Columnist, Food

★★★Exceptional  ★★Excellent ★Very Good

Prices are approximate. Check to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

Here are two wines from the Robert Mondavi Winery and three others that reflect Mondavi’s influence on the growth of high-quality wine throughout the country, including a newcomer worth watching from Maryland. For good measure, look for the widely available Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Chardonnay, which at $7 gets my vote for best inexpensive American chardonnay.— D.M.

Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2010


Napa Valley, Calif., $27

A “great value” at $27? Sure, given the price of Napa Valley cabernet these days. The Robert Mondavi Winery’s basic Napa cabs — there’s an Oakville bottling at $55 and a reserve at $135 — are consistently good. I recommend decanting this an hour or two in advance to let the black-fruit flavors emerge. If you can find the 2009 vintage on store shelves, it also is good and benefits from the additional bottle age.

Republic National: Available in the District at A-1 Wines & Liquors, Calvert Woodley, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Fresh & Green’s, Magruder’s, Rodman’s; on the list at Billy Martin’s Tavern, Capital Grille, Oceanaire, Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

Alexander Valley Vineyards Dry Rosé of Sangiovese 2012


Sonoma County, Calif., $15

After I wrote about rosés a few weeks ago, a reader e-mailed to recommend this wine, reminding me that it is perennially one of my favorite U.S. rosés. The 2012 might be the best yet: racy, invigorating and joyful. Defy the humidity and celebrate summer with this lovely wine. It’s a smile in a glass.

Bacchus: Widely available in the District and Maryland, including at Bell Wine & Spirits, Burka’s Wine & Liquor, Cairo Wine & Liquor, Calvert Woodley, Capitol Hill Wine and Spirits, Circle Wine & Liquor, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Cork & Fork, Harry’s Reserve Fine Wine & Spirits, MacArthur Beverages, Martin’s Wine & Spirits, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Pearson’s, Safeway (Georgetown), S&R Liquors, Wagshal’s Deli, Whole Foods Market (Foggy Bottom, Tenleytown). Widely available in Maryland, including at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis; Beer, Wine & Co., Bethesda Market and Bradley Food and Beverage in Bethesda; Dawson’s Liquors in Severna Park; Dawson’s Market in Rockville; in Gaithersburg; Frederick Wine House; Hair o’ the Dog in Easton; Loading Dock Discount Liquors and Wells Discount Liquors in Baltimore; Montgomery County Liquor Stores (Gaithersburg, Germntown, Rockville); North Ridge Wine & Spirits and Pine Orchard Wine in Ellicott City; Rodman’s in White Flint; Roots Market in Olney; Town & Country Wine Liquor Etc. in Easton.

Old Westminster Winery Cabernet Franc 2011


Maryland, $30

Maryland now boasts more than 60 wineries. Among the newest is Old Westminster, which opened to the public in June with an impressive debut lineup of wines. This delicious cabernet franc, from one of the most difficult, rainy harvests in local memory, bodes well for the future of the winery. 

Available in Maryland at the winery and College Square Liquors in Westminster, Mills Fine Wine and Spirits in Annapolis, Victoria’s Fancy Foods in Severna Park, Wine Bin in Ellicott City, Wine Source in Baltimore; on the list at Brick Ridge Restaurant in Mount Airy and Maryland Wine Bar in Berlin.

Arizona Stronghold Mangus 2011


Arizona, $28

This intriguing blend of sangiovese, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot and cabernet franc could pass as an Arizonan Super-Tuscan, with dusty dried-fruit flavors and soft tannins on the slightly sweet finish. Arizona Stronghold is more than a novelty winery, though it is surely novel, considering its location and co-owner Maynard James Keenan, a rock musician. It’s a good-quality producer highlighting regional American wine at its best.

Siema: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, DCanter. Available in Maryland at Blue Wind Gourmet in California, Cork & Fork in Bethesda, Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring, in Gaithersburg, the Wine Post in Glyndon. Available in Virginia at Cork & Fork in Gainesville, Little Washington Winery in Washington, Whole Foods Market (Alexandria, Fairfax).

Robert Mondavi Winery Fumé Blanc 2011

1 / 2

Napa Valley, Calif., $18

Mondavi coined the name “fumé blanc” for his dry sauvignon blanc in the late 1960s and championed temperature-controlled, unoaked fermentation and aging for this crisp, fruity style of white wine. I am especially enamored of the winery’s Fumé Blanc Reserve, which costs $50 and is limited in quantity; this one will certainly do in a pinch, especially if there’s a seafood salad on the menu.

Republic National: Available in the District at A-1 Wines & Liquors, Calvert Woodley, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Fresh & Green’s, Magruder’s, Rodman’s; on the list at Billy Martin’s Tavern, Oceanaire, Ruth’s Chris Steak House.