Exceptional Excellent Very Good
The weather has me in a weird mood. Sunny days have me pining for the summer that never was and enjoying two delicious late-season rosés, from southern France and Macedonia. (You don’t abandon rosé after Labor Day, do you? Good, me neither.) And the cool evenings have me hankering for wines with more heft. I’m not good at advance planning (just ask my editor!) but the first three wines in this week’s list would be ideal for Thanksgiving. The two from Left Foot Charley — one of my favorite wineries — have two strikes against them: They are unfamiliar grapes and they come from an unfamiliar region. They are also new to the market, so don’t be shy about asking your favorite retailer to order them. And stock up for the holiday feast.
Finger Lakes, N.Y., $22
Forge Cellars is a partnership of French winemaker Louis Barruol of Chateau de Saint Cosme in Gigondas in the Rhone Valley with Americans Rick Rainey and Justin Boyette. Their rieslings do not follow the Finger Lakes style of crisp, fruity and citrusy, but they are rather more substantial in body because of long, slow fermentations. A majority of this wine was aged in neutral (used) barrels, a technique that adds body without overt oaky flavors. The result is a rich, spicy wine with flavors of poached pears and ginger. It would be a great wine for the Thanksgiving feast. Alcohol by volume: 13 percent.
Distributed by Country Vintner: Available in the District at Cairo Wine & Liquor, Chat’s Liquors, Potomac Wine & Spirits, Rodman’s, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill; on the list at Daikaya, DBGB Kitchen & Bar, Le Diplomat. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s in Bethesda; on the list at Addie’s in Potomac. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean); on the list at Hummingbird in Alexandria.
Blaufrankisch, also known as Lemberger or Blue Franc (a proprietary name), is best known for the lush red wines of Burgenland, in Austria. It has long made cameo appearances in New York and Washington states. This beauty from Michigan is silky and lithe, bursting with flavors of black cherries and blackberries, with just a hint of caraway spice (my identifier for the grape, this note can be overpowering if the grapes were underripe). If I can find more, it will be on my Thanksgiving table. ABV: 13 percent.
Distributed by Siema: Available in the District at Wagshal’s Deli (Massachusetts Avenue). Available in Maryland at Wine Bin in Ellicott City, Wells Discount Liquors in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at City Vino in Fredericksburg, Department of Beer and Wine in Alexandria, In Vino Veritas in Keswick, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview).
Leelanau Peninsula, Mich., $20
Kerner is an obscure grape that resembles gruner veltliner, but perhaps with a little more body. I’ve had a few from northern Italy, and David Ramey makes a California kerner for his Sidebar label. This example from Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula grew on me, its flavors and aromas of white flowers, ripe peaches and apricots expanding as the wine shrugged off the refrigerator’s chill. New to the Washington-area market, this may take some hunting, or you could ask your favorite retailer to order it for you. ABV: 12 percent.
Distributed by Siema: Available in the District at Wagshal’s Deli (Massachusetts Avenue); on the list at Maxwell Park, Momofuku CCDC. Available in Maryland at Wine Bin in Ellicott City, Wells Discount Liquors in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at City Vino in Fredericksburg, Department of Beer and Wine in Alexandria, In Vino Veritas in Keswick, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview).
Pays d'Oc, France, $13 in 750-milliliter bottle, or $28 in three-liter box
This blend of grenache and cinsault is a delicious Provencal rosé, with racy flavors of melon and herbs and a slightly tart finish. The importer has sold out of the bottles, but the wine is still available in three-liter boxes, with more on the way. Consider that a nearly 50 percent discount on four bottles. That’s a steal. Keep the boxes in mind for holiday parties, from Oktoberfest through New Year’s. This is fun, food-friendly, delicious wine. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Imported and distributed by Kysela: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Magruder’s, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at 5 O’Clock Wines & Spirits in Owings Mills; Dawson’s Liquors in Severna Park; Hunt Valley Wine, Liquor & Beer in Cockeysville; Maple Lawn Wine & Spirits in Fulton; Montgomery Plaza Liquors in Catonsville; Montpelier Liquors in Laurel; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Wine Bin in Ellicott City; Wine Cellars of Annapolis; Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Screwtop Wine Bar & Cheese Shop in Arlington, Streets Market and Unwined in Alexandria, 3 Chopt Mart and Libbie Market in Richmond, Bon Vivant Market in Smithfield.
This is an unusual wine, not just because we don’t see many from Macedonia. It is a blend of the white rkatsiteli grape (native to Georgia) and the native Balkan red vranec. The mash-up is delicious, a basketful of fresh-picked berries with a squirt of citrus. ABV: 12 percent.
Imported by Winebow, distributed by Winebow in the District, Country Vintner in Maryland and Virginia: Available in the District at Rodman’s, Town & Country Market, U Street Wine & Beer; on the list at Ambar, Bistro Boheme, Hank’s Oyster Bar (Pennsylvania Avenue), Sospeso. Available in Virginia at Dominion Wine and Beer in Falls Church, Euro Foods in Alexandria; on the list at Ambar in Arlington, Bastille, Cosmopolitan Grill, Old House Cosmopolitan and Society Fair in Alexandria.
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.