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Best Wine Store in the greater D.C. Area


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Adega (Next to Whole Foods in Silver Spring).  Small but good selection.  Not bad if you're in the area and need a bottle to go with dinner. Their stock was pretty low the last time I was in there, however.  I hope that's not a bad sign.

I like Adega too, but mainly because I LOVE their Turkey Reuben! :wub:

I think the selection has been low every time I'm in there; I've gotten some tasty stuff but usually it's kindof a crapshoot as to what they'll actually have on the shelf.

It had been a while since I had set foot in Adega, so Mrs JPW and I decided to grab a couple sandwiches to go for dinner Friday. On the positive side, the place was actually packed (first time I had ever seen it so). The sandwiches were good.

On the negative side, it looked like they had given up on trying to sell wine and beer. The shelves were all at least 50% empty. There were absolutely no new wines that I could identify. And the more I looked around, the more I realized that their prices were almost criminal. For example, Domaine de Pouy, Cotes de Gascogne - a decent cheap white at $7 most places - was $11.

Still a good place for a good to great sandwich and a glass of wine, but no longer a retail stop.

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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Was at CW this evening and they were advertising a 2001 Bordeaux(Pauillac) that was supposedly made from the grapes of a first growth estate (which I found out was Latour) The wine was on sale for $26.99 down from $29.99. The ad said one of the best values you will ever find for any vintages. The label on the bottle says 2001 Pauillac bottled by Ulysse Cazabonne. Has any one tried this wine yet and can someone tell me if there is any thruth behind the hype or am I a victim of advertising.

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Was at CW this evening and they were advertising a 2001 Bordeaux(Pauillac) that was supposedly made from the grapes of a first growth estate (which I found out was Latour)  The wine was on sale for $26.99 down from $29.99. The ad said one of the best values you will ever find for any vintages. The label on the bottle says 2001 Pauillac bottled by Ulysse Cazabonne.  Has any one tried this wine yet and can someone tell me if there is any thruth behind the hype or am I a victim of advertising.

I have a case of their 2000 which they have directly imported for at least the past five or more years but have not opened it year. Pepe told me this was the last year (the 2001 you mentioned) which they will be getting it and he said it was a real value and drinkable now. I trust and respect his opinions. The 1998 and '99 were more than worthwhile but they were MUCH cheaper. I still have a few bottles of the '98 left and it was a good investment-but I think I paid something like $16 or 17-not $27. I'd probably try a bottle of the '01 but, frankly, I don't have the same enthusiasm for it that I did at two thirds the price. (Don't forget the Euro vs. dollar)

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Most of the grapes grown at l'Enclos do not make it into either Latour or Les Forts de Latour, but are sold as generic Pauillac. I doubt that this wine is made with the pick of the litter of grapes. I am sure that it is a fine wine, as the worst part of the vineyard still produces very nice fruit, but it is not going to be close to a first or second growth.

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My experiences:

Total Wine (McLean):  This is my go-to spot. Vast selection. Knowledgeable, non-snotty staff.  Good prices, as has been mentioned before.  Look for their coupons in Monday's Post A Section(if you're a GS-rated schlep like me).  Occasionally  they'll run a 4$ off per btl of Bordeaux (over 16$) - no limits. 

Bell (M Street):  It does smell funny in there (are those old corks I smell?).  Great staff.  I was in there every other day when I worked nearby.  Nice California selections.

Adega (Next to Whole Foods in Silver Spring).  Small but good selection.  Not bad if you're in the area and need a bottle to go with dinner. Their stock was pretty low the last time I was in there, however.  I hope that's not a bad sign.

I feel for the guy who's running Adega. They're right down the street from me but he's stuck in the worst liquor supply chain outside of Pennsylvania (Montgomery County, MD).

It does look as if he's permanently two deliveries short of a full store. Maybe bribery is in order? I hear Doug Duncan's running for governor and could probably use some cash.

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State Line Wines, 1/2 mile off of I 95 in Elkton is the highest volume and largest liquor store in Maryland.  In the past Philadelphia Magazine has awarded it the title of best wine store in the greater Philadelphia area, affectionately calling it "Smuggler's Wines." It's worth a stop.

Wow, talk about a blast from the past! I grew up in Newark DE and this is where my family would get all their booze. It's called "State Line" because it sits just this side of the state border with Delaware -- I'm not sure if Delaware's liquor laws are more restrictive than Maryland, but this is definitely the most popular place in the area to go.

It is a VERY easy stop off I-95; get off at the Newark/Elkton exit (I think it's exit 109?) & follow the ramp for Newark. This will put you on Elkton Rd heading north, State Line is a couple stoplights up on the right. On a good day you can be there 90 minutes after leaving DC.

