Exceptional Excellent Very Good
This week, let’s celebrate a Napa Valley winery marking a milestone. We also have a Santa Barbara Rhone-style white, a classy bargain bubbly from Spain to help us turn any day into a holiday, a crisp Greek white for seafood night, and a delectable Italian dolcetto that’s such a good value I suggest stocking up. It’s only going to improve with age.
Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, Calif., $36
Trefethen is celebrating its 50th anniversary, making it one of the earlier wineries in Napa Valley’s renaissance that began in the 1960s. The Trefethens are also celebrating the renovation of their historic winery building, which was damaged in the 2014 Napa earthquake. This chardonnay is delicious, with aromas and flavors of orchard fruit — peaches, apricots and pears — and a hint of ginger, vanilla and clove from oak barrels. ABV: 13.4 percent.
Distributed by Bacchus in the District and Maryland, Country Vintner in Virginia: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Calvert Woodley, Paul’s of Chevy Chase. Available in Maryland at Eddie’s of Roland Park and North Charles Fine Wine & Spirits in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Grape + Bean in Rosemont, Safeway (Reston, Alexandria), Total Wine & More (Arlington, McLean, Sterling); on the list at A La Lucia, Evening Star Cafe, Landini Brothers, RT’s and Union Street Public House in Alexandria; Front Porch Market & Grill in The Plains, J. Gilbert’s in McLean, Wildfire in Tysons, Trummer’s on Main in Clifton.
Santa Barbara County, Calif., $28
Grenache blanc, a white grape common in the Rhone Valley of France and in some parts of northern Spain, has become a winemaker’s darling in Central California. Grenache blanc is leaner and more acidic (and therefore more refreshing) than roussanne and marsanne, the other white Rhone grapes. It offers scents and flavors of white flowers and tropical fruit, more on the guava side than the mango. It is not seductive on first sip, but it draws you in and engages in a fascinating conversation as the evening progresses. ABV: 13 percent.
Distributed by Well Crafted Wine & Beverage: Available in the District at Ace Beverage. Available in Maryland at Cranberry Liquors in Westminster, the Wine Post in Glyndon, Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Aldie Peddler in Aldie, Locke Store in Millwood, Origin Wine Social in Norfolk, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), Wine Seller in Williamsburg, Yiannis Wine Shop in Virginia Beach.
Penedes, Spain, $17
This is a perennial favorite of mine for bargain bubbly, from a local importer and with great availability throughout the region. It is the classic cava grapes of xarello, parellada and macabeo, fermented and aged in the traditional champagne method, with the second (bubbly) fermentation in the bottle. Enjoy this with spicy salami, pasta or other light foods, or just turn a tough workday into a celebration. ABV: 11.5 percent.
Imported by Grapes of Spain, distributed by Elite: Widely available in the District and Virginia at independent wine retailers, grocers and Whole Foods Markets. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s in Bethesda; Old Line Fine Wine, Spirits and Bistro in Beltsville; Snider’s Super Foods and Veridian Market & Wine in Silver Spring; Wine Source in Baltimore.
Piemonte, Italy, $15
This wine is worth investing in several bottles, because it will continue to get better over the next few years. It is also a great wine for stretching over several evenings, as it just keeps getting better. I love this for its dark cherry fruit and aromas of old leather and wood smoke. These flavors kept improving and becoming more pronounced a day and more after opening. ABV: 13 percent.
Imported and distributed by Dionysos: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s and Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s in McLean, Screwtop Wine Bar & Cheese Shop in Arlington, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview).
Drama, Greece, $23
This classy blend of assyrtiko and sauvignon blanc is lean and racy, with an appealing acidity that makes it suitable for matching with all sorts of dishes. It is delicious on its own, but it really benefits from pairing with food. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Imported by Winebow; distributed by Winebow in the District, Country Vintner in Maryland and Virginia: Available in the District at Rodman’s; on the list at Kapnos, Kellari Taverna, Zaytinya. Available in Maryland at Beers & Cheers Too in Gaithersburg, McHenry Beverage Shoppe in McHenry, Wine Merchant in Lutherville; on the list at Ayse Meze in Frederick, the Black Olive in Baltimore, Vasili’s Kitchen in Gaithersburg. On the list in Virginia at Nostos in Vienna, Our Mom Eugenia in 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.