Here are my monthly Recession Buster recommendations, for great-value wines that cost $15 or less
Chambre d’Edouard 2009
Saint-Pourcain, France, $15
Named after Ed Addiss, a Falls Church importer, this wine hails from the center of France, miles from any renowned wine region (in the Allier forest, best known for oak barrels). Yet it is juicy, ripe and lip-smacking fun. And it’s 100 percent pinot noir, so anyone who thinks there are no good pinots under $20 should seek it out. Unfortunately, you won’t find this at Safeway, or even Whole Foods Market, but it’s worth driving around to get it.
Wine Traditions: Available in the District at Cork Market; on the list at Buck’s Fishing and Camping, Cork Wine Bar. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington; on the list at Mediterranee in Great Falls.
Tuscany, Italy, $11
This charming wine is 80 percent sangiovese, the main grape of Tuscany, with the rest ciliegiolo, an obscure grape named for its effusive cherry flavors. It is shy at first, but about an hour after opening it starts to party. Not a black-tie gala, just a rollicking good time under the stars on a midsummer’s evening.
Potomac Selections: Available in the District at Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor; on the list at Ripple. Available in Maryland at Chesapeake Wine Co. in Baltimore; Piazza Italian Market and Wishing Well Liquors in Easton; Wine Cellars of Annapolis. On the list at Leelynn’s in Ellicott City. Available in Virginia at Au Domaine in Alexandria, Best Cellars in Arlington, Classic Wines in Great Falls, Galletta’s Pasta & Italian Specialties in Leesburg; Twisted Vine Bottleshop and Whole Foods Market in Arlington; on the list at Zeffirelli Ristorante in Herndon.
Cotes Catalanes, France, $10
This white from southwestern France is unusual in that it is a bone-dry example of muscat, the flowery, tropical-tasting grape that usually produces an off-dry or sweet wine. It’s a terrific summer aperitif for those with adventurous palates who enjoy searching for wines beyond the ordinary.
Dionysus: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, MacArthur Beverages, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Cork & Fork and Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia, Rodman’s in Wheaton and White Flint, Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s in McLean and Alexandria, Best Cellars in Arlington, Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Whole Foods Market in Vienna.
Saumur, France, $11
A cabernet franc from the Loire Valley made with certified organic grapes, this is an ideal summer barbecue wine. Its cherry fruit is flavored with white pepper and smoke, and its medium body makes it an ideal partner for burgers or sausages on the grill.
Wine Traditions: Available in the District at Cork Market. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, Rick’s Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria.
Cevennes, France, $10
Bright, juicy, red and refreshing, this is the type of wine to gulp on a hot day, recalibrating yourself for a pleasant evening to follow.
Kacher: Available in the District at Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Rodman’s, Sheffield Wine & Liquor Shoppe, Safeway in Georgetown, Whole Foods Market in Glover Park; on the list at the 18th Amendment, Bistro d’Oc, Bistrot du Coin, Fusion, Tabaq Bistro, Trio, Tuscana West, Veranda. Available in Maryland at many Montgomery County liquor stores.
Veneto, Italy, $12
Pinot grigio can be downright dull, but this example has bracing acidity and fresh fruit flavors that make it an ideal summer sipper.
M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Best D.C. Supermarket, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Congress Market, Gallery Market & Cafe, Wagshal’s Market, Yes! Organic Market; on the list at Dickson Wine Bar, Grillfish. Available in Maryland at Chevy Chase Supermarket; Cork 57 and Georgetown Square Beer & Wine in Bethesda; Dawson’s Liquors in Severna Park; Eddie’s Market and Mt. Washington Wine Co. in Baltimore; Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville; Franklin Liquors in Ijamsville; Greenbelt Co-op; Mills Fine Wine and Spirits in Annapolis; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Party Time Liquors in Mount Rainier; Roots Market in Olney; Town & Country Wine Liquor Etc. in Easton. On the list at Cafe Lazeez in Bethesda, Out of the Fire in Easton, Sam’s on the Waterfront in Annapolis, Stella’s in Rockville. Available in Virginia at Cork & Fork in Gainesville, the Italian Store in Arlington, MOM’s Organic Market in Alexandria, Whole Foods Market in Vienna.
***Exceptional **Excellent *Very Good
Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.