Exceptional Excellent Very Good
This week’s list includes two splurge-worthy wines for the holidays: Inglenook’s “back to the future” cabernet sauvignon, the first vintage from Philippe Bascaules as he steers the winery toward a more classic Napa style, and a beautiful rosé champagne from Ayala, the sister winery to the Bollinger champagne house. To balance the effects on our wallets, we have two budget sparklers: a lovely blanc de blancs from Burgundy and a stunner from Long Island, N.Y., as well as a delicious Oregon pinot gris.
Napa Valley, Calif., $85
This stylish cabernet offers dark blackberry fruit and hints of earth, with stylish tannins that keep the wine in balance. It’s deep without being heavy, and it shows a winemaker’s deft hand in treating the grapes to give their most without beating it out of them. I recommend decanting it at least two hours before dinner to give it time to stretch a bit. Also recommended: the 2012 Rubicon, Inglenook’s flagship wine, and the 2013 Edizione Pennino Zinfandel. Alcohol by volume: 14.5 percent.
Distributed by RNDC in the District, Breakthru Beverage in Maryland, Virginia Imports in Virginia: Available in the District at Wide World of Wines; on the list at Mastro’s Steakhouse, Morton’s (downtown, Georgetown). Available in Virginia at Total Wine & More (various locations); on the list at 2941 in Falls Church, Ristorante Bonaroti in Vienna, Capital Grille and Eddie V’s Prime Seafood in Tysons Corner, Epic Smokehouse in Arlington, Morton’s (Crystal City, Reston).
Champagne, France, $90
Silky and elegant, this lovely rosé champagne tastes at once floral, exhilarating and comforting. ABV: 12 percent.
Distributed by M. Touton Selection: Available in the District at Cairo Wine & Liquor, Sheffield Wine & Liquor Shoppe. Available in Maryland at Jason’s Wine & Spirits in Ellicott City, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick. Available in Virginia at the Vineyard in McLean.
North Fork of Long Island, N.Y., $32
Wow: This wine focuses a laser beam of fruit right on the tickle-spot of your palate. I’m talking apples, pears, even red fruits. The bubbles are a bonus. This is a reminder of why we need more New York wines, especially the bubblies, in our market. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Distributed by Hop and Vine: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Glen’s Garden Market (Dupont, Shaw); on the list at Boundary Road, Doi Moi/2 Birds 1 Stone, Sushi Taro. Available in Virginia at Altura Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria.
Burgundy, France, $20
From an excellent Beaujolais producer, this crémant tastes less like a sparkling wine than like a really nice chardonnay that sparkles. That’s not an insult, just a reminder that these are wines, not just something to raise in a celebratory toast or spray around a championship locker room. ABV: 12 percent.
Distributed by Dionysus: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Rodman’s; on the list at Kapnos, Sei. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s and Bradley Food and Beverage in Bethesda, Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia, Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean), Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Twisted Vines Bottleshop in Arlington, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview).
Willamette Valley, Ore., $15
Pinot gris from Oregon is one of my favorite pairings with salmon. This delicious example is fresh and racy, with apple and quince flavors. Duck Pond’s pinot noir is also quite good. ABV: 13.9 percent.
Distributed by Lanterna: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Cork & Fork, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Rodman’s, Windows Cafe and Market; on the list at Floriana, Marvin. Available in Maryland at Adega Wine Cellars & Cafe in Silver Spring; Beer Wine & Co. in Bethesda; Chesapeake Wine Co., Quarry Wine & Spirits and Wine Source in Baltimore; the Beer & Wine Cellar, Dawson’s Market and Gilly’s Craft Beer & Fine Wine in Rockville; Finewine.com in Gaithersburg; Italian Market in Annapolis; Wine Bin in Ellicott City.
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.