Bula 2013 – Montsant, Spain

IMG_3786Mazuelo, Garnacha, and Syrah. A powerful iteration of the Montsant DO. It comes on strong with bursting black fruit, currant, rose petals, and leather flavors and a full mouthfeel. The tannins are slighter than most Catalan wines, but present enough to provide some structure. Strawberry and flint notes on the nose are subtle, with everything stretching out into a nice, warm peppery finish. This is a great Everyday Red at $13-16 at your local Whole Foods.

  • Rating: Everyday Red
  • Name: Bula 2013
  • Winery: Aviva Vino
  • Region: Montsant
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: Mazuelo, Garnacha, and Syrah
  • Price: $13-$16
  • Where to Buy: Whole Foods, Washington D.C.

Castillo de Anna Gran Reserva 2005 – Valencia, Spain

This has all the hallmarks of a classic Spanish wine: flowers and red fruit on the nose, dark, chocolaty, leathery, and mossy notes with tight tannins on the finish. For whatever reason – perhaps in the traditional style – the bottle tells nothing about the varietals. I picked this one up at Schneider’s of Capitol Hill in DC for $15.

  • Rating: Everyday Reds
  • Name: Gran Reserva 2005
  • Winery: Castillo de Anna
  • Region: Valencia
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: N/A
  • Price: $15
  • Where to Buy: Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, 300 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002

Nirá Nero D’Avola 2012 – Sicily, Italy

img_3401Big vanilla chocolate raspberry cinnamon punch in the mouth. Sound jammy? Nope. Got the tannins to collect it all up nicely at the end of the palate. The mouth punch gives way later to familiar dark tarry notes of rubber, blackberry jam, and slate that Nero is known for. A nice, stubborn wine that gets a foothold on the palate. Believe I picked this one up at Schneider’s on the Hill for around $25.



  • Rating: Everyday Reds
  • Name: Nirá 2012
  • Winery: Terrelíade
  • Region: Sicily 
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: Nero D’Avola
  • Price: $25
  • Where to Buy: Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, 300 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002

Herdade dos Outeiros Altos Vinho Biologico 2012 – Alentejo, Portugal

60% Alfrocheiro, 10% Trincadeira, 30% Aragonés certified organic. Another installment of the Portuguese table wine journey. This one, a blend of indigenous grapes and Aragonés (which is either Garnacha or Alicante Bouschet in drag, depending on who is talking, but Spanish regardless), attacks the front of the palate with juicy red and dark fruit with a floral punch. Violets and ripening raspberries on the nose followed across the tongue by the aforementioned fruits and slightly green plum, fig, cherry, mossy black rubber, and chewy tannins. These all sound rather dank, but the balance is good and body medium. I picked this one up at Brooklyn Wine Exchange for about $18-20 and it was a rockstar with goat cheese and mushroom tortellini.

  • Rating: Everyday Reds
  • Name: Vinho Biologico 2012
  • Winery: Herdade dos Outeiros Altos 
  • Region: DOC Alentejo
  • Country: Portugal
  • Varietals: 60% Alfrocheiro, 10% Trincadeira, 30% Aragonés
  • Price: $18-$20
  • Where to Buy: Brooklyn Wine Exchange, 138 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Chateau Pas du Cerf Cotes de Provence 2012 – Provence, France

A nice slate and herb nose, with a slight cheese-rind mustiness that works just right. Deep garnet coloring and medium to light body. Light white pepper and gentle juiciness come on early with a hint of grassiness. Cherries, brisk red fruits, plum and bright acidity blends well with the ease of structure and nearly non-existent tannins. This is an excellent light red when you’re not feeling like the usual punch in the mouth reds that I favor. Just the right amount of character – I don’t tend toward French wines, but I’m glad we got this one. Picked this one up at La Petite Jurassienne (56 Rue de la Buffa) cheese shop in Nice, France. I have no idea whether it’s available in the US or at what price.

  • Rating: Everyday Reds
  • Name: Cotes de Provence 2012
  • Winery: Chateau Pas du Cerf 
  • Region: Provence
  • Country: France
  • Varietals: N/A
  • Price: N/A
  • Where to Buy: La Petite Jurassienne, 56 Rue de la Buffa, Nice, France

Crasto 2013 Douro – Douro, Portugal

IMG_259835% Touriga Nacional, 30% Tina Roriz, 25% Touriga Franca, 10% Tinta Barroca. Nice red fruit up front, strawberries and cherries. Crushed violets into a peppery finish. Just enough tannin to hold it all together with a smack of leather. One of the more well-balanced and accessible Portuguese offerings. This wine doesn’t knock your socks off, but it’s well-rounded and can go well with a lot of things, from tomato pasta sauces to smoked or grilled meats. Ranges from $12-16 as carried by Whole Foods on P Street.

  • Rating: Everyday Reds
  • Name: Crasto 2013 Douro
  • Winery: Quinta do Crasto
  • Region: Douro
  • Country: Portugal
  • Varietals: 35% Touriga Nacional, 30% Tina Roriz, 25% Touriga Franca, 10% Tinta Barroca
  • Price: $12-$16
  • Where to Buy: Whole Foods, 1440 P St NW, Washington, DC 20005

Viña Zaco 2010 – Rioja, Spain

IMG_2592A quintessential Rioja with typical flavors, nice peppery finish and dark fruit. Very solid pick for taking to a friend’s dinner or any time you need a versatile red. A good wine that won’t cover the food, knock your socks completely off, or break the bank. Pairs well with red meats, grilled foods, and hearty fish or seafood dishes (such as paella). I don’t buy it by the case, but I usually keep a bottle lying around in my arsenal. Easily found for $15.

  • Rating: Everyday Reds
  • Name: Zerran Tinto 2011
  • Winery: Viña Zaco
  • Region: Rioja
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: 100% Tempranillo
  • Price: $15
  • Where to Buy: N/A