Everyday: I suffer from a syndrome that I’ll call Reverse Label Bias. The symptoms: If a certain name, say Kermit Lynch’s, is on a wine’s back label, I have an incurable predilection toward it. The Domaine De Fontsainte Corbieres 2008 ($18) is my most recent “affliction,” with a fascinating combination of dark fruit, deft acidity and a deep finish. This blend (60 percent carignan, 30 grenache, 10 syrah) is a decidedly French wine, a bit “dirty” and funky, and like most Lynch offerings, it evokes the ground from which it sprang. Try it with grilled eggplant or zucchini, or any dish with herbal undertones (rosemary or tarragon).
Occasion: My nomination for most improved California wine in recent years goes to the Ladera Howell Mountain Sauvignon Blanc. When I tasted it at the winery a few years ago, this was a tasty, pleasant, well-made but unremarkable wine. But the 2010 is something else entirely, a perfectly ripe sauv blanc with some cut to it, lush but lean and possessed of a complex finish. It’s a California wine, to be sure, but you can see the Loire from there. Grilled scallops, roasted chicken or whole fish and summer salads are among the swell pairing options.