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This week’s recommendations include two delicious and affordable red Cotes du Rhone from the terrific 2016 vintage. The Mas de Sainte Croix is higher on the ranking scale for the region, as it is from the Valreas village appellation. It is a contemplative wine, inviting a discussion. The André Brunel, on the other hand, wants to party. We also have a tasty sauvignon blanc from Australia and two sparkling wines to consider for holiday celebrations: A charming Cremant de Limoux from France and a heartier champagne-style blend from California.
Mas de Sainte Croix "Tendresse d'un Climat" Cotes du Rhone Villages Valreas 2016
Rhone Valley, France, $16
The mouthful of a name yields a mouthful of delicious wine, rich and savory with flavors of raspberries and wood spice. It is a blend of old-vine grenache and syrah, a classic combination of the southern Rhone. Alcohol by volume: 14.5 percent.
Imported by Tri-Vin, distributed in the District and Maryland by DMV, in Virginia by Service and Breakthru: Available in the District at Cairo Wine & Liquor, Riggs Liquor, Rodman’s, Yes! Organic Market (Georgia Avenue). Available in Maryland at Apple Greene Wine & Spirits and Dunkirk Wine & Spirits in Dunkirk, Beer, Wine & Co. in Bethesda, Diamond Square Beer and Wine and Downtown Crown Wine and Beer in Gaithersburg, Eastport Liquors in Annapolis, Frederick Wine House and Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Highland Wine & Spirits in Highland, Hop N Cru in Germantown, Kings Contrivance Liquor Shop in Columbia, McHenry Beverage Shoppe in McHenry, Port of Call Liquors in Solomons, Waugh Chapel Wine & Spirits in Gambrills. Available in Virginia at Wegmans (various locations).
André Brunel Cotes du Rhone 2016
Rhone Valley, $15
This lively Cotes du Rhone, from the same vintage as the Mas de Sainte Croix, shows vibrant energy and juiciness. It is easy to drink and disappears quickly. The blend is grenache, syrah and cinsault. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Imported by Folio, distributed in the District and Maryland by M. Touton Selection, in Virginia by RNDC: Available in the District at A. Litteri, Capitol Hill Wine and Spirits, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Eye Street Cellars, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Rodman’s, S&S Liquor, Wine Specialist, World Liquors, Yes! Organic Market (14th Street), Zoo Liquors. Available in Maryland at Downtown Crown Wine and Beer in Gaithersburg, Frederick Wine House and Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Pine Liquors and Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington, Rodman’s (White Flint). Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, Wine Cabinet in Reston.
Four Sisters Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Central Victoria, Australia, $15
Clean and crisp, with some tropical fruit flavors and just a hint of the characteristic grassiness of sauvignon blanc, this is a refreshing wine for casual sipping and light meals. The label boasts the winery’s “carbon zero” status from its efforts to reduce emissions. ABV: 12 percent.
Imported by Foley Family, distributed in the District and Maryland by Artisans and Vines, in Virginia by LK Wine Sales and Tours: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Magruder’s, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John, Bradley Food & Beverage and Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda, Crescent Beer & Wine in Bowie, Decanter Fine Wines in Columbia, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer and Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, Fenwick Beer & Wine and Parkway Deli & Restaurant in Silver Spring, Franklins Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville, Gilly’s Craft Beer & Fine Wine and Grosvenor Market in Rockville, Rodman’s (White Flint), Takoma Park-Silver Spring Co-Op in Takoma Park. Available in Virginia at Aldie Peddler in Aldie, Mount Airy Farm Market in Boyce, Murphy Beverage in Winchester, Vintage Wine in Harrisonburg.
Aguila Brut Rosé
Cremant de Limoux, France, $15
Here’s a fun pink bubbly from southern France, an unconventional blend of chardonnay, chenin blanc and pinot noir. The winemakers of Cremant de Limoux claim their forebears were making sparkling wine before their counterparts in Champagne became famous for bubbles. The bubbly here is lighter in pressure and lower in prestige (and price) than champagne, which makes it more appropriate for a daily toast. The Aguila rosé is a delightful way to start a meal — light and refreshing, a pick-me-up for your palate. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Imported and distributed by Dionysos Imports: Available in the District at Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s and Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean, Reston), J. Emerson Fine Wines & Cheese in Richmond, Pentagon City Wine Merchant in Arlington, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview).
Scharffenberger Brut Excellence NV
Scharffenberger makes reliable, good-value sparkling wine from California that begins to mimic true Champagne character, though the price has climbed in recent years. This one is rich and toasty, with brioche flavors. ABV: 12 percent.
Distributed by RNDC: Available in the District at Lion’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Rodman’s, Safeway (various locations), Whole Foods Market (various locations), Yes! Organic Market (various locations). Available in Maryland at Pine Orchard Liquors in Ellicott City, Wine Merchant in Lutherville, Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, Vienna Vintner in Vienna.
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.