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The July 4 holiday is certainly an occasion for American wine, even though French would be appropriate, too, in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette and the help he gave our cause. Here are five U.S. wines to celebrate the red, white and, well, pink while enjoying this year’s festivities.
Our greatest value of the week is a California zinfandel, an inherently American wine, from Bogle Vineyards. Bogle is a reliable choice for delicious, affordable bottles, with the added benefit of being widely available. Other choices include two exceptional rosés, a thought-provoking riesling from the Finger Lakes and a delicious merlot from Washington state.
Bogle Vineyards is one of those notes you should keep in your pocket to pull out and look at whenever you’re shopping for an inexpensive wine. The entire Bogle line is delicious and affordable, as well as widely available. The Old Vine Zinfandel displays the raspberry and cranberry flavors typical of the grape, with some savory herbal notes. Give it a slight chill if you’re dining outside, and enjoy with burgers and sausages. Alcohol by volume: 14.5 percent.
Distributed by Constantine in the District and Maryland, Service in Virginia: Widely available.
Willamette Valley, Ore., $22
Brooks makes one of my favorite rosés, year after year. It’s sneaky good, in that it doesn’t zap you with refreshing acidity at the first sip, like many rosés do. Rather, it embraces your palate with a comforting layer of strawberry and melon and some magic trick that stops time for several seconds before slowly fading into desire for another sip. This wine is all about texture, and it is delicious. ABV: 14.2 percent.
Distributed by Winebow: Available in the District at Cork & Fork, Rodman’s, Zachys. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda; Red: Wine, Beer & Spirits in Clarksville. Available in Virginia at Crystal City Wine Shop in Arlington, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview).
Mendocino, Calif., $22
Frog’s Leap has always displayed a sense of humor. Wine lovers of a certain age may remember the riesling-based “Leapfrogmilch,” a play on the German liebfraumilch. This label mimics a classic French rosé, proclaiming “Vin Rosé du Pays” and “Appellation Mendocino Controlée.” The blend is mostly old vines carignan from Mendocino County, with some valdiguié from Napa. The wine is not quite as pale as its Provencal versions tend to be, but it is lively and delicious, with a sprightly acidity and relatively low alcohol level to keep it refreshing on a hot day. ABV: 11.7 percent.
Distributed in the District by RNDC, in Maryland by Bacchus, in Virginia by Winebow. Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Eddie’s of Roland Park, North Charles Fine Wine & Spirits, Wells Discount Liquors and Wine Source in Baltimore, Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold, Friendship Wine & Liquor in Abingdon, the French Paradox Wines in Stevenson, Shawan Liquors in Cockeysville, State Line Liquors in Elkton, Wine Merchant in Lutherville.
Finger Lakes, N.Y., $30
Riesling from the Finger Lakes leans toward citrus, especially lime zest. This single-vineyard wine shows a more minerally character, reminiscent of Alsatian rieslings. This isn’t a patio pounder; instead, the wine wants you to savor it. Pay attention — this bottle has something to say. Keuka Lake also makes a semi-dry riesling ($20) that is more typical of the region, and a delicious fruity white from the hybrid vignoles variety ($17). ABV: 12.4 percent.
Distributed by DMV: Available in the District at Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Beer, Wine & Co. in Bethesda; Frederick Wine House in Frederick; the Italian Market in Annapolis; Longmeadow Wine & Liquors in Hagerstown; Town Center Market in Riverdale; Waugh Chapel Wine & Spirits in Gambrills; the Wine Bar in Cambridge.
Columbia Valley, Wash., $16
Maligned by the popular movie “Sideways” 15 years ago, merlot’s standing in popular culture still hasn’t recovered from the hit. Milbrandt’s merlot, however, could be a candidate for reversing that trend. It is rich and plush with plum and cherry flavors, but also with a minerally graphite character that suggests Bordeaux and gives the wine verve. Enjoy this with any sort of grilled steak. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Distributed by Winebow: Available in the District at Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer in Gaithersburg, Spirits of Mt. Vernon in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Oakton Wine Shop in Oakton, Philomont General Store in Philomont, Total Wine & More in McLean.
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.