Exceptional Excellent Very Good
Here are four reds and a white to remind us that Portugal and Spain are producing some of the greatest wine values in the world today.
This silky, delicious blend of Aragonez, Alicante Bouschet, Alfrocheiro and Trincadeira is soft and luscious, with black fruit and some of the early, leafy character of Aragonez, a Portuguese name for the tempranillo grape. The oak is quite noticeable, but the fruit emerges with some time, so I recommend decanting an hour before dinner. This is a new distributor selling only in Maryland but with plans to enter the District and the Virginia markets. Alcohol by volume: 14 percent.
Distributed by DMV: Available in Maryland at Dunkirk Wine & Spirits, Eastport Liquors, Hair o’ the Dog in Easton, the Italian Market in Annapolis, Montgomery Gourmet Beer & Wine in Bethesda, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Town Center Wine & Spirits in Hyattsville.
Alentejano, Portugal, $18
What’s behind the enigmatic mask on the bottle? It’s Antaõ Vaz, an indigenous grape variety that just might change your opinion of Portuguese white wines for the better. Flavors of white flowers and talc are backed up by rich textures of lanolin and beeswax. Delicious. There is also an excellent red at the same price. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Distributed by Dionysus: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Grand Cata, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage and Capital Beer & Wine in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), Vienna Vintner in Vienna.
Ribera del Duero, Spain, $15
Spicy and rich with red-fruit flavors and a hint of earth, this delightful tempranillo will match steaks, ribs and other hearty meat dishes. ABV: 14.5 percent.
Distributed by M. Touton: Available in the District at Capital City Wine & Spirits, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Harry’s Reserve Fine Wine & Spirits, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington, Wine Source in Baltimore.
Lisboa, Portugal, $19
This is quite good, rich with red-fruit and mocha flavors. The new oak is quite noticeable, but there is a lot of delicious fruit underneath it. ABV:13.5 percent.
Distributed by DMV: Available in Maryland at Dunkirk Wine & Spirits; Eastport Liquors and Italian Market in Annapolis; Montgomery Gourmet Beer & Wine in Bethesda; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Old Line Fine Wine, Spirits & Bistro in Beltsville; Town Center Wine & Spirits in Hyattsville; the Winery in Chester.
Duriense, Portugal, $8
Looking for a nice red wine for burgers on the grill, takeout kebabs or Peruvian chicken? Here’s your casual, inexpensive weeknight house red. ABV: 13 percent.
Distributed by Dionysus: Available in the District at A. Litteri, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Rodman’s, Streets Market and Cafe. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Village Beer & Fine Wine in Rockville. Available in Virginia at Barrel Thief Wine Shop & Cafe, Corks & Kegs, Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market, Once Upon a Vine (MacArthur Avenue, Stratford Hills) and Union Market in Richmond; Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview). On the list at Carmello’s in Manassas, Rustico (Arlington, Ballston), Vermilion 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.