Here are my monthly recommendations of notable wines that sell for $13 or less.
Chablis, France, $11
Saint Bris is an enclave of sauvignon blanc in chardonnay-dominated Chablis. This wine, from a producer that seemingly can do no wrong, offers grassy sauvignon character with some of the richness of Chablis and Burgundy. The 2009 vintage is also quite ripe, giving the wine a little extra body.
M Touton Selection: Widely available in the District. Available in Maryland at Arundel Mills Wine & Spirits in Hanover; Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis; Bradley Food & Beverage and Georgetown Square Beer & Wine in Bethesda; Frederick Wine House, Old Farm Liquors and Viniferous in Frederick; Rosewick Wine & Spirits in La Plata; Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington; State Line Liquors in Elkton; the Wine Shoppe in Waldorf.
Piemonte, Italy, $13
This delightful wine is a prime example of why we should not serve whites too cold. At first sip, Gavi might not seem complex, but its apparent simplicity is deceptive. It has a bright beam of red currant fruit that emerges when the wine warms to just under room temperature. It’s sort of like when the sunlight hits the obelisk in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Okay, well, maybe not that dramatic. It won’t drive apes to a frenzy or launch space missions, but it could be a celestial partner to your next fish dinner.
Siema: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Zola Wine & Kitchen. Available in Maryland at Cork & Fork in Bethesda, Crush Winehouse in Annapolis, Viniferous in Frederick; on the list at Assaggi Restaurant Mozzarella Bar in Bethesda, Rustico Restaurant & Wine Bar in Stevensville. Available in Virginia at the Italian Store in Arlington, Market Street Wineshop and Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville; on the list at Zeffirelli in Herndon as well as several other restaurants in Virginia.
South Australia, $14
An unusual blend, it combines the austere dryness of arneis, a crisp white grape from northern Italy, with the fleshiness of chardonnay. It grew on me throughout an evening: Don’t serve it too cold. The distributor recently changed to the 2010, both wines are available. There is also a nice red blend called the Red One that I can heartily recommend.
Nice Legs: Available in the District at Bell Wine & Spirits, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, D’Vines, S&R Liquors, U Street Mini Mart; on the list at Ulah Bistro. Available in Virginia at the Butcher’s Block and Rick’s Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, Kybecca in Fredericksburg, the Organic Butcher and the Vineyard in McLean, Village Market & Bistro in Winchester, the Vineyard Table in Herndon, the Wine House in Fairfax; on the list at the Wine Kitchen in Leesburg.
*1 / 2
Veneto, Italy, $12
It’s a simple, juicy red, ideal for most weekday meals. There’s acidity to cleanse the palate, fruit to excite it, and just enough flavor to fuel the conversation without taking it over entirely. And most nights, that is precisely what we need in a wine.
J.W. Sieg: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits; on the list at Clyde’s in Gallery Place and Georgetown, Old Ebbitt Grill and 1789. Available in Maryland at the Bottle Shop in Potomac, and Gilly’s Craft Beer & Fine Wine and King Farm Wine and Beer in Rockville; on the list at Clyde’s locations in Chevy Chase, Columbia, Tower Oaks. Available in Virginia at Unwined in Alexandria and Belleview; on the list at Clyde’s locations in Mark Center, Reston, Tysons Corner, Willow Creek Farm.
*1 / 2
Almansa, Spain, $10
The new vintage of roses is arriving just in time for warmer weather. This sappy sample from Spain is a deep red in color, with bright fruit and a slightly sweet finish. Not at all classic, but a crowd-pleaser.
Grapes of Spain/Elite: Available in the District at Circle Wine & Liquor, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor; on the list at Hank’s Oyster Bar, Occidental Grill. Available in Virginia at Tivoli Gourmet in Arlington, Vino Market in Midlothian, the Wine House in Fairfax.
Tierra de Castilla, Spain, $8
This straightforward tempranillo, unencumbered by oak, is another example of Spain’s powerful presence in the bargain-wine category. With grilling weather approaching, it is ideal for casual patio dining.
Dionysus: Available in the District at A. Litteri, Cork & Fork, Wagshal’s Market; on the list at Coppi’s, Policy. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s, Bethesda Market, Bethesda Chevy Chase Beer & Wine, Bradley Food & Beverage and Cork & Fork in Bethesda; Brookville Market and Chevy Chase Supermarket in Chevy Chase; Finewine.com and Grape Expectations in Gaithersburg; Germantown Beer & Wine; Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia; Woodmoor Supermarket in Silver Spring. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s locations in Alexandria and McLean, Cork & Fork in Gainesville, Corks & Kegs in Richmond, Wine & Beer Westpark in Glen Allen, Fern Street Gourmet in Alexandria, Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Warrenton, Unwined in Alexandria and Belleview.
***Exceptional **Excellent *Very Good
Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.