Sicilia, Italy, $50
This comes from Nerello grapes farmed organically on the northern slopes of Mount Etna, so to say “volcanic soils” would be an understatement. The beguiling wine is firmly structured and mineral, with cherry flavors spiced with oak, and firm tannins that should help the wine age for several years. From importer Marc de Grazia Selections.
Bacchus: Available in the District at Cork Market, MacArthur Beverages; on the list at Cashion’s Eat Place, Cork Wine Bar, Eola, Restaurant Nora, Two Amys.
Sardinia, Italy, $16
An exotic white, it has aromas of brush and sea air, and flavors of kumquat and Meyer lemon.
Winebow: Available in the District at A. Litteri, Calvert Woodley, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Continental Wine & Liquor, Cowgirl Creamery, MacArthur Beverages, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Pearson’s, Rodman’s, various Whole Foods Market locations; on the list at Chef Geoff’s Downtown, Coppi’s, Fiola, Floriana, Poste, Sonoma, Toscana Cafe. Available in Maryland at Georgetown Square Beer & Wine in Bethesda, King Farm Beer & Wine in Rockville; on the list at Amici Miei in Potomac.
Puglia, Italy, $13
Primitivo is the Italian name for zinfandel, and this juicy, fruit-forward version tastes like a top California zin, only without the alcoholic burn. Ideal for burgers, pizza, etc.
Dionysus: Available in the District at A. Litteri, Rodman’s, Wagshal’s Market; on the list at Coppi’s. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s and Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia, and Mom’s Organic Market in Rockville. Available in Virginia at Ashburn Wine Shop; Balducci’s locations in Alexandria and McLean; Cheesetique, the Italian Store and Mom’s Organic Market in Alexandria; Unwined in Alexandria and Belleview.
Salento, Italy, $10
This is new to our market and therefore, unfortunately, not widely available; one of the best $10 bottles I’ve tasted all year. Pair it with the everyday type of red meat you grill throughout the summer. Case purchase!
Country Vintner: On the list in Maryland at Donna’s in Columbia. Available in Virginia at the Italian Store in Arlington and on the list at Pizzeria Orso in Falls Church.
Basilicata, Italy, $14
It’s fun; rich and creamy with cherry pie flavors, yet nicely structured and complex for the price.
Siema: Available in the District at Whole Foods Market Tenleytown; on the list at Al Tiramisu. On the list in Maryland at Cinghiale in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Il Vino and the Wine House in Fairfax, the Italian Store in Arlington, Unwined in Alexandria and Belleview, Whole Foods Market Alexandria, the Wine Cabinet in Reston; on the list at Assaggi Mozzarella Bar in McLean, Il Fornaio in Reston, Piero’s Corner and Zeffirelli Ristorante Italiano in Herndon, Pizzeria Orso in Falls Church.
Campania, Italy, $20
Here’s a crisp, minerally white grape variety that pairs wonderfully with seafood. The winery makes a top-notch dry falanghina called Taburno, but this unusual sparkler charmed me. Made like a prosecco, it is a delightful aperitif to turn a summer evening into a celebration. From importer Marc de Grazia Selections.
Bacchus: Available in the District at Cork Market; on the list at Cork Wine Bar, Two Amys. Available in Maryland at the Italian Market in Annapolis, Wishing Well Liquors in Easton; on the list at Casey Jones in La Plata. Country Vintner in Virginia: Available at Grape + Bean in Alexandria; on the list at Pizzeria Orso in Falls Church, Vermilion in Alexandria, Trummer’s on Main in Clifton.
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Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.
Here are just a few of the fascinating wines available from southern Italy. If you want to explore more, look for these importers’ names on other wines.