★ ★ ★Exceptional ★ ★Excellent ★Very Good
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 wine store to order through a distributor.
Here’s one more champagne for late holiday shoppers, plus tasty reds to keep us warm.
★ ★ ★
Champagne, France, $50
This blend of the red grapes pinot noir and pinot meunier could be labled “blanc de noirs,” or white wine from red grapes, except it isn’t really white. Nor is it rosé. It has a salmon hue and a soft fizz that are content to play second fiddle to the rich flavors and full texture. It gives the impression of drinking a really fine wine that happens to be a champagne. The producer is new to this market; expect to see its wines in more places soon. Alcohol by volume: 12 percent.
Wine Traditions: Available in the District at D’Vines; on the list at Buck’s Fishing & Camping. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington.
★ ★ ★
Russian River Valley, Calif., $36
Spicy aromas of clove and cherry leap from the glass of this lovely pinot, which manages to capture the fruit and charm of the Russian River Valley without the heaviness that often comes with them. It carries its alcohol well, too. My only (small) complaint is the that oak, which contributes to that spice, remains a bit strong on the finish. ABV: 14.5 percent.
Monument/RNDC: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, MacArthur Beverages, Pearson’s, Wide World of Wines; on the list at Matisse, Tosca. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s in Bethesda, Montgomery County Liquor Stores (Potomac, Seneca Meadows, West Bard), the Wine Harvest (Gaithersburg, Potomac); on the list at Black’s Bar & Kitchen, Grapeseed American Bistro and Wildwood Kitchen in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, Oakton Wine Shop, the Tasting Room Wine Bar & Shop (various locations); on the list at Artfully Chocolate in Alexandria.
La Mancha, Spain, $20
This exuberant wine is made with grapes from old tempranillo vines. Think cigar box, cherry cola and blueberries. It’s an excellent partner for any red-meat dish. Unfortunately, it is available almost exclusively in restaurants, where it should be priced near the bottom of the list. ABV: 14 percent.
Elite: On the list in the District at Daikaya, La Tasca, Taberna del Alabardero, Thally, Toro Toro. On the list in Maryland at La Tasca (Baltimore, Rockville), Wildwood Kitchen in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington; on the list at the Knife in Woodbridge, La Tasca (Alexandria, Arlington).
Colchagua Valley, Chile, $12
Juicy, spicy and delightful, it reminds us of Chile’s reputation for bargain reds that offer great value. This one is ideal for burgers, pizza or any casual meal. The same winery has a $15 reserve wine called 1234, a blend of syrah, carmenere, petit verdot and cabernet franc that is impressive for its style and class at a proletarian price. ABV: 14 percent.
Kysela: Available in the District at Magruder’s, Whole Foods Market (various locations); on the list at Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza (Friendship Heights, Columbia Heights). Available in Maryland at Antietam Spirits in Boonsboro; Cafe Liquor and South Mountain Spirits in Hagerstown; Choice Wine & Beer in Wheaton; Franklin Liquors in Ijamsville; Gilly’s Craft Beer & Fine Wine in Rockville; Hunt Valley Wine, Liquor & Beer, Mills Fine Wine and Spirits and West Street Liquors in Annapolis; Montgomery Gourmet Beer & Wine and Open Til Midnight Beer & Wine in Bethesda; the Perfect Pour in Elkridge; Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington; the Wine Bin in Ellicott City, the Winery in Chester. On the list at Clyde’s (Chevy Chase, Tower Oaks), Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza in Silver Spring. Available in Virginia at Aldie Peddler; Corks & Kegs, Kramer’s Market, Kroger’s (Richmond Ridge, W. Broad Street) and Once Upon a Vine in Richmond; Great Value in Crozet; Greenwood Grocery & Deli and Throx Country Store in Winchester; J’s Gourmet in Front Royal; Norm’s Beer & Wine in Vienna; Rio Hill Wine & Gourmet and Wine Made Simple in Charlottesville; Slaters Market in Alexandria; Town Duck in Warrenton; Whole Foods Market (Arlington, Springfield).