Everyday: In my other guise as an ink-stained wretch of a scribe, I closed a column on Spanish wine with a bit of a challenge: “if there’s a better $12 red wine anywhere than the Olivares Altos de la Hoya Monastrell, I would love to hear about it.” Well, I found a contender in the 2012 Lua Cheia em Vinhas Velhas (23 grapes, $12). A raft of aromas and layered, earthy/rich flavors reflect a wine made with 23 grapes. The concentrated but smooth finish lingers mightily. This hearty red begs for charred food, and a burger or roasted-until-caramelized root veggies works just as well as grilled lamb or chicken.
Occasion: It’s nearing tax time, and springing for super-spendy wines is not always a swell idea. Good thing the 2012 Poet’s Leap Columbia Valley Riesling ($20) delivers like something at least twice its price. Pristine, intense fruit is awash with compellingly slate-y minerality, and the bright, citrus/honey finish is nigh into endless. This might be my favorite vintage of a perennially outstanding wine. A stunning value. Try it with seafood or fowl dishes made every which way, or mildly spicy Asian or Latin American food.