Exceptional Excellent Very Good
Skin-fermented white wines are all the rage. While most whites are made from juice pressed off and separated from the skins, a technique that emphasizes freshness, skin-fermentation adds color, body and tannin. This week’s selections feature a California Gewurztraminer that serves as a great introduction to this style. And we have two bold reds from South America as well as two great rosés for spring.
Central Coast, Calif., $21
This lovely Gewurztraminer was fermented on its skins, like a red wine, giving it a lovely salmon tint, as well as extra body and tannic grip. It isn’t floral like many Gewurzes are, but it does have the characteristic litchi flavor of the grape. This is a nice introductory wine to the skin-fermented style popular for white wines today. Alcohol by volume: 12.8 percent.
Distributed by Le Storie: Available in the District at Ace Beverage; Calvert Woodley; Cordial Craft Wine, Beer & Spirits (the Wharf); Wardman Wines. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Corks & Kegs and Union Market in Richmond, Dominion Wine and Beer in Falls Church, Grape + Bean (Old Town, Rosemont), Tastings of Charlottesville and Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville.
Casablanca Valley, Chile, $17
Here’s another example of Chile punching above its price level in terms of value. And it’s an anomaly: The Casablanca Valley, a cooler climate region northwest of Santiago, is known for its pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. This blend is based on cabernet franc, with malbec, syrah and merlot — oh, and a dose of pinot noir thrown in for extra interest and an intriguing balance of bold fruit and acidity. Creative, delicious and original. ABV: 14.5 percent.
Distributed by DMV: Available in the District at Georgia Ave Food Barn, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Yes! Organic Market (Georgia Avenue). Widely available in Maryland, including at Cork 57 Beer and Wine and Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda, Dawson’s Market in Rockville, Diamond Square Beer & Wine and Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, Eastport Liquors in Annapolis, Franklin Liquors in Ijamsville, Frederick Wine House and Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Highland Wine & Spirits in Highland, Hop N Grape in North Bethesda, Maple Lawn Wine & Spirits in Fulton, Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring, Takoma Park-Silver Spring Co-op in Takoma Park. Available in Virginia at Wegmans (various locations).
Mendoza, Argentina, $11
There’s nothing subtle about this wine — it will grab you and lead you through a tango of flavors, each one as bold as the colors and music of the La Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires that inspires the label and the blend. Malbec, bonarda and syrah dance a handsome triptych that calls for grilled meats, loud music and a fire pit on the patio under the stars. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Distributed by Elite: Available in the District at Arrowine and Spirits, D’Vines, Rosebud Liquor, Streets Market (both locations), Virginia Market, Yes! Organic Market (14th Street); on the list at PJ Clarke’s. Available in Maryland at Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia, Wine Bin in Ellicott City, Wine Cellars of Annapolis; on the list at Vin 909 in Annapolis, Vini Culture in Frederick. Available in Virginia at City Vino in Fredericksburg, Cocina on Market in Leesburg, Gallery Market & Cafe and Westover Market in Arlington, Libbie Market and Lombardy Market in Richmond, Streets Market (Arlington, Alexandria), the Town Duck in Warrenton; on the list at La Terraza in Alexandria.
Cotes-du-Rhone, France, $11
Bright acidity, with strawberry and melon flavors: This is a textbook rosé at a great price. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Distributed by M. Touton: Available in the District at Barrel House Liquors, Cairo Wine & Liquor, Capitol Hill Wine and Spirits, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Eye Street Cellars, Harry’s Reserve Fine Wines & Spirits, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Oasis Gourmet Deli, Open Door Market, Rodman’s, S&R Liquors, Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Universal Liquor, Whole Foods Market (Foggy Bottom). Available in Maryland at Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John; Bradley Food & Beverage, Cork 57 Beer and Wine and Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda; Choice Wine & Beer in Wheaton; Cindy’s Spirits in Elkridge; Foundry Row Wine & Spirits in Owings Mills; Fulton Wine & Spirits in Fulton; General’s Wine & Spirits in Crownsville; Montpelier Liquors in Laurel, Old Farm Liquors and Riverside Liquors in Frederick, Petite Cellars in Ellicott City, Quarry Wine & Spirits in Baltimore, Queens Chapel Liquors in Hyattsville, Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington, the Wine Shoppe in Waldorf; on the list at La Ferme in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Crystal City Wine Shop and K-1 Beer and Wine in Arlington, Department of Beer and Wine in Alexandria, Grapevine in Warrenton, Kohlmann’s Neighborhood Market in Richmond, Norm’s Beer & Wine and the Wine Outlet in Vienna, Whole Foods Market (various locations).
Rioja, Spain, $10
Just $10 for a tasty, organic rosé? Sign me up for a case. This is made from garnacha (Grenache), a classic red grape for pink wine. It offers zesty flavors of melon and herbs with an appealing salinity. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Distributed by Dionysus: Available in the District at Mom’s Organic Market (New York Avenue), Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s, Beer Wine & Co. and Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring, Hop N Grape in North Bethesda, Mom’s Organic Market in Rockville, Rodman’s (Wheaton, White Flint), Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean), Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Mom’s Organic Market (Alexandria, Arlington, Herndon, Merrifield, Woodbridge), Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview).
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.