Everyday: My way better half has little or no use for rich, oaky California chardonnays, but she loves her some white Burgundy. Down that path lies financial ruin, but not if we can find more wines like the 2010 Laroche Tete de Cuvee Bourgogne Chardonnay ($18). The nose is astonishingly fresh, almost Alsatian, and the array of flavors (apple, citrus, stone fruit) is rich but clean all the way through the supple finish. The very definition of harmony, this white delight would play well with parmesan-coated chicken, trout or sole almondine and all manner of omelets.
Occasion: To this palate, Chianti Classicos almost universally fit that “Sideways” catchphrase “quaffable but not transcendent.” Well, the Montecalvi Chianti Classico ($23) must be the proverbial exception that proves the rule. Fresh and extraordinarily lively, this beautifully balanced red is also just plain delicious. Another rarity for a Chianti Classico: My friends Mike and Ulf say this wine traditionally can cellar for 5 to 10 years (good luck keeping your grubby little paws off of it). Pairing options include not only the traditional tomato-sauce pastas but also roast chicken (lemon-thyme!) and one of my favorite Italian dishes, saltimbocca.