Everyday: Strange as it might sound, I really like it when a Spanish red has almost as much “dust” as fruit on the palate. An earthy texture is among the traits that make the 2011 Bodegas Avante Tineta Ribera del Duero ($14) such a stellar bargain. Large and in-charge tannins provide start-to-finish grip, and the dark red fruit is racy and rich, helping make the finish almost lush after all that “dust.” Grilled sausage or slabs of pork/beef/lamb, or just a simple burger or pizza, provide ideal accompaniment.
Occasion: Throughout our recent Oregon sojourn, my buddy Joe and I kept whispers and occasional shouts about a chardonnay that we really needed to try. When we finally encountered the 2011 Crowley Willamette Valley Chardonnay ($27), we could see why. A citrus//tropical/stone fruit melange with just-right ripeness backed by beautifully bracing acidity and fantastic texture made for a mouth-watering experience. The deft touch on the oak makes this a food-loving chard, especially with pastas, fish or fowl with creamy sauces. Now I need to find the Crowley chard from one of my favorite vineyards, Maresh.