Exceptional Excellent Very Good
Summer may be nearing its end, but it doesn’t seem to be loosening its grip. There’s still time to slap a fish on the grill and enjoy an electrifying chenin blanc from the Loire Valley, a top-notch Spanish Rueda, or simple, satisfying and delicious wines from Sicily, Germany and Portugal.
Loire Valley, France, $36
France’s Loire Valley is known primarily for three white wine grapes: sauvignon blanc (think Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Touraine and other appellations); chenin blanc (Vouvray, Savennières and Quarts de Chaume); and melon de bourgogne, the grape of Muscadet. This Savennières is exceptional, combining the flavors of apples and pears common to chenin blanc with hints of chalk, citrus and wild herbs. It smells like a picnic and tastes like a party. Worth the splurge. Alcohol by volume: 13.5 percent.
Imported by Vintus, distributed by M. Touton Selection: Available in the District at Eye Street Cellars, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, Jason’s Wine & Spirits and Pine Orchard Liquors in Ellicott City; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Shawan Liquors in Cockeysville; Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s and Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, Specials Wine Cellar in Kilmarnock.
Rueda, Spain, $22
Rueda produces some delicious white wines to pair with seafood, but while they are often terrific values, they rarely aspire to greatness. Reina de Castilla is not shy about its aspirations: Top-quality fruit is aged in oak nine months to give it added spice and structure, and it succeeds on all levels. This is a dinner-party wine, when you are showing off your skills with fish and shellfish. ABV: 12 percent.
Imported and distributed by Well Crafted Wine & Beverage Co.: Available in the District at Grand Cata. On the list in Maryland at La Cuchara in Baltimore, Savona in Bel Air. Available in Virginia at Planet Wine & Gourmet and Unwined in Alexandria, Swirl & Sip in Fairfax, WineStyles in Montclair; on the list at SER and Verre in Arlington.
Sicily, Italy, $12
Crisp, citrusy and refreshing, this wine from a grape variety common in Sicily is ideal for your late-summer patio parties with grilled seafood, salads or even prepared snacks from the store. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Imported and distributed by Siema: Available in the District at Cork & Fork, Wardman Wines. Available in Maryland at Colony Liquor Mart in Edgewater, Cork & Fork in Bethesda, Di Pasquale’s Marketplace in Baltimore, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer, Gemelli’s Italian Market and Pinky & Pepe’s Grape Escape in Gaithersburg, Dunkirk Wine & Spirits in Dunkirk, Frederick Wine House and Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Old Town Market in Kensington, the Winery in Chester, Wine Bin in Ellicott City; on the list at Cesco Osteria and Pizzeria DaMarco in Bethesda; Da Marco the Italian Place in Germantown, Di Pasquale’s Harborview and Gnocco in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s and Department of Beer and Wine in Alexandria, the Italian Store (Lyon Village, Westover), Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), Vinosity in Culpeper, Wine Cabinet in Reston.
Rheinhessen, Germany, $17 (1 liter)
Some wines are so gulpable that you just want more, and that’s when 1-liter bottles come in handy. This Muller-Thurgau, from a workhorse German grape that usually makes pleasant wine at best, is delightfully zesty and crisp, with just a hint of sweetness to balance the orchard fruit flavors. It’s great for a late-summer lunch on the patio or as an intro to a dinner party. ABV: 12 percent.
Imported by Artisans & Vines, distributed by Free Run in the District, Maryland and Virginia, by Artisans & Vines in Montgomery County, Md.: Available in the District at Broad Branch Market, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Cordial Craft Wine & Spirits (the Wharf), Cork Wine Bar and Market, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis, Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John, Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Dawson’s Market in Rockville, Rodman’s (White Flint), Old Town Market in Kensington, Rip’s Wine and Spirit Shop in Bowie, Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring; on the list at Seoul Food in Takoma Park. Available in Virginia at Dominion Wine and Beer in Falls Church, Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville.
Peninsula de Setúbal, Portugal, $10
Bright cherries, berries and melons come to mind when sipping this little charmer. Don’t think rosé season is over just because Labor Day has come and gone. There’s always room for delicious, refreshing wine of any stripe and color. ABV: 13 percent.
Imported by Tri-Vin Imports, distributed by DMV: Available in the District at Imperial Wine & Spirits, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Yes! Organic Market (12th Street, Georgia Avenue). Available in Maryland at Beers & Cheers in Germantown; Bella’s and Pinky’s West Street Liquors in Annapolis; Cindy’s Spirits in Elkridge; Cranberry Liquors in Westminster; Dawson’s Liquors in Severna Park; Fenwick Beer & Wine, Parkway Deli & Restaurant and Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring; Finewine.com in Gaithersburg; Franklins Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville; Georgetown Square Wine and Beer, Hop N Grape in North Bethesda; Mt. Vernon Supermarket in Baltimore; Takoma Park-Silver Spring Co-op in Takoma Park; Town & Country Wine, Liquor Etc. in Easton; Trout Liquors in Frederick; the Winery in Chester. On the list in Virginia at Carmello’s and Monza in Manassas.
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.