★★★ Exceptional  ★★ Excellent ★ Very Good

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

Here are five wines easy to appreciate for their quality and value. They were not tasted blind, nor was a syrah poured into a cabernet bottle to make a fool of anyone. These stand on their own merits, without subterfuge.— D.M.

Borie la Vitarele Les Terres Blanches 2010

★★ (Great Value)

Saint Chinian, Languedoc, France, $22

This delightful blend of grenache, syrah and a splash of mourvedre tastes like a mini-Chateauneuf-du-Pape, though without the alcoholic burn that typifies so many of those more pricey, sought-after wines. There is delicious blackberry and currant fruit, seasoned with wild herbs and sea air, yet also a minerally structure that keeps the wine firmly grounded. Come on, retailers: You could sell this.

Promex/Bacchus: On the list in the District at Azur, Le Diplomate, Heritage India, Petits Plats. Available in Maryland at Quarry Wine & Spirits in Baltimore; on the list at Clementine in Baltimore.

Hartford Court Russian River Chardonnay 2011


Russian River Valley, Sonoma, Calif., $29

Hartford is known for its single-vineyard chardonnay, pinot noir and zinfandel from the western reaches of Sonoma County. It would be easy to dismiss this appellation blend from the Russian River Valley as its “entry-level” wine, but it is an excellent example of chardonnay from this part of Sonoma. It offers honeysuckle, white flowers and citrus notes, showing the influence of the cool ocean fog in its acidity and structure. Don’t go making comparisons to other famous chardonnays, though. As winemaker Jeff Stewart says, “I get insulted when someone tells me my wine tastes like Burgundy. We are not Burgundy.”

Majestic/RNDC: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley; on the list at BlackSalt, Corduroy, Marcel’s. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s (Bethesda) and the Potomac Dispensary (Montgomery County); on the list at Black’s, Grapeseed and Food, Wine & Co. in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Out of Site Wines in Vienna; on the list at Bazin’s on Church in Vienna, Lightfoot Restaurant in Leesburg.

Steininger Gruner Veltliner 2012

★★ (Great Value)

Kamptal, Austria, $15

Gruner veltliner is one of my favorite wines for summer because of its refreshing acidity and minerality, traits that make it versatile with food as well. This example is quite young and firm, though worth stocking up on now for later in the summer, when it should  be more relaxed. It shows the classic white-flower flavors of peach blossom and jasmine, with a hint of citrus and perfumed with talc. And at a modest 12.5 percent, the alcohol does not get in the way.

Simon N Cellars in the District: Available at Arrowine and Spirits. Select in Northern Virginia: Available at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean), Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Leesburg Vintners, Market Cellars and Wine Cabinet in Reston, Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview); on the list at L’Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls, Euro Bistro in Herndon.

Henry Fessy, Chateau des Labourons 2011

★ (Great Value)

Fleurie, Beaujolais, France, $16

Beaujolais can be light and tart, but when it’s ripe — like this cru Beaujolais from the village of Fleurie — it is beautifully balanced and medium-bodied. Think of the type of wine you’d like to serve in your own bistro on the edge of a town square in some French village, an ideal partner to the plat du jour or some charcuterie.

M Touton Selection: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Wine Specialist; on the list at Equinox. Available in Maryland at Beer, Wine & Co. in Bethesda; Old Farm Liquors and Spin the Bottle in Frederick; Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington; Wine Harvest (Gaithersburg, Potomac).

Martinez Lacuesta 2010

1 / 2 (Great Value)

Rioja, Spain, $10

This is a juicy everyday red, ideal with burgers and other casual fare. Not much to say about it, except it’s lip-smackin’ good.

Dionysus: Available in the District at Broad Branch Market, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Rodman’s, Wagshal’s Market, Whole Foods Market (Tenleytown); on the list at Estadio. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage and Cork & Fork in Bethesda; Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring. Available in Virginia at Continental Divide in Charlottesville, Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market in Richmond, Whole Foods Market (Alexandria, Vienna).

More from Food: