Every now and then, a wine can put a smile on your face and ignite a party with the first sip. For me, those aren’t usually pinotage, South Africa’s red grape, but here’s one that caught my attention. It’s affordable, too, another bonus. This week we also have two outstanding wines from France and natural white wines from California and Chile.
Swartland, South Africa, $14
This delightful red wine is bright in flavor and light in body, almost airborne like the blue crane — South Africa’s endangered national bird — it is named for. Let this chill half an hour in the fridge and then you can chill with your friends and some casual summer grilled foods. Proceeds benefit blue crane conservation efforts of the International Crane Foundation and the Endangered Wildlife Trust. Alcohol by volume: 13.5percent.
Imported and distributed by Kysela: Available in the District at Magruder’s, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John; Downtown Crown Wine and Beer, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg; Foundry Row Wine & Spirits in Owings Mills; Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda; Maple Lawn Wine & Spirits in Fulton; Woodmoor Supermarket in Silver Spring. Available in Virginia at City Vino in Fredericksburg; Crossroads Grocery, Kimberly’s in Winchester; Dominion Wine and Beer in Falls Church; Kroger in Mechanicsville; Locke Store in Millwood; Union Market in Richmond; Urbanna Trading Company in Urbanna; the Wine Attic in Clifton; the Wine Outlet (Great Falls, McLean, Vienna); Woodstock Cafe & Shoppes in Woodstock.
Loire Valley, France, $30
Sauvignon blanc’s mineral personality comes to the fore in this lovely, lively white wine. It has none of the aggressive grassiness and peppery quality sauvignon blanc often displays in the New World. Think ripe apricots and kumquats, macerated in stones and invigorated with mountain spring water straight from the earth. ABV: 12.7percent.
Imported and distributed by Elite Wine Imports: Available in the District at Classy Corks Wine & Spirits; Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits; Hop, Cask & Barrel; Morris Miller Wine & Liquor; Paul’s of Chevy Chase; Potomac Wine & Spirits; Rodman’s; Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits; Whole Foods Market (P Street); Zachys. Available in Maryland at Beer Wine & Co. in Bethesda; Howard Wine and Spirits in Elkridge; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick. Available in Virginia at the Bottle Stop in Occoquan; Brut Champagne Bar in Alexandria; Whole Foods Market (Ashburn, Short Pump, Springfield).
Côtes de Provence, France, $20
Is it possible to have too many rosés for summer? Not when they’re this good. Strawberries and cantaloupe aromas waft from the glass, while a saline quality and wild herbs flavor the refreshing finish of this textbook rosé from Provence. Sustainable. ABV: 13percent.
Imported and distributed by Baron François: Available in the District at Batch 13, Gallagher & Graham Fine Spirits, Imperial Wine & Spirits, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Sav-On Liquor, Sheffield Wine & Liquor Shoppe, Splash Liquor and Groceries, U Street Wine & Beer. Available in Maryland at the Bottle Shop in Potomac; Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington; Classic Wines in Great Falls; Slaters Market in Alexandria.
Mendocino County, Calif., $20
Winemaker Mike Lucia has crafted a tasty unconventional blend (the type I usually love) of pinot blanc, chenin blanc, riesling and grenache blanc, in a natural style using only native yeasts, no new oak and minimal added sulfur. His stroke of crazy genius with this wine was to add a sploosh of piquette made from the spent skins of the grenache blanc and riesling. Piquette is wine’s riposte to hard seltzer — a light, low-alcohol wine made by refermenting grape skins that would normally go to compost or be thrown away. Adding a portion to this blend gives an extra-refreshing bite to the palate and shores up the wine’s acidity. It works! ABV: 13.1percent.
Distributed by Salveto: Available in the District at Queen’s English. Available in Maryland at Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington; Department of Beer and Wine, Planet Wine & Gourmet, Unwined (Belleview, King Street) in Alexandria; Norm’s Beer & Wine in Vienna; Puck’s Market in Henrico; Richmond Wine Station, Union Market in Richmond; Vienna Vintner in Vienna; the Wine Kitchen in Leesburg; the Wine Outlet (Great Falls, McLean, Vienna).
Curico Valley, Chile, $20
Here’s one for the natural wine crowd — a chardonnay fermented on its skins and bottled without filtration, stabilization or added sulfites. The result is a slightly cloudy, mildly tannic and “chewy” wine with noticeable grip on the palate. Flavors of bananas, crisp Bosc pears, toasted brioche and wild herbs are carried by fine acidity. The wine is nearly as playful as the label. Sustainable. ABV: 13.5percent.
Imported by T. Edward Wines, distributed by Tradewinds: Available in the District at Big Bear Cafe, Calvert Woodley, Chat’s Liquors, Classy Corks Wine & Spirits, Grand Cata (La Cosecha, Shaw), Nido, Rodman’s, Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits. Available in Maryland at Cork 57 Beer and Wine in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Crystal City Wine Shop in Arlington; Ellwood Thompson’s Natural Market, RichWine, Second Bottle in Richmond; Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria; Red Apron Butcher in Fairfax.
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.
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