Exceptional Excellent Very Good
Here are five delicious wines under $20 that deliver exceptional value. You almost may wonder, why spend more? There are reasons, but don’t let them stop you from enjoying these.
Danube Plain, Bulgaria, $17
Bulgaria’s Danube Plain is producing some delicious pinot noir. The Milena is almost as elegant as its label, with notes of rose petals and cherries. The producers wisely took good fruit and did little to it. Alcohol by volume: 13 percent.
Imported by G&B, distributed by Global Wines: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Cork & Fork, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Rodman’s, Yes! Organic Market (various locations); on the list at Hazel. Available in Maryland at Downtown Wine & Beer 3, Gilly’s Craft Beer & Fine Wine and Grosvenor Market in Rockville, Friendship Gourmet Market in Chevy Chase, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Takoma Park-Silver Spring Co-Op in Takoma Park, the Wine Harvest (Gaithersburg, Potomac). Available in Virginia at Streets Market and Cafe (Alexandria, Arlington).
South Australia, $13
This is a lovely viognier, with scents of jasmine and honeysuckle, and a hint of ginger on the full-bodied palate. Wine Spectator magazine agreed, ranking it in its top 100 wines of the year. So buy up while you can! ABV: 13 percent.
Imported by Negociants USA; distributed by Country Vintner: Available in the District at Cairo Wine & Liquor, Calvert Woodley, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Whole Foods Market (P Street, South Capitol Hill), Wide World of Wines; on the list at Eno Wine Bar. Available in Maryland at the Bottle Shop in Potomac, Decanter Fine Wines in Columbia, Georgetown Square Wine and Beer and Geste Beer & Wine in Bethesda, Pine Orchard Liquors in Ellicott City, Ridgely Wines & Spirits in Lutherville, Rip’s Wine and Spirit Shop in Bowie, Rodman’s (White Flint), Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring, Valley Wine & Spirits in Hagerstown, Wells Discount Liquors and Wine Source in Baltimore, Woodmore Wine and Spirits in Lanham, World Market in Rockville; on the list at Harry Browne’s in Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Locke Store in Millwood, Total Wine & More (McLean, Fredericksburg), Wegmans (various locations), World Market (Falls Church, Pentagon City); on the list at Rincome in Arlington.
This delightful bubbly is a blend of 85 percent assyrtiko and 15 percent malagouzia, two popular Greek white varieties. It is a sparkling fruit basket in a glass, with orchard and tropical fruit flavors and impressive depth. ABV: 12 percent.
Imported and distributed by Dionysos: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Rodman’s; on the list at Kapnos, Prather’s on the Alley, Mediterranean Way. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Canton Crossing Wine + Spirits in Baltimore; on the list at Kapnos Kouzina in Bethesda, Ouzo Bay in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview); on the list at Kapnos Taverna in Arlington, Our Mom Eugenia in Great Falls.
Loire Valley, France, $15
Pinot noir from the Loire can be rather light, and it often makes a nice rosé. This red is deep, savory and delicious. It grew on me, getting better the second night, so if you have time, open it a few hours before dinner. It actually reminded me of Loire Valley cabernet franc, featuring some of the smoky, leathery quality I call “grandpop’s library,” but with the body and fruit of a nice pinot noir. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Imported and distributed by Simon N Cellars: Available in the District at Potomac Wine & Spirits. Available in Maryland at Wine Cellars of Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Leesburg Vintner in Leesburg, Tastings of Charlottesville and Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview); on the list at Bizou in Charlottesville.
Rioja, Spain, $16
Not too many years ago, Spanish wineries would typically hold their rosés, or rosados, until two years after the vintage, believing the extra time in bottle enhanced their flavor. Today, the market demand for rosé emphasizes freshness, and we tend to think (wrongly) that any rosé more than a year old is over the hill. The makers of Evaia seem to have tried to play both ways, releasing their 2017 only in the fall, without rushing it to market. It’s terrific, with racy flavors of melon and strawberry, braced with a hint of exotic spice. ABV: 13 percent.
Imported and distributed by M. Touton Selection: Available in the District at 7 River Mart , Cork & Fork, Eye Street Cellars, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Rodman’s, Rosebud Liquor, World Liquors. Available in Maryland at Mel’s Liquors in Jessup, Old Farm Liquors and Riverside Liquors in Frederick, Rosewick Wine & Spirits in La Plata, Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington, Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, Rio Hill Wine & Beer in Charlottesville, the Wine Outlet (various locations), Whole Foods Market (Arlington).
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.