The easiest to find locally and least expensive – despite being listed at $24 a bottle in the No. 58 spot on the Top 100 – is Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec Mendoza 2009. It’s available every day for just $13.97 a bottle at Total Wine stores in Virginia, and on sale through December 17 for $13.99 at Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits. (See the slideshow for a representative sample of stores and prices throughout the area.)
“Grippy tannins add weight to the long, vibrant finish,” he added.
Three more of the Spectator Top 100 wine – a California zinfandel, a Spanish white and an Italian red blend – are available locally for as little as $16 a bottle, though the more typical price ranges from $17 to $20.
Allegrini Veronese Palazzo della Torre 2008 is a blend of Italian grapes corvina (70 percent) and rondinella (25 percent) with a splash of the more familiar sangiovese juice that dominates Italy’s Chianti reds. It was listed at $20 a bottle at No. 60 in the Spectator Top 100, but it’s priced at $15.95 a bottle at Pearson’s in Glover Park and $15.99 at Calvert Woodley. It’s just $1 a bottle more at Total Wine in Virginia and at their sister stores in Maryland, Corridor Wine & Spirits in Laurel and Beltway Fine Wine in Towson.
“This sleek, polished red offers juicy blackberry and black fruit flavors, backed by refined tannins and well-integrated acidity,” was Spectator’s Alison Napjus described it in the October 31 issue, awarding the 90 points. “Hard to stop sipping.”
The only white wine under $20 in the Spectator Top 100 was 2010 Bodegas Godeval - Valdeorras Viña Godeval, made from the once nearly extinct Spanish godello grape and available at Pearson’s for $17.95 a bottle and for $18.99 at i.m.Wine in Fulton, Maryland.
“This nervy white shows crackling acidity that carries focused flavors of mineral, grapefruit and fresh herbs,” wrote Spectator’s Thomas Matthews in the Semptember 30 issue, awarding 90 points. “A bit austere, but bracing and balanced. A fine complement to food.”
Spanish whites and Italian blends are no strangers to value wine listings. But high-scoring California zinfandels sure are. Buehler Zinfandel Napa Valley 2009 earned 91 points from Tim Fish and the No. 68 spot on the Wine Spectator Top 100 by virtue of its $18 price tag, though it’s available at Total Wine for only $15.99 a bottle.
“Elegant and beautifully focused, with floral raspberry and fresh sage aromas that lead to complex, balanced flavors of cherry and vanilla, with a hint of spicy oak on the finish,” Fish wrote in the June 15 issue.
Another pair of Italian reds that can be found locally for less than $20 (a nickel less, but in this economy, every penny counts) made the Top 100, though they were listed at $22 and $24, respectively. Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva 2007 rightfully belonged in Monday’s column, having scored 92 points and landed in the top half of the Top 100 at No. 31, but its list price of $27.95 at Pearson’s fooled us. It’s on sale for $19.95 and expected to arrive in the store today, albeit in limited quantities.
The same $19.95 sale price at Pearson’s (regularly $25.95) applies to Tormaresca Primitivo Salento Torcicoda 2008 which earned the No. 61 spot on the Spectator Top 100.
“This ripe, juicy red is full of sanguine notes, along with black cherry and blackberry flavors,” wrote Bruce Sanderson about Mondanto Chianti back in the August 31 Wine Spectator, awarding it the 92 points. “The tannins are well-coated by fleshy fruit and it lingers with a long, spicy aftertaste.”
He thinks it’s a long-lived wine that won’t be at its peak until next year and will last another 10 years thereafter. Drink now is his advice for the Tomaresca Primitivo – a close relative of another value wine that show up at Pearson’s from time to time.
“Jammy yet focused, offering layers of roasted coffee, mesquite and spice to the concentrated blackberry and damson plum skin fruit,” is how Sanderson described the Primitivo in the June 30 Wine Spectator. “Picks up a tarry edge on the tangy finish.”
If a tarry edge on a tangy finish appeals to you – sounds like a good food wine to us – you’ll want to head down to Pearson’s before these Top 100 wines sell out. But if Glover Park isn’t convenient, check out the slideshow for a sample of wine shops throughout the area that carry one of these gems.
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