Columnist, Food

★ ★ ★Exceptional  ★ ★Excellent ★Very Good

Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be available at additional stores. Check to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

Exorbitant prices for top chateaux give the false impression that Bordeaux is out of reach for most wine consumers. But Bordeaux is priced more down-to-earth and can be a terrific value, especially in strong vintages such as 2009 and 2010. So there’s a good reason to listen to vintage hype: Great vintages mean good wines can be found at all price ranges.

Château Larose-Trintaudon Cru Bourgeois 2009

★ ★1 / 2

Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France $23

This blend of 60 percent cabernet sauvignon and the rest merlot is textbook and should be anyone’s introduction to Bordeaux. It features flavors of blackberry and plum, spiced with what Bordeaux lovers call “pencil shavings.” Yes, that sounds weird, but if you’ve ever felt a writer’s satisfaction honing a No. 2 to a fine point, you’ll know what I mean. Alcohol by volume: 13.7 percent.

M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Cairo Wine & Liquor, Chinatown Liquor, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Continental Beverage, MacArthur Beverages, Magruder’s, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Wagshal’s Deli; on the list at Ardeo+Bardeo, Petits Plats. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s and Cork 57 in Bethesda; Beers & Cheers in Germantown; the Bottle Shop in Potomac; Frederick Wine House, Old Farm Liquors and Riverside Liquors in Frederick; Gateway Liquors in Thurmont; Greenbelt Co-op; Londontowne Wine & Spirits in Edgewater; Potomac Beer & Wine in Rockville; Rodman’s in White Flint; Severn Liquors; Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington. On the list at Mason’s in Easton. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington; Balducci’s, Chain Bridge Cellars and the Vineyard in McLean; Rio Hill Wine & Gourmet in Charlottesville; Unwined (Alexandria); Whole Foods Market and Wine Outlet in Vienna.

Château la Cordonne Cru Bourgeois 2009

★ ★ 1 / 2

Medoc, Bordeaux, $20

Give this beauty some time to open up by decanting two hours or so before dinner or even by “letting it breathe” on the counter for a few hours. It’s rich and supple, ripe with soft tannins that grip your palate and elevate the wine, like a gymnast on a balance beam. ABV: 13.5 percent.

M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Burka’s Wine & Liquor, Cairo Wine & Liquor, Chinatown Liquor, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, MacArthur Beverages, Magruder’s, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Sheffield Wine & Liquor Shoppe, various Whole Foods Market locations. Available in Maryland at Adega Wine Cellars in Silver Spring; Balducci’s in Bethesda; Bin 201 Wine Sellers and H&B Fuller Wine & Spirits in Annapolis; Castle Liquors in Mount Airy; Fulton Liquor; Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville; Jason’s Wine & Spirits, Petit Cellars and Pine Orchard Wines in Ellicott City; Rodman’s in White Flint. On the list at La Ferme in Chevy Chase and Mon Ami Gabi in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Chain Bridge Cellars and the Vineyard in McLean, Crystal City Wine Shop, Food of All Nations in Charlottesville, Hop & Vine in Fredericksburg, Town Duck in Warrenton, Unwined in Alexandria, Vienna Vintner, various Wegmans locations.

Château Cantelaudette 2010

1 / 2

Graves-de-Vayres, Bordeaux, France, $16

Bright red-berry flavors and a nice balance of fruit and oak give this Bordeaux structure and balance. It’s nice enough to drink by itself but prefers to play with comfort foods such as burgers or even roast chicken. ABV: 13.5 percent.

J.W. Sieg: Available in the District at Bacchus Wine Cellars and Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits. Available in Virginia at Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Warrenton, Tides Inn Market and Inn in Colonial Beach, the Wine Outlet in Vienna; on the list at Savour in Charlottesville.

Bokisch Vineyards Graciano 2011

★ ★

Lodi, Calif., $23

Bokisch is a boutique winery specializing in Spanish grape varieties in Lodi, a California wine region that is generating considerable buzz among wine lovers looking for something other than the same old cabernets, chardonnays and pinots. This is spicy and earthy, with a generous layer of vanilla from oak. ABV: 14.5 percent.

International Cellars: On the list in the District at District Commons. Available in Virginia at Clifton Wine Shop, Swirl & Sip in Fairfax, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview).

Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Reserva Winemaker’s Red Blend 2011

Chile, $10

Primarily syrah, with carmenere and cabernet sauvignon completing the blend, this bargain wine is dense with red- and black-fruit flavors that cry out for fatty red meat. I wish the winemaker had held off on his oak treatment, which at this price level most likely means oak chips and other artificial means rather than barrels. There’s good fruit here; let it shine. ABV: 13.5 percent.

Republic National: Available in the District at AB Liquors, Bloomingdale Liquor, District Liquors, Gandel’s Liquors, Imperial Liquor, Metro K Supermarket, S&R Liquor, Safeway (various locations), Sheffield Wine & Liquor Shoppe, State Liquors, Tenley Mini Market, Virginia Market, Yes! Organic Market (various locations).