I guess I will have to stop by on my next visit to my parents :cool: I didn't realize it was so "prestigious" (best in Philly and all that, whaddya know)

Best in Philly's probably now gone to Moore Brothers. Dynamite store in a dreary industrial park off the Ben Franklin Bridge in South Jersey.

Never heard of a single label in the store, yet it's now become where we get almost all our wine. People are amazing, and there's a lot available in the $10-15 that you want by the case.

They're opening a store in NYC soon, so unfortunately a DC outpost is a ways off.

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Most of the grapes grown at l'Enclos do not make it into either Latour or Les Forts de Latour, but are sold as generic Pauillac.  I doubt that this wine is made with the pick of the litter of grapes.  I am sure that it is a fine wine, as the worst part of the vineyard still produces very nice fruit, but it is not going to be close to a first or second growth.

Here is what Parker had to say about this wine:

One of the small treasures from Latour is their third wine, Pauillac. In 2001, it represented about 12% of the production, with approximately 40,000 bottles being produced. It is a soft, ripe effort with plenty of cedary, black currant fruit, medium body, and an up-front style. This tasty offering should merit a score around 88 points when released.

Latour's harvest occurred between October 1-10. Administrator Frederic Engerer sees similarities in the quality of the Cabernet Sauvignon fruit with that harvested in 1996. The grand vin's final blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, and 1% Cabernet Franc constitutes 53% of the total production.

P.S. Little has been made (just under 4,000 cases), but Latour produces a generic wine under the Pauillac name that sports a label not dissimilar from the labels of Forts de Latour and Latour. The 2001 Pauillac (86-87) is good. Readers who have access to this wine would be well-advised to try it. It is best consumed during its first 7-10 years of life.

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I went to State Line this past weekend and was very disappointed. It is far from being on par with even a mediocre DC Liquor store. The selection was heavy on grocery store wines, and light on anything of interest.

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State Line? Serious? I haven't been in a couple of years but they typically would carry 95 to 100 cabs, 50-75 merlots, etc. Most of the stock was in back. Did you see the size of the store, Steve? Two brothers own it/used to own it. I wonder if something has happened over the past couple of years to change things. Once, this was a really good store that I even drove to from here for bottles I couldn't find in D. C. (i.e. '85 Groth Reserve, '85 Caymus Special Select, '97 Masseto).

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  • 4 weeks later...

CW has the 2000 Pinot Noir by Sanford Winery (of Sideways fame) as one of their wines of the week on sale for $14.99. It normally sells for between $26-$30.

I opened a bottle last night and found it had a nice flavors domintated by red fruits with a peppery accent to it. Found the tannins to be firm but even. A great buy

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  • 1 month later...

Did some booze shopping in Magruders today. Not wildly impressed with the wine selection, though the beer lineup was more fruitful. Snagged a couple of cases of Eggenberger Hopfen Konig, my favorite pils. On sale, too. Otherwise, just an observation: I believe Magruders may have the most superannuated clientele anywhere North of the St. Petersburg Publix.

"Mine goes off like a rocket." -- Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, Feb. 16.

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I have to agree wholeheartedly with the folks who recommend Wine Cellars of Annapolis. The staff is incredibly helpful and friendly and the selection is outstanding. In addition to the regular Saturday tastings (this weekend is Spanish wines), they usually have 12+ bottles of wine open for sampling. I have found some exellent inexpensive wines this way that I probably otherwise would not have tried.

I recently completed Ellen Spicknall's Introduction to Wine course at WCA, and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to formally learn the basics. It's well worth the $90 tuition.

If anyone will be there Saturday for the Spanish wine tasting, I'll see you there!

Lori

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What wine store is the best depends a lot on what you are looking for. If you just want a regular bottle of wine, Total is fine. If you are looking for older wines, or rarer wines, McArthur's or Schneiders are very good.

At least in DC you don't have to put up with the crap that you have to put up with in Montgomery County.

My favorite DC wine stores are, in no particular order:

Schneiders

McArthur's

Potomac Wine and Spirits (when I am looking for Kosher wine for Passover)

Bell

Circle

In Virginia I like Arrowine

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Magruder's on Connecticut Avenue is making a real effort with their pricing to have some impact. While they lack the expertise and style of C/W, MacArthur, Schneider's, etc. they have some very good wines at prices that are probably sparking some price wars. For instance in Weds. Post Marques de Moral was labelled, essentially, the best red wine in the world for its price-seven dollars. Magruder's has it on sale for $5 and some change right now. (I am drinking this as I type-I still prefer the Columbia Crest Two Vines which some places have in the six dollar range,(

On my last several trips from Reston into Calvert Woodley (I trust Pepe's opinions) and MacArthur I've found myself making stops at Magruder's also. No, I don't like it's ambience at all. But they have some interesting wine at prices that are worth an occasional stop and a manager whose taste seems to match mine.

