We love the rambunctious sauvignon blancs from New Zealand's Marlborough district, but this week we are here to praise a rather more delicate and elegant essay in the varietal from California's Alexander Valley: the 2010 Roth Estate Sauvignon Blanc that retails at local wine savvy markets in the $12 to $14 range.
This crisp white is a little rounder and softer over all than its New Zealand cousins, beginning with a light citrus nose of lemon and tangerine. On the tongue it offers a smoothly modulated blend of lime, cantaloupe and kiwi. Lime is dominant on the long vibrant finish, with kiwi and ginger ale supplying a final salutary up note.
Much of the character of this wine is owing to the terrain and climate that grew the grapes and to the winemaker's decisions in vinification, of course, but the smidge of viognier added (just 2 percent) makes a difference, too.
Pair this elegant wine with raw oysters or ceviche and the like or go the other way entirely and drink it with a rich and unctuous lobster newberg in puff pastry.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.