Exceptional Excellent Very Good
Here’s an eclectic wine selection for you: One unites sea and land on your palate; another has comforted religious pilgrims for centuries as they near the end of their quest. From France, a Riesling expresses the work of one family over five centuries coaxing the expression from their soils, while a red blend from the south brings a Mediterranean vacation to your glass. And why not top it all off with a delightful Italian bubbly?
Bierzo, Spain, $15
The wine region of Bierzo in northwestern Spain is on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, and legend — at least the legend mentioned on this wine’s label — is that pilgrims would enjoy the local wine as a reward for nearing the end of their journey. I would walk a long way for this reward: The wine is savory and deep, with dark berry flavors and a hint of mountain air. Unfortunately, local retailers don’t seem to share my enthusiasm for this one. Alcohol by volume: 14 percent.
Imported and distributed by Well Crafted Wine: On the list in the District at Bodega, Tabard Inn. Available in Virginia at Brut Champagne and Wine Bar in Alexandria, Crystal Palate in Norfolk, Olde Towne Butcher in Fredericksburg, Pottery Factory and the Wine Seller in Williamsburg, Tinto Wine & Cheese in Virginia Beach, the Town Duck in Warrenton, Vino Market in Midlothian; on the list at Aloha Snacks in Virginia Beach, Copper Fish in Culpeper, Northside Social in Arlington, Passion in Chesapeake.
Rias Baixas, Spain, $28
Albariño from Rias Baixas, its homeland in Galicia, in Spain’s northwest, can be racy, minerally and saline when grown near the coast, as if seasoned by the salty sea breeze off the Atlantic. Farther inland, the wine tends to the fruity side, with orchard flavors of peach and apricot. The Fefinanes is sourced from vineyards closer to the sea, imparting that minerally quality, but with older vines (averaging 40 years), to add fruity intensity. Pair this beauty with shellfish such as lobster, clams or mussels. ABV: 13 percent.
Imported and distributed by Kysela: Available in the District at Batch 13, Cordial Craft Wine, Beer & Spirits (Union Market), Grand Cata, Hop, Cask & Barrel, MacArthur Beverages, Magruder’s, Wardman Wines, Whole Foods Market (Foggy Bottom, P Street); on the list at Barcelona (14th Street, Cathedral Heights). Available in Maryland at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits and Mills Fine Wine and Spirits in Annapolis, Beards Hill Liquors in Aberdeen, Columbia Fine Wine & Spirits, Decanter Fine Wines and Dorsey’s Search Wine & Spirits in Columbia, Dawson’s Liquors in Severna Park, Jason’s Wine & Spirits, Pine Orchard Liquors and the Wine Bin in Ellicott City, Fairgrounds Discount Beverages in Timonium, Hunt Valley Wine, Liquor & Beer in Cockeysville, Maple Lawn Wine & Spirits in Fulton, Mays Chapel Wine & Spirit Shop in Timonium, Wine Merchant in Lutherville, the Old Vine, Roland Park Wines & Liquors and Wine Source in Baltimore, Plus Mart in Frederick, State Line Liquors in Elkton, the Tasting Room Wine Bar & Shop at National Harbor, the Winery in Chester, Wishing Well Liquors in Easton. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese and Oby Lee Winery in Arlington, Barrel Thief Wine Shop & Cafe and J. Emerson Fine Wines & Cheese in Richmond, Chain Bridge Cellars and the Vineyard in McLean, the Cheese Shop in Williamsburg, Ivy Provisions and Rio Hill Wine & Gourmet in Charlottesville, Leesburg Vintner and Willowcroft Winery in Leesburg, Locke Store in Millwood, Unwined (Alexandria), Vienna Vintner in Vienna; on the list at Barcelona (Reston), Field & Main in Marshall, Village Square Restaurant in Winchester, Woodstock Cafe in Woodstock.
Alsace, France, $20
This wine lives up to its name. When I tried it right after opening, it seemed, well, particular. A bit oxidized, perhaps, from a technical standpoint. Surly and uncommunicative, from a personal one. But it warmed up, both in temperature and personality, and before long regaled me with bright orchard fruit flavors teetering on the edge of overripeness, tethered by a cord of acidity that could only come from the vineyard soil itself. I suggest decanting this white wine for about a half-hour before dinner. The winery has been in the same family since the 1500s. There is also a nice Gewürztraminer and a Crémant d’Alsace sparkling wine. ABV: 12.8 percent.
Imported and distributed by Well Crafted Wines: Available in Maryland at Cheers & Spirits in Arnold, Chester River Wine & Cheese Co. in Chestertown. Available in Virginia at Altura Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, the Bottle Stop in Occoquan, Cheesetique (Alexandria, Mosaic), Swirl & Sip in Fairfax; on the list at Eurasia in Virginia Beach, Harper’s Table and Uncork’d in Suffolk, Stellar Wine Co. in Portsmouth.
Prosecco, Italy, $17
The vintage date on this top-notch prosecco is hard to find, in tiny print on the back label, but never mind. Just look for the unusually squat bottle and the d’O on the front label. This bubbly has more character than a lot of proseccos that cost even more. I wanted to savor it, but I couldn’t stop drinking it. ABV: 11.5 percent.
Imported and Distributed by Elite: Available in the District at Cork & Fork, District Liquors, New H Wine & Spirits, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Radici Market, Rodman’s, Streets Market (various locations); on the list at Bacio Pizzeria, Black Salt, Hazel, Peacock Cafe, Rosemary’s Thyme Bistro. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage and Capital Beer & Wine in Bethesda, Cranbrook Liquors in Cockeysville, Dawson’s Liquors in Severna Park, Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring, Vintage Cellars in Clarksville, Pinky’s West Street Liquors in Annapolis, the Wine Bin in Ellicott City; on the list at Black Market Bistro and Persimmon in Bethesda, Citron, the Prime Rib and Water for Chocolate in Baltimore, Flamant and Red Red Wine Bar in Annapolis. Available in Virginia at the Cheese Shop in Williamsburg, In Vino Veritas in Keswick, the Italian Store (Lyon Village, Westover), Society Fair in Alexandria, Streets Market in Arlington; on the list at Atrium Cafe in Arlington, Clifton Cafe in Clifton, L’Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls, the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm in Lovettsville, Trellis in Williamsburg, Vaso’s Mediterranean Bistro in Alexandria.
Saint-Chinian, Languedoc, France, $17
This blend of Grenache and syrah is yet another example of how winemakers in the south of France combine excellent quality with value. Scents of lavender and wild thyme, plus a whiff of sea air, combine with dense, juicy plums and blackberries to conjure sensory virtual reality of a Mediterranean vacation. The domaine also produces a delicious white, called Les Larmes de Jeanne, from roussanne and Grenache blanc, and a rosé called Petit Bonheur made from syrah, Grenache and cinsault. The grapes are farmed organically, according to the importer, though that is not yet noted on the label. ABV: 14 percent.
Imported by Firstvine.com and available only online.
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.