Exceptional Excellent Very Good
If your red wine seems to wilt in the summer heat, give it a chill in the refrigerator or an ice bucket. Or even better, shake things up with a chilled sparkling red Lambrusco from northern Italy. This week’s wines include a great example, plus a French rosé, a spicy Austrian red, a tropical Aussie chardonnay and a bargain wine from Spain.
We tend not to think of Lambrusco, unless it’s a memory of the jug our mothers used to keep in the refrigerator door. And we don’t normally think of red sparkling wine. But chill this and it’s perfect for summer. Lambrusco offers smoky, woodsy flavors and pairs well with ham, charcuterie, pizza and spicy Asian dishes. Just about anything, actually. The distributors have recently transitioned to the 2016 vintage, which I tasted, but don’t hesitate to try the 2015 if you find it on store shelves. Alcohol by volume: 11.5 percent.
Distributed by Bacchus in the District and Maryland, Free Run in Virginia: Available in the District at A. Litteri, Grand Cata; on the list at Centrolina, Dino’s Grotto, Kapnos, Proof, Rasika (Penn Quarter), Red Apron (Penn Quarter, Union Market). Available in Maryland at Bin 201 Wine Sellers and Wine Source in Baltimore; on the list at Pacci Neapolitan Pizzeria in Silver Spring, Pizzeria Da Marco in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), Vinosity in Culpeper; on the list at Pizzeria Orso in Falls Church, Red Apron in Fairfax.
Bandol, France, $23
Bandol, a small region east of Marseille along the Mediterranean coast of France, is famous for its rosé. That means they can command a price over $20, like the sought-after Sancerre rosés from the Loire Valley further north. But we also gain depth and complexity. This may not be the rosé for slaking your thirst on a hot summer day, but it is an ideal partner for some of the summer dishes that help us cool down. Salade Niçoise, s’il vous plait! ABV: 14 percent.
Distributed by M. Touton: Available in the District at Cairo Wine & Liquor, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Circle Wine & Liquor, Eye Street Cellars, Metro Wine & Spirits, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Pearson’s, Prego Again, Rodman’s, Safeway (Georgetown), Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Wagshal’s Deli, Whole Foods Market (Foggy Bottom, P Street). Available in Maryland at Beer Wine & Co. and Cork 57 Beer and Wine in Bethesda; Choice Wine & Beer in Wheaton; Dawson’s Market in Rockville; Franklins Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville; Hunt Valley Wine, Liquor & Beer in Cockeysville; Jason’s Wine & Spirits and Pine Orchard Liquors in Ellicott City; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; World Gourmet Wine & Beer in Potomac; on the list at Elements in Lexington Park. Available in Virginia at Wegmans (various locations).
Weinland, Austria, $12
This is a spicy, delicious red wine with vibrant acidity and flavors of black cherry, raspberry, caraway and fenugreek. It has enough weight and balance to drink on its own, but that spicy character calls for food. Give it a slight chill and try it with grilled meats or Indian cuisine. This is the private label of Philadelphia-based importer Boutique Wine Selections, and someone did a very good job sourcing this juice. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Distributed by Siema: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits. Available in Maryland at Cranberry Liquors in Westminster, Crescent Beer & Wine in Bowie, Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring, Wine Market in Baltimore, Friendship Wine & Liquor in Abingdon, Midway Discount Liquors in Joppa, Old Town Market in Kensington, Spin the Bottle Wine Co. and ’Ye Old Spirit Shop in Frederick, Wine Bin in Ellicott City. Available in Virginia at Culpeper Cheese Company in Culpeper, Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview).
Margaret River, Australia, $22
Here’s a case study in why we shouldn’t rely on snap judgments when tasting wine. My first sip of this Australian chardonnay, just liberated from under its screw cap, was a bit reductive and sulfury. But I could tell there was good fruit underneath. So I poured a glass through an aerator, a device designed to let wine breathe in a hurry. It tasted better, more fruity. Then after an hour or so, the wine showed tropical fruit and nice richness, with a savory acidity that called for rich seafood or poultry dishes. So if you do find a screw-capped wine tasting a bit off at first, give it some air — pour it in a decanter and slosh it around a bit. Liberate that fruit! ABV: 13 percent.
Distributed by Artisans & Vines: Available in the District at Broad Branch Market, Cork & Fork, Rodman’s, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill. Available in Maryland at Cork & Fork in Bethesda, Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring, Takoma Park-Silver Spring Co-Op in Takoma Park, the Wine Harvest in Potomac. Available in Virginia at Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview); on the list at Lake Anne Coffee House & Wine Bar in Reston.
Cariñena, Spain, $10
Spain has long been a source of good quality bargain wines made from garnacha (known as grenache in France). The Demba is another example: a juicy red with a hint of sunshine and dry earth. ABV: 14 percent.
Distributed by Stefano Selections: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Potomac Wines & Spirits. Available in Maryland at Aloha Liquor in Baltimore.
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.