Here’s a delicious bargain of a red wine from Portugal to help lift your spirits to higher ground. We also have two romantically themed sparkling wines to help you put the kitsch back in your kitchen this Valentine’s Day, followed by an outstanding white blend from Virginia and a Napa Valley zinfandel that might have you dreaming of those heady hippie days in Berkeley and the birth of California cuisine.
Aplanta Red Wine Blend 2019
Alentejo, in south-central Portugal, is best known for juicy, boisterous red wines with high quality at very affordable prices. This Aplanta blend may surprise you — it is lighter than typical of the region. In color and mouthfeel, it resembles a pinot noir. But the flavors are all Alentejo — jammy blueberry and boysenberry, with cola and spice notes. The blend is aragonez (a Portuguese name for tempranillo) and alicante bouschet. This wine has a great story, too: It comes from a town and vineyard that were relocated to higher ground in 2004, when a new dam was built that would have left both under water. Alcohol by volume: 13.5 percent. BW: 450 grams (Light).
Imported by Ole & Obrigado, distributed in the District and Maryland by Bacchus, in Virginia by Salveto: Available in the District at Chloe, Congress Market, the Corner Market, Magruder’s, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, Whole Foods Market (various locations). Available in Maryland at 94th Street Beer & Wine in Ocean City; Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis; College Square Liquors in Westminster; the Gourmet Girls in Pikesville; Hook & Vine Kitchen & Bar, Ketch 22 in North Beach; Knowles Station Wine & Co. in Kensington; Port of Call Liquors in Solomons; Red Brick Station in White Marsh; Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Crudo Nudo in Norfolk; Crystal City Wine Shop in Arlington; Department of Beer and Wine in Alexandria; Shagbark in Richmond; Whole Foods Market (various locations).
Biutiful Brut Nature Cava
I’ve raved about Biutiful cavas before, and this Brut Nature may be my favorite yet. It’s a blend of 80 percent macabeo, a traditional cava grape, and chardonnay, the premier white grape of champagne, made in the traditional style with the second fermentation in the bottle, and disgorged with no added dosage of sugar (the “Brut Nature” designation). Bone dry, intensely focused and complex, it welcomed me with flavors of strawberry and tart raspberry. As it warmed in my glass, I noticed apricot and a mineral oil note. The bubbles in my glass were as persistent as the flavors on my palate. Top-notch bargain fizz. ABV: 11.5 percent. BW: 860 grams (Sparkling).
Imported by Grapes of Spain, distributed by Elite Wines: Available in the District at Ace Beverages, Chat’s Liquors, Grand Cata (Shaw), Magruder’s, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, New H Wine & Spirits, Prego Again, Rodman’s, S&S Liquor, Uptown Market, Van Ness Wines and Liquors. Available in Maryland at Beers & Cheers in Germantown; Beers & Cheers Too, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer, Finewine.com, Grape Escape, Main Street Beer & Wine in Gaithersburg; the Bottle Shop in Potomac; Bottlegonia, Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring; Butchers Alley, Cork 57 Beer and Wine, Woodmont Market in Bethesda; Cheers & Spirits in Arnold; Dawson’s Market, King’s Craft Beer Wine Deli, Ollie’s Beer Wine Deli, Potomac Beer & Wine in Rockville; Kensington Market, Knowles Station Wine & Co. in Kensington; Montgomery County Wine & Liquor Stores (various locations); Rodman’s (Wheaton, White Flint); State Line Liquors in Elkton; Town Center Market in Riverdale Park. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese, Le Cafe Market in Arlington; Department of Beer and Wine, Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria; La Tienda in Williamsburg; Locke Store in Millwood; Oxford Cellars in Richmond; Trummer’s in Clifton; Wine Cabinet in Reston; Yiannis Wine Shop in Virginia Beach.
