r r rExceptional r rExcellent rVery Good Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor. Here is my monthly list of wines that overperform for their price, providing excellent value without hurting your wallet. This month’s list includes a new boxed wine and three cheap palate-pleasers from Gascony in southwestern France, an easy-to-overlook bargain category.
Domaine Montgravet 2011
Cotes de Gascogne, France, $10
This blend of ugni blanc and colombard, grapes traditionally distilled for cognac in Gascony, makes for a delightful summer wine, with lots of crisp peach and apricot flavors and zesty, refreshing acidity.
Winesellers/Country Vintner: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, D’Vines; on the list at Proof. Available in Maryland at Belby Discount Beer & Wine in Rockville, Chevy Chase Supermarket, Georgetown Square Beer & Wine in Bethesda, Perfect Pour in Elkridge, Potomac Gourmet Market in Oxon Hill, Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring.
Lavau, Cotes-du-Rhone Blanc, NV
★1 / 2
Rhone Valley, France, $40 for 3L
I’m generally not a fan of bag-in-the-box wines. Although the packaging is attractive from an environmental perspective, with less of a carbon footprint for the equivalent of four regular bottles, the wines tend to be inferior. When companies make an effort to put better wines in this format, I’m not convinced that the packaging doesn’t affect the flavor. This wine is an exception. It is a delightful, crisp Rhone Valley white that rivals anything in bottles at this price, the equivalent of $10 a bottle. The locally based importer also has a red Cotes du Rhone and promises additional wines in this economical format in coming months.
Quality Box Wines: Available in the District at Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, MacArthur Beverages. Available in Virginia at Fern Street Gourmet and La Fromagerie in Alexandria; on the list at Liberty Tavern in Arlington.
Domaine de Pouy 2011
★1 / 2
Cotes de Gascogne, France, $9
When importer Robert Kacher started his company in the late 1980s, this wine became his “Chateau Cash Flow,” a delightful cheap wine that helped finance his fine Burgundies and Rhones. It also became my house white for several summers because of its delicious, exuberant fruit and prompted other importers to head to Gascony to find similar dry whites. This trendsetter can often be found at a deep discount below its full retail price.
Kacher/Washington Wholesale: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Hayden’s Liquor, Mac Market, MacArthur Beverages, Magruder’s, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Pearson’s, Rodman’s, Safeway in Georgetown, various Whole Foods Market locations; on the list at Acadiana, BLT Steak, Pesce and Zest Bistro. Available in Maryland at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis; Calvert Discount Liquors in Cockeysville; Decanter Fine Wines in Columbia; Eddie’s Market, North Charles Fine Wine & Spirits, Quarry Wine & Spirits, Wells Discount Liquors and Wine Source in Baltimore; Edgewater Liquors; Hair o’ the Dog in Easton; Pine Orchard Wine in Ellicott City.
Domaine du Rey Ugni Blanc-Colombard 2009
★1 / 2
Cotes de Gacogne, France, $10
This Gascony wine is more restrained and serious than the Pouy or the Montgravet. Yet despite its age, it is quite lively. This is a good example of why we shouldn’t rush to drink up even our cheapest, most accessible white wines; many can age for a year or three.
Franck’s/Bacchus: Available in the District at Cork Market, Yes Organic Market. Available in Maryland at Capitol Beer & Wine in Bethesda, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, Pinky & Pepe’s Grape Escape in Gaithersburg; on the list at Black’s Bar & Kitchen in Bethesda.
Domaine Vougeon Brouilly 2011
★1 / 2
Beaujolais, France, $10
Ideal for burgers off the grill or other summery foods, this delightful Beaujolais cru is a terrific “bistro wine,” meaning a gulpable red by the glass or the bottle. It will fuel conversation, not dominate it. Better have a second bottle handy.
M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Cairo Wine & Liquor, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits. Available in Maryland at Franklin Liquors in Ijamsville, Montgomery Plaza Liquors in Catonsville, Nick’s of Clinton in Waldorf, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick. Available in Virginia at Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean; Crystal City Wine Shop; Rick’s Wine & Gourmet and Unwined in Alexandria; Vienna Vintner.
Cono Sur Chardonnay 2011
★1 / 2
San Antonio Valley, Chile, $10
The somewhat onomatopoetic name of this winery could be a yellow flag to skeptical connoisseurs, but Cono Sur is a reliable producer of high-quality, low-cost wines from Chile. I’m a fan of its pinot noir and Riesling. The chardonnay is exceptional for the price: spicy and ripe with orchard fruit flavors (peach, apricot) and zesty acidity. The Vision line, which costs about $20, is more serious and oaky and also a good quality for the price.
Vineyard Brands/Bacchus: Available in the District at Chat’s Liquors, Corner Market, D’Vines, Mr. T Grocery Store, Press Liquors, S&S Liquors, Safeway in Georgetown; on the list at Bistro Bis, DC Bread & Brew, Granville Moore’s. Available in Maryland at Jim’s BottleWorks in Bel Air; Chesapeake Wine Co. and King Discount Liquors in Baltimore; Hair o’ the Dog in Easton; on the list at Hopkins Deli and Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore.