Columnist, Food

★★★Exceptional  ★★Excellent ★Very Good

Prices are approximate. Check to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

These are interesting wines, versatile enough to pair with a traditional Thanksgiving feast. They are by no means the only wines that will do your dinner proud.

Kunin Wines Pape Star 2009


Central Coast, Calif., $25

This blend of grenache, mourvedre and syrah is modeled after Chateauneuf-du-Pape, typically a massively tannic red from the Rhone Valley in France. It features American ripeness and softness, with a seamless blend of earthy mushroom flavors wrapped around a velvety core of red fruits.

Country Vintner: Available in the District at Paul’s of Chevy Chase, and on the list at America Eats Tavern, Bar Rouge, Firefly and Poste Moderne. Available in Virginia at Grape + Bean and Le Tastevin Fine Wines in Alexandria; on the list at Brabo and the Majestic in Alexandria.

Lar de Paula Blanco 2009

★★1 / 2

Rioja, Spain, $20

Here’s a lovely wine, made in the traditional style for white Rioja, meaning it is aged on the lees and in oak, giving it a rich, honeyed color and character. It packs a lot of heft for a young wine, but when paired with food, the fruit emerges. This should be an excellent partner for rich foods.

Lanterna in the District and Maryland; the Spanish Wine Importers in Virginia. On the list in the District at Estadio, 701. Available in Maryland at the Bottle Shop in Potomac, Dawson’s Liquors in Severna Park, Mays Chapel Wine & Spirit Shop in Timonium, Mills Fine Wine and Spirits in Annapolis, Nick’s of Calvert in Prince Frederick, Roland’s in Chesapeake Beach, Spirits of Mt. Vernon in Baltimore, the Tasting Room Wine Bar & Shop at National Harbor. Available in Virginia at Ashburn Wine Shop; Cheesetique, Fern Street Gourmet, Grape + Bean, Planet Wine & Gourmet and Unwined in Alexandria; Cork & Fork in Gainesville; Kybecca in Fredericksburg; Leesburg Vintner; Town Duck in Warrenton; Vienna Vintner; the Wine House in Fairfax; WineStyles in Montclair.

Cavallotto Bricco Boschis Freisa 2008

★★1 / 2

Langhe, Italy, $21

This delicious red seems to capture autumn in a bottle with earthy, leafy notes and a hint of decay — in a cyclical sense, like a ferris wheel beginning its descent, sure to come around again.

Bacchus in the District and Maryland, Country Vintner in Virginia. On the list in the District at Occidental Grille. Available in Maryland at in Gaithersburg, Stateline Liquors in Elkton; on the list at Cinghiale and Sonny’s Bronx Original in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, the Wine House in Fairfax, the Vineyard Table in Herndon.

Zocker Paragon Vineyard Gruner Veltliner 2010

1 / 2

Edna Valley, Calif., $20

In Austria, gruner veltliner from the recent vintage is served with a fall feast. We typically don’t have that “junker” wine in the United States, but this California gruner from last year will do quite nicely. It features fall fruit flavors of apples and pears, with enough richness and acidity to match the Thanksgiving menu.

Country Vintner: Available in the District at Zola Wine & Kitchen; on the list at the Oval Room, Ris, Sonoma. Available in Maryland at I.M. Wine in Fulton, Potomac Gourmet Market in National Harbor, the Wine Bin in Ellicott City. Available in Virginia at the Vineyard in McLean.

Lionel Osmin Pied de Perdrix 2009


Comte Tolosan, France, $11

Pied de Perdrix, or partridge foot, is an obscure grape variety from southwestern France. I can confidently say this is the best partridge foot I’ve ever tasted, because I’m pretty sure it’s the only one I’ve ever tasted. It reminds me of a good cru Beaujolais, with cherry and wood smoke, but with a little more earth and mushroomy goodness to it. The name suggests turkey, but don’t save this for Thanksgiving. Buy it by the case, make it your house red for a while, and surprise your friends.
M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Magruder’s, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Sheffield Wine & Liquor Shoppe, Watergate Wine & Beverage. Available in Maryland at Belby Discount Beer & Wine in Rockville; Bo Brooks Lighthouse Liquors and Broadway Liquors in Baltimore; Capital Beer & Wine and Beer, Wine & Co. in Bethesda; Clarksville Village Liquors; in Gaithersburg; Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville; Midway Discount Liquors in Joppa; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Preserve Wine & Spirits in Hanover; Quench! Beer-Wine-Deli in Colesville; Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington; Vineyards Elite in Pikesville; the Wine Harvest in Gaithersburg and Potomac. On the list at Annie’s Bistro in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Cork & Fork in Gainesville, Opera House Wine & Gourmet in Manassas, the Vineyard in McLean.

Scharffenberger Brut


Mendocino County, Calif., $20

Consistently one of my favorite California bubblies, Scharffenberger offers impressive champagne-like complexity for a wallet-friendly price. With this one, you’re “drinking up,” meaning the wine tastes more expensive than it is.

RNDC: Available in the District at AB Liquors, Calvert Woodley, Chat’s Liquors, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, Whole Foods Market Tenleytown; on the list at various Chef Geoff’s and Clyde’s locations, Founding Farmers, Lincoln. Country Vintner in Virginia: Available at Arrowine in Arlington; Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean; Fern Street Gourmet in Alexandria; Total Wine & More locations in Fairfax, McLean and Springfield; Wine House in Fairfax. On the list at Evening Star Cafe in Alexandria.

Red Newt Cellars Circle Riesling 2009/2010

1 / 2

Finger Lakes, N.Y., $14

This semi-dry Riesling is a great introduction to the wines of Upstate New York. I list it here because it has good availability, but I also recommend other New York Rieslings — from Red Newt, Anthony Road, Hermann J. Wiemer, Dr. Konstantin Frank, Ravines and Fox Run — to name a few that have been represented on area retail shelves.

Potomac Selections: Available in the District at Ace Beverage. Available in Maryland at Calvert Wine & Spirits in Hunt Valley; Chesapeake Wine Co., Grand Cru, Mt. Washington Wine Co., Wells Discount Liquors and Wine Source in Baltimore; Wishing Well Liquors in Easton. Available in Virginia at Oakton Wine Shop; Out of Site Wines in Vienna; Twisted Vines Bottleshop and Whole Foods Market in Arlington. On the list at 2941 in Falls Church, Maple Ave Restaurant in Vienna.