Wine of the Week: Good things come from small distributors

WASHINGTON — Sometimes you have to look very hard to find great values in wine. But once in a while, luck intervenes and the wine values find you. Such was my luck several weeks ago when I was introduced to Noah Stevens at a charity event by a mutual friend.

It turns out that Stevens is the executive director and owner of Global Wines Maryland, a family-owned distribution business that is focused on representing family winemakers from around the world. Global Wines Maryland, which operates in the Maryland and D.C. metro area, seeks producers who make wine in a way that nourishes the soil and preserves the environment for future generations.

In today’s current wine environment, where large import and distribution companies control much of the inventory carried by wine shops and restaurants, a small family-run business that specializes in meaningful farming and thoughtful wine-making is a very rare find. But after spending just a few minutes with Stevens, who started the business with his mom and his childhood friend Paul Campbell just a few years ago, it is easy to get caught up in his passion for his selection process. His motto, “Connecting people who love making wine with people who love drinking wine,” pretty much sums up his business plan.

I was fortunate enough to taste a few bottles in Stevens’ portfolio, and came away impressed with many of the wines he represents. Here are several recommendations that are worth hunting down in area wine stores.

If you are looking for a versatile and spectacular food-friendly rosé this summer, the 2017 Chateau Paradis Terre des Anges Rose from the Provence region of France should definitely be on your list. A blend of syrah, mourvèdre and roll grapes from 50-year-old vineyards located between Mount Sainte Victoire and the Luberon, this wine is lively and complex. Pretty aromas of wildflowers and raspberry fill the bouquet. In the mouth, the wine is full of juicy flavors of wild strawberry, raspberry and cherry. The wonderful minerality and bright acidity act as a refreshing counterbalance, leaving a tangy sensation after each sip. $28

I am a sucker for bubbles. I look for sparkling wines that have structure and finesse. The Non Vintage Domaine Moingeon Crémant Prestige Brut has both. Created in 1895 by the Moingeon brothers in Burgundy, France, this sparkler is made in the Méthode Champenoise from a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir. The aromas of hazelnuts and pear scents integrate beautifully with the flavors of peach, dried apricot and butter toast that feel rich and full in the mouth. There is just a touch of roasted almonds that intertwine with citrus-based acidity on the finish. $24

The 2015 Domaine Martin Cotes du Rhone Villages Plan de Dieu from the Rhone Valley in France is one of Stevens’ personal favorites, and it is easy to see why. This grenache-based blend comes from the Plan de Dieu region in the southern Rhône, which is known for producing amazingly rich and concentrated wines. The wine has a bouquet of red cherry and cassis with a smoky, spicy undertone that I normally associate with the mature fruit. Juicy flavors of ripe black raspberry, red licorice and dark plum are wonderfully balanced on the well-structure frame. Medium-bodied with firm, but juicy, tannins, it has nice balance and a long spice-laden finish. $18

Bordeaux Supérieur, as the name suggests, offers a superior version of Bordeaux AOC wines. This usually is a result of the higher quality standards to which the viticulturists and vintners in the region must adhere in order to have Supérieur designation on their wine label. The 2010 Château De Cazenove, Bordeaux Supérieur from the Margaux region is an excellent example of wines of this caliber. A blend of merlot (65 percent) and cabernet sauvignon (35 percent), it features aromas of blackberry, tobacco and cedar. The full-bodied, well-structured frame holds the ample flavors of cherry, cassis and dark plum in check while providing a lush, smooth finish, with just a hint of spice at the end. An unbeatable price for the quality it delivers. $22

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