★ ★ ★Exceptional ★ ★Excellent ★Very Good
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.
It’s the holiday season, so this week’s picks include three exceptional bubblies. Wine lovers who cling to thoughts of summer will enjoy a rosé that’s hearty enough to match the foods of fall. Finally, we have a Riesling that has aged beautifully since I first recommended it 1
★ ★ ★
Champagne, France, $47
This is a wine nerd’s champagne. It’s from a small grower, as evidenced by the helpfully spelled-out “Récoltant Manipulant” on the label. (Typically, we need to squint to see the letters “RM” on a tiny code.) It’s from Grand Cru vineyards, considered Champagne’s best. And it’s from the Côte des Blancs, where chardonnay receives its ultimate expression (in my opinion, at least). The locale Mesnil-sur-Oger is enough to get champers fans champing at the bit. This wine does not disappoint: It’s bursting with red-fruit flavors and a laser beam of refreshing acidity. And, of course, there are bubbles. The price is favorable for a wine of this caliber. Alcohol by volume: 13 percent.
Dionysus: Available in the District at MacArthur Beverages, Wagshal’s Deli; on the list at Equinox, Restaurant Nora. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s and Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean), Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, J. Emerson Fine Wines & Cheese in Richmond, Vienna Vintner, Wine Cabinet in Reston, Wine Guild of Charlottesville; on the list at Nostos in Vienna.
Cava, Spain, $24
Cava, Spain’s sparkling wine, ranges in style and price from fruity, simple $6 fizzes to more complex bottles that can approach Champagne quality for $20 to $30. Juvé y Camps produces several delicious wines; this one delights with bright cranberry and raspberry flavors, especially as it shakes off the refrigerator’s chill and approaches room temperature. ABV: 12 percent.
Winebow: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Modern Liquors, Whole Foods Market (Georgetown), Wide World of Wines; on the list at Jaleo. Available in Virginia at Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview).
Constantia, South Africa, $16
Sparkling sauvignon blanc is not the norm, though I’ve previously recommended one from New Zealand. This example is bright and fruity. What a fun wine, at a great price. ABV: 12.5 percent.
M. Touton: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Paul’s of Chevy Chase. Available in Maryland at Chesapeake Market & Deli in Rose Haven; Bo Brooks Lighthouse Liquors and Eddie’s Liquors in Baltimore; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Petite Cellars in Ellicott City. Available in Virginia at the Vineyard in McLean, Wine Outlet in Vienna.
Rhone Valley, France, $23
Tavel is a Rhone Valley specialist in rosé. Its wines are a deep pink — almost red — in color, with some tannin and structure to give them extra interest. They seem designed for the heartier foods of fall and early winter. This is a textbook example: sappy and mouth-filling, with red-fruit flavors and refreshing acidity. Many stores have stopped stocking rosé for the season, so it might be hard to find now. ABV: 14 percent.
M. Touton: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Jason’s Wine & Spirits in Ellicott City, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Total Discount Liquors in Eldersburg.
When I first recommended this wine, more than a year ago, I was attracted to its freshness and vibrancy as well as the novelty of its Idaho heritage. Age has treated it well. Today, the wine is fleshier, with some of the oily mineral quality (often called “petrol”) of mature Riesling. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Siema: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits; on the list at Charlie Palmer Steak. Available in Maryland at Adega Wine Cellars and Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring, Capital Beer & Wine and Cork 57 Beer and Wine in Bethesda, Kingsview Beer & Wine in Germantown; Pinky & Pepe’s Grape Escape in Gaithersburg; on the list at A.K.A. Friscos in Frederick. Available in Virginia at Little Washington Winery Tasting Room, Norm’s Beer & Wine and Vienna Vintner in Vienna, Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, Tastefully Yours in Occoquan, Whole Foods Market (Fairfax, Falls Church, Reston); on the list at Carmello’s in Charlottesville, Castiglia’s in Fredericksburg, the Fish Market and Geranio in Alexandria, Market Table Bistro in Lovettsville.