on the list at Tavira in Chevy Chase. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), Vienna Vintner, Whole Foods Market (Alexandria, Arlington).
From a terrific vintage — “2011” and “Portugal” on a label is an invitation to buy — this makes a very nice introduction to the flavors and style of Portugal. Dão is in central Portugal, between the Douro and Lisbon. This wine uses a national, rather than a regional blend of grapes: touriga nacional, tinta roriz and alfrocheiro yield a tasty, savory wine. There is also a very nice white. ABV: 14 percent.
Stefano Selections: Available in the District at Potomac Wine & Spirits. Available in Maryland at Capital Beer & Wine in Bethesda, Dunkirk Wine & Spirits, Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold, Friendly Liquor in Odenton, Snider’s Super Foods and Spring Beer & Wine in Silver Spring, Wine Source in Baltimore.