White Blends 

In much of the world, wines are named for the region that produces them, thus Burgundy and Bordeaux. In America the trend has been to highlight the grape variety, thus chardonnay and cabernet. For years the gold standard in the States was to produce a wine that was entirely a single variety. That has been changing. Today, blends are on the rise, and they make for some very interesting wines. Here are the panel's top picks from a field of blended whites:

2007 Clif Family Winery, The Climber, $10.99

Sauvignon blanc is the primary variety in this blend with smaller dollops of muscat, riesling, chardonnay and chenin blanc. It offers likely aromas of pink grapefruit laced with touches of honeydew melon, gooseberry, Anaheim pepper and fresh basil. Ripe grapefruit, lime and apricot are prominent on the palate, colored by a light minerality. A crisp and refreshing charmer.

2007 St. Hallett Poacher's Blend, $9.99

It's not unusual to see semillon and sauvignon blanc together, but this Aussie winery adds riesling to the mix. The aromas are filled with unctuous stone fruit, spice, mineral and a pleasant touch of petrol so typical of Riesling. The flavors are silky smooth with lovely layers of gooseberry, lime, pineapple and lemongrass. Creamy citrus marks the persistent finish.

2008 Thurston Wolfe PGV, $16.99

The Wolfe PGV is an unusual blend of pinot gris and viognier from this Washington winery. The floral honeysuckle, tangerine and soft melon aromas are elegantly reserved. Beautifully balanced, the palate is an intriguing mix of zesty citrus, playing against ripe apricot and sweet melon. The finish lingers nicely with touches of herb, spice and lemon zest.

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