Everyday: Oddly (and happily) enough, the search for really good $15-and-under California cabs has gotten easier of late. The latest find: the 2012 Edna Valley Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon ($12), which has rich fruit but also persistent grip and a hearty mouthfeel and finish. This wine is true to California but far from the cloying fruit bombs that formerly dominated this category at this price point. Burgers and steaks cooked in an iron skillet and meaty pizzas are among the swell pairing options. The straight-ahead, robust sounds of the Blues Brothers provide an apt soundtrack.
Occasion: I wasn’t at all sure that the charismatic and crusty Smith brothers could top their delicious 2012 riesling. But sure enough, they’ve done it with the 2013 Smith Madrone Spring Mountain Napa Riesling ($27). Wondrous purity and freshness assault the nose and palate, and the deft touches of sweetness dance with the wet-stone-infused acidity. It’s seriously fun to identify the fruit flavors (melon, citrus and much more) all the way through the long finish. Spicy but not-too-hot Mexican and Moroccan dishes are suitable partners for this refreshing beauty. Then tune in to the stirring, soulful music of Dead Can Dance.