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2010 Clos LaChance, Sauvignon Blanc, "Estate," Central Coast, California
Posted: Thursday March 15, 2012, 11:17 AM
By Joe Iurato of The Record

Before we get started, here's a short primer on AVAs (American Viticultural Areas). The most basic explanation is that an AVA is a defined grape-growing region in the U.S.

By law, in order for a wine to be labeled with an AVA, a minimum of 85 percent of the grapes used to make that wine must be sourced from the specified AVA. It's a very simple, yet effective, way for us to generalize character and quality in wines based on their geographic location.

In California, the coastal AVA designations – North Coast, Central Coast and South Coast – are umbrellas for many of the state's most popular, proven and consistent winemaking appellations.

For instance, Napa, Sonoma and Alexander Valley (all AVAs themselves) fall within the North Coast AVA. One of the reasons a wine may be labeled as a coastal AVA is that the fruit was sourced from multiple AVA growing regions within the larger one. Therefore, a singular growing region, such as Napa Valley, cannot be specified. This gives the vintner flexibility, while offering us the promise of a roundabout geographical location where the grapes were grown. What does this mean for the consumer? Good wines for the money.

2010 Clos LaChance, Sauvignon Blanc, "Estate," Central Coast, California

  • The fruit for this wine is sourced from Clos Lachance's estate vineyard in San Martin, California. San Martin is not recognized by law as an AVA, therefore "Central Coast" appears on the label. Pale straw with grass, citrus peel and mineral on the nose. It's fresh, bright and cleