Let’s cruise the Mediterranean this week, starting in southern France with a great-value grenache and a Rhône blend that dials the intensity up a couple of notches. Then over to Italy for two reds — a natural nero d’avola from Sicily and an obscure red grape from up north in Piedmont. We finish with a flirtatious rosé bubbly from Greece that wants to throw a party in your glass.


Generation 1905 Grenache 2019


Vin de France, $12

Côtes-du-Rhône reds have crept up in price, so here’s a simple vin de pays to fill the gap underneath. It’s a sly wine, catching your attention with the second or third sip, and your imagination by the fifth. Alcohol by volume: 14.5 percent.

Imported by Tri-Vin, distributed by DMV: Available in the District at Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Yes! Organic Market (Capitol Hill). Available in Maryland at Apple Greene Wine & Spirits, Dunkirk Wine & Spirits in Dunkirk; Beer Wine & Co., Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda; Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John; Downtown Crown Wine and Beer, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg; Eastport Liquors in Annapolis; Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold; Highland Wine & Spirits in Highland; Parkway Deli & Restaurant, Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring; Rollins Beer-Wine-Deli in Rockville; Thirsty’s Wine and Spirits in Oxon Hill; Town Center Market in Riverdale Park.


Fabrizio Vella Rosso 2020


Sicily, Italy, $15

This is nero d’avola, made in a natural style with minimal intervention in the winery. Fresh and lively, there’s tension, or energy, on the palate, with effusive blackberry and raspberry fruit. Lovely wine, from certified organic fruit. The same producer makes a delicious white from the catarratto grape as well. ABV: 12.5 percent.

Imported by Omni Wines, distributed by Impero: Available in the District at A. Litteri, Pearson’s, Rodman’s, Salumeria 2703, Salumeria NoMa. Available in Maryland at Beer Wine & Co., Bethesda Market in Bethesda; CuVino Trattoria in Timonium; Dawson’s Market, King’s Craft Beer Wine & Deli in Rockville; Di Pasquale’s Marketplace (Brewers Hill, Mastellone Deli) in Baltimore; District East, Frederick Wine House, Orion Wine & Spirits in Frederick; Downtown Crown Wine and Beer, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg; Giolitti Delicatessen, the Italian Market in Annapolis; Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring. Available in Virginia at Baked Bistro & Pizza, Fox Tail Wine Bar in Hampton; Branch & Vine, Shields Market, Strawberry Street Market in Richmond; Crystal Palate in Norfolk; Dolce Vita in Fairfax; Gvino in Leesburg; the Italian Store (Lyon Village, Westover), Pentagon City Wine Merchant in Arlington; Marchese Italian Market, Yiannis in Virginia Beach; Market 2 Market in Alexandria; Norm’s Beer & Wine, Vienna Vintner in Vienna; Sal’s by Victor, Wine Seller in Williamsburg; the Wine Attic in Clifton; WineStyles in Montclair.

Dacapo Majoli Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato 2019


Piedmont, Italy, $20

For red wine, Italy’s Piedmont, or Piemonte, is known primarily for nebbiolo in barolo and barbaresco, or barbera and dolcetto. Ruchè is a lesser-known grape — only about 114 acres were planted in all of Italy in 2000, according to “Wine Grapes,” the authoritative tome by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz. Dacapo’s version smells like there’s a bouquet of roses somewhere in the room and a peppery pasta dish on the table. In other words, it tastes like a romantic dinner for two. Clean the pots and pans later. ABV: 14.5 percent.

Imported and distributed by Simon N Cellars: Available in the District at A. Litteri, MacArthur Beverages. Available in Virginia at Bottle House, Tastings of Charlottesville, Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville; the Wine Outlet (Great Falls, McLean, Vienna).

La Réserve Saint Dominique Rasteau 2019


Rhône Valley, France, $25

This one’s a bit personal for me, as I have always loved the wines from Rasteau, one of the city appellations in the Côtes-du-Rhône region. Even though Rasteau does not have the reputation of Gigondas or Vacqueyras, I’ve always fallen for Rasteau’s soulful expression that evokes a sense of place. This lovely wine sings with bright cherry flavors, seasoned with wild sage and lavender. ABV: 14.5 percent.

Imported and distributed by Simon N Cellars: Available in the District at MacArthur Beverages. Available in Virginia at Basic Necessities in Nellysford; Bottle House, Tastings of Charlottesville, Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville; the Wine Outlet (Great Falls, McLean).

Karanika Cuvée Rosé Extra Brut 2019


Amyndeon, Greece, $37

Whoa — this wine practically jumps from the glass to greet you with a passionate kiss on the lips. Okay, that may sound creepy and even horrifying in today’s pandemic-tinted ethos, but it’s a wine, for crying out loud! This exuberant rosé sparkler tastes like eating fresh fruit off the vine, without the stickiness. It’s 95 percent xinomavro, a grape variety known to anyone who has tried Greek red wines, with the rest limniona, a variety I had never heard of. My “Wine Grapes” (any week I have to consult this book twice is a great week!) describes limniona as a “recently resurrected and promising Greek variety from Thessalía.” (They should call it Lazarus!) Whatever additional life that mystery 5 percent adds to the wine, it works. The price invites comparisons to champagne; while the quality is high, I urge you to enjoy this wine on its own merits. It’s not trying to be champagne. ABV: 11.5 percent.

Imported and distributed by Salveto: Available online at UncorkedGreeks.com. Available in the District at Iron Gate, MacArthur Beverages, Reveler’s Hour. Available in Maryland at Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Can Can in Richmond; Nostos in Tysons; Nouli in Fairfax; Our Mom Eugenia in Great Falls; Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria.

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.

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