Exceptional Excellent Very Good
Here’s a dinner plan: Start by opening a bottle of Montenidoli Chianti and letting it air — decanted, if possible. Then enjoy a Pampelonne wine cocktail while you cook. When you begin to eat, whether nibbles or a more formal first course, switch to either the Attems Ramato Pinot Grigio, Ken Forrester Old Vines Chenin Blanc or Esprit Gassier rosé. Wow your guests with the Chianti at the main course.
Tuscany, Italy, $23
This is an old-style traditional Chianti, including the white grapes Trebbiano Gentile and Malvasia del Chianti, as well as red grapes Canaiolo and Sangiovese. Yet the wine seems modern in style, with intense fruit and depth. Its flavors unfold over several hours, rewarding advance planning and a decanter. Alcohol by volume: 14 percent.
Imported and distributed by Le Storie: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Cordial Craft Wine, Beer & Spirits (Union Market), Wardman Wines, Weygandt Wines; on the list at Lupo Verde, San Lorenzo. Available in Virginia at Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Grape + Bean (Old Town, Rosemont), J. Emerson Fine Wines & Cheese in Richmond, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), Vino Market in Midlothian; on the list at Tavola in Charlottesville.
Friuli, Italy, $16
This wine looks for all intents and purposes to be a rosé, but it technically isn’t. Pinot gris, or pinot grigio in Italy, is a dark-skinned white grape, and when the juice is left on the skins for a time after pressing, some of that color remains in the wine. Most pinot grigio that we know as the ubiquitous crisp, refreshing white wine is made from juice separated from the skins at pressing. The Attems Ramato has a glorious copper-orange color resulting from 24 hours of skin contact with the must (“ramato” means coppery), an effusive aroma, and a tannic grip that gives the wine heft. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Imported by Vintus; distributed by M. Touton Selection: Available in the District at Eye Street Cellars, Pearson’s, Rodman’s, Wide World of Wines. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage and Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda, Chesapeake Market & Deli in North Beach, Cork & Bottle Liquors in Laurel, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer and the Wine Harvest in Gaithersburg, Franklins Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville, Graul’s Market (Ruxton), Hillcrest Beer Wine & Spirits, Old Farm Liquors, Riverside Liquors and Viniferous in Frederick, Kenilworth Wine & Spirits in Towson, Landover Liquor in Cheverly, Pine Orchard Liquors in Ellicott City, Town Center Market in Riverdale, Wheaton Winery in Wheaton, Wine Source in Baltimore.
Stellenbosch, South Africa, $16
Ken Forrester is one of the best-known South African producers of chenin blanc. His Petit Chenin is an excellent introduction to the grape variety. The Old Vine Reserve shows more depth and concentration, yet there’s a limpid fluidity that keeps it fresh and vibrant. ABV: 14 percent.
Imported by USA Wine Imports, distributed by Country Vintner: Available in the District at Cordial Craft Wine, Beer & Spirits (Union Market), MacArthur Beverages, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, Whole Foods Market (P Street); on the list at Kaliwa, the Salt Line. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s in Bethesda, Frederick Wine House in Frederick; on the list at Bo Brooks in Baltimore, the Tasting Room in Frederick. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean, Reston), Dominion Wine and Beer in Falls Church, Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, Swirl & Sip in Fairfax, Unwined (Alexandria), Whole Foods Market (Tysons); on the list at Eamonn’s Chipper/PX and Society Fair in Alexandria, Coastal Flats in Tysons, Sweetwater Tavern in Centreville, Trattoria Villagio in Clifton.
Cotes de Provence, France, $18
This is a classically styled, delicious Provence rosé, crisp and refreshing with flavors of melon and herbs. Enjoy this with garlicky or spicy foods, either appetizers or late-summer entrees. ABV: 13 percent.
Imported by Wilson Daniels; distributed by Bacchus: Available in the District at Dean & DeLuca, Magruder’s, Rodman’s, S&R Liquors, Wide World of Wines; on the list at several restaurants, including Bourbon Steak, Osteria Morini, Rasika (Penn Quarter). Available in Maryland at Bin 201 Wine Sellers in Annapolis, Eddie’s of Roland Park, North Charles Fine Wine & Spirits and Wine Source in Baltimore, Fairgrounds Discount Beverages in Timonium, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg.
California, $13 for four 250-milliliter cans
Pampelonne comes in a variety of fun flavors inspired by wine cocktails popular in European cafes and bistros. I like the Blood Orange Spritz, and the Negroni Sbagliato flavor has a nice bitter orange note that mimics a negroni. A Harvest Pear Palmetto has been introduced for fall, with pear and Meyer lemon flavors. These are nice for patio lunches when you don’t have time for a nap afterward, or for a tasty quaff before moving on to more serious wines with dinner. ABV: 6 percent.
Distributed by DMV: Available in the District at Magruder’s, Metro Wine & Spirits, Wagshal’s Deli, Yes! Organic Market (Georgia Avenue). Widely available in Maryland.
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.