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.

Stores are playing holiday music, so it must be time to include a sparkling wine in this week’s recommendations.

Ayala Rosé Majeur Brut

★ ★ ★

Champagne, France, $54

This beautiful blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier makes a delightful rosé, crisp and refreshing with loads of fruit and champagne intensity. Alcohol by volume: 12 percent.

M Touton: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Magruder’s, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Wide World of Wines. Available in Maryland at Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington, Wine Harvest in Potomac. Available in Virginia at the Vineyard in McLean.

Keermont Syrah 2011

★ ★ ★

Stellenbosch, South Africa, $40

This is an unabashed fruit bomb, with low acid and high alcohol — a style I usually disparage. But this wine works, with velvety blackberry fruit that hides the alcohol well. I would not recommend aging this, but it is lovely now. ABV: 15.5 percent.

Kysela: Available in the District at Magruder’s. Available in Maryland at Bacchus Wine and Spirits in Hagerstown, Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Total Wine & More in McLean.

Longview Vineyards Devil’s Elbow Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

★ ★ ★

Adelaide Hills, Australia, $21

On a recent visit to Australia, I was impressed with the quality and value of wines from the Adelaide Hills, a region worth exploring for importers, as most of the wines are not available in the United States. This cabernet is outstanding, combining power with intense fruit and a hint of mint. There is also a nice shiraz called Yakka. These are honest wines. ABV: 14.5 percent.

Country Vintner: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at State Line Liquors in Elkton. Available in Virginia at the Christmas Attic in Alexandria, Dominion Wine and Beer in Falls Church; on the list at Cassatt’s Kiwi Cafe in Arlington.

Les Amis de la Bouissiere 2012

★ ★ ★

Rhone Valley, France, $16

Domaine de Bouissiere is a noted producer from the Rhone appellations of Gigondas and Vacqueyras, and wines from there typically sell for $30 to $50. This wine doesn’t fit those regulatory labels because it includes merlot and caladoc, an obscure cross of grenache and malbec (cot), in addition to the usual Rhone red grapes of syrah and grenache. My first impression was weight, then earth and smoke carried on a cool autumn breeze. There’s a rough edge to this wine that is viscerally delicious. Rhone lovers should buy this by the case. ABV: 14 percent.

Dionysus: Available in the District at MacArthur Beverages, Rodman’s, Wagshal’s Deli, Whole Foods Market (P Street, Tenleytown). Available in Maryland at Balducci’s, Bradley Food & Beverage and Cork & Fork in Bethesda; in Gaithersburg; Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia; Wine Cellars of Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean), Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview), Whole Foods Market (Alexandria, Tysons Corner, Vienna). 

Chateau Peybrun Cadillac 2009

★ ★

Cotes de Bordeaux, France, $20

This merlot-based blend offers plum and black currant flavors with a robe of cedar and wood smoke. ABV: 13.5 percent.

Bacchus: Available in Maryland at the Bottle Shop in Potomac, Boulevard Fine Wine and Spirits in Owings Mills, Eddie’s Liquor and Graul’s Wine & Spirits in Baltimore.