Exceptional Excellent Very Good
Bolivia is one of many countries enjoying a viticultural renaissance the past two or three decades. Here are two absolutely delicious red wines that show what Bolivia can accomplish. They are both tannat, a variety better known for rustic, brawny wines from Uruguay, but made here with more polish and flair. This week’s selections also include three white wines from France’s Loire Valley, showing delicious quality at a value price.
Tarija, Bolivia, $25
Tannat can range from bright, light and fruity to (more often) rough-and-tumble rustic. Aranjuez manages to add sophistication and panache. The vineyards are at an altitude of 2,000 meters, or about 6,600 feet, where intense sunshine combines with cool temperatures to ripen the fruit while preserving acidity and freshness. The wine spent six months in barrel. I enjoyed this red over two or three days, and it kept getting better. Aranjuez also made a 2015 single vineyard tannat called Origen that will cost about twice as much when it arrives in the market this fall — it is worth it. A line called Duo, priced around $15, includes an excellent red blended of tannat and merlot and a zesty white of torrontes and Muscat of Alexandria. Alcohol by volume: 14 percent.
Imported by Chufly Imports, distributed by Prestige-Ledroit: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Batch 13, Chat’s Liquors, Grand Cata, Magruder’s, Pearson’s, Potomac Wine & Spirits; on the list at A Rake’s Progress, Bourbon Steak, Chaplin’s, Compass Rose, Hank’s Oyster Bar (the Wharf), Himitsu, Maxwell Park, Ruta del Vino. Available in Maryland at Goska’s Liquors and Harbour Wine & Spirits in Severna Park, Hilltop Wine & Spirits in Bowie, Mills Fine Wine and Spirits and Wine Cellars of Annapolis in Annapolis.
Samaipata, Bolivia, $25
This wine is not aged in oak, allowing it to express the land and the grape with minimal intervention. It’s edgy and energetic, with a hint of meat and leather, and should appeal to fans of natural wines. It skirts the conventions of what a tannat — or any red wine — should be, and tries to show us what wine can become if we don’t hold it back. There is also a syrah and a white wine based on torrontes. ABV: 14 percent.
Imported by Chufly Imports, distributed by Prestige-Ledroit: Available in the District at Batch 13, Chat’s Liquors, Grand Cata, Potomac Wine & Spirits; on the list at A Rake’s Progress, Bourbon Steak, Chaplin’s, Compass Rose, Hank’s Oyster Bar (the Wharf), Himitsu, Maxwell Park, Ruta del Vino. Available in Maryland at Goska’s Liquors and Harbour Wine & Spirits in Severna Park, Hilltop Wine & Spirits in Bowie, Mills Fine Wine and Spirits and Wine Cellars of Annapolis in Annapolis.
Loire Valley, France, $12
Muscadet hails from the western end of the Loire Valley, near where the river reaches the sea. Muscadets tend to cry out for seafood, especially shellfish, because of their racy, mineral acidity. Recent vintages have been on the ripe side, yielding fuller, more mouthfilling wines. Made from organically grown grapes, it should sing with oysters, a clam pizza or a shrimp pasta dish. ABV: 12 percent.
Imported and distributed by Dionysos Imports: Available in the District at Mom’s Organic Market, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage and Capital Beer & Wine in Bethesda, Mom’s Organic Market in Rockville, Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Mom’s Organic Market (various locations).
Loire Valley, France, $13
Fresh and vibrant, this muscadet is an ideal partner for a variety of fish dishes. It had me dreaming of crab cakes. ABV: 12 percent.
Imported and distributed by M. Touton Selection: Available in the District at Cairo Wine & Liquor, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Eye Street Cellars, Harry’s Reserve Fine Wine & Spirits, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis; Bradley Food & Beverage and Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda; Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville; Hunt Valley Wine, Liquor & Beer and Shawan Liquors in Cockeysville; Jason’s Wine & Spirits in Ellicott City; Old Farm Liquors and Riverside Liquors in Frederick; Rodman’s in White Flint; Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington; Town Center Market in Riverdale Park; Town & Country Wine Liquor Etc. in Easton. Available in Virginia at the Vineyard in McLean.
Loire Valley, France, $18
Vouvray is the spiritual homeland of chenin blanc, though we don’t see very many in the United States. I suspect that’s because Vouvray can range from dry to sweet, and the labels don’t always tell us what to expect. This Vouvray is like catnip because it has the phrase “lieux-dits” on the label, referring to a “wine of place.” Whatever. It’s delicious and inexpensive, and it may make you wonder why more vintners don’t grow chenin blanc. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Imported and distributed by Vignobles LVDH: Available in the District at Broad Branch Market, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Paul’s of Chevy Chase. Available in Virginia at the Wine Outlet (Great Falls, McLean).
Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be sold at additional stores. Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.