Exceptional   Excellent   Very Good

If you’re willing to spend about $20 on a bottle of wine, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was when he recently visited Jared Kushner, you can find some beauties. Here are five, including three delicious pinot noirs, from Oregon and Northern California.


Vega Escal 2014


Priorat, Spain, $21

Priorat is Spain’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape in that it produces big red wines with ample tannin and alcohol. This wine has a bit of an identity crisis, as it’s labeled as a blend of grenache (the French name for what is garnacha in Spain), shiraz (the Australian name for syrah) and carignan (which is sometimes called carinena in Spain). Never mind that: The wine is delicious, and big, with firm tannic structure and a bright core of fruit shining through. Alcohol by volume: 14 percent.

Distributed by Elite: Available in the District at Arrowine and Spirits, Cork & Fork, Grand Cata, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, S&R Liquors. Available in Maryland at Jason’s Wine & Spirits in Ellicott City, Shawan Liquors in Cockeysville, Wine Cellars of Annapolis, Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s and Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, Williamsburg Pottery in Williamsburg.

La Follette Pinot Noir North Coast 2015


California, $27

Greg La Follette is one of the most personable and engaging winemakers in Northern California, and his wines keep getting better vintage after vintage. He specializes in pinot noir and chardonnay from Sonoma and Mendocino counties. This North Coast blend incorporates wines that didn’t get into his single-vineyard bottlings, and it really makes me want to taste those. It has beautiful structure and balance to gird succulent black fruit. ABV: 13.5 percent.

Distributed by Elite: Available in the District at Cork & Fork, Streets Market (14th Street, Massachusetts Avenue), Whole Foods Market (Foggy Bottom, Tenleytown); on the list at Bistro Aracosia, Lincoln, Siren. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, Dominion Wine and Beer in Falls Church, Libbie Market in Richmond, Society Fair and Streets Market in Alexandria.

R. Stuart & Co. "Love, Oregon" Pinot Noir 2014


Oregon, $21

The label is styled after a postcard from the Pacific Northwest, and the wine tastes like the memory of a wonderful vacation. Flavors of black cherry and berries with hints of sage and thyme invite a lingering discussion over a beautiful meal. ABV: 13.7 percent.

Distributed by Roanoke Valley: Available in the District at Batch 13, Rodman’s. Available in Virginia at Screwtop Wine Bar & Cheese Shop in Arlington, Society Fair in Alexandria; on the list at Liberty Barbecue in Falls Church, Red’s Table in Reston.

Montinore Estate Red Cap Pinot Noir 2016


Willamette Valley, Ore., $23

I’m a fan of this winery in the northern reaches of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Montinore practices biodynamic viticulture and produces wines with verve and sophistication. This pinot noir is on the fun, rather than serious, side. ABV: 13.6 percent.

Distributed by DMV: Available in the District at Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Yes! Organic Market (14th Street, Cleveland Park, Georgia Avenue). Widely available in Maryland, including at Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John, Cork 57 Beer and Wine, and Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda; Finewine.com in Gaitherseburg; Potomac Beer & Wine and Mom’s Organic Market in Rockville; Friendship Gourmet Market in Chevy Chase; Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring; Yes! Organic Market in Hyattsville.

Poggio la Luna Vermentino 2016


Tuscany, Italy, $20

Enjoy this scintillating white — crisp and refreshing with tree fruit flavors — with any seafood dishes. This wine deserves wider distribution. ABV: 13 percent.

Distributed by Simon N Cellars: Available in the District at A. Litteri, on the list at Lupo Verde. Available in Virginia at the Italian Store in Arlington (both locations).

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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