Everyday: A couple of year ago, I asked importer extraordinaire Terry Theise how Donnhoff made such wonderful riesling year in and year out. “Three words,” he declared. “No … fucking … idea.” He later mentioned “selectivity, harvest time, yield control” as possible reasons that even a basic offering such as the H. Dönnhoff Nahe 2009 ($18) can taste so pristine and sublime. It’s a simple wine, and in this case that’s a compliment: clean and gorgeous, uber-refreshing and the very definition of focused. Hard to think of a food that wouldn’t work with this.
Occasion: Kudos to Allen Shoup for both the concept and execution: He hires great winemakers from any- and everywhere and turns them loose with some carefully selected grapes. One of the best results is a Bordeaux blend (with a jolt of syrah), Long Shadows “Pirouette” 2007 ($50). One of California’s foremost vintners, Philippe Melka, and Chilean wine pioneer Agustin Huneeus Sr. teamed up for this rich and robust, layered and complex, dark and spicy beauty. I cannot decide if it’s more rewarding on the mid-palate or the finish, but there’s no denying that this is one of the best steak (or lamb chop) wines around.