Exceptional Excellent Very Good
With summer in full throttle, it’s time for red wines that can match foods from the grill without overpowering us with weight or alcohol. This week’s greatest value is a delightful mencia from Spain, a bargain at $13. Those with more substantial appetites will want to try the Babylonstoren Babel, which might get you talking about the quality of South African wines. Give these a slight chill before drinking. And because you’ll need to slake your thirst while the grill is heating up, we have a delicious chardonnay from Spain, as well as a Provence rosé and a sangria in cans.
Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon, Spain, $13
Here’s a delightful, inexpensive red from Spain, which continues to offer terrific bargains. It is savory, with notes of wild herbs and cherries and perhaps a hint of boxwood. Alcohol by volume: 14 percent.
Imported by Tri-Vin, distributed by DMV: Available in the District at Giant (Wisconsin Avenue), Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Yes! Organic Market (Cleveland Park, Georgia Avenue). Available in Maryland at Dawson’s Liquors in Severna Park, Eastport Liquors and the Italian Market in Annapolis, Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring, Frederick Wine House, Old Farm Liquors and Riverside Liquors in Frederick, Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda, Hop N Cru in Germantown, Hunt Valley Wine, Liquor & Beer in Cockeysville, Liquor Pump in Parkville, Town Center Market in Riverdale Park, the Winery in Chester, Yes! Organic Market in Hyattsville.
Western Cape, South Africa, $22
Shiraz (syrah) and cabernet sauvignon are about half of this delicious red blend, with the rest malbec, petit verdot, merlot, cabernet franc and pinotage. Pinotage is a South African signature, but the recipe otherwise follows no convention. Bright fruit, bracing acidity and a nice long finish make this a great wine for red meat or grilled chicken. ABV: 14 percent.
Imported by Red Wolf, distributed by Global Wines in the District and Maryland, LK Wine Tours in Virginia: Available in the District at the Bottle Shop, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Cork & Fork, D’Vines, Gallagher & Graham Fine Spirits, Georgetown Wine & Spirits, Rodman’s, Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Wardman Wines. Available in Maryland at Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring, Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia. Available in Virginia at Aldie Peddler in Aldie, Bonnie Blue Southern Market & Bakery and Murphy Beverage in Winchester, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview).
Navarra, Spain, $14
Chardonnay from Spain? Why not? Everyone else is growing it. And Otazu does it well, medium-bodied with flavors of ripe peaches and apricots and a slight note of bitterness at the end. It is fermented in stainless steel instead of wooden barrels to preserve the freshness. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Imported and distributed by M. Touton Selection: Available in the District at Eye Street Cellars, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Frederick Wine House and Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Pine Liquors in Fort Washington. Available in Virginia at Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean and Pentagon City Wine Merchant in Arlington.
Spain, $17 per 4-pack of 330-milliliter cans
After a long Sunday afternoon stuck in traffic on Interstate 95 in Virginia, I got home too late and too tired to consider opening a bottle of wine. Luckily, I had a can of Begonia Sangria on hand. Poured over ice with a splash of sparkling water, it helped lift the weariness of the day off my shoulders. Granted, I’d prefer it mixed with sparkling wine on a not-too-hot summer’s day on the patio with friends, but I’ll take what I can get. This is a blend of monastrell and bobal grapes, macerated with Valencia orange peels, Azahar flowers, cinnamon and cardamom. Begonia sells this red, along with a white and rosé Sangria, in 1-liter bottles as well. ABV: 6 percent.
Imported by Olé, distributed in the District and Maryland by Bacchus, in Virginia by Salveto: Available in the District at Harris Teeter (Kalorama), Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, Wardman Wines, Whole Foods Market (Tenleytown), Yes! Organic Market (14th Street). Available in Maryland at Eddie’s Liquors and North Charles Fine Wine & Spirits in Baltimore, Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring, Spirits of Liberty in Frederick, the Wine Harvest in Potomac. Available in Virginia at Crystal City Wine Shop in Arlington, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), the Wine Outlet (McLean, Vienna).
Provence, $22 per 4-pack of 250ml cans
This is a tasty Provence rosé conveniently packaged for portability and portion control. (A four-pack is a liter, so three cans equal a traditional bottle at the equivalent price of about $16.50. The good side here — you’re not sacrificing quality for the convenience of the can. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Imported and distributed by Winebow: Available in the District at the Bottle Shop, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Each Peach Market, Modern Liquors, S&R Liquors, Wine & Butter. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s; Beer, Wine & Co.; Bethesda Market; Bradley Food & Beverage; Cork 57 Beer and Wine; and Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda, Beers & Cheers Too and Downtown Crown Wine and Beer in Gaithersburg, the Bottle Shop in Potomac, Hop N Grape in North Bethesda, Old Town Market in Kensington, Woodmoor Supermarket in Silver Spring. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean, Reston), Crystal City Wine Shop in Arlington, Norm’s Beer & Wine in Vienna, Total Wine & More (Alexandria, 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.