Here’s a $15 California cabernet that proves quality can also be budget-friendly

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Craftwork Estate Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

(Excellent)

Monterey County, Calif., $15

Craftwork is a label of good quality, affordably priced wine from Scheid Family Wines, a major grower and producer in Monterey County celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. (It also produces the low-alcohol Sunny With a Chance of Flowers line.) This cabernet is juicy and straightforward with dark fruit flavors. At first, there’s a bit of brown sugar sweetness on the finish, but that goes away with a little air to reveal bright fruit and great balance. Alcohol by volume: 13.5 percent. BW: 660 grams (Average).

Distributed in the District and Maryland by Artisans & Vines, in Virginia by Well Crafted Wines: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Magruder’s, Old City Market and Oven, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Apple Greene Wine & Spirits, Dunkirk Wine & Spirits in Dunkirk; Bella’s, Wine Cellars of Annapolis in Annapolis; Beers & Cheers in Germantown; Beer Wine & Co., Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda; Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John; Cheers & Spirits in Arnold; Crescent Wine & Spirits in Bowie; Decanter Fine Wines in Columbia; Downtown Crown Wine and Beer in Gaithersburg; Dulaney Wines & Spirits in Towson, Fenwick Beer & Wine, Locavino, Parkway Deli & Restaurant, Silver Branch Brewing Co., Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring; Foundry Row Wine & Spirits, Mill Station Wine & Spirits in Owings Mills; Franklins Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville; Fulton Wine & Spirits; Greenbelt Co-Op in Greenbelt; Grosvenor Market in Rockville; Harrison’s Wines and Liquors in Easton; Knowles Station Wine & Co. in Kensington; Montpelier Liquors in Laurel; Old Farm Liquors, Riverside Liquors in Frederick; Rodman’s in White Flint; the Winery on Kent Island; Vineyards Elite in Pikesville; Wilcom’s Inn in Monrovia. Available in Virginia at Byrd & Baldwin in Norfolk; Fin & Tonic in Suffolk; Merrifield Garden Center in Gainesville; Oxford Cellars in Richmond; the Town Duck in Warrenton; WineStyles in Montclair.

Beringer Bros. Bourbon Barrel Aged Red Wine Blend 2019

(Good/Excellent)

I’m not a fan of the trend to age wine in bourbon barrels, but I confess I rather liked this one. The bourbon notes are not overpowering — they accent the contribution that wood gives the structure of the wine. They also balance the wine’s inherent sweetness. The overall flavor resembles a ruby port without the extra alcohol of fortification, an impression enhanced by the old-fashioned bottle. You can buy an excellent ruby for just a few dollars more, but this could be a suitable weeknight option. Try it with spicy pizza or a chocolate dessert. ABV: 14.5 percent. BW: 710 grams (Heavy).

Distributed in the District and Maryland by Breakthru, in Virginia by Virginia Imports: Available in the District at 1 West Dupont Circle Wine & Liquors, Angels Share Wines and Liquors, Bloomingdale Wine & Spirits, Exotic Wine & Liquors, Giant (various locations), Safeway (various locations), Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Streets Market (Cleveland Park), Washington Wine & Liquor, Watergate Vintners & Spirits, Zoo Wine & Spirits. Widely available in Virginia, including at various locations of Costco, Giant, Harris Teeter, Safeway, Total Wine & More.

Boniperti Vignaioli Favolalunga Vespolina 2018

(Extraordinary/Sublime)

My first impression of this wine from Alto Piemonte in northwest Italy was solid, good quality red. So I stuck the cork back in and moved on. By the next evening, the wine had exploded into a joyful profusion of strawberry, raspberry, boysenberry and wild herb aromas and flavors. The color and body are light, but the sensations are intense. Plan ahead and decant it for a few hours, and be patient. Vespolina is a progeny of nebbiolo, Piedmont’s mainstay red variety, and deserves to emerge from its parent’s shadow. Extra praise for the producer for using an extra-light bottle. ABV: 13 percent. BW: 370 grams (Light).

Imported and distributed by Le Storie: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Calvert Woodley, Etto. Available in Virginia at Brut Champagne, Grape + Bean in Alexandria; Dominion Wine and Beer in Falls Church; Vino Market in Midlothian; Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville.

Seamless Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

(Excellent/Extraordinary)

This wine is a project of the Independent Distributor Network, a coalition of family-owned wine and spirits distributors created in 2019 as a counterweight against national consolidation in the wholesale tier. Bright flavors of blackberries and blackcurrants combine with fresh acidity to give the wine a silky mouthfeel and a lip-smacking finish. ABV: 13.6 percent. BW: 640 grams (Average).

Distributed by Prestige-Ledroit: Available in the District at Batch 13, Magruder’s, Potomac Wine & Spirits. Available in Maryland at Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold; Grosvenor Market in Rockville; Orion Wine & Spirits in Frederick; Shawan Liquors in Cockeysville.

(Extraordinary)

Massican is a boutique Napa Valley winery from Dan Petroski, who left his “day job” as winemaker at Calistoga’s Larkmead Vineyards last year. Petroski focuses on Italian white grape varieties, though he does make sauvignon blanc and chardonnay as well. The Annia is a blend of tocai friuliano, ribolla gialla and chardonnay. It’s crisp, racy and citrusy. There can’t be much tocai or ribolla in Napa Valley, where cabernet sauvignon is king. Tasting Petroski’s wines, I wish there were more. Massican is primarily aimed at restaurants, though some is available at retail. Petroski has also done a white blend called Emilia Bianca that is exclusive to Whole Foods Markets, priced at $24. ABV: 12.5 percent. BW: 590 grams (Average).

Distributed by Prestige Ledroit: Available in the District at Albi, Sushi Nakazawa, Weygandt Wines. Available in Maryland at the Bygone, Pinehurst Wine Shoppe in Baltimore; the Tasting Room in Frederick.

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.



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