Exceptional Excellent Very Good
We will be seeing more Virginia wines made from grapes grown in the Shenandoah Valley, as wineries plant new vineyards there to meet the state’s demand. Here’s a lovely chardonnay from Sunset Hills, one of Loudoun County’s leading wineries, from Shenandoah grapes. We also have a top-notch pinot noir from New Zealand, a savory nebbiolo from Italy’s Piedmont, an Australian viognier and a great-value cabernet from Chile.
Sunset Hills Vineyard Chardonnay Clone 96, Shenandoah Springs Vineyard 2017
Shenandoah Valley, Va., $29
Wow — almost every Virginia winery makes chardonnay, if only because they feel customers will demand it. A few are making exceptional chardonnay. I’d add Sunset Hills to that list based on this wine. It features lovely flavors of ripe peach and apricot, buttressed by a hint of oak. This is beautifully aromatic, textured and long. There is a hint of bitterness on the finish some might find distracting, but it evens out with food. Don’t serve this too cold, and use your larger red wine glasses to give the aromas room to flourish. This wine is a club members’ special at the winery in Purcellville, in Loudoun County. Alcohol by volume: 12.5 percent.
Distributed by Kysela: Available in the District at Rodman’s. Available in Virginia at Chesapeake Chocolates in Reston, Eden’s Natural Market in Gainesville, Locke Store in Millwood, Market Street Wineshop in Charlottesville, Sperryville Corner Store in Sperryville.
Duck Hunter Pinot Noir 2018
Marlborough, New Zealand, $30
Coastal Marlborough, at the northern end of New Zealand’s south island, is best known for sauvignon blanc, while the mountainous Central Otago region conjures images of pinot noir and landscape from the Lord of the Rings. Marlborough’s pinot can also be quite delicious, as is this wine from Duck Hunter. Decidedly upfront and New World in style, it offers notes of Bing cherry, licorice and wild herbs with a lingering, savory finish. Certified sustainable. ABV: 13.3 percent.
Imported by Stratus Wine & Spirits, distributed by DMV: Available in the District at Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Beer, Wine & Co. in Bethesda; Country Boy Market in Wheaton; Frederick Wine House and Riverside Liquors in Frederick; Liquor Locker in Hagerstown; Piney Run Liquors in Sykesville; Port of Call Liquors in Solomons; Rosewick Wine & Spirits in La Plata; Seminary Beer Wine & Deli in Silver Spring; the Winery in Chester; Town & Country Wine Liquor Etc. and Wishing Well Liquors in Easton.
Fratelli Rabino Roero 2016
Piedmont, Italy, $23
Last year, I raved about the wines from Fratelli Rabino and featured two of them, an ethereal white Roero Arneis and a lush Nebbiolo d’Alba. Here’s a third: The Roero rosso is also made with nebbiolo. It is a bit lighter than many other nebbiolos, with an agility on the palate that makes it a nice partner for a wide variety of foods. ABV: 14.5 percent.
Imported and distributed by Simon N Cellars: Available in Virginia at Tastings of Charlottesville and Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), the Wine Outlet in Great Falls.
Yalumba Viognier 2017
Eden Valley, Australia, $19
Viognier is sometimes derided for its lack of acidity. Yalumba, however, has managed to capture acidity and suspend it in perfect balance in this wine, with sweet floral notes of honeysuckle on one side and spicy ginger plus tart refreshing guava on the other. Vegan. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Imported and distributed by Winebow: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Cork & Fork, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage and Beer, Wine & Co. in Bethesda; Pine Orchard Liquors in Ellicott City.
Miguel Torres Las Mulas Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2018
Central Valley, Chile, $14
Chile produces excellent cabernet sauvignon at reasonable prices and this is a fine example. Look for flavors of blackberry and plum, with roasted notes of coffee and toffee as well. This is an excellent wine for burgers, steaks or pizza. The name and the mule on the label may suggest it as a wine for hard workers looking to shed their cares after a long day at the office. Worked for me. Organic. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Imported by Miguel Torres USA, distributed by Elite: Available in the District at AB Liquors, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Crown Liquor, Dixie Liquor, Irving Wine & Spirits, Jefferson Liquor, New H Wine & Spirits, Oasis Gourmet Deli, Rodman’s, Streets Market (Massachusetts Avenue), Van Ness Wine and Liquors, Yes! Organic Market (various locations). Available in Maryland at Addis Beer & Wine in Silver Spring, Annebeth’s in Annapolis, Chapel Beer & Wine in Germantown, Edgewater Liquors in Edgewater, Lakefront Fine Wine & Spirits in Frederick, Landover Liquor in Cheverly, Longmeadow Wine & Liquors in Hagerstown, News Express in Bethesda, On the Vine Craft Beer & Wine in Rockville, Pinehurst Wine Shoppe and Wine Source in Baltimore, Wine Bin in Ellicott City. Available in Virginia at Euro Market & Cafe and Westover Market in Arlington, Farm Fresh in Richmond, Kroger (Midlothian, Richmond).
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.