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.

Here are five wines to test your palate and to pair with your late-summer cookouts.

Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2011


Napa Valley, Calif., $20

A “great value” in a Napa Valley cabernet? This delicious example shows it can be done: textbook cab with blackberry and mint flavors, finishing with subtle tannins that give it gravitas. Excellent for steaks or burgers on the grill. Alcohol content: 13.5 percent.

Bacchus in the District and Maryland, Virginia Imports in Virginia: Available in the District at Harry’s Reserve Fine Wine & Spirits, Rodman’s, various Whole Foods Market locations; on the list at Circa (Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom), Marcel’s, Peacock Cafe. Available in Maryland at Graul’s Wine & Spirits in Baltimore; Hunt Valley Wine, Liquor & Beer in Cockeysville. On the list at Family Meal in Frederick, Fleming’s Steakhouse in Baltimore, Fresco’s in Ocean City. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (McLean), Oakton Wine Shop, Wine Made Simple in Charlottesville; on the list at Fleming’s Steakhouse in McLean; Warehouse Bar & Grill and the Wharf in Alexandria.

Clos du Mont-Olivet ­
Montueil-la Levade 2011


Côtes du Rhône, France, $15

For the past few vintages, this has been one of my favorites from Côtes du Rhône. It’s still a bit brash and in-your-face, with its juicy cherry and plum fruits, but it will only get better with a bit more bottle age. Buy several; enjoy some now with your late-summer cookouts and keep a few for your winter stews. Alcohol content: 14.5 percent.

Dionysus: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, MacArthur Beverages, Rodman’s, Wagshal’s Market, Whole Foods Market (Foggy Bottom, P Street, Tenleytown). Available in Maryland at Balducci’s, Bradley Food & Beverage and Cork & Fork in Bethesda; in Gaithersburg; Grand Cru and Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean), D’Vine Wines in Winchester, Tastings of Charlottesville, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), Vienna Vintner, Foods Market (Alexandria, Arlington, Vienna); on the list at Bizou and Commonwealth in Charlottesville.

Esporão Reserva 2011


Alentejo, Portugal, $20

Confession: I opened this heavy, dark-colored bottle expecting a red wine. I was not disappointed, however, in the aromatic, rich blend of three Portuguese white grapes: arinto, antão vaz and roupeiro. It offers lovely flavors of green apple, quince and peach, with hints of honeysuckle. Great for grilled poultry and fish. Alcohol content: 14.5 percent.

Dionysus: Available in the District at MacArthur Beverages, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, Whole Foods Market (Tenleytown). Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia, Well’s Discount Liquors in Baltimore; on the list at Tavira in Chevy Chase. Available in Virginia at Curious Grape and European Foods in Arlington, Market Street Wineshop in Charlottesville, Wegmans (Sterling, Woodbridge), Whole Foods Market (Alexandria, Arlington, Vienna); on the list at Carmello’s in Manassas.

Bouchaine Riesling Las Brisas Vineyard 2012


Carneros, Calif., $22

California is not known for its Riesling, but this single-vineyard, off-dry example shows lovely varietal characteristics of apricots and mineral oil. Pair it with funky cheese or slightly spicy dishes. This is the first vintage of this wine that has been sold outside the winery, so it is in limited distribution. Alcohol content: 10 percent.

M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Calvert Woodley, Irving Wine & Spirits, MacArthur Beverages; on the list at Rasika West End. Available in Maryland at Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, River Falls Seafood Market in Potomac; on the list at Kali’s Court in Baltimore, LJ’s & the Kat Lounge in Hagerstown, the Kitchen at Rock Hall, Tami’s Table in Potomac. Available in Virginia at the Vineyard in McLean; on the list at Restaurant Eve in Alexandria.

Mas de Bressades Cuvee Tradition Rosé 2012

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Costieres de Nimes, France, $13

This is a delightful rosé, with flavors on the watermelon side rather than strawberry. I discovered that it has an affinity for ginger. Alcohol content: 13.5 percent.

Kacher/Washington Wholesale: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, MacArthur Beverages, Rodman’s; on the list at Cedar, Ripple, Tabard Inn.