Everyday: I had a nice chenin blanc from South Africa at a trade tasting last week and mentioned to the rep that “They don’t put ‘Steen’ on the label anymore.” His response: “They actually still do in South Africa.” Whatever is on the label ““ and a Steen Stigma developed on these shores with crappy 1990s imports ““ I’ll call the Paul & Hugo de Villiers Bush Camp “The Sundowner” Chenin Blanc ($12) delicious and refreshing. This tasty white is crisper and leaner than one would expect from an off-dry wine, and the acidity and slight sweetness make it Ms. Versatile at the table. Try it with parmesan-coated chicken, curried butternut squash soup, roasted pork/baked ham, most any omelet, etc.
Occasion: Year in and year out, the Trefethen Oak Knoll District Cabernet Sauvignon delivers way beyond its $50-$60 price tag. The 2008 reminds me of why so many of us fell in love with this grape in the first place: delicious black fruits, firm but smooth tannins and an elegant but far from wimpy finish that goes on for days. I had the great good fortune of breaking bread with owner Janet Trefethen in ’08, and she brought along an aerial photo and proudly pointed out the pond that she had installed, which helped stave off the frost that ruined so many of her neighbors’ crop that year. Steak is an obvious pairing, but be sure also to sauté some mushrooms, which just flat rock with this beauty.