Exceptional Excellent Very Good
It should be no secret by now that I love the table wines of Portugal’s Douro Valley for their quality and value. Here are two delicious examples worth seeking out. And in this hot weather, nothing is better than a crisp Italian white or rosado (including a three-star bottle for just $12), or a carbonated rosé from California.
Douro, Portugal, $15
Quinta do Crasto (CRASH-toe) would be on any shortlist of my favorite wineries in the world, not just the Douro. The Crasto is an everyday cuvee blended of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (a Portuguese name for Tempranillo), Touriga Franca and Tinta Barroca, grapes more familiar in the fortified Ports from the region. This wine is electric, taut and energetic with dark fruit flavors and a sense of being rooted deep in the Earth. You don’t find this often in a $15 wine. Alcohol by volume: 13 percent.
Distributed by Country Vintner: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Hop, Cask & Barrel, Potomac Wine & Spirits, Rodman’s, Whole Foods Market (H Street, P Street); on the list at Jack Rose. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s in Bethesda, the Bottle Shop in Potomac, Lady’s Liquors in La Plata, Longmeadow Wine & Liquors in Hagerstown, Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s, Unwined in Alexandria, Whole Foods Market in Tysons; on the list at Rafagino Ristorante in Burke.
Douro, Portugal, $16
This is another reliably delicious table red from the Douro, made with grapes traditionally used for Port. It is savory with hints of wild herbs and mushrooms, and comfort. ABV: 13 percent.
Distributed by Country Vintner: Available in the District at Manhattan Market, Rodman’s; on the list at Rasika West End, Ris. Available in Maryland at Eddie’s of Roland Park and Wine Source in Baltimore, Mays Chapel Wine & Spirit Shop in Timonium; on the list at a.k.a Friscos in Frederick, Botanero in Rockville. Available in Virginia at Unwined in Alexandria, the Whole Ox in Marshall; on the list at Carmelo’s in Manassas.
Abruzzo, Italy, $12
This is an outstanding rosé for the price: bright cherry fruit with an herbal, bitter note that elevates the wine to a refreshing finish. Old school, no compromises: Love it or leave it. I love it. ABV: 13 percent.
Distributed by Bacchus in the District and Maryland, Virginia Imports in Virginia: Available in the District at Burka’s Wine & Liquor, Lion’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor; on the list at Acacia Bistro, Acqua al 2, Aperto, Fig & Olive, Il Canale, Urbana. Available in Maryland at Eddie’s of Roland Park and Remington Wine Company in Baltimore, the Italian Market in Annapolis, Town Center Market in Riverdale; on the list at Grano in Baltimore, Puccini in Cumberland. Available in Virginia at Giant Food (various locations); on the list at Alta Strada and Dolce Vita in Fairfax, Lena’s Wood-fired Pizza, Mia’s Italian Kitchen, Virtue Feed & Grain, Vola’s Dockside Grill in Alexandria.
Soave may seem like a cheap white wine your parents used to drink back in the ’80s. Disabuse yourself of that misconception. This is a vibrant, delicious white, ideal for sipping in hot weather with appetizers or light salads and entrees. Beautiful wine. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Distributed by Winebow in the District, by Country Vintner in Maryland and Virginia: Available in the District at Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Wardman Wines, Wine & Butter; on the list at Coppi’s, Tartufo. Available in Maryland at Beers & Cheers Too in Gaithersburg, the Bottle Shop in Potomac, Chesapeake Wine Co. in Baltimore, Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold, Petite Cellars in Ellicott City. Available in Virginia at the Brew Shop in Arlington, Cheesetique in Shirlington, Society Fair in Alexandria.
California, $9 (375 milliliter can)
Randall Grahm, the irrepressible eminence behind Bonny Doon, has embraced cans as a package for wine with this carbonated rosé. It tastes like his popular Vin Gris de Cigare, but with bubbles. Bubbles are bulles in French, and with mousse, for foam, we get a pun on “Bull Moose” in English. I love puns. And I love this wine. The can is worth reading, too. ABV: 13 percent.
Distributed by Kysela: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Magruder’s, Wardman Wines; on the list at Bantam King, Daikaya. Available in Maryland at Antietam Spirits in Boonsboro, Liquor Stop in Bel Air, Longmeadow Wine & Liquors in Hagerstown, Wine Merchant in Lutherville, Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean, Reston), the Cheese Shop in Williamsburg, City Vino in Fredericksburg, Craft Beer Cellar in Lynchburg, Crystal City Wine Shop in Arlington, Foods of All Nations and Market Street Wineshop in Charlottesville, Locke Store in Millwood, Throx Country Store in Winchester.
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.