Everyday: An Italian-American film director making a California chardonnay with a French name? It actually makes sense in the wacky world of wine. It also tastes delicious in the case of the Coppola “Votre Santé” California Chardonnay ($14), a rich but not too buttery mouthful of smoothness. The lovely tropical and stone fruit is allowed to shine, balanced with a touch of tanginess. Try it with fried or roasted chicken, soft cheeses or milk chocolate. And toast with the wine’s name, which translates as “To your health.”
Occasion: Tasting three vintages of the Rust En Vrede Estate ($35), most recently the 2009, has convinced me that it deserves its reputation as perhaps South Africa’s most consistently excellent high-end wine, at least among what makes its way to these shores. While the gorgeous nose on this cabernet sauvignon/shiraz/merlot blend evokes red fruits, the flavors are much darker: herb-laden plum and berries. It’s big and bold in the mouth, sleek and elegant on the almost endless finish. Like many South African reds, it could be decanted for a bit before quaffing. Try it with beef or lamb, grilled or braised, or with tapenade and other olive-y dishes.