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Tasting Notes

October 06, 1994|DAN BERGER

The following wines are recommended, listed in order of preference. They were rated mostly in blind tastings, though a few were discovered in restaurants.

* 1993 Seghesio Winery ($7.50)--Magnificent green herbal notes with traces of olive, fresh snap peas, melons and pears. A soft, perfectly balanced wine with stunning fresh/crisp finish. A perfect example of the variety.

* 1992 Dry Creek Vineyards ($9)--Olive, herbal (tarragon and thyme) aroma and a faint chile pepper note in the aftertaste. Perfect with seafood.

* 1993 J. Fritz Winery ($9)--Sprightly herbal and melon tones and a brisk pine-y finish. A wine that will be better in a year or two.

* 1993 Buena Vista Vineyards "Lake County" ($8)--Pear, lemon oil and melons in a stunningly fresh, soft wine with a slightly sweet, balanced finish.

* 1993 Bernardus Vineyards ($11)--Stylish olive, melon and pear aromas mingle with just enough oak to give the wine real depth. Not as crisp as some, but the richness is appealing.

* 1993 Alderbrook Vineyards ($8)--Slightly more muted than the above wines, but with perfect harmonies of herbs, pear and delicate oak. Wonderful today; better in a year.

* 1993 Brander Vineyards ($9)--Clean, fresh, brisk juniper/pear aroma and a food-matching layer of acid. Fred Brander's wines age nicely.

* 1993 Rodney Strong Vineyards "Charlotte's Home Vineyard" ($9)--Dried herbs and fresh lemon rind in a soft, easy-to-quaff wine.

* 1992 Wente Bros. Winery ($7)--A mild level of herbs and chile notes from Livermore Valley; a fresh, appealing wine with a delicate lemon-y finish.

* 1993 Robert Mondavi Winery ($9)--Herbs (like dried tarragon) and melons with a fairly light finish. The Reserve ($16) bottling is only for those who like a hit of oak.

* 1993 Canyon Road Cellars ($6)--Aroma of fresh dried hay and pears; soft and easy to quaff; perfectly balanced. Second label of Geyser Peak Vineyards. Often found at $4.50 or so.

* 1993 Geyser Peak ($7.50)--Floral with pears and melons, creamy-soft and loaded with flavor. A bit simple.

* 1993 Quivira Vineyards ($11)--Melons and a trace of olives in a faintly oaky finish. A fine, balanced wine that will be better in a year.

* 1993 St. Clement Vineyards ($11)--Marvelous wine in the mode of a great Graves, with a steely/crisp aroma and a taste of lemon oil, grapefruit, olives and lime. Time will improve it.

* 1993 Parducci Wine Cellars ($7)--Fresh pears, a trace of figs, and no oak to confuse the issue. Good value.

* 1993 Fetzer Vineyards "Mendocino" ($6)--Spiced green herbs, melon and a trace of cumin in a refreshingly crisp, simple wine with good varietal identity in the finish.

* 1993 Cotes de Sonoma ($7)--Lighter-styled wine with lemon/melon aroma and a flavorful aftertaste. Excellent wine often discounted at less than $6.

* 1993 Columbia Crest Winery (Washington) ($8)--Fresh basil/lime aroma and delicate, crisp finish. Not very complex, but appealing.

* 1993 Kendall-Jackson Vineyards "Vintner's Reserve" ($9.50)--Fruity, faintly herbal; a soft, tasty wine. Avoid Kendall-Jackson 1993 "Grand Reserve" ($14): clumsy and far too smoky, it tastes more of burnt wood than grapes.

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For those who prefer strong oak in their Sauvignon Blanc, the following wines have it--but they are not easy to identify as Sauvignon Blanc.

* 1993 Mill Creek Vineyards ($8)--Still varietal, but the oak and butter notes are pretty strong. The nice thing is the fruit, which saves the wine. But the alcohol, 13.5%, is a bit high.

* 1993 William Wheeler Winery ($7.50)--Melons proliferate, but the oak is a bit strong.

* 1992 Babcock Vineyards "Eleven Oaks" ($20)--The most oak I have ever tasted in a Sauvignon Blanc that still has varietal character. Some olive notes, but I defy anyone to identify blind what it is.

* 1993 Ferrari-Carano "Reserve" ($14)--Huge amount of oak and tropical fruit, slightly sweet in the finish. A curious wine.

* 1993 Morgan Winery ($10)--Barrel-fermented and an "old apple" aroma with toasty, smoky notes. If you can handle the slightly bitter finish, the wine is kind of like inexpensive Chardonnay.

* 1993 Fetzer "Barrel Select" ($10)--A lot of oak and not very much fruit for it. Disappointing.

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The following French wines made from Sauvignon Blanc were judged exceptional, and worth the price. They will appeal most to those who have experience with French versions of Sauvignon Blanc:

* 1993 Sancerre, Domaine Delaporte ($20)--Very complex citrus-y aroma with deep dried herb notes and a perfect sweet-tart finish. Worth the price.

* 1993 Pouilly-Fume, Coteaux du Petit Boisgibault ($15)--Bright fruit, a trace of green beans and a mild green herb finish.

* 1993 Sancerre, Cherrier et Fils ($16)--Lemon oil and chalky notes with delicate herbal nuances and a fine, dry finish.

* 1993 Pouilly-Fume, Collette Figeat "Les Loges" ($17)--More green bean than anything, but an elegant lime finish; dry, crisp and perfect with food.

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