Exceptional ★ Excellent ★ Very Good
We toast the slightly weird and wacky this week, with an unheard-of wine grape, a stunning rosé made from Austrian cabernet sauvignon, of all things, and two outstanding inexpensive wines to help us chill in the August heat.
★ ★ ★
Loire Valley, France, $14
Grolleau gris is almost certainly a grape you’ve never heard of. According to Jancis Robinson in her seminal book “Wine Grapes,” grolleau gris is a color mutation of grolleau noir, another grape you’ve probably never heard of. No matter. All you need to know is that this is a delicious, racy and fruity wine. Not complex, but energetic and delightful. Indulge your sense of adventure. Alcohol by volume: 11.5 percent.
Distributed by Lanterna: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Central Liquors, Cork Market, MacArthur Beverages; on the list at Bourbon Steak, Convivial, Montmartre. Available in Maryland at the Beer & Wine Cellar and Dawson’s Market in Rockville, Wine Bin in Ellicott City, Wine Cellars of Annapolis, Wine Harvest (Potomac); on the list at Full on Craft Eats and Drinks in Olney, Red Red Wine Bar in Annapolis, Wit & Wisdom in Baltimore.
★ ★ ½
Loire Valley, France, $23
Chenin blanc is a favorite of sommeliers and wine fiends because of its minerality and versatility with food, but for some reason it hasn’t caught on with the general wine-drinking public. That means it’s affordable, and the wines from this domaine are no exception. Look for flavors of green apples and pears, with refreshing acidity. ABV: 13 percent.
Distributed by M. Touton: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Capital City Wine & Spirits, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Circle Wine & Liquor, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, MacArthur Beverages, Magruder’s, Metro Wine & Spirits, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Towne Wine & Liquors, Whole Foods Market (P Street NW); on the list at Central by Michel Richard, Pennsylvania 6, Whaley’s. Available in Maryland at Jason’s Wine & Spirits in Ellicott City, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Shawan Liquors in Cockeysville, Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean), Wegmans (various locations), Whole Foods Market (Alexandria); on the list at Ashby Inn in Paris, Oby Lee in Alexandria, Terrapin in Virginia Beach.
★ ★ ½
Rosé of cabernet sauvignon? From Austria? Are you kidding me? Steininger specializes in sparkling wine, and this was supposed to be the base wine of his rosé bubbly. But why not? It’s delightfully crisp, with a hint of spritz to give it extra interest. The importer is almost out of this wine, so stock up now; next week may be too late. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Distributed by Select in Northern Virginia, available through Siema in the District and Maryland. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean), Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Oakton Wine Shop in Oakton, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), Wegmans (various locations), the Wine Cabinet in Reston; on the list at Northside Social in Arlington, Trummer’s on Main in Clifton.
★ ★ ½
Alpes de Haute-Provence, France, $10
As I’ve written before, 2015 was a very ripe vintage throughout France, and that isn’t always a good thing for rosé: Excessive ripeness can erode the crisp acidity that keeps the wine refreshing. This beautiful charmer from Provence gets the balance right, conjuring succulent berries and a zesty mintiness. Hurry and get some in case it disappears from store shelves as quickly as it vanished from my glass. ABV: 14 percent.
Distributed by M. Touton: Available in the District at Best in Liquors, Bloomingdale Liquor, Burka’s Wine & Liquor, Capital City Wine & Spirits, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, New H Wine & Spirits, Rodman’s, Safeway (Georgetown), Samber Market, Whole Foods Market (P Street NW), Wine Specialist. Widely available in Maryland. Available in Virginia at the Vineyard in McLean, the Wine Outlet in Vienna.
Austria, $12 (1 liter)
This charming grüner veltliner ranks among the best white wine values year after year. In the fantastic 2015 vintage, it shows deliciously ripe flavors with the bracing acidity and herbaceous character typical of grüner. It has the added values of being inexpensive, sold in a 1-liter bottle and widely available. ABV: 12 percent.
Siema in the District, Maryland and most of Virginia, Select in Northern Virginia: Widely available.
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.