For your holiday table, this week we have three excellent wines under $20: A rich California red to match turkey’s gamy flavors, a fine Alsatian riesling to tame those sides, and a sweet dessert sherry to make your pies sing. I’m also adding an outstanding Virginia chardonnay that’s worth seeking out and an Oregon pinot noir that channels autumn in a glass.


Spellbound Petite Sirah 2019


California, $15

There’s nothing really petite about petite sirah. The grape originates in France’s Rhône Valley, where it’s called durif but hardly ever seen these days. It’s also a relatively minor grape in California, but it can produce lush, plush, velvety wines overflowing with fruit and unapologetic about their relatively high alcohol. (A friend recently boasted about a 16.5 percent bottle he found.) Devotees have even created a fan group called — what else? — P.S. I Love You. Spellbound is an entry-level petite sirah, which I’ve recommended in previous vintages. It consistently features the dark berry jammy fruit characteristic of the grape, with a hint of Almond Joy — as in, milk chocolate, toasted almond and coconut. Sometimes you feel like a nut. Alcohol by volume: 13.5 percent. Bottle weight: 470 grams (Light).

Distributed in the District and Maryland by M. Touton Selection, in Virginia by RNDC: Available in the District at A. Litteri, the Bottle House, Calvert Woodley, Central Liquors, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, the Corner Market, Downtown Liquors, Lion’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Mac Market, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Rodman’s, S&S Liquor, Streets Market (various locations). Widely available in Maryland. Available in Virginia at Bonaroti Restaurant, Vienna Vintner in Vienna; Grand Cru in Arlington; J. Gilbert’s Wood-Fired Steaks & Seafood in McLean; Maggie McFly’s in Springfield; Sonoma Cellar in Alexandria; Total Wine & More (various locations); Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg; Whole Foods Market in Ashburn.


Jean Biecher Riesling 2020


Alsace, France, $16

Here’s a really good Alsace riesling that should be a fine partner for holiday meals this fall and for a few years to come. It’s dry, with apricot and pear flavors and a skein of minerality that carries the fruit through to a long, satisfying finish. This producer also makes a fine pinot gris and a more casual white blend called Marie. Organic. ABV: 12.5 percent. BW: 425 grams (Light).

Imported by Vinimundi, distributed by Craft Wine & Spirits: Available in the District at Chat’s Liquors. Available in Maryland at Cheers & Spirits in Arnold; College Square Liquors, Cranberry Liquors in Westminster; Crofton Liquors in Crofton; Liquor Pump in Parkville; Maple Lawn Wine & Spirits in Fulton; Plaza Liquors in Pasadena; Riverside Liquors in Frederick; Sunny’s Fine Wines & Liquor in Eldersburg; Waugh Chapel Wine & Spirits in Gambrills.


Viña Palaciega Pedro Ximenez Sherry


Jerez, Spain, $18

This is dessert sherry, made from Pedro Ximenez grapes dried to raisins before pressing. The color is nut brown, with golden hues around the rim as you tilt the glass, suggesting a late-autumn sunset. No surprise — it tastes like raisins. Let the flavors unfurl on your palate for a few seconds, and you’ll also taste prunes, roasted hazelnuts and almonds. Savor this with your holiday pies and puddings, pour it over vanilla ice cream or just sip it after dinner. Serve slightly chilled. A little goes a long way. Not to worry — it’s fortified, so the wine will keep for several weeks in the fridge after opening. ABV: 17 percent. BW: 400 grams (Light).

Imported by Tri-Vin, distributed in the District in Maryland by DMV, in Virginia by Service: Available in the District at Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at A&A Wine & Spirits in Gambrills; Eastport Liquors in Annapolis; Frederick Wine House, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Hunt Valley Wine, Liquor & Beer in Cockeysville; Pine Liquors in Fort Washington; the Winery in Chester. Available in Virginia at Wegmans (various locations).


Chatham Vineyards Church Creek Chardonnay Steel 2020


Virginia's Eastern Shore, $21

There’s only one winery in the American Viticultural Area called Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and it’s making some terrific wine. Chatham’s Steel Chardonnay, made without oak influence, is consistently delicious and one of my favorite Virginia wines for its quality and affordability. The 2020 may be the best vintage yet of this wine from Jon and Mills Wehner. Apple, pear and quince flavors with a hint of citrus, a rich mouthfeel, spot-on acidity and a long finish make this a delicious wine for just about any meal. Though I might favor Chatham’s cabernet franc with a steak. ABV: 12.5 percent. BW: 400 grams (Light).

Distributed by the winery. Available at the winery and online at Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington; Lake Anne Coffee House in Reston; Norm’s Beer & Wine in Vienna.

Boedecker Cellars Pinot Noir 2017


Willamette Valley, Ore., $29

I’ve enjoyed this wine over several vintages. The 2017 is drinking beautifully right now, bursting with flavors of Bing cherry, forest floor and a hint of cola spice. It just seems autumnal, perfect for a roast bird with all the trimmings. ABV: 13.5 percent. BW: 484 grams (Light).

Distributed by Elite Wines: Available in the District at Daily 14, Hop Cask & Barrel, Lion’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Magruder’s, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Rosebud Liquor, Streets Market (Cleveland Park), Yes! Organic Market (14th Street NW, Petworth). Available in Maryland at Beer Wine & Co., Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda; Green Valley Wine & Spirits in Monrovia; Howard Wine & Spirits in Elkridge; Rodman’s in White Flint. Available in Virginia at Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria; Yiannis Wine Shop in Virginia Beach.

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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