This charming budget bubbly will help turn any day into an occasion. Peach blossom and citrus flavors carry the wine through to a crisp, dry finish. Fans of Gustav Klimt’s famous painting of the same name will like the label as well. ABV: 11 percent. BW: 860 grams (Sparkling).
Imported by Haroza Select Wines, distributed by Global Wines Maryland: Available in the District at LeDroit Park Market, Rodman’s, Sara’s Market, Streets Market (Cleveland Park), Union Kitchen (Third Street NE, Eighth Street NW, Eckington). Available in Maryland at 6-12 Convenient Mart, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer, Finewine.com, Vine Alley in Gaithersburg; Angel’s Share in Gambrills; Annebeth’s in Annapolis; Beer Wine & Co., Bethesda Market, Talbert’s Ice & Beverage Service in Bethesda; Crofton Liquors in Crofton; Dawson’s Market, King’s Craft Beer Wine Deli, Rollins Beer-Wine-Deli in Rockville; Fleet Street Spirits, Ole Federal Hill Liquors in Baltimore; Fort Liquors in Odenton; Friendship Gourmet Market in Chevy Chase; Greenbelt Co-Op in Greenbelt; Howard Wine & Spirits, Troy Farms Liquors in Elkridge; Liquor Pump in Parkville; Montpelier Liquors in Laurel; New Samy’s Liquors in Nottingham; Normandy Wine & Spirits in Ellicott City; Upcounty Fine Wine & Beer in Clarksburg.
Early Mountain Vineyards Five Forks 2020
Five Forks is the kind of white wine you are likely to find nowhere but in Virginia. The blend is based on petit manseng, which is rapidly becoming a signature grape for the Old Dominion with its exuberant fruitiness — tropical mango, papaya and passion fruit flavors — and versatility in dry and sweet styles. Sauvignon blanc plays a supporting role, giving backbone and focus. Winemaker Ben Jordan tweaks the blend to suit each vintage — for the 2020, a soupcon each of chardonnay and pinot gris round out the wine. The result — a broad smile, from first sniff to last sip. ABV: 12.9 percent. BW: 575 grams (Average).
Distributed by Williams Corner: Available at the winery or online at earlymountain.com. Available in the District at Whole Foods Market (various locations). Available in Virginia at City Vino in Fredericksburg; Crystal City Wine Shop, Screwtop Wine Bar & Cheese Shop in Arlington; Department of Beer and Wine in Alexandria; Ellwood Thompson’s Natural Market, J. Emerson Fine Wines & Cheese, Second Bottle in Richmond; Market Street Wineshop in Charlottesville; Norm’s Beer & Wine in Vienna; Whole Foods Market (various locations); the Wine Seller in Williamsburg.
Green & Red Vineyard Chiles Canyon Vineyards Estate Zinfandel 2018
Green & Red’s story reaches back to the beginning of the California cuisine movement in the late 1960s and 1970s. Founder Jay Heminway — and chef Alice Waters — was part of the Berkeley group that focused on food and wine. While Waters went on to establish Chez Panisse, Heminway found himself in northern Napa Valley, making fine zinfandel and sauvignon blanc grown on mountainside vineyards. The winery supplies a house zinfandel for Chez Panisse. This 2018 Chiles Canyon Vineyard zin is rich and spicy, with the cranberry and raspberry notes characteristic of the grape. The alcohol is a bit high — another zin hallmark — but there’s plenty of fruit and plush texture to carry it. An appealing sweet jammy flavor emerges toward the end, yielding to a hint of mint and wild herbs on the finish. ABV: 15.1 percent. BW: 530 grams (Average).
Distributed by Le Storie: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Bourbon Steak, Rodman’s. Available in Virginia at Barrel Thief Wine Shop & Cafe, Saison, Second Bottle in Richmond; Beer Run, Fleurie, Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville; Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean; Grape + Bean, Unwined (Belleview, King Street) in Alexandria; the Liberry in Leesburg; Osteria da Nino in Arlington.
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.