It has been a mild winter followed by a wet prelude to spring. While those perpetually cloudy skies make for dreary weather, in this desert climate the rain is welcome. Still, if you were hoping for sunshine to chase away the winter blues, you'll have to get that emotional lift somewhere else. How about a little springtime in a bottle? Put away those heavy reds of winter and pop the cork (or twist the cap) on a refreshing bottle of sauvignon blanc. Three very different wines topped this week's tasting.
2010 Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc, $10.99
This wine is an in-your-face (in a good way), quintessential New Zealand sauvignon blanc--it's a pure expression of the variety. On the nose, you get a bright burst of grapefruit against an enticingly herbaceous backdrop. That grapefruit comes through with every sip, crisp and refreshing, along with intriguing touches of white pepper and orange zest. This wine is an exceptional bargain.
2010 Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc, Te Muna Road Vineyard, $18.99
This vineyard's name translates to "secret place," which is fitting for a wine that opens with very ripe gooseberry, backed by undertones of basil and tarragon. On the palate, it's an intriguing mix of sweet grapefruit, peach, apple and lime, with just the right hit of food-friendly acidity. This wine is on the restrained side of the New Zealand style and there's a nice touch of mineral on the finish.
2010 Kenefick Ranch Sauvignon Blanc, $24
This estate wine from Napa and Calistoga, Calif., illustrates how both locale and wine-making techniques can influence the final product. A California terroir, along with barrel fermentation result in a richly textured wine with good body and impeccable structure. The aromas are an unctuous melding of honeysuckle, peach, citrus and melon. In the mouth, ripe stone fruit plays against crisp citrus and the oaky finish is remarkably persistent with a nice bit of lemon zest.