Everyday: There’s no telling what one will get when sampling a chardonnay from Argentina. But with the Bodega Elena de Mendoza Chardonnay 2010 ($11), it’s freshness, on the nose, the palate and the finish. There’s some seriously tasty fruit of the citrus, apple and tropical ilks, but the surprise is how such an inexpensive chardonnay retains its vibrancy from beginning to end. This lively white can hold up to some bold dishes, including spicy shrimp, fish tacos and barbecued chicken. It’s pretty doggone swell on its own, too.
Occasion: I expected a lot from Greg La Follette’s new eponymous line of wines, and the 2009 La Follette Sonoma Mountain Van der Kamp and La Follette Sonoma Coast Sangiacomo Vineyard (both $40) more than delivered. Big and bold (but not too much of either), dark and deep, these are classic California pinots, with layers of flavor and texture. They’re every bit the equal of the wines Greg made at Flowers, Hartford Court and DeLoach, and paired beautifully the last two nights with parmesan-crusted chicken and beef vegetable soup.