Columnist, Food
Recommendations

★★★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 Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

Here are wines to help with our sudden fall chill, including some from the historic California wineries featured in the Smithsonian’s Oct. 22 program “America’s Wine: The Legacy of Prohibition.”

Gundlach Bundschu Merlot 2009/2010

★★★

Sonoma Valley, Calif., $32

It’s easy to focus on new names and labels while taking older wineries for granted. And in our decade-long aversion to merlot since the movie “Sideways” made us fall for pinot noir, we tend to forget how good merlot can be. Here’s a worthy reminder. Alcohol by volume: 14.5 percent.

Bacchus in the District and Maryland: Available in the District at Bell Wine & Spirits. Available in Maryland at Cindy’s Spirits in Elkridge, Columbia Palace Wine & Spirits; on the list at Antrim 1844 in Taneytown, Linwoods in Owings Mills. Select Wines in Virginia: Available at various locations of Harris Teeter, Total Wine & More and Wegmans; Norm’s Beer & Wine in Vienna; the Wine’ing Butcher in Ashburn. On the list at Bazin’s on Church and Maplewood Grill in Vienna; Crystal City Sports Pub, Eventide and Portofino in Arlington; LaLou Bistro in Leesburg.

Pedroncelli Zinfandel Mother Clone 2011

★★1 / 2

Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, Calif., $18

“Mother clone” refers to vines propagated from the original vines in the vineyard purchased by John Pedroncelli Sr. in 1927. This wine is textbook Dry Creek zin, with raspberry and cranberry flavors and a spicy edge that suggests wild sage. ABV: 14.8 percent.

DOPS: Available in the District at A-1 Wines & Liquors, Pearson’s, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill; on the list at Prime Rib, the Rookery, Teaism. Available in Maryland at Kent Towne Liquors in Chester, Mitchum’s Market in Trappe, the Perfect Pour in Elkridge, Rodman’s (Wheaton), State Line Liquors in Elkton, the Village Shop in St. Michaels, the Wine Post in Glyndon. Virginia Imports in Virginia: Available at Harris Teeter (Reston), Total Wine & More (Chantilly, Fairfax, Manassas, McLean, Sterling)

La Posta Campodifiori 2012

★★

Benevento IGP, Italy, $22

This lovely wine from central Italy sings for its supper of seafood, with briny minerality and pinpoint acidity backing its core of citrus. It’s a food wine, though I can hardly resist gulping it. ABV: 13.5 percent.

Kysela: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, MacArthur Beverages, Magruder’s, Paul’s of Chevy Chase. Available in Maryland at Columbia Fine Wine & Spirits, C&R Liquors and South Mountain Spirits in Hagerstown, Deep Creek Gourmet in McHenry, Frederick Wine House, Plus Mart in Frederick, I.M. Wine in Fulton, Hilltop Convenience and Liquor Store in New Market, Swan Song Spirits in Perry Hall. Available in Virginia at the Curious Grape in Arlington, Merry Moo Market in Flint Hill; on the list at Headmaster’s Pub in Sperryville.

Sawtooth Skyline Red 2010

★★

Idaho, $15

I’m a big fan of this winery for its outstanding Riesling, delightful chardonnay and succulent syrah. This juicy blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, tempranillo, petite sirah, petite verdot, malbec, syrah and grenache defies any paradigm of a red blend from anywhere around the world by combining Bordeaux, Spain, California and the Rhone in one. It’s a wine that could be found nowhere else but America, and it shows a sense of adventure that comes through in the glass. ABV: 13.5 percent.

Vino 50/Siema: Available in the District at Cordial Fine Wine & Spirits; on the list at Graffiato, Graham Hotel, Libertine. Available in Maryland at the Bottle Shop in Potomac, Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring, Pinky and Pepe’s Grape Escape in Gaithersburg; on the list at Donna’s Cross Keys in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Cork & Fork in Gainesville, D’Vine Wines in Winchester, Home Farm Store in Middleburg, Little Washington Winery, Mom’s Apple Pie (Occoquan), Norm’s Beer & Wine in Vienna; on the list at ObyLee in Arlington, Open Kitchen Bistro & Wine Bar in Falls Church.

Enate Chardonnay-234 2012

★★

Somontano, Spain, $15

Spanish chardonnay? Why not, when it’s this good: an excellent unoaked version with lots of tree-fruit flavors and mineral talc notes, along with a hint of tropical fruit and an invigorating citrus finish. No, it isn’t masquerading as Chablis, the pinnacle of unoaked chardonnay, but this is a delicious expression of the grape. ABV: 14 percent.

M Touton: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits. Available in Maryland at Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Vineyards Elite in Pikes­ville; the Wine Harvest in Potomac; Cacique and Isabella’s in Frederick. Available in Virginia at the Vineyard in McLean.