Everyday: Dagnabit! I thought I was adding a new grape to my list, but it turns out that cannonau is what the Sardinians call grenache. Really tasty grenache, in the case of the Cantina Santa Maria Le Bombarde Cannonau di Sardegna ($12), a juicy, smooth, slightly meaty red. The fruit has some classic red-berry notes but is more plummy than most grenaches from elsewhere, and there’s just enough acidity kicking in on the midpalate for a smooth glide to an extended finish. Try this rich red with hearty pastas or with Sardinia’s signature dish, roasted lamb.
Occasion: We had our annual dead-of-winter party last night, and our wonderfully generous guests brought such gems as the 2009 Saxum James Berry, Pierre Peters Grand Cru Champagne and a magnum of magnificent 1998 Gaja Barbaresco. But my favorite just might have been a 2009 Calera Mills Vineyard Mount Harlan Pinot Noir ($51). Talk about right in the zone: This perennial favorite had fantastic fruit/earth/mineral/tannin harmony, just-right structure and hefty backbone for a pinot. The finish was surpassingly elegant. It rocked with my way better half’s parmesan-thyme crackers, but also would mosey right up to roast chicken or an Asian-glazed slab o’ salmon.