Exceptional Excellent Very Good
This is a good week for bargain hunters. We have an exceptional cabernet franc from the south of France, plus a new vintage of a Portuguese favorite from one of my previous year-end roundup of greatest values. Throw in a tasty rosé from an obscure grape variety, a top-notch South African chenin blanc and a splurge-worthy dolcetto from Italy’s Piedmont, and we have a party.
Laroque Cabernet Franc 2017
Cité de Carcassonne, France, $12
Wow! Here’s where we need a “Run, don’t walk to your wine store” emoji. This is a bargain-priced red, made entirely of cabernet franc, that combines some Bordeaux style with the freshness and fruitiness of wines from France’s Mediterranean coast. Look for the dark cherry flavors and white pepper spice characteristic of the grape. Open it at least an hour before dinner and serve it slightly chilled. I was glad I didn’t finish the bottle the first night, because the wine was even better the following evening. One of the best bargain wines I’ve tasted all year. Alcohol by volume: 13.5 percent.
Imported by Aquitaine Wine USA, distributed in the District and Maryland by M. Touton Selection, in Virginia by Republic National: Available in the District at Eye Street Cellars, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Open Door Market, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Angelo’s Beer Wine Liquor in Waldorf, the Bottle Shop in Potomac, Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Castle Liquors in Mt. Airy, Choice Beer & Wine in Wheaton, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer in Gaithersburg, Hop N Grape in North Bethesda, Old Farm Liquors and Viniferous in Frederick, Old Line Fine Wine, Spirits & Bistro in Beltsville, Pine Liquors and Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington, Potomac Beer & Wine in Rockville, Rosewick Wine & Spirits in La Plata, World Gourmet Wine & Beer in Potomac. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, Vienna Vintner in Vienna, Libbie Market in Richmond, Magnolia Foods in Lynchburg, Mermaid Winery (Norfolk, Virginia Beach), Vintage Wines in Harrisonburg, Yiannis Wine & Food in Virginia Beach.
Bruno Giacosa Dolcetto D'Alba 2017
Piedmont, Italy, $27
Bruno Giacosa is a top producer in Piedmont, in northwestern Italy, and the wines come at a premium. This sets a high standard for dolcetto, juicy with spicy cherry and berry flavors and a lively finish. This bottle is a great accompaniment to pizza and robustly sauced pasta dishes. ABV: 14 percent.
Imported by Folio, distributed by M. Touton Selection: Available in the District at Burka’s Wine & Liquor, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Eye Street Cellars, Rodman’s, Wide World of Wines. Available in Maryland at Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington, Town Center Market in Riverdale Park.
Confidencial Tinto Reserva 2015
An earlier vintage of this wine made it into my greatest values of the year roundup, and the current release maintains great quality and value. It is juicy and spicy with flavors of wild berries, sage and black pepper. Pair it with grilled meats or hearty stews. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Imported by Tri-Vin, distributed by DMV: Available in the District at Giant (Van Ness, Wisconsin Avenue), Magruder’s, Modern Liquors, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Riggs Liquors, Rodman’s, Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits, World Market, Yes! Organic Market (Brookland, Georgia Avenue). Available in Maryland at Dawson’s Liquors in Severna Park, Dunkirk Wine & Spirits in Dunkirk, Eastport Liquors in Annapolis, Edgewater Liquors in Edgewater, Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold, Frederick Wine House and Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Hops & Vines in Odenton, Lyndwood Square Wine and Spirits and the Perfect Pour in Elkridge, Nick’s of Calvert in Prince Frederick, Nick’s of Clinton in Waldorf, Petite Cellars and Pine Orchard Liquors in Ellicott City, Port of Call Liquors in Solomons. Available in Virginia at various locations of Giant, Harris Teeter, Safeway, Wegmans, Whole Foods Market and World Market.
Famille Bourgeois, Le Vert Galant Pineau d'Aunis 2018
Coteaux du Vendomois, Loire Valley, France, $15
Pineau d’Aunis is a relatively obscure grape from the Loire Valley that has become a sommelier favorite. This rosé, from a leading Loire Valley producer, is intriguingly delicious, less fruity than the pinot noir pinks of the region, with an herbal, mineral tang that adds to a delightfully refreshing finish. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Imported and distributed by M. Touton Selection: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Eye Street Cellars, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Downtown Crown Wine and Beer in Gaithersburg, Old Farm Liquors and Viniferous in Frederick, Town Center Market in Riverdale Park. Available in Virginia at Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Specials Wine Seller in Kilmarnock, Vino Market in Midlothian, the Wine Outlet (Great Falls).
Reyneke Vinehugger White 2018
Western Cape, South Africa, $20
This wine is made from organically grown chenin blanc, and is another example of how South Africa does wonders with this grape. Flavors of apricot and peach are accented with citrus zest. It isn’t as racy as some South African chenins, but it is soft and mouth-filling with a long finish. ABV: 13 percent.
Imported by Vineyard Brands, distributed by Elite: Available in the District at Dent Place Market, MacArthur Beverages, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Eddie’s Liquors in Baltimore, Wine Cellars of Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Pentagon City Wine Merchant in Arlington, Unwined (Belleview), the Wine Outlet (Great Falls).
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.