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This week’s recommendations include two delicious wines from France’s Maconnais: an old-vines gamay and a fine chardonnay. The rest of the all-French lineup comes from the Rhone Valley, including a luscious white Châteauneuf-du-Pape and two reds. Two of the wines are produced by brothers.
Rhone Valley, France, $39
Châteauneuf-du-Pape usually means full-bodied, heady reds based on grenache. The whites are also robust and full-bodied, as is this beauty from winemaker Christian Berthet-Rayne. Scents of jasmine and beeswax, and the spice of ginger make this wine entrancing. It’s a blend of organic clairette, bourboulenc, grenache blanc and roussanne. I tasted the 2016; the importer is now selling the 2017, though both vintages may still be available. Alcohol by volume: 14 percent.
Imported and distributed by Elite: Available in the District at A-1 Wines & Liquor, the Bottle Shop, Whole Foods Market (P Street); on the list at Et Voila, Le Diplomate. Available in Maryland at Wine Source in Baltimore; on the list at Charleston and Le Cuchara in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at the Bottle Stop in Occoquan, Dominion Wine and Beer in Falls Church, J. Emerson Fine Wines & Cheese in Richmond, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), Vino Market in Midlothian, Whole Foods Market (Arlington, Fair Lakes, Vienna), the Wine Attic in Clifton.
Burgundy, France, $15
This delicious red is made from old-vines gamay, the grape of beaujolais. It is rather earthier and more rustic than its southern neighbor, a result of the limestone soils there compared to granite in Beaujolais. Don’t cellar this; it’s meant more as an everyday house wine. Enjoy it with braised meat dishes and cold weather. ABV: 13 percent.
Imported and distributed by Simon N Cellars: On the list in the District at Bistrot Lepic. Available in Maryland at Wine Cellars of Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Leesburg Vintner in Leesburg, Tastings and Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview).
Burgundy, France, $20
Chardonnay shines in the Maconnais, and Domaine du Mont Épin doesn’t disappoint with this racy white that combines fruit, flowers and minerals in its flavor profile. ABV: 13 percent.
Imported and distributed by Artisans & Vines in the District and Maryland, distributed by LK Wine Tours and Sales in Virginia: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John; Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda; Crescent Beer & Wine in Bowie; Downtown Crown Wine and Beer, Finewine.com and Wine Harvest in Gaithersburg; Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville; Rodman’s in White Flint; Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring; Takoma Park-Silver Spring Co-op in Takoma Park. Available in Virginia at Aldie Peddler in Aldie, Bonnie Blue Southern Market and Bakery and Murphy Beverage in Winchester, Mt. Airy Farm Market in Boyce, Rio Hill Wine & Gourmet in Charlottesville, Woodstock Cafe & Shoppes in Woodstock.
Rhone Valley, France, $22
Cairanne is a village in the Rhone Valley with its own appellation, giving the wines greater status than Côtes-du-Rhone. These tend to be somewhat brawny, with an appealing rusticity. This example by Camille Cayran, certified organic, lives up to its name with an attractive elegance and polish. It’s a blend of grenache, syrah, carignan and mourvedre. ABV: 14.5 percent.
Imported by G&B, distributed by Global Wines: Available in the District at Cork & Fork, MacArthur Beverages, Rodman’s, Yes! Organic Market (various locations). Available in Maryland at Finewine.com in Gaithersburg.
Rhone Valley, France, $19
André Berthet-Rayne, Christian’s brother, produces this more traditional style of cairanne. Think mouth-coating flavors of baked fruit and sun-drenched earth. I tasted the 2015; the importer now has the 2017, but both vintages are in the market. Certified organic. ABV: 14.5 percent.
Imported and distributed by Elite: On the list in the District at B Too, Bistro Aracosia, Oval Room, Tabard Inn, Teddy & the Bully Bar. Available in Maryland at Allview Liquors in Ellicott City, Frederick Wine House in Frederick, Pour Vino n’ Hops and Rockville Pike Craft Beer & Wine in Rockville. Available in Virginia at Department of Beer & Wine and Unwined in Alexandria, Once Upon a Vine (South) in Richmond, Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville.
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.