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This $12 Chilean red is just begging to be paired with grilled meat

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Here’s a wine tasting exercise for you: Compare two wines made from carmenere in Chile and two made with cabernet franc in the Loire Valley of France. New World versus Old World. Carmenere is an old Bordeaux variety that has become a specialty of Chile; it offers a smoky, leafy take on traditional Bordeaux flavors — and in these two examples, it delivers exceptional value. Cabernet franc from the Loire Valley in France tends to be earthier and more energetic in flavor and texture. We round out this week’s selection with a juicy red blend from South Africa.


Las Casas de Vaqueria Corral A18 Reserva Carmenere 2019

(3 stars)

Maule Valley, Chile, $12

This wine is impeccably balanced, with savory notes of tobacco leaf, black olives, dark cherry and spice. It shows exceptional elegance for the price and will partner well with meats off the grill, though I would be tempted to hide some away for sipping alone after dinner. Lovely, and a tremendous value. Alcohol by volume: 13.5 percent.

Imported and distributed by Elite: Available in the District at 13th Street Market, Chat’s Liquors, Downtown Liquors, Irving Wine & Spirits, Lion’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Metro Supermarket, Rodman’s, Sportsman’s Wine & Liquors, Wardman Wines. Available in Maryland at Bin 201 Wine Sellers in Annapolis; Bin 604 Wine Sellers, Bo Brooks Lighthouse Liquors, Canton Crossing Wine + Spirits and Wine Source in Baltimore; the Breadery in Catonsville; Fine Wine of Wheaton in Wheaton; Kenilworth Wine & Spirits in Towson; Wine Bin in Ellicott City; Woodmont Market in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at K-1 Beer and Wine and Streets Market in Arlington, City Vino in Fredericksburg, Once Upon a Vine (North) and Tugwells Market in Richmond.


Tagua Tagua Gran Reserva Carmenere 2017

(3 stars)

Rapel Valley, Chile, $17

Here is a plush version of carmenere, pushing the ripeness envelope without breaching it. Think of the instant a piece of fruit is at peak ripeness, just before it teeters on the precipice of pruniness. You can taste danger here — the winemaker is tempting fate to lean over the ledge, but the wine pulls back just in time. ABV: 14 percent.

Imported by Marquee Selections, distributed by DMV: Available in the District at Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Bay Wine & Spirits in North Beach; Bella’s, Eastport Liquors and the Italian Market in Annapolis; Big B Liquors in Bryans Road; Chesapeake Wine Co. in Baltimore; Frederick Wine House in Frederick; Highland Wine & Spirits in Highland; Pine Liquors in Fort Washington; Pine Orchard Liquors in Ellicott City; Rosewick Wine & Spirits in La Plata; Town & Country Wine Liquor Etc. in Easton; Town Center Market in Riverdale Park.


Domaine Gouron Chinon Rouge 2018

(3 stars)

Loire Valley, France, $20

A hint of smoke accents aromas of dark cherries, black currants and white pepper. On the palate, this cabernet franc brims with flavors of dark fruit, spice and black olives, with the electric quality wine lovers often call “tension.” This beauty sure seized my attention from the first sip. Sustainable. ABV: 14.2 percent.

Imported and distributed by Lanterna: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Capitol Hill Supermarket. Available in Maryland at Bel Air Liquors in Bel Air, C&R Liquors in Hagerstown, Dawson’s Market in Rockville, the Girl & the Vine in Takoma Park, Knowles Station Wine & Co. in Kensington, Locavino in Silver Spring, Wine Cellars of Annapolis in Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Norm’s Beer & Wine in Vienna, Tinto Wine & Cheese in Virginia Beach, Wine Gallery 108 in Alexandria.

Famille Duveau Saumur Champigny 2018

(2.5 stars)

Loire Valley, $23

Tobacco and leather aromas frame a core of dark cherries and plums on this scintillating cabernet franc. Give it a slight chill and it will be an ideal pairing with grilled ribs, burgers and steaks. Sustainable. ABV: 14.4 percent.

Imported and distributed by Lanterna: Available in the District at DCanter, Vitis Fine Wines & Spirits. Available in Maryland at Liquid Assets in Ocean City, Locavino in Silver Spring.

Babylonstoren Babel 2018

(2.5 stars)

Western Cape, South Africa, $25

This drinks like a bordeaux-style blend, with hints of graphite (pencil shavings), cassis and spice, but the effusive fruit marks it as a New World wine. Shiraz, which is not a bordeaux grape, actually is the main component of the blend, along with the five traditional bordeaux grapes of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, petit verdot and cabernet franc. A sploosh of South Africa’s native pinotage rounds out the blend and provides local character. This is a lovely wine to match assertive summer meat dishes. ABV: 14 percent.

Imported by Red Wolf Imports, distributed in the District and Maryland by Global, in Virginia by LK Wine Tours and Sales: Available in the District at the Bottle Shop, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, DCanter, D’Vines, Gallagher & Graham Fine Spirits, Georgetown Wine & Spirits, Rodman’s, Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Wardman Wines. Available in Maryland at Beer, Wine & Co. and Capital Beer & Wine in Bethesda; Dawson’s Market in Rockville; in Gaithersburg; Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring; Good Neighbor Shop in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Aldie Peddler in Aldie, Belmont Butcher in Richmond, Grayhaven Winery in Gum Spring, Kimberly’s and Wine Room in Winchester, Mt. Airy Farm Market in Boyce, Vienna Vintner in Vienna.

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 to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

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