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Winesipper

California Sauvignon Blanc

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If there's a perfect wine for spring it has to be Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp and refreshing, it's just the thing to shake off the hazy doldrums of winter and welcome in the bright sunshiny days of spring. Sadly, our recent weather pattern has offered little in the way of sunshine. With the 10-day forecast predicting more of the dreary same, a California Sauvignon Blanc makes a better choice than one from New Zealand. Offering a more subdued flavor profile than the in-your-face style popular down under, it still makes one think of spring, but makes a better match for the gloomy gray outside. Here are the panel's top three picks.

2005 Ceàgo, Kathleen's Vineyard, $16

Ceàgo is Jim Fetzer's venture, drawing from the family's 45-year-old vineyard that now produces all its grapes biodynamically. A step beyond organically grown, this is the zenith of sustainable agriculture. The result is a beautifully rich Sauvignon Blanc with an array of creamy fruit aromas that includes peach, pear, apple, melon and fig. The ripe apple, apricot and honeyed pear flavors show good length with the intensity softening a bit on the long smooth finish.

2004 Gary Farrell, Redwood Ranch, $20

This wine has very bright aromas of grapefruit and gooseberry with nice floral hints of pomegranate and anise. It's a very vibrant wine with a nice lemon-lime kick to it, backed by big sweet red grapefruit and fresh pineapple flavors. If the sun ever comes out in earnest, this would be the perfect wine to welcome its return.

2004 Source-Napa, Gamble Vineyard, $24

Under the name Origin-Napa, partners Bill Davies (whose family owns Schramsberg) and Tom Gamble (whose family's Napa farming roots go back to 1916) created quite a stir with their first bottlings a few years back. Trademark issues resulted in a name change, but the quality remains the same. This is an outstanding Sauvignon Blanc with rich round pineapple, grapefruit and melon aromas melding with lightly herbaceous touches of fresh grass. An impeccably balanced wine, the flavors are smooth and luscious, dominated by sweet pineapple, melon and citrus. An impressively long finish rounds out an equally impressive wine.

This week's panel: Fawn Caveney, Tastevin; David Kirkpatrick, Boise Co-op; Cindy Limber, Bardenay; Karen McMillin, Idaho Wine Merchant.