Rias Baixas, Spain, $20
This blend of albarino, loureiro and treixadura hails from northwest Spain, in Galicia, and offers intriguingly intense aromas and flavors of figs, lemons and peaches, with fleshy, ripe texture. Warning: You’ll want another sip even before the flavor fades.
M Touton Selection: Available in the District at 1 W Dupont Circle Wine & Liquors, Harry’s Reserve Fine Wine & Spirits, Hayden’s Liquor, Rodman’s, Subway Liquors II. Available in Maryland at Beer Wine & Co. in Bethesda; Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville; Franklin Liquors in Ijamsville; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington; Town & Country Wine Liquor Etc. in Easton; Wine Harvest in Potomac. On the list at Food Wine & Co. in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market in Richmond, Market Street Wine Shop in Charlottesville, the Vineyard in McLean, various Wegmans locations, the Wine Cellar in Middleburg.
This wine from northern Spain’s Basque region, just west of San Sebastian, features laser-sharp refreshment with its searingly dry acidity and its citrusy flavors of lime and lemon and just a hint of spritz that gives it even more zing. Think of this with summery seafood dishes, especially raw shellfish or a tart, spicy, seafood salad with anchovies. It’s also a good palate cleanser in the middle of a rich meal. Unfortunately, this wine’s difficult-to-pronounce name (think “choc-o-LEE-na”) and extreme dryness seem to scare off lazy retailers. Demand it — or go to these restaurants and try it by the glass.
Christopher Cannan/Bacchus in the District and Maryland; Country Vintner in Virginia: On the list in the District at Cashion’s Eat Place, Estadio, Jaleo. Available in Maryland at Finewine.com in Gaithersburg; on the list at Jaleo in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Unwined in Alexandria; on the list at Jaleo in Crystal City, Restaurant Eve in Alexandria.
Penedes, Spain, $15
Wine geeks tend to describe minerality, a very desired quality in wine, as “drinking stones” or something ridiculous like that. Taste this wine, and you’ll understand. This is a blend of parellada, macabeo, chardonnay (!) and a smidgen of malvasia, grown in high-altitude, gravelly soils in a vineyard that has been owned by only two families since nine decades before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Intriguing aromas of herbs, sea air and grass are crystallized into stony — well, there’s no better way to describe the flavors.
Classical Wines/Country Vintner: Available in the District at Cork Market, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Rodman’s in Wheaton and White Flint. Available in Virginia at Le Tastevin Fine Wines in Alexandria, the Tasting Room Wine Bar & Shop in Reston; on the list at Evening Star Cafe in Alexandria, Passion Fish in Reston.
Valdeorras, Spain, $21
Godello is an intriguing cousin to albarino. Both hail from northwestern Spain, but godello grows further inland and is less tart and more fleshy in body. At its best, godello can be quite mineral, with flavors of tree fruit such as Asian pear and apricot. Drink it with spicy or salty tapas, seafood salads and fish dishes.
Grapes of Spain/Elite Wines: Available in the District at Circle Wine & Liquor, MacArthur Beverages, various Whole Foods Market locations; on the list at Taberna del Alabardero. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, Balducci’s locations in Alexandria and McLean, various Whole Foods Market locations.
Rueda, Spain, $20
Rueda has justifiably become trendy in recent years because of its resemblance to sauvignon blanc from New Zealand: somewhat grassy and herbal but without the aggressiveness. Martinsancho is credited with starting that craze by showing what the verdejo grape can produce from this region. There are many good Rueda wines available; this is the archetype.
Classical Wines/Country Vintner: On the list in the District at Estadio, Jaleo, Old Ebbitt Grill. On the list in Maryland at Jaleo in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s in McLean, the Wine Cabinet in Reston; on the list at Jaleo in Crystal City, Passion Fish in Reston.
Monterrei, Spain, $15
This blend of godello and treixadura grapes is an excellent introduction to the wines of Galicia. Pair it with your next fish dinner.
Elite Wines: Available in the District at Paul’s of Chevy Chase; on the list at Bodega, Estadio, Ici Urban Bistro, Jaleo, La Tasca, Rasika. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, Rick’s Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, the Town Duck in Warrenton; on the list at Jaleo in Crystal City.
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Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.
When buying imported wines, the consumer has a secret weapon: the importer’s name on the label. From Spain, look especially for Classical Wines, Christopher Cannan and Grapes of Spain (local importer Aurelio Cabestrero). Another name to look for is Vin de Terra, from importer Jonas Gustafsson.