Everyday: How much do I like the 2012 Navarro Mendocino Pinot Blanc ($15)? Well, after two sips at the winery’s tasting room, I ordered a case of it, which I have done exactly zero times. Pure honeydew and bright lemon-lime flavors almost explode on the palate, but the finish is clean and lean. This is a new wine from old vines, and it continues this marvelous winery’s mastery of Alsatian grapes (Navarro’s gewÃ¼rztraminer is widely renowned, and with good reason). Try it with glazed salmon, light cheeses, ham or hearty salads. Or al fresco on the patio; even though our “deck season” is short, I’m pretty sure that that case won’t last all the way through it.
Occasion: I’ve sampled quite a few New Zealand pinot noirs in recent year and never been “wowed” by one. Until last weekend, when I was honored to be a judge at the fantabulous Pigs & Pinot event. Our three-person panel deemed the 2011 Te Kairanga John Martin Reverve Martinborough Pinot Noir ($41) to be one of the two best among 62 entries. Rustic but rich, with wonderful earthiness and delicious dark red fruit, it was one of those wines you want to hold in your mouth for a while. Until you experience the glorious, near-endless finish. Roasted fowl is the perfect accompaniment, but this hearty red would play beautifully with spring lamb as well.