Everyday: It seems a bit counterintuitive to be sipping on monastic wine at a place called Willi’s Wine Bar, but I tend not to question such happenstance. All I cared about was that the Stift Gottweig Messwein Gruner Veltliner ($16) was delicious, exceedingly fresh on the nose and palate and finish. Next stop: mass at the Stift Göttweig monastery in Austria’s Kempstal region, where this crisp but robust white is the altar wine. Before then, I’ll see how beautifully its citrus, apple and white-pepper flavors play with rainbow trout or fried chicken, if not the pork belly potstickers and goat cheese fritters with which it paired so perfectly at Willi’s, my favorite restaurant in Sonoma County.
Occasion: I tend to slighty prefer pinot noirs from what I call the “real” Sonoma Coast “” from grapes grown within a few miles of the actual coast “” to those from the more ballyhooed Russian River Valley. They tend to be softer, longer and more balanced, with less cola and darker fruits. Exhibit A: the Hartford Court Land’s Edge Vineyards Pinot Noir 2009 ($45), sourced from two coastal vineyards north and south of Jenner. It’s replete with layers of lushness and leanness, lots of structure and some cocoa and spice on the stylish finish. Roasted chicken or winter squashes and salmon grilled on a cedar plank should make swell accompaniments.