This week, we have two outstanding values in red wines — an affordable merlot from Tuscany and a splurge-worthy mataro from Barossa in Australia. Just for variety’s sake, look for this top-notch cru Beaujolais and an expressive barbera from Piedmont in Italy. Then cleanse your palate with a crisp, low-alcohol cider from Basque country in Spain.


Thorn-Clarke Single Vineyard Selection Hoffmann DV Mataro 2018


Barossa, Australia, $26

This wine grew on me with time, enticing my palate and engaging my imagination with each sip. Fruit-forward and extroverted in the Australian style, it nonetheless is savory and earthy, revealing new layers as you get deeper into the bottle. I had the luxury of savoring it over three days, and it kept getting better, so I recommend cracking the screw cap and decanting it several hours before dinner. Thorne-Clarke also has a single-vineyard grenache, which will appeal to fans of full-throated super-ripe reds. Alcohol by volume: 14.5 percent.

Imported and distributed by Kysela: Available in the District at Magruder’s, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Downtown Crown Wine and Beer and in Gaithersburg; Wells Discount Liquors in Baltimore, Wine Bin in Ellicott City. Available in Virginia at Belmont Butchery, J. Emerson Fine Wines & Cheese and Libbie Market in Richmond; City Vino in Fredericksburg; Dominion Wine and Beer in Falls Church; Echelon Wine Bar in Leesburg; Unwined (Bradlee) in Alexandria; the Vineyard in McLean; Vinosity in Culpeper; the Wine Outlet (Vienna).

Chateau du Moulin-à-Vent, Couvent des Thorins 2018


Moulin-à-Vent, Beaujolais, France, $25

From one of the cru appellations of Beaujolais, this outstanding gamay offers all the conviviality of the region with added complexity and depth. Flavors of dark cherries, blackberries and wild herbs seem to be suspended in the wine. ABV: 13 percent.

Imported by Wilson Daniels, exclusive to Whole Foods Market: Available in the District at Whole Foods Market (H Street). Available in Virginia at Whole Foods Market (Ashburn, Charlottesville, Fairfax, Glen Allen, Richmond, Vienna, Virginia Beach).


Villa Poggio Salvi Lavischio 2019


Tuscany, Italy, $15

We don’t think of Tuscany as a source of great merlot, but here’s one. Over several days, this wine danced from bright plum flavors to stony minerality, and back again to fruit, then earth, until the flavors melded into something more complex. There’s a lot going on here for the price. ABV: 13.5 percent.

Imported by Tri-Vin, distributed by DMV: Available in the District at District Liquors, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits. Available in Maryland at A&A Wine & Spirits in Gambrills; Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda; Columbia Fine Wine & Spirits and Kings Contrivance Liquor Shop in Columbia; Eastport Liquors and the Italian Market in Annapolis; Edgewater Liquors in Edgewater; in Gaithersburg; Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold; Hunt Valley Wine, Liquor & Beer in Cockeysville; Pigtown Wine Beer & Liquors and Pratt Liquors in Baltimore; Riverside Liquors in Frederick; Town Center Market in Riverdale Park; the Winery in Chester. Available in Virginia at Wegmans (various locations).

Broccardo Barbera d'Alba La Martina 2018


Piedmont, Italy, $18

This wine checks all the boxes: Bright, fruity, earthy and spicy, with good acidity to keep it fresh and lively. Barbera is a versatile grape when it comes to food pairings. It seems to shape-shift to match whatever you’re eating. This is a good choice when your food might seem challenging for red wine. This vintage is quite ripe but carries the alcohol well. ABV: 15 percent.

Imported by Caput Mundi, distributed by Impero: Available in the District at A. Litteri, Batch 13, Imperial Wine & Spirits, MacArthur Beverages, Rodman’s, Salumeria (Brookland, NoMa), Schneider’s of Capitol Hill. Available in Maryland at Cork 57 Beer and Wine in Bethesda; Crescent Wine & Spirits in Bowie; Di Pasquale’s Marketplace and Wine Source in Baltimore; Dawson’s Market in Rockville; Downtown Crown Wine and Beer, and Gemelli’s Italian Market in Gaithersburg; Edgewater Liquors in Edgewater; Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold; Frederick Wine House, Old Farm Liquors and Orion Wine & Spirits in Frederick; Giolitti Delicatessen and the Italian Market in Annapolis; Old Town Market in Kensington; Rodman’s (White Flint); Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring. Available in Virginia at American Dream Cafe, the Italian Store (Lyon Village, Westover) and Sense of Place Cafe in Arlington; Branch & Vine and Oxford Cellars in Richmond; Crystal Palate, Marchese Italian Market, Rigoletto Italian Bakery & Cafe and Yiannis Wine Shop in Virginia Beach; Dolce Vita Italian Restaurant Wine Bar in Fairfax; Market 2 Market in Alexandria; Norm’s Beer & Wine and Vienna Vintner in Vienna; Puck’s Market in Henrico; the Wine Attic in Clifton; WineStyles (Montclair).


Barrika Basque Country Cider


Spain, $7 for 375-milliliter, $13 for 750ml

Golden straw in color, crisp and fresh with acidity and fresh apple flavors — after each sip, I imagined myself at a farmers market in September, sampling several varieties of apples. There are almost certainly varieties of apples in this lovely blend that most of us have never heard of. Drink this beauty with lunch, snacks or a light meal when a wine might seem too much. The half bottles under crown cap make this ideal for solo diners, casual lunches, or first-course libations before moving on to something more substantial. ABV: 6 percent.

Imported by Kupela Inc., distributed by Global Wines Maryland: Available in the District at Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, D’Vines, Good Food Markets, Gypsy Kitchen, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Beer Wine & Co. and Capital Beer & Wine in Bethesda; Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John; CT Wine & Spirits in Columbia; Downtown Crown Wine and Beer in Gaithersburg; Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring; Roots Market (Olney).

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 to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

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