***Exceptional **Excellent *Very Good
Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.
Here is my monthly list of high-quality wines at low prices: $15 or less full retail. These continue my recent explorations of Spain and southern Italy, with a detour to the French Alps.
Apulia, Italy, $13
You almost can’t miss with this wine, an excellent example that has some appealing age, considering it is new to this market. It offers characteristic flavors of dried sour cherries, dried candied orange peel and woodsy spices. I found some of this left over several days after opening the bottle, and it had become rather like aged balsamic vinegar; not the really expensive 60-year-old but a good 25-year-old. Try this as an illustration of what a few years in your cellar could do for a southern Italian red — except the winery has done the work for you.
Country Vintner: Available in the District at Wagshal’s Market. Available in Maryland at Pine Orchard Wine in Ellicott City. Available in Virginia at the Italian Store in Arlington.
Savoie, France, $14
I love wines from Savoie, most of which (including this one) are made with the Jacquere grape. This is crisp and refreshing, with flavors of mountain grass and stone (minerality). Not the most complex of wines, but one to stimulate your palate and your thoughts. In other words, great as a start to a wonderful evening.
Dionysus: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Rodman’s, Wagshal’s Market, Whole Foods Market Tenleytown; on the list at Palena. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s, Capital Beer & Wine and Cork & Fork in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington; Balducci’s in Alexandria and McLean; Unwined in Alexandria and Belleview; Whole Foods Market locations in Arlington, Fair Lakes, Vienna, Tysons Corner. On the list at Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg.
Bierzo, Spain, $10
Here’s another terrific introduction to the Godello grape of northwestern Spain. This wine hints of apricots, tropical fruits and lemon; it would be a great partner to seafood with a citrusy sauce.
M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Chinatown Liquor, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Harry’s Reserve Fine Wine & Spirits, Subway Liquors II, Yes! Organic Market 14th Street. Available in Maryland at Bethesda Chevy Chase Beer & Wine, Bethesda Co-op and Grosvenor Market in Bethesda; Franklin Liquors in Ijamsville; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington; Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring; Tick Tock Liquors in Langley Park; Wine Market and Wine Underground in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Cork & Fork in Gainesville, Opera House Wine & Gourmet in Manassas, Vienna Vintner, Whole Foods Market Vienna, Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville.
Terra Alta, Spain, $12
It’s made from vines more than a century old, in the high-altitude vineyards of Terra Alta along the river Ebro. The flavors are subtle, mineral and focused, making this an excellent aperitif wine or a fine partner to shellfish dishes.
Grapes of Spain/Elite: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, various Whole Foods Market locations; on the list at BlackSalt, Jaleo, La Bodega. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, various Whole Foods Market locations; on the list at Willow in Arlington.
Jumilla, Spain, $10
This juicy red appeals straight off the cork with straightforward fruit flavors of cherry and blackberry. It’s nice for simple foods off the grill. The label also produces two good whites: a blanco and a maccabeo.
Nice Legs: On the list in the District at New Heights, Watershed. Available in Maryland at a.k.a. Frisco’s in Frederick; on the list at Meli in Baltimore, Sin Fronteras Cafe in Annapolis, Viniferous in Frederick. Available in Virginia at Chain Bridge Cellars and the Vineyard in McLean, Opera House Gourmet in Manassas, Twisted Vines Bottleshop in Arlington, Unwined in Alexandria and Belleview, Vienna Vintner, the Vineyard Table in Herndon, the Wine House in Fairfax; on the list at Thornton River Grill in Sperryville, Willow in Arlington.
Rioja, Spain, $10
Crisp, lemony and nicely refreshing, this is a good wine to start the evening, either by itself or with casual nibbles.
Dionysus: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Chat’s Liquors, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, De Vinos, D’Vines; on the list at Cafe 8 and Port of Piraeus II. Available in Maryland at Cork & Fork in Bethesda, Rodman’s in Wheaton, Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring; on the list at Tavira in Chevy Chase. Available in Virginia at Kybecca in Fredericksburg, In Vino Veritas in Keswick, Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Warrenton, J. Emerson Fine Wines & Cheese in Richmond; Whole Foods Market locations in Alexandria and Reston, the Vineyard Table in Herndon.