Columnist, Food

★★★Exceptional  ★★Excellent ★Very Good

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

Most of these are grower champagnes. Because availability of these is often limited, use them as a reference to ask your retailers for similarly priced wines.

Lenoble Cuvee Intense Brut


Champagne, France, $50

“Intense” is an apt name for this wine. It packs power, yet adds finesse in a tightly wound, mouth-filling wine that grabs your attention. Would that there were more of it.

Robins Cellars: Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Vienna Vintner.

Jose Michel et Fils Brut Tradition


Champagne, France, $38

In contrast to the Lenoble, this wine is all about delicacy, with charming fruit flavors that seem deceptive.

Wine Traditions: On the list in the District at Adour, Bistro Bis, Palena. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Whole Foods Market in Arlington, Rick’s Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria.

Michel Turgy Blanc de Blancs Brut


Champagne, France, $45

It’s made entirely from white grapes, which means the ultimate expression of chardonnay; orchard fruit flavors, stony minerality and lingering fizz.

Dionysus: Available in the District at MacArthur Beverages, Wagshal’s Deli, Whole Foods Market Tenleytown; on the list at Restaurant Nora. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s and Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, in Gaithersburg. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, Balducci’s in Alexandria and McLean, J. Emerson Fine Wines & Cheese in Richmond, Unwined in Alexandria and Belleview, Vienna Vintner.

Roland Champion Brut Rosé


Champagne, France, $58

Champion is a small grower in Chouilly, in the Cotes des Blancs, an area known for fantastic chardonnay. This rosé — of which he makes only about 330 cases — includes 10 percent red wines (pinot noir, pinot meunier) to give it a pale, salmonlike color and a beguiling palate of cranberries, strawberries and currants. Wow. And yum.

Kysela: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Bell Wine & Spirits, Magruder’s, Pearson’s, Wide World of Wines; on the list at Harry’s Reserve. Available in Maryland at the Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Mom’s Apple Pie in Occoquan, Rick’s Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, Salute Wine Market in Winchester, Wine Lovers in Richmond. 

Thierry Triolet Brut


Champagne, France, $34

A textbook champagne, rich and elegant, with great balance and depth for the price.

Wine Traditions: Available in the District at De Vinos, P&C Market; on the list at Bistro la Bonne, Cashion’s Eat Place, Occidental Grill. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, Rick’s Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, River City Cellars in Richmond.

Louis de Varancy Brut

1 / 2

Champagne, France, $27

This offers the character of the real thing at a decent price, with lots of red-fruit flavors, steely acidity and structure to give authenticity.

J.W. Sieg: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits; on the list at Hamilton’s, Sei, Oya. Available in Virginia at Leesburg Vintner, Unwined in Belleview, Vienna Vintner; on the list at Foti’s in Culpeper, La Bergerie in Alexandria.