Everyday: With some wine regions, it’s often difficult to know how much the improved product is a result of advances in growing and winemaking techniques, or the fact that the “good stuff” that never had been exported is finally reaching these shores. The latter certainly applies to South Africa. One recent arrival, the 2008 Uitkyk Carlonet Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon ($15) stands up to cabs at that price from anywhere, with plump but dusty fruit, spot-on tannins and a zingy, hearty finish. Beef or lamb kabobs and roasted root veggies are among the swell possible accompaniments.
Occasion: When is a $47 Italian white a screamin’ bargain? When it tastes, and feels, like the Giacomelli “Boboli” Colli di Luni Liguria Vermentino. At San Francisco’s wondrous Delfina restaurant last weekend, this almost explosive white earned tablewide “wows!” from three loved ones. The focused stone fruit and citrus flavors and energy-inducing acidity and minerality provide almost a literal lift on the palate en route to an endlessly engaging finish. Creamy pastas and most any scallop preparation will rock with this white from the Italian Riviera, and it played beautifully with my pork saltimbocca as well.