Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the vintage for the Charles Brotte Grand Vallon Syrah. The wine is from 2011, not 2010. This version has been corrected.

Columnist, Food
Barboursville Vineyards Octagon 2009


Virginia, $50

To be released at the winery in August, and in distribution (Country Vintner) in September. This year’s Virginia Governor’s Cup winner is the latest in Luca Paschina’s decade-plus effort to create an icon wine for Virginia. The 2009 is opulent without being forceful; a bit gangly when the cork is pulled, it stretches luxuriously after about 30 minutes, unfolding ripe black-currant and plum flavors and stylish tannins over a long, silky finish. It’s still early in this wine’s development, but I’ll say it: This is the best Octagon yet.

Poggio al Casone La Cattura Toscana 2010


Tuscany, Italy, $16

This intriguing and delightful wine is an unusual “super Tuscan”: a blend of teroldego (85 percent) and syrah, two grape varieties that are not traditionally found in this part of Italy. It’s floral, yet also smoky and meaty, and shows true Tuscan spirit in its medium body and impressive staying power on the palate.

M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Cairo Wine & Liquor, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Cork & Fork, MacArthur Beverages, Magruder’s, Pearson’s, Rodman’s, Sheffield Wine & Liquor Shoppe, Watergate Wine & Beverage. Available in Maryland at Dorsey’s Search Wine & Spirits in Columbia; Enchanted Forest Wine & Spirits, Jason’s Wine & Spirits and Pine Orchard Wine in Ellicott City; Highland Wine & Spirits; the Italian Market in Annapolis; Rodman’s in White Flint; World Gourmet Wine & Beer in Potomac. Available in Virginia at Grateful Red Wine & Gift Shop in Arlington; on the list at Screwtop Wine Bar & Cheese Shop in Arlington. 

Andrew Murray Tous les Jours Syrah 2011


Santa Ynez Valley, Calif., $18

Spicy and rich, yet not overbearing, this enticing syrah from Santa Barbara County combines American ripeness with a hint of the meaty smokiness that syrah expresses in Europe.

Robins Cellars: Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean), Curious Grape in Arlington, Grape + Bean in Alexandria.

Vini Veni Vidi Vici Pinot Noir 2010

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Danube River Plains, Bulgaria, $10

Decent pinot noir is almost impossible to find for a mere Hamilton, but this stunner shows true pinot character — if you coax it out with a little time and a whirl in your glass. This label also produces a nice cabernet sauvignon and a serviceable merlot, both from the Thracian Valley. 

Constantine: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Dupont Market, Rodman’s, Rosebud Liquor, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, Tenley Wine & Liquor. Available in Maryland at 29 Convenience Mart in Silver Spring, Annebeth’s and Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis, Montgomery County Liquor Store in Darnestown, Wishing Well Liquors in Easton; on the list at various Coal Fire locations and at Food, Wine & Co. in Bethesda.

Charles Brotte Grand Vallon Syrah 2011

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Languedoc, France, $9

This syrah from southern France has hints of the lavender and other herbs collectively called “garrigue” in describing red wines from southern France. It’s quite nice, with just enough grip to suggest that it will age well over the next year or two. As you savor its aftertaste, you might find yourself looking at the bottle and wondering whether you really paid only $9 for it.

M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Cairo Wine & Liquor, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Cork & Fork, Freedom Market, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Sheffield Wine & Liquor Shoppe, Wagshal’s Market, Watergate Wine & Beverage. Available in Maryland at Bethesda Co-Op and Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Hillandale Beer & Wine and Quench! Beer-Wine-Deli in Silver Spring, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Rodman’s in White Flint, Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington, Wine Harvest in Potomac, Wishing Well Liquors in Easton. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s (various locations), Chain Bridge Cellars and the Vineyard in McLean, Cork & Fork in Gainesville, Crystal City Wine Shop and Fern Street Gourmet in Arlington, Leesburg Vintner, Market Street Wineshop and Rio Hill Wine & Gourmet in Charlottesville, Opera House Gifts & Gourmet in Manassas, Town Duck in Warrenton, Vienna Vintner, Vintage Wines in Harrisonburg; on the list at Yves’ Bistro in Alexandria.


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

Here are five interesting wines to try, including the 2013 Virginia Governor’s Cup winner, an unusual wine from Oregon and some inexpensive bargains from France and Bulgaria.

— D.M.