Everyday: The conventional wisdom with gruner veltliner is that quality improves almost exponentially as you move up in price. That makes the Meinhard Forstreiter “Grooner” Gruner Veltliner 2010 a real steal at $12. It’s big and crisp, juicy and minerally “” both unusual combinations “” with lots of fresh honeydew and green apple flavors and just-bracing-enough acidity before a delighful touch of sweetness on the finish. This clean white makes a wonderful “cocktail wine” but also would meld well with mixed salads and fried chicken or seafood (fish tacos or fish ‘n’ chips).
Occasion: One of the best sample shipments I received last year contained three bottles of pinot made by the estimable Greg La Follette. I’ve already touted two of them, both from Sonoma, but recent news make it time to urge anyone who loves California pinot noir to order prehaps the best of the bunch, the La Follette Mendocino Ridge Manchester Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 ($50). This robust, dynamic but smooth and semi-elegant red was just named the best red wine at the American Fine Wine Competition, a contest that’s the real deal as those things go. And there’s still some available at the winery’s website. Optimum pairings: roast fowl (chicken, duck, pheasant), or salmon, or beef, or … you get the idea.