Columnist, Food
Bargain bottles

★★★Exceptional  ★★Excellent ★Very Good

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

Here’s my monthly list of bargain wines that over-perform for the price ($7 to $15).

The Royal, Old Vines Steen 2012

r r 1 / 2

South Africa, $9


This is a tremendous little white wine, crisp and refreshing yet exuberant with fruit. Steen is a South African name for chenin blanc, and this wine conveniently puts both names on the label to avoid confusion. Ideal by itself or with casual foods, it comes with a warning: You will want to open a second one. Fortunately, the price is accommodating. South African chenin blanc may be one of the world’s best white wine values, and this wine shows why.

Kysela: Available in the District at Magruder’s, Rodman’s, Whole Foods Markets (Foggy Bottom, P Street). Available in Maryland at Bo Brooks Lighthouse Liquors, Wells Discount Liquors and Wine Source in Baltimore; Cranberry Liquors in Westminster; Dunkirk Wine & Spirits; Port of Call Liquors in Solomons; Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington. Available in Virginia at Aldie Peddler in Aldie; Balducci’s, Fern Street Gourmet and the Winery in Alexandria; Cork & Fork in Gainesville; Grateful Red Wine & Gift Shop in Arlington; Town Duck in Warrenton.

Finca os Cobatos, Mencia 2010

r r

Monterrei, Spain, $15

Light but not slight, this red has plenty of cherry and black pepper flavors on a lithe frame. Mencia is a grape that thrives in northwestern Spain (Monterrei is in Galicia) and should appeal to fans of cabernet franc.

Nice Legs: Available in the District at Cork & Fork, MacArthur Beverages, Paul’s; on the list at Estadio and Veritas. Available in Maryland at Bin 604 Wine Sellers and Wine Source in Baltimore, Capital Beer & Wine in Bethesda, Frederick Wine House. Available in Virginia at Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Opera House Gifts & Gourmet in Manassas; on the list at Bazin’s on Church in Vienna, Bilbo Baggins in Alexandria, Magnolia’s at the Mill in Purcellville.

Josephine Dubois, Chardonnay 2011

r r

Burgundy, France, $11

A terrific chardonnay with mouthwatering acidity and impeccable balance, this is an excellent wine for casual meals. 

M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Best D.C. Supermarket, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Nick’s of Clinton in Waldorf, Old Farm Liquors and Westridge Liquors in Frederick, River Falls Seafood Market in Potomac, Rosewick Wine & Spirits in La Plata, Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington. Available in Virginia at Crystal City Wine Shop; Leesburg Vintner; Red, White & Bleu in Falls Church; the Vineyard in McLean.

Rio Madre Graciano 2010

r 1 / 2

Rioja, Spain, $11

Its label looks old-fashioned, but this wine is fresh and fruity fun, an ideal partner to casual red-meat dishes such as burgers or steaks.

Country Vintner: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Lion’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Pearson’s, Wagshal’s Market; on the list at Jaleo. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s, Georgetown Square Beer & Wine, and Beer, Wine & Co. in Bethesda; Belby’s Discount Beer & Wine and Village Beer & Fine Wine in Rockville; Bottle Shop in Potomac; Woodmoor Supermarket in Silver Spring. Available in Virginia at Curious Grape in Arlington, Unwined in Alexandria, all Wegmans stores.

Villa San Martino, Pinot Grigio 2011

r 1 / 2

Venzia Giulia, Italy, $9

Fans of pinot grigio will love this textbook example with its refreshing acidity and modest but appealing fruit. It’s what a pinot grigio should be: fun and tasty. It will soon be available in 1.5-liter magnums for parties.

Dionysus: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, D’Vines, Rodman’s, U Street Wine & Beer, Wagshal’s Market, Watergate Wine & Beverage. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage and Cork & Fork in Bethesda, in Gaithersburg, Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia, Wine Cellars of Annapolis. Available in Virginia at the Italian Store in Arlington, Norm’s Beer & Wine in Vienna, Oakton Wine Shop, Whole Foods Markets (Alexandria and Vienna).

Piccolo Fiore Bianco di Sicilia


Sicily, Italy, $7

Crisp, racy and invigorating, this simple white wine is great with that before-dinner nosh and also simple seafood salads. 

J.W. Sieg: Available at all Whole Foods Market locations in the District and Virginia.