Food & Drink

An exceptional French white wine which tastes rich but costs just $15

Five recommended wines. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post.
Five recommended wines. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about two wines made with the pinot gris grape in the Italian “grigio” style - racy, refreshing and light. This week’s “greatest value” is a pinot gris from Réthoré Davy in the Loire Valley, a region not known for the grape. It shows a richer style more familiar from Alsace, with the coppery color from extended skin contact (the gris in pinot gris is a dusky purple, much darker than other white grapes) and a rich mouthfeel that calls for substantial foods.

• Réthoré Davy Pinot Gris 2017, Loire Valley, France; $15; Three stars. Here is a rich version of pinot gris. It’s not the crisp, refreshing version the grape gets as pinot grigio. This is full-bodied, rich and complex, with flavors of baked apples, poached pears and baking spices. Not that it’s sweet - just rich because of skin contact in fermentation in a “natural” style. This is a white wine suitable to pair with winter braises and stews, as well as seafood. ABV: 12.5 percent.

• Donnafugata Floramundi Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2016, Sicily, Italy; $31; Three stars. Nero d’Avola is a red grape almost exclusively grown in Sicily. It can make delicious wines that resemble a lithe version of syrah. Intense aromas of flowers and herbs rise from the glass. This has what wine lovers call “lift” in that it seems to levitate, not just the flavors but also the spirits of those enjoying it. Absolutely lovely. ABV: 13 percent.

• Donnafugata Sherazade Nero d’Avola 2017; Sicily, $22; Three stars. This wine has notes of smoked meat, blueberry and wild herbs that conjure up a different story with every sip. ABV: 13 percent.

• Domaine des Coutures La Sélection Saumur Champigny 2016; Loire Valley, France, $24; Three stars. Textbook Loire cabernet franc: Flavors of black cherry, white pepper and wood smoke walk a tightrope of acidity and backbone. This delicious charmer has a lingering hint of the character I call “grandpop’s library,” like the aroma of pipe tobacco and leather-bound books wafting down a hallway. ABV: 12.5 percent.

• Domaine des Coutures L’insolente Saumur Blanc 2016, Loire Valley, $20; Two and a half stars. Chenin blanc stars among white wines in this part of the Loire Valley. This one is full-bodied and dry, with flavors of green apple and quince, and a hint of roasted almonds on the finish. Enjoy this food-friendly white with just about any casual meal, or while grazing on charcuterie, cheeses and nuts. ABV: 12.5 percent.

Rating: 3 stars: Exceptional; 2 stars: Excellent; 1 star: Very Good

Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

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