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Grilling season calls for these red wine bargains

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As if last week’s column touting a bargain in Montgomery County hit a nerve, within days Rodman’s in DC put that Spanish red (Los Dos) on sale for 50 cents a bottle less, robbing County liquor stores to the north—including one less than half a mile up Wisconsin Ave.—of best-price honors.

Montgomery County rarely enjoys that distinction and is never going to rival DC’s Rodman’s or Calvert Woodley for everyday competitive prices. Nor will its weekly or monthly specials challenge the three- and four-week sales Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits in the District or the Doorbusters at Arrowine and Chain Bridge Cellars in Virginia. And no area wine merchant can touch Total Wine’s combination of vast selection, competitive pricing and enticing sales.

But if recent sale prices in MoCo are any indication, the County is trying give wine bargain hunters some viable alternatives to trekking across the Potomac or Western Ave. every time they want to stock up on wine.

The latest case in point is a terrific red blend from Washington State, Columbia Crest H3 Les Cheveaux, which attentive readers will recall outscored a 91-point Bordeaux in a Wine for the Rest of Us blind tasting last summer. The current vintage, 2011, is on sale for $10.59 a bottle at Montgomery County Liquor stores, compared with $10.99 regularly at Total Wine in Maryland, $11.99 at Total in Virginia and $12.95 on sale (regularly $17.99) at Pearson’s in Glover Park.

[Compare prices and find H3 Les Cheveaux online or at a store near you nationwide.]

“Supple, ripe, medium-weight and appealing, with blackberry and pear flavors, lingering gently,” is how Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman describes the 2011 H3 Les Cheveaux in the current May 31 issue. The blend of syrah and merlot is ready to drink now, he adds.

Of course, a few isolated bargains at the County store is hardly reason to forgo a trip across the District line to stock up on wines for the grilling season, which starts in earnest this weekend. And Rodman’s ongoing sale—particularly its Spanish Wine Sale—offers bargains on several fixtures on the Wine for the Rest of Us Top 5 Value Wine lists.

In addition to Bodegas Aragonesas Los Dos on sale for $6.99 a bottle, Borsao Garnacha, which influential critic Robert Parker called "possibly the single greatest dry red wine value in the world," is also on sale for $6.99, as is Bodegas Breca Garnacha de Fuego, another perennial favorite (and a candidate to join the next update to the Top 5 Spanish red wine values list).

“This has been a big-time winner in just about every vintage it has been produced,” Parker wrote in the November 2012 issue of Wine Advocate about the 2012 vintage of Borsao. “A delicious black cherry, crushed chalk and flower-scented nose jumps from the glass of this richly fruity, medium to full-bodied, supple, velvety-textured red.

“This mouthfilling 2012 should drink well for several years,” he adds.

[Compare prices and find Borsao Garnacha online or at a store near you nationwide.]

That’s why we buy at least a case of this one every year. But for some reason, it never seems to last “several years.”

Cheers!

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