Exceptional Excellent Very Good
With Thanksgiving coming, it’s time to stock up on a variety of wines for the holiday table. This week’s recommendations include a “nouveau” bubbly from Maryland, a frothy way to toast the end of the rainy 2018 vintage. We also have a lovely beaujolais and a cotes-du-rhone that deliver impressive quality for their price, and two delicious great values from California.
Beaujolais, France, $24
Beaujolais is often associated with its popular nouveau release of the recent vintage in November, but the region in fact offers a variety of wines that reward aging for a few years. Beaujolais is a popular house wine in French bistros because of its versatility with a wide array of foods. Brouilly is one of the Beaujolais “crus,” or higher-level districts that have their own expressions, and 2016 was a fantastic vintage throughout France. This wine is lovely, with bright cherry and berry flavors around a minerally core, and a finish that lingers for several seconds. Alcohol by volume: 12.5 percent.
Imported and distributed by Elite: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Streets Market (14th Street), Wardman Wines, Whole Foods Market (various locations); on the list at DBGB Kitchen & Bar, Dyllan’s Raw Bar Grill, ICI Urban Bistro, Montmartre. Available in Maryland at Hop N Grape in North Bethesda, Frederick Wine House in Frederick, Wells Discount Liquors in Baltimore; on the list at Marie Louise Bistro in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, Balducci’s in McLean, Whole Foods Market (Alexandria, Arlington, Charlottesville, Vienna).
Rhone Valley, France, $20
This is a cotes-du-rhone from a popular producer of chateauneuf-du-pape, and it shows. This wine has nearly the heft of the more prestigious and pricey appellation, with nice depth to its flavors of dark fruit and wild herbs. ABV: 14 percent.
Imported and distributed by Dionysos: Available in the District at Circle Wine & Liquor, MacArthur Beverages, Rodman’s, Whole Foods Market (P Street). Available in Maryland at Balducci’s and Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean, Reston), Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Foods of All Nations in Charlottesville, J. Emerson Fine Wines & Cheese in Richmond, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), Whole Foods Market in Alexandria.
This wine is a perennial California favorite, and frequently available at lower than the list price. The chenin blanc lends a slightly sweet citrusy note, while the viognier contributes floral aromas and a plushness on the palate. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Distributed in the District by Winebow, in Maryland by Bacchus, in Virginia by Country Vintner: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Calvert Woodley, Circle Wine & Liquor, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Kogod Liquor, MacArthur Beverages, Magruder’s, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Rodman’s, Safeway (Wisconsin Avenue), Wardman Wines, Whole Foods Market (H Street, P Street, South Capitol Hill, Tenleytown), World Market, Yes! Organic Market (Georgia Avenue); on the list at Kramerbooks & Afterwords, McCormick & Schmick’s, the Pig, Sakerum. Available in Maryland at Total Wine & More (Laurel, Timonium), Wells Discount Liquors and Wine Source in Baltimore, World Market in Rockville. Available in Virginia at Arrowine & Cheese in Arlington, Balducci’s and Safeway in Alexandria, Dominion Wine and Beer in Falls Church, Total Wine & More (various locations), Wegmans (various locations), Whole Foods Market (various locations); on the list at Blue Door Kitchen & Inn in Flint Hill, Chart House and Warehouse Bar & Grill in Alexandria, Foxfire Grill in Annandale, King Street Oyster Bar in Middleburg.
Who can resist a delicious California pinot noir under $20? They’re hard to find, but this one offers classic pinot flavors of black cherry and spice with nice velvety texture. I recommend opening it (and perhaps decanting) about an hour before drinking. There is also a chardonnay for white-wine lovers. ABV: 13.8 percent.
Distributed by Elite: Available in the District at Mimi’s Convenience Mart, New H Wine & Spirits, Rosebud Liquor, Wagshal’s Deli, Wine Specialist; on the list at Addis Paris Cafe, Birch & Barley, Et Voila, Fabulous Market & Cafe, La Vie, Mintwood Place. Available in Maryland at Allview Liquors in Ellicott City; Cranbrook Liquors and Shawan Liquors in Cockeysville; Crescent Beer & Wine in Bowie; Dad’s Beer & Wine, Grosvenor Market and Rollins Beer-Wine-Deli in Rockville; Franklins Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville; Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia; Landover Liquor in Cheverly; the Perfect Pour in Elkridge; Pinehurst Wine Shoppe in Baltimore; Potomac Gourmet Market in National Harbor; Quench! Beer-Wine-Deli in Silver Spring; Wine Merchant in Lutherville. Available in Virginia at Aldie Peddler in Aldie, Arrowine and Cheese and Westover Market in Arlington, Beer Run and Foods of All Nations in Charlottesville, Cheesetique and Streets Market in Alexandria, Lokl Gourmet in McLean, Shields Market and Strawberry Street Market in Richmond, Town Duck in Warrenton; on the list at Columbia Firehouse in Alexandria, the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm in Lovettsville, Thai Noy in Arlington.
This is a fun wine, a “nouveau” from Maryland to mark the recent, very difficult and rainy vintage. It also fits in with the pétillant naturel trend of lightly sparkling wines, with no added sulfites. If you’ve visited a winery in autumn, this wine may remind you of the raw smell of fermenting wine. This is red, so enjoy it as you might a lambrusco. The label says “Serve cold, open slowly.” I’ve heard of some bottles gushing when the crown cap was removed, but mine merely hissed, the wine having just a gentle froth. Virginia’s label approval is still in the works, but the wine should be available there within the next few weeks. ABV: 7 percent.
Distributed by Siema in the District and Virginia, by the winery in Maryland: Available in the District at Centrolina Mercato, Domestique, Glen’s Garden Market, Wagshal’s Deli; on the list at A Rake’s Progress, Kyirisan, Little Pearl, Primrose, Sally’s Middle Name, Tail Up Goat. Available in Maryland at Downtown Crown Wine and Beer in Gaithersburg, the French Paradox Wines in Stevenson, Wine Source and Wine Works in Baltimore; on the list at Clavel and Fadensonnen in Baltimore.
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.