At $12, these two white wines prove that pinot grigio doesn’t always mean boring

Columnist, Food

July 10 at 12:00 PM

Exceptional   Excellent   Very Good

From left, Il Casato Pinot Grigio Valdadige 2019, Cantina Colli Euganei Pinot Grigio delle Venezie 2019, Zorgvliet Silver Myn Cabernet Franc Rosé 2019, Bodegas Hercal Bocca Roble 2018, Zonte’s Footstep Blackberry Patch Cabernet 2018. (Mark Gail/for The Washington Post)

For years, I have described pinot grigio as an Italian phrase that translates as “boring.” But lately, I’ve tasted several outstanding versions. The key is to look for pinot grigio from northern Italy, where altitude helps preserve the grapes’ acidity and freshness. We have two this week, both excellent values at an affordable $12 per bottle. We also have two reds to pair and a refreshing rosé to round out the week’s lineup.


Il Casato Pinot Grigio Valdadige 2019

Italy, $12

Racy and refreshing, with a sense of energy that awakens the palate, this juicy wine is an ideal partner for salads, seafood dishes or even that lazy quarantine lunch of canned sardines on crackers. As I went to write this, I realized I’d left the bottle about a third full, opened, on the counter for at least three weeks. The wine is still fresh and delicious. Alcohol by volume: 13 percent.

Imported by Tri-Vin, distributed by DMV: Available in the District at Magruder’s, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Yes! Organic Market (various locations). Available in Maryland at A&A Wine & Spirits in Gambrills; ABD Liquor in Prince Frederick; Best Beer Wine & Deli in Gaithersburg; Bethesda Beer & Wine in Bethesda; Blue Wind Gourmet in Lexington Park; Breezy Point Market in Chesapeake Beach; Castle Liquors in Williamsport; Fairgrounds Discount Beverages in Timonium; Hunt Valley Wine, Liquor & Beer in Cockeysville; JB Liquors in Forestville; J&K Beer and Wine in Aspen Hill; Kensington Pizza & Kabob House and Old Town Market in Kensington; Liberty Wine & Liquor in LaVale; McHenry Beverage Shoppe in McHenry; Montgomery Village Beer & Wine in Montgomery Village; Town Center Market in Riverdale Park; Triangle Liquors in Capitol Heights. Available in Virginia at Wegmans (various locations).


Cantina Colli Euganei Pinot Grigio delle Venezie 2019

Italy, $12

Crisp and citrusy, this wine has a saline character that reflects the marine fossils in the region where the grapes are grown. Tasting it made me salivate for ceviche or a lime-scented seafood salad. ABV: 12.5 percent.

Imported by Wine4All, distributed by Global: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Cork & Fork, Oasis Gourmet Deli, Serv-U Liquors, Union Kitchen Grocery (various locations), Watergate Vintners & Spirits. Available in Maryland at Beer Wine & Co. in Bethesda, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer and in Gaithersburg.


Zorgvliet Silver Myn Cabernet Franc Rosé 2019

Stellenbosch, South Africa, $13

Lovely bright flavors of red berries, mint and a hint of peppery spice make this rosé exceedingly refreshing. You will probably want to have more than one bottle handy, as this wine goes down easily. ABV: 13.5 percent.

Imported by Red Wolf Imports, distributed in the District and Maryland by Global, in Virginia by LK Wine Tours and Sales: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Good Food Markets, LeDroit Market, Old City Market and Oven, Rodman’s, Streets Market (Connecticut Avenue, Massachusetts Avenue), Watergate Vintners and Spirits, Wine & Butter. Available in Maryland at 6-Twelve Convenient Mart and Parkway Deli in Silver Spring; Cork 57 Beer and Wine and Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda; Dawson’s Market, Gilly’s Craft Beer & Fine Wine, On the Vine Craft Beer & Wine, Pour Vino ‘n Hops and Village Beer & Fine Wine in Rockville; Downtown Crown Wine and Beer, and Grape Expectations in Gaithersburg; Greenbelt Co-Op in Greenbelt; Town & Country Wine Liquor Etc in Easton; Upcounty Fine Wine & Beer in Clarksburg; Vintage Cellars in Clarksville. Available in Virginia at Crush Wine Bar, Kimberly’s and Murphy Beverage Co. in Winchester; Locke Store in Millwood.

Bodegas Hercal Bocca Roble 2018

Ribera del Duero, Spain, $18

From the name and the amusing cartoon on the label, you might expect this wine to scream at you, but it doesn’t. Each sip quietly pulled my attention back to my glass for another sniff of the black fruit and tobacco leaf aromas, signatures of the tempranillo grape. And ultimately, its savory taste and lingering finish had me licking my lips, wanting more. And the more I tasted it, the more I liked it. ABV: 14.1 percent.

Imported and distributed by Bravo Wine Imports: Available in the District at A. Litteri. Available in Virginia at Aldie Peddler in Aldie; Barrel Chest Wine and Beer, Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar and Wine Gourmet in Roanoke; Crystal City Wine Shop in Arlington; Classic Wines in Great Falls; Foods of All Nations and Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville; Gallery 108 in Alexandria; J. Emerson Fine Wines & Cheese and Once Upon a Vine (both locations) in Richmond; Pickford’s Fresh Seafood in Harrisonburg; Town Duck in Warrenton; Vienna Vintner in Vienna; Wine Cabinet in Reston; the Wine House in Fairfax, Wine Mill in Winchester.

Zonte’s Footstep Blackberry Patch Cabernet 2018

Fleurieu Peninsula, Australia, $22

This wine greeted me with a smile — at least, it made me smile at the first sip. As the name suggests, aromas of blackberries and baking spice perfume the glass, followed by flavors of cassis and berries. As the evening drew on and the bottle drew down, each sip added a nuance of spice or an insight of fruit. The last few sips were like dessert, or the fine cigar that punctuates an enjoyable evening. ABV: 14.5 percent.

Imported by Artisans & Vines; distributed in the District and Maryland by Artisans & Vines, in Virginia by LK Wine Tours and Sales: Available in the District at Batch 13, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Magruder’s, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John; Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda; Chesapeake Wine Co. and the Wine Source in Baltimore; Crescent Beer & Wine in Bowie; Dawson’s Market and Gilly’s Craft Beer & Fine Wine in Rockville; Fenwick Beer & Wine and Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring; in Gaithersburg. Available in Virginia at Aldie Peddler in Aldie; Crush Wine Bar, Murphy Beverage Co. and Wine Mill in Winchester.

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 to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.