California Sauvignon Blanc 

I got caught in a snowstorm a week ago Sunday. As I write this, the temperature is a balmy 22 degrees, but the official start of spring is upon us. It's time to shake off the winter doldrums even if the weather won't cooperate. When it comes to wine, nothing does that better than a smart and sassy glass of sauvignon blanc. Still, we don't want to rush things too much. Nothing New Zealand please—those can be just a little too in your face. So let's stick a little closer to home and explore the offerings of the Golden State. Besides, I hear its economy could use a boost. Here are the panel's top picks from the world of California sauvignon blanc:

2007 Brander Sauvignon Blanc, $13.99

For over three decades, this Santa Barbara County winery has specialized in sauvignon blanc. The result is a remarkably appealing wine. Aromas of fresh mown hay lurk in the background, with caramel apple, gooseberry, white peach and a touch of mineral at the forefront. It's a beautifully structured, well-balanced wine, nicely textured with vibrant gooseberry, soft citrus and apricot flavors. They all linger nicely on the luxurious finish that closes with just the right hit of crisp lemon.

2007 Provenance Sauvignon Blanc, $19.50

This wine opens with aromas of creamy apple, mango, papaya, clover and a pleasant hint of garden fresh sweet pea. Bright citrus and tropical fruit meld nicely with honeyed melon. In the style of a white Bordeaux, there's a bit of semillon in the blend, which adds weight and a nice depth of flavor. The finish is long and smooth with a refreshing layer of lemon and lime.

2007 Starry Night Sauvignon Blanc, $14.50

An exotic array of floral aromas is displayed including baked apple, mandarin orange, stone fruit, candied date, white pepper and spice. Those unctuous layers of fruit and spice continue in the mouth, which is ripe and rich but nicely balanced by a hit of tangy citrus. Creamy orange and grapefruit show good persistence on the light and lively finish. Like all three of the top wines, this one is both rich and refreshing—perfect for spring.

This week's panel: David Kirkpatrick, Boise Co-op Wine Shop; Cindy Limber, Bardenay; Karen McMillin, Young's Market; Kevin Settles, Bardenay; Leslie Young, Boise Co-op Wine Shop.

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