Everyday: No wine category has enjoyed more consistent excellence over the last half-decade than Oregon whites. Unfortunately, many of them come in above the $20 price point that is this feature’s line of demarcation. So to find something like the 2012 Benton-Lane Willamette Valley Pinot Gris at $17 is as refreshing as the wine itself. This flavorful white dances between lush and lively, with an energetic midpalate and a long, super-clean finish. Break out the seafood, or a salad, or of course a seafood salad (ceviche, anyone?); this even has the firmness to pair with salmon. The pristine but powerful piano work of Bill Evans is just the ticket, too.
Occasion: We enjoyed a wonderful Halloween weekend “up north” with friends, and the biggest treat on the wine front was a Carlton Hill Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir ($38). This is about as profound and ethereal as American wine gets, and my friends, despite disparate levels of wine experience, were all wowed and dazzled by it. As much about the “feel” as the flavor, this succulent, uber-balanced red has endless layers of flavor and texture, and mystery galore. It’s the kind of wine that can be said to ask more questions than provide answers. Here’s one answer: It’s delicious. A splendid option for Thanksgiving, it also would play beautifully with roast chicken or pork, the more herbs the better. A perfect soundtrack for this timeless beauty is the splendiferous new album of diva classics from Ms. Aretha Franklin.