Zola Wine & Kitchen: Five Wines Under $20

Elli Benchimol at Zola Wine and Kitchen
Photos by Fredde Lieberman

Elli Benchimol, director of wine and spirits for Penn Quarter's new Zola Wine and Kitchen, believes there's a wine out there for everyone, for every celebration and — perhaps most importantly in times like these — in every price range. "You just need to be resourceful, open-minded and enthusiastic,” she says.

With that in mind, Benchimol shared with Metrocurean five of her favorite wines under $20, all available at the sleek new wine shop and test kitchen, located at 505 Ninth St. NW.

1. 2007 Domaine du Salvard Cheverny, Loire Valley, France. "This smaller region from the Loire is less well-known than Pouilly-Fumé or Sancerre, but still produces amazingly refreshing Sauvignon Blancs of a similar style, but more delicate and light. Awesome Loire valley minerality and grassy notes, but without the big price tag." $15

2. 2007 Porrais, Douro Valley, Portugal. "This blend packs a punch of bright citrus flavors and white peach. It has a nice weight to it, but is still very delicate. It's also not a very well-known region, which keeps the price low, at $16."

3. 2005 Flavium Crianza, Bierzo, Spain. "Bierzo is a region in Spain known for the grape Mencia. It’s becoming more popular, not only for its ripe juicy berry fruit, but for the value. It’s medium bodied with some delicate oak and bright red plum and bramble berry fruit." $12

4. 2005 Vina Falernia Reserve Syrah, Elqui Valley, Chile. "I love this wine! I probably drink more of this wine than any others. It’s only $13.50. [It has] full-bodied jammy blackberry fruit with lots of black pepper spice, characteristic to a Northern Rhone classic style, but with hedonistic New World-style fruit."

5. 2005 Finca & Bodega VistAlba, “Corte C,” Mendoza, Argentina. "This Malbec, Cabernet blend is full-bodied, lush and juicy. The addition of a small amount of Bonarda gives it a food-friendly acidity and balances out the soft jammy tannins." $17.99


Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful store, but I rarely stop in (even though I live around the corner) because the wines have pretty outrageous prices. These five wines are among the handful of bottles under $20, out of the hundreds of labels they carry. And many bottles can be bought for 20-40% less in other stores (Whole Foods, Calvert Woodley, etc.).

I have definitely been spoiled by Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, but is there anyone out there looking to spend $50 every day on a bottle of wine to have with dinner?

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the same thing. I'm really close by, and love the look and feel of the store, but it's not a great shopping experience. It's hard to find the prices, and there are no descriptions. Most of the wines are pretty pricey.

Amanda said...

I wonder if it's hard for a locally owned place to compete price-wise with the big grocery stores.

Just curious - have you gone in and asked for help? You know, like 'I only want to spend $15 and I like syrah, what can you do for me?'

Andy in PQ said...

This is interesting. I sent a note to the owner shortly after they opened, because I was disappointed with the pricing and the usability of the store. They added a shelf of $15 and under wines, but I still find most of their selection is on the higher end. I was hoping to make this my go-to store, but in the end, I've found better prices at places like Central Liquors (they've actually expanded their value wines), Whole Foods and Best Cellars. I've asked for help, but the service was a bit off-putting and asking for a $15 wine after seeing a bunch of $60 bottles made me feel kind of cheap. It wasn't pleasant. I'd love to frequent my neighborhood wine shop (especially given our daily wine habit), but it just isn't in the cards. I wish them luck though.

wino said...

I guess I have a guide now for the more affordable stuff here. Thanks for the list.

Michael said...

they are new and working things out ... my favorite is Bin 604 which has been doing it in Baltimore for a while (owned by chef/restaurateurs Cindy Wolf and Tony Foreman) and besides the esoteric ... have a great mixed case every month for $99, as well as tastings and a fun e-newsletter and a club card. Once I liked a wine by the the glass at their Cinghiale around the corner (think Zola or Potenza perhaps) and they had it at Bin 604 by the case ... I stopped on the way home, they had the case waiting for me, I paid and they loaded in my car ... they are smart people, I think they will figure it out. I must admit ... I picked up a bottle in what looked like a bargain bin on my first visit to ZWK and I think it was $400 ... oops

J. Song said...

I haven't been here, but I certainly will put it on my list of places to go!

The Cheverny from Domaine du Salvard is an excellent Loire Valley sauvignon blanc. It was one of the first sauvignon blancs that I really enjoyed--very fresh, clean, with a nice bracing acidity--and opened the door for me to explore more of the Loire. A sauvignon blanc that might be even better than the Domaine du Salvard is the Touraine from Francois Chidaine--at around $12.99, it's a more economical choice, too.

Great blog! I'm bookmarking you for sure.

Joon S.

Anonymous said...

I agree, I live half a block away, and buy a lot of wine. I would love to give them business, but I feel like I am not the customer they are looking for. I think they are looking for people who buy wine the night they will drink it and don't really know what to buy or what a decent price is. Those are definitely great customers. Even their $15 dollar wine are over priced, but I guess it has to be for the combination of that location and a low volume business. In the end I spend hundreds a month on wine at Calvert Woodley, MacArthur Beverages, and, dare I say it...Costco.