The Easter table often is centered on either ham or lamb. This celebratory meal calls for a white wine such as a light chardonnay with the ham, and cabernet sauvignon or merlot with the lamb. Pinot noir is fine with both.
There’s plenty going for the juicy 2013 Benovia Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($38), full of raspberry and plum. It’s a balanced beauty with a lightly earthy finish. Bargain-priced, the 2014 Leese-Fitch California Pinot Noir ($12) is better with the ham. For the lamb: the complex, refined, fruity, floral, spicy and delightful 2013 Sea Smoke “Southing” Pinot Noir ($60).
Duckhorn Vineyards comes through with typically outstanding merlots. The 2012 Duckhorn Three Palms Vineyard Napa Valley Merlot ($95) is a rich, vivid classic, loaded with red fruit, plus plum and blueberry notes; the 2012 Duckhorn Rector Creek Vineyard Napa Valley Merlot ($95) delivers an elegant, slightly floral, cassis- and cherry-laden beauty.
Dry Creek Vineyards contributes the excellent 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Creek Valley ($25), with suggestions of spice and cherry. From Kendall-Jackson: the 2012 Jackson Estate Hawkeye Cabernet Sauvignon ($55), an extracted, potent, cassis-and-currant winner.
The very smooth, focused 2012 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley ($55) will be a treat this year and for many to come, with black cherry and blackberry upfront. The bright 2014 Jordan Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($32) is an ideal choice, crisp and fruity, suggesting a Burgundy.
And consider the dependably citrusy 2013 Waterstone Carneros Chardonnay ($18), and the peachy 2014 Cambria Benchbreak Chardonnay ($22).