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Wine(s) of the Week

By Dave Buchanan

This actually is a Wines of the Week entry. Three wines, three sauvignon blancs, two from Chile and one very California.

They share some attractive characteristics: low alcohol (13-13.5 percent), bright citrus-lemon-white peach flavors, and the crisp minerally acidity that makes them perfect companions for those light, summer-time meals. As with most delicate warm-season whites and rosés, buy the newest vintage you can find and drink these young.

The Californian is the Benziger 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, a mix of grapes from Sonoma County (60 percent) and Lake County (40 percent). The Sonoma County grapes take advantage of the cooler climate to hang longer, adding fruit characteristics (grapefruit and lemony citrus), aromas and body to this pale-gold wine.

The Lake County grapes, which ripen earlier, contribute acidity, minerality and sparkle to the palate.

It’s a perfect mid-summer sipper and the price makes it doubly attractive. $10-$12 at most retailers.

The first Chilean is the Terra Andina 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, from the immense, 400 mile-long Valle Central, Chile’s lush and productive farming region smack between the Andes and the Pacivic Ocean and the Chilean version of California’s Central Valley.

This sauvignon blanc is the color of pale straw and has flavors hints of blood orange, nectarines and white peach. The 2009 Sauvignon Blanc was just released and it should be available soon. This is a delightful hot-summer-nights wine and you’d be hard-pressed to find anything better at this price. $7.19 at Fisher’s Liquor Barn.

The second Chilean is the Root One 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. The name Root One capitalizes on the fact these wines are from non-grafted plants, thanks to Chile’s avoidance of phylloxera, the root louse that devastated Europe’s vineyards. Colorado's vines, thanks to this state's altitude and cold, dry climate, also are own-rooted, a fact that plays well when grape growers need to re-grow vines after hard winters.

I’m not sure if being own-rooted makes a difference in taste, although the winemakers at Root One assure us that using original rootstock produces a more-intense wine.

The Root One sauvignon blanc vineyards are in the cool Casablanca Valley, which sits about 15 miles inland and enjoys the climate-tempering effects of the Pacific Ocean. Loads of food fruit, crisp acidity and a clean finish make this enjoyable for sipping with friends and for light summer meals. $11.

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