★★★Exceptional  ★★Excellent ★Very Good

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

The Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz-Cabernet blend is an age-worthy bargain; the current release from 2010 is a terrific value at $12 and widely available. Here are some other wines that could form the basis of a “cellar” collection without making you default on the mortgage. All are delicious now and should improve over the next several years. I would also repeat my earlier recommendations for the Liberty School and Avalon cabernet sauvignon wines from California as worth cellaring for a few years. — D.M.

Chateau Michel de Vert 2010

★★1 / 2

Lussac Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux, France, $12


The key to finding great value from major wine regions such as Bordeaux is to invest in the lower-priced wines from outstanding vintages, such as 2009 and 2010. This one is a terrific bargain and shows the plummy, plush texture of merlot along with the woodsy spice of cabernet franc. 

M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Burka’s Wine & Liquor, Harry’s Reserve Fine Wine & Spirits, Subway Liquors II, Towne Wine & Liquors. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s in Bethesda; Camelot Discount Liquors in Laurel; Columbia Fine Wine & Spirits; Festival Wine & Spirits in Annapolis; Frederick Wine House; Hair o’ the Dog and Town & Country Wine Liquor Etc. in Easton; Hillandale Beer & Wine in Silver Spring; Jason’s Wine & Spirits, Kelly’s Fine Wine & Spirits and Pine Orchard Wine in Ellicott City; Party Time Liquors in Mount Rainier; Potomac Beer & Wine in Rockville; Rodman’s in White Flint; Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington; Village Pump Liquors in College Park. Available in Virginia at Unwined in Alexandria and various Wegmans locations.

Amalaya 2009

★★1 / 2

Salta, Argentina, $18

From the producers of the terrific Colome malbec I recommended last week, this blend of malbec spiked with syrah, cabernet sauvignon and tannat shows Argentine character, with the stuffing and structure to age well for several years. The 2010, which is just coming to the market, is also quite good.

Country Vintner: Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Curious Grape in Arlington, EvoBistro in McLean, Society Fair in Alexandria, Total Wine & More in Fairfax and Sterling.

Cousino-Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2009


Maipo Valley, Chile, $19

This wine formed the basis of my cellar when I discovered wine, way too many years ago. Although the style has changed toward a softer, “international” palate and the price has crept up, it is still a nice value and can often be found on sale for less than the retail price. And it is widely available.

Winebow in the District in Maryland: Available in the District at Batch 13, Bell Wine & Spirits, Calvert Woodley, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Congressional Liquors, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Continental Wine & Liquor, D’Vines, MacArthur Beverages, Magruder’s, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Whole Foods Markets (Glover Park and Tenleytown). Available in Maryland at Beltway Fine Wine & Spirits in Towson, Bin 604 Wine Sellers in Baltimore, Corridor Wine & Spirits in Laurel. Country Vintner in Virginia: Widely available, including at Arrowine in Arlington, Balducci’s (McLean and Alexandria) and most Costco, Cost Plus World Market, Total Wine & More, Wegmans and Whole Foods Market locations.

Lodali, Bric Sant’Ambrogio Nebbiolo 2010

Alba, Piemonte, Italy, $19

It’s tough to find a nebbiolo at this price and quality: bright cherry fruit with a light texture on the palate, yet good structure and focus, suggesting that it should age well for several years.

Siema: Available in the District at Whole Foods Market (Tenleytown). Available in Virginia at Clifton Wine Shop and Whole Foods Market (Fair Lakes and Reston). 

Chateau Grand-Portail 2009

Bordeaux Superieur, France, $13

This blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon is spicy and rich with herbs, dark fruits and a hint of tea. The lively acidity makes it versatile with food and suggests that it will only improve over the next several years.

Bacchus: Available in the District at Batch 13, De Vinos. Available in Maryland at Capital Beer & Wine in Bethesda, Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia, Viniferous in Frederick.

Castelmaure Col des Vents 2010

1 / 2

Corbieres, Languedoc, France, $9

While this terrific bargain could easily improve over time, you will want to drink it up in the meantime. Castelmaure also produces a different, slightly more expensive wine to show the characteristics of southern France. I prefer the Col des Vents for its bright fruit flavors and deceptive fun.

Kysela: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Fresh & Green’s, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Silver Spork, Whole Foods Market (Glover Park). Available in Maryland at Balducci’s in Bethesda; Bottle Shop in Potomac; Eastport Liquors in Annapolis; Old Line Fine Wine, Spirits & Bistro in Beltsville; Rodman’s in Wheaton and White Flint; Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington; Swirl Wine in Timonium; Wine Source in Baltimore; Ye Olde Spirit Shop in Frederick. Widely available in Virginia, including at Aldie Peddler in Aldie; Le Tastevin Fine Wines, Magruder’s and Unwined in Alexandria; Curious Grape in Arlington; Leesburg Vintner; various locations of Wegmans, Whole Foods Market and Total Wine & More.