Exceptional Excellent Very Good
Spring is finally here, and so are this year’s rosés. Here are three to get your patio sipping started for the season, including two from Portugal and one from southern France. This week’s greatest value is a $10 charmer that also comes in a three-liter box for even less money.
For more serious wine drinking — but not much more serious in price — we have two fantastic chardonnays from excellent producers in Chablis, in northern Burgundy. One displays chablis at its best, while the other demonstrates what producers can accomplish, for tremendous value, with grapes grown outside the official region. A fun splurge would be to compare both of these wines on the same night.
Burgundy, France, $25
Chablis, at the northern edge of Burgundy, is famous for producing top-notch chardonnay from its chalky soils of ancient seabeds. The wines may be the best expression of what wine lovers sometimes call “minerality,” a sense of stony earthiness that grounds the wine to the terroir where it was grown. The Michelet Chablis offers rich flavors of orchard fruit — pears, apricots, peaches — but also talc, a mineral quality that sustains the wine and gives it structure. The image of a fossil on the label conveys the story of the wine from antiquity to the bottle. I have also tasted the 2017, which is not yet in the market, and it is also exceptional. Alcohol by volume: 12.5 percent.
Imported and distributed by Kysela: Available in the District at Hop, Cask & Barrel, Wardman Wines; on the list at Daikaya. Available in Maryland at 5 O’Clock Wines & Spirits in Owings Mills, Bo Brooks Lighthouse Liquors and Pinehurst Wine Shoppe in Baltimore; on the list at Black’s Bar & Kitchen in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Market Street Wineshop in Charlottesville, Wine Cabinet in Reston; on the list at L’Auberge Provencale in Boyce, Northside Social in Arlington.
Lisboa, Portugal; $10 for a bottle, $25 for three-liter box
If you’re stocking up for a backyard neighborhood barbecue, look for this charmer in the three-liter box. It’s a steal, and bursting with bright red berry fruit and sunny fun. Warning: My bottle seemed to spring a leak, because it sure emptied mighty fast! ABV: 12.5 percent.
Imported by Tri-Vin Imports, distributed in the District and Maryland by DMV, in Virginia by Dionysos: Available in the District at Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Yes! Organic Market (Georgia Avenue). Available in Maryland at Apple Greene Wine & Spirits and Dunkirk Wine & Spirits in Dunkirk; Carrolltown Liquors in Sykesville; Eastport Liquors and the Italian Market in Annapolis; Frederick Wine House and Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Hunt Valley Wine Liquor & Beer in Cockeysville; Laurel Beer, Wine & Spirits in Laurel, Mt. Airy Liquors in Mt. Airy; Sunny’s Fine Wines & Liquors in Eldersburg; Town Center Market in Riverdale Park; Village Pump Liquors in College Park; Wine Bin in Ellicott City. Available in Virginia at Wegmans (various locations).
Wow. This is simply one of the best chardonnays under $15 I’ve tasted in a long time. The Brocard family makes wine in Chablis . Sourced from outside the Chablis demarcation, it captures that style without carrying the price. Exquisitely balanced, it’s bursting with flavors of citrus and peach that seem to reach for the sky, and a taut stoniness that keeps it grounded. ABV: 13 percent.
Imported and distributed by Elite: Available in the District at A-1 Wines & Liquors, the Bottle Shop, Connecticut Avenue Wine and Liquor, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Wagshal’s Deli, Wardman Wines. Available in Maryland at Franklins Restaurant, Brewery & General Store in Hyattsville; the French Paradox Wines in Stevenson; Grosvenor Market in Rockville; Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia; Spirits of Mt. Vernon and Wells Discount Liquors in Baltimore; Wine Bin in Ellicott City. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, Locke Store in Millwood, Market Street Wineshop in Charlottesville, Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, the Wine Outlet in Great Falls.
Cevennes, France, $11
Grenache is the basis for this delightful rosé, along with 30 percent nielluccio (a French name for the sangiovese grape of Tuscany). The wine strides unapologetically down the middle of the strawberry/melon spectrum of rosé, with bright fruit and refreshing acidity. Pair this with patios. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Imported and distributed by Dionysos: Available in the District at Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s and Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean), the Town Duck in Warrenton, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview).
Light in color and body, slightly spritzy, this delightful rosé is a textbook “patio pounder.” ABV: 12.5 percent.
Imported by Tri-Vin Imports, distributed by DMV: Available in the District at Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Yes! Organic Market (Georgia Avenue). Available in Maryland at Apple Greene Wine & Spirits and Dunkirk Wine & Spirits in Dunkirk; Eastport Liquors and the Italian Market in Annapolis; Frederick Wine House and Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Hair O’ the Dog in Easton; Hunt Valley Wine, Liquor & Beer in Cockeysville; Laurel Beer, Wine & Spirits in Laurel; Mt. Airy Liquors in Mt. Airy; Nick’s of Clinton in Waldorf; Piney Run Liquors in Sykesville; Sunny’s Fine Wines & Liquors in Eldersburg; Town Center Market in Riverdale Park; Village Pump Liquors in College Park; Waugh Chapel Wine & Spirits in Gambrills. Available in Virginia at Wegmans (various locations).
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.