I also cannot avoid Total. They have '01 Chateau Souverain cab for $15.99 with a 10% case discount that brings it down into the low 14's. Costco has it in Fairfax for $17.99 and it lists for around $22 or so. Open for 30 minutes this is a really good cab for that price.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I like Macarthur's & Circle. CW is tend to avoid because I always seem to go there when it is busy and the way they have it set up, it gets too damn crowded. Bah!

I keep mesning to check out Schneider's and WOW. I have been to Cecile's once, but definitely mean to get back there again.

In the greater DC area, I do avoid Total Wine in VA and Corridor Fine Wine (owned by Total Wine) as they suck.

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How can you say a store "sucks" when they sell wine by the case which is 40% cheaper than its list price? I used the example of Chateau Souverain cab but there are many that Total has the lowest prices in the Washington area. No, overall, I don't like Total. But for some wine/most wine I go where I can get the best price. Don't discount Total if you are willing to buy by the case. For many of the more popular wines they have the best prices of anyone when you factor in state sales tax vs. DC sales tax. I find myself at Magruder's, Total, C/W, MacArthur, Costco, even buying offshore and having it shipped here (i.e. Australian shiraz from Sydney). Total doesn't have anyone whose opinion I would trust-but shopping there for me is not about this. When I walk in their door I know what I want. C/W, MacArthur, Reston's Wine Cabinet (an outstanding store) are different. They also serve a different purpose.

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When I lived in MoCo, I made visits to Total in Va probably 4 times a year.

My first visit ever, was probably ten or more years ago (and I was ten years younger!): It was mid-morning (after rush hour), and I had my three year old son in tow. As I walked in for the very first time and gathered my cart, I stopped to look at my notes, giddy with delight, and hyperventilate at the vastness of the collection -- wine...wine as far as the eye could see. A kindly voice said "Miss, is there anything you need help with?"

I turned to see the legendary white pompadour himself. I began to chat with him, and within minutes, he called for one, then another assistant to help. There were certain things I came for, but also I just wanted to look around, see what's what, with the hopes of picking up a few new things to try. Haft asked for my list, sent one minion off to fill my order, then proceeded to "totally" sweep me off my feet... I sighed when I saw one particularly excellent bottle, don't remember now what it was, but it was in the $40-50, he gave a few quick/quiet motions to another ass't, who reappeared with a corkscrew and 2 glasses, and proceeded to open the wine and serve it to us. The next thing I know, a chocolate bar appears for my son.

The next two hours were spent leisurely wandering the aisles with Herbie Haft, a glass of wine in my hand, and a clerk following behind with another cart. Yet another clerk swept off my son and entertained him, feeding him grapes, cheese and crackers and chocolate. Mr Haft and I entered the rare wine room, where he opened two more bottles, one of which was an 82 Latour, and we sat and enjoyed quite a nice conversation about wines, wine regions, travels, his collection, my collection, etc. Finally I begged off, was met at the checkout by my carts magically filled and tallied, my son with a big grin on his chocolate face, and men who kindly took my keys to load up my car. All I did was hand over my credit card. The "babysitter" carried my son out and helped strap him in his carseat. Haft walked out with 2 little gift bags, giving me the rest of the 3 opened wine bottles, and he said "an extra gift" -- a bottle of champagne I had admired, but not purchased.

As I drove away, only concentrating on getting home and getting both my son and myself to bed for a nap, my son said "Mommy, I like wine stores. Can we come back here tomorrow?"

Needless to say, whenever I returned, even when I only bought a case, I was always recognized and treated extremely well. I never lifted a finger, often had a "personal shopper" to help me, and a few times when I had one of my kids in tow, the chocolate bars always came out.

darn, I miss those days!

I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

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  • 2 years later...

*bump*

I live in northern Virginia and frequent a locally owned wine store that is run by a friend. She is unable to get a Spanish wine that I want because it is not distributed in VA, but told me that if I had it in a DC restaurant, a DC vendor could probably get it for me. I checked both MacArthur's and Schneider's websites and had no luck. Does anyone have a recommendation for a wine store in DC that can do special orders?

