Everyday: Iberian whites, at least the ones that reach Tundraland, tend to be a delicious lot. Certainly the 2014 Nortico Minho Alvarhino ($14) fills that bill, with refreshing, bold flavors of citrus, stone fruit and tropical fruit (kiwi!). It’s from northern Portugal, near Riax Baixas, the Spanish region that produces so many gems from the same grape, called albarino there. This taste like the grapes were grown close to the ocean, and fittingly is an excellent match for almost any seafood as well as medium-spiced Asian dishes and lighter cheeses. Bonus points for being 11-percent alcohol. I loved listening to the twangy but bright Americana warbling of Kasey Chambers while sipping this beauty (and laboring mightily not to guzzle it).
Occasion: I’ve enjoyed wines from the Hirsch Vineyard for a good while now, and I’m even more grateful that the family is now bottling its own brand. The 2011 Hirsch San Andreas Fault Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($65) is nigh onto flawless, an ethereal wonder that provokes more questions than it provides answers. The combination of a cool vintage and a coastal vineyard provided indelibly complex wine, with cherry and earthy woodland flavors dancing deftly, a truly silky texture and intense, super-sensuous finish. Double yum. Chicken or pork with lighter, herbier embellishments should play beautifully with this picture of grace. With its alluring nose and flavors, this calls for the gorgeous, stirring music of one of California’s lesser-known treasures, It’s a Beautiful Day.