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Here are a couple splurge-worthy wines — an elegant Brunello di Montalcino and a trendy gamay from France — to enjoy with your winter stews, plus a delicious, ripe Loire sauvignon blanc and two tasty values from Italy and Portugal to savor.
Tuscany, Italy, $42
Brunello tends to highlight the dried-cherry aspect of Sangiovese and is arguably the highest expression of the grape. This outstanding example adds cocoa, wild herbs and a hint of coffee. Enjoy this delicious wine with braised or roasted meats. Alcohol by volume: 13.5 percent.
Distributed by DMV: Available in the District at Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Paul's of Chevy Chase. Available in Maryland at 5 O'Clock Wines & Spirits in Owings Mills, Breezy Point Market in Chesapeake Beach, Edgewater Liquors in Edgewater, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, Franklins Restaurant, Brewery and General Store and Town Center Wine & Spirits in Hyattsville, Frederick Wine House, Old Farm Liquors and Spin the Bottle Wine Co. in Frederick, Friendly Liquors in Odenton, Hunt Valley Wine, Liquor & Beer in Cockeysville, the Italian Market in Annapolis, Maple Lawn Wine & Spirits in Fulton, Maryland Wine Bar in Berlin, Montgomery Plaza Liquors in Catonsville, Old Line Fine Wine, Spirits & Bistro in Beltsville, the Winery in Chester.
This wine is 100 percent gamay from a commune in the northern Rhone called Saint-Etienne-la-Varenne. This is a "natural wine," made with minimal manipulation in the winery, using carbonic maceration, a technique common in Beaujolais that emphasizes freshness and puts a little spritz of carbon dioxide on the wine. The "carbonic gas" keeps the wine lively, along with flavors of dark cherry. This is a bit expensive, but it is a delicious example of a niche wine. ABV: 13 percent.
Distributed by Bacchus: Available in the District at Cordial Fine Wine & Spirits (the Wharf), MacArthur Beverages. Available in Maryland at Remington Wine Company and Wine Source in Baltimore; on the list at 101 Deli, Marie Louise Bistro and Pen & Quill.
Loire Valley, France, $21
This is ripe sauvignon blanc, showing the mineral character of silex soils, which mix flint and sand. The ripeness means there is no grassy, aggressive character to the wine. Rather, this is full-bodied and rich, with flavors of quince, apple and pear. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Distributed by Dionysus: Available in the District at Arrowine and Spirits, MacArthur Beverages, Rodman's, Whole Foods Market (P Street, Tenleytown). Available in Maryland at Balducci's and Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Balducci's (Alexandria, McLean), Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), Whole Foods Market (Alexandria, Arlington, Fair Lakes).
Yet another delicious red wine made from castelao grapes in central Portugal. It's got spicy raspberry and cranberry flavors, with hints of mushroom and a cool forest evening. Enjoy this with grilled meats or seafood. ABV: 14.5 percent.
Distributed by Kysela: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley. Available in Maryland at Festival Major Liquors in Frederick, the Perfect Pour in Elkridge, Roland Park Wines & Liquors in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Blue Ridge Bottle Shop in Crozet, City Vino in Fredericksburg, Corks & Kegs in Richmond, Little Washington Winery Tasting Room in Washington, Total Wine & More in Fairfax, Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville; on the list at the Confident Rabbit in Fredericksburg.
Sicily, Italy, $13
Bright, lively and crisp, this delightful white wine is not only easy to say, but it's also fun to drink. Enjoy this with seafood salads, light lunches or even salty, garlicky appetizers. ABV: 13 percent.
Distributed by Siema: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Cork & Fork. Available in Maryland at Cork & Fork in Bethesda, Cranberry Liquors in Westminster, Franklin Liquors in Ijamsville, Wine Bin in Ellicott City, Wine Market in Baltimore, the Wine Post in Glyndon, Wine World Beer & Spirits in Abingdon; on the list at Antrim 1844 in Taneytown, Gemelli's in Gaithersburg, Gnocco and Tagliata in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Cork & Fork in Gainesville, Crystal City Wine Shop in Arlington, Downtown Wine & Gourmet in Harrisonburg, Ellwood Thompson's Local Market in Richmond, Grapevine in Warrenton, the Italian Store in Arlington, Lewis Creek Market in Staunton, Market Street Wineshop (Downtown) in Charlottesville, Mom's Apple Pie in Occoquan, Murphy Beverage in Winchester, Once Upon a Vine (South) in Richmond, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview).
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.