-L

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*bump*

I live in northern Virginia and frequent a locally owned wine store that is run by a friend.  She is unable to get a Spanish wine that I want because it is not distributed in VA, but told me that if I had it in a DC restaurant, a DC vendor could probably get it for me.  I checked both MacArthur's and Schneider's websites and had no luck.  Does anyone have a recommendation for a wine store in DC that can do special orders?

-L

You might try Calvert-Woodley, and you can even check their website to see if they have it in stock. Another thought is to get hold of Joe Riley over at Ace Beverages.

Best bet, though, is probably to track down the importer and see if any local distributors carry it, and work through them. Where did you get the wine in the first place?

BTW, you might get some idea if it's available by checking out the wine list at the consensus choice for best Spanish restaurant here, Taberna del Alabardera.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I am quite fond of the Vineyard in McLean. A tiny place, tough to find even though it is at a major intersection (Chain Bridge Road) - its just tucked into this tiny, grim little strip of shops. And parking - don't even bother with their tiny little lot. Just park on the street. But worth the hassle. Amazing selection, very knowledgeable people.

We first went over there after hearing a discussion on WAMU about South African wines. My husband is South African and we've been finding it hard to find most of the good South African wines, including those discussed on the program. Then a few days later, I noticed that Jake Parrott had in his signature line something about "The Wild Grape" and when I clicked on his link, it took me to a site about South African wine. Turns out that they are importers, not retailers, but they directed me to the Vineyard, and ... well, let's just say that we spent way more than we'd intended to, but we don't regret it one bit.

Now, I am not really sure about this, but maybe they moved because when I googled to get their address and URL to post here, the site I found

http://www.thevineyardva.com/

says

Come visit us! We are located in The Palladium at McLean

1445 Laughlin Avenue McLean, VA 22101

And says that they sell gift baskets and food - the place we visited was floor-to-ceiling, barely room to walk filled with wine.

But looking at the list of South African wines, it must be the same place - as I'm recognizing the vineyards and vintners listed as among those we've purchased there and haven't been able to find elsewhere.

So perhaps they've moved. Call before going over there.

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You might try Calvert-Woodley, and you can even check their website to see if they have it in stock.  Another thought is to get hold of Joe Riley over at Ace Beverages.

Best bet, though, is probably to track down the importer and see if any local distributors carry it, and work through them.  Where did you get the wine in the first place? 

BTW, you might get some idea if it's available by checking out the wine list at the consensus choice for best Spanish restaurant here, Taberna del Alabardera.

We had it at Jaleo (I know, controversial choice, but I am one of the lucky ones who has always been there on an "on" day), so it should be out there. It's a 2001 Rioja. I found it for sale at a New York retailer just by Googling.

No luck at the Calvert-Woodley website. I may just check a map for the closest place to me and give them a call. I checked the Bodegas Riojanas website for a distributor and only found one in Spain - how might one track down a local distributor?

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You might try Calvert-Woodley, and you can even check their website to see if they have it in stock.  Another thought is to get hold of Joe Riley over at Ace Beverages.

Best bet, though, is probably to track down the importer and see if any local distributors carry it, and work through them.  Where did you get the wine in the first place? 

BTW, you might get some idea if it's available by checking out the wine list at the consensus choice for best Spanish restaurant here, Taberna del Alabardera.

We had it at Jaleo (I know, controversial choice, but I am one of the lucky ones who has always been there on an "on" day), so it should be out there. It's a 2001 Rioja. I found it for sale at a New York retailer just by Googling.

No luck at the Calvert-Woodley website. I may just check a map for the closest place to me and give them a call. I checked the Bodegas Riojanas website for a distributor and only found one in Spain - how might one track down a local distributor?

This is going to be a hardship :wink: but you'll likely have to go back to Jaleo, order the wine again and scrutinize the back of the bottle to see who the importer is and, crossing your fingers, see if there's a distributer label of some sort, as well. And, if that doesn't work, you'll have to drown your sorrows in another bottle -- or just ask the F&B manager at a slow point in their day. Alternately, you might begin by shooting them an e-mail at downtown@jaleo.com to the attention of the Food and Beverage manager and see if you get a reply (I suspect you will), but that's not nearly as much fun.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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This is going to be a hardship  :wink:  but you'll likely have to go back to Jaleo, order the wine again and scrutinize the back of the bottle to see who the importer is and, crossing your fingers, see if there's a distributer label of some sort, as well.  And, if that doesn't work, you'll have to drown your sorrows in another bottle -- or just ask the F&B manager at a slow point in their day.  Alternately, you might begin by shooting them an e-mail at downtown@jaleo.com to the attention of the Food and Beverage manager and see if you get a reply (I suspect you will), but that's not nearly as much fun.

And I thought I was being clever keeping the cork with the winery information on it. :raz:

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