Ramey Cellars Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay, Russian River Valley 2011
David Ramey, the winemaker for Ramey Chardonnay is one of the preeminent Chardonnay producers in California. Lots of great blind wine tasters mistake this one for French white Burgundy in his blind tasting of the wine, while at the same time finding a sumptuousness to the fruit that’s more California. That sums it up about this wine–California decadence, Burgundian depth and expression. You’ll get a lot of exotic tropical fruit but with the zing of acidity–fresh golden pineapple comes to mind. What’s great about these wines is that they get better with age if you have the discipline to cellar them. Ten years adds alluring notes of toffee and marzipan. Gorgeous.
Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc, Chile
One of Chile's top SBs is also one of its best value wines, with exotic kiwi, honeydew, and passion fruit flavors and a super-long finish. Pair with fish tacos or Gouda cheese and mushroom quesadillas.
Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
Skip the margaritas and serve this zippy, savory-flinty lime and crisp apple glassful with Mexican food. But don't stop there-it's incredibly versatile with salads, seafoods, cheeses, smoked meats and brunch fare.
Ritual by Veramonte Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley, Chile
Truly exciting Chilean Pinot Noir – this is unprecedented. Here's to the Huneeus family's commitment to genuine character – in this case gamy/animal notes, dark berries and smoke, rhubarb, and a lovely satin texture. Pair with duck or hot-smoked salmon.
Woodbridge Sauvignon Blanc, California
You can't find better SB in this price point. Arguably you can't find better white wine at this price point. There's plenty of snappy, grassy-citrus varietal character, soft melon on the palate, and great food affinity for guacamole, ceviche, salads. Pick up a case!
Wente Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc, Livermore, California
An amazing wine for the money – dripping with honeydew, key lime, passion fruit and white peach flavors and scents. Tasty on its own and delicious with goat cheese or heirloom tomatoes in a salad or BLT.
Mark West Pinot Noir, California
Tangy, silky and creamy like strawberry yogurt with a touch of spice on the palate – tailor-made for tandoori chicken or a chicken salad with dried cranberries.
Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Pinot Noir, California
This is a superb intro to Pinot, with spicy-silky cherry and strawberry compote flavors and a hint of vanilla. Its lively acidity and delicacy are great with mild cheeses such as Gouda, Brebis or Saint-Nectaire.
Domaine Vincent Girardin Pouilly-Fuisse Vieilles Vignes
Vieilles Vignes or "old vines," yield lots of complexity: lovely wet stone minerality, and scents of apple peel and white blossoms. I chose this for Delta because the extra intensity, and the lively acidity, will show beautifully even at 30,000 feet, solo or with food.