Exceptional Excellent Very Good
This is a very subjective observation, but the $15 to $25 range may be the best spot for wine value hunters. Here you can find wines that punch above their level, expand the envelope, or whatever other cliche you’d like to use. Essentially, they taste more expensive than they are, including these two absolutely delicious reds — one from California’s Paso Robles, the other from Maremma in Tuscany. Rounding out this week’s selection are a racy pinot grigio from the mountains of northeastern Italy, a bracing rosé from France’s Mediterranean shores and a great-value liter bottle of Riesling from Germany.
Paso Robles, Calif., $25
Paso Robles in central California has proved to be a top terroir for Rhone-style wines. This savory blend of syrah, Grenache, mourvedre and counoise is a delightful American version of a Cote du Rhone Villages cru, riper and lusher than its French counterpart but every bit as delicious. Patelin is Tablas Creek’s introductory wine, made with some purchased grapes. If you see their Cotes de Tablas or other wines from estate-grown grapes, try them. Alcohol by volume: 14.2 percent.
Distributed by Bacchus in the District and Maryland, Country Vintner in Virginia: Available in the District at Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s; on the list at Charlie Palmer Steak, Convivial, Del Frisco’s Grille, Fig & Olive, Logan Tavern. On the list in Maryland at the Helmand in Baltimore, Preserve in Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s in Alexandria; on the list at Hummingbird in Alexandria.
Maremma, Tuscany, Italy, $23
Maremma is a minor subregion of Tuscany that produces some delicious wines at reasonable prices compared with more prestigious appellations. Open it a few hours before dinner to allow it to develop. You’ll be rewarded with hints and innuendos of dried cherry, cocoa powder and wild herbs over a deep wine that never quite seems willing to divulge all of its secrets. ABV: 14 percent.
Distributed by Le Storie: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Cordial Fine Wine & Spirits (Union Market); on the list at Beuchert’s Saloon. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, Chain Bridge Wine Cellars in McLean, Grape + Bean (Old Town, Rosemont); on the list at Alley Light, Lampo, Tavola in Charlottesville, Bilbo Baggins in Alexandria, Enoteca Sogno and Rowland Fine Dining in Richmond, Osteria da Nino in Arlington, Vinosity in Culpeper.
Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Italy, $18
Pinot grigio is often Italy’s cash-flow wine: pleasant enough, but rather boring. But when it hails from the mountains of northern Italy, pinot grigio gains character. Tiefenbrunner’s is racy and refreshing, with delicious orchard fruit flavors and a freshness that suggests the wine flows from a mountain spring. ABV: 13 percent.
Distributed by Winebow in the District, Country Vintner in Maryland and Virginia: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Barmy Wines & Liquors, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Eye Street Cellars, Potomac Wine & Spirits, Rodman’s, Safeway (Wisconsin Avenue), Whole Foods Market (P Street); on the list at Bindaas (Cleveland Park), Carmine’s, La Tomate, Sababa, Town Hall. Available in Maryland at 6-12 Convenient Mart in Gaithersburg, Captains Market in Cabin John, Choice Wine & Beer in Wheaton, Mills Fine Wine and Spirits in Annapolis, Olde Tyme Liquors in Ellicott City, Rodman’s (White Flint), Wine Source in Baltimore; on the list at Aldo’s and Chiapparelli’s in Baltimore, Cesco in Bethesda, Il Pizzico in Rockville, Vasili’s in Gaithersburg. Available in Virginia at Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Total Wine & More (McLean, Springfield).
Sable de Camargue, France, $13
France may be suffering a rosé shortage because rising demand in the U.S. market is claiming more and more of the country’s best, but we won’t cry about it while enjoying this delicious example from the Camargue region of southern France. Bright melon flavors bring refreshment and sunshine in a bottle. ABV: 13 percent.
Distributed by M. Touton: Available in the District at Central Liquors, Eye Street Cellars, Rodman’s; on the list at Bidwell, Crimson. Available in Maryland at Allview Liquors in Ellicott City, the Bottle Shop in Potomac, Bradley Food & Beverage and Cork 57 Beer and Wine in Bethesda, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer in Gaithersburg, Edgewater Liquors in Edgewater, Franklins Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville, Grosvenor Market in Rockville, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Old Line Fine Wine, Spirits & Bistro in Beltsville, Renno’s Quality Food Market in Shady Side, Roland’s in Chesapeake Beach, Rosewick Wine & Spirits in La Plata. Available in Virginia at Ballston Place Gourmet, the Brew Shop in Arlington, the Italian Gourmet in Vienna, Leesburg Vintner in Leesburg, the Town Duck in Warrenton, Vino Market in Midlothian.
Rheingau, Germany, $14 (1-liter bottle)
The liter bottle (a third more than the standard 750 milliliters) makes this tasty summer white an especially good value and an ideal take along for picnics or patio parties. This is good, basic Riesling — dry to satisfy the purist but fruity enough to appeal to anyone who prefers a little sweetness. It also has wide distribution throughout the Washington area. ABV: 11.5 percent.
Distributed by Kysela: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Central Liquors, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Magruder’s, Rodman’s, Whole Foods Market (Foggy Bottom). Widely available in Maryland and Virginia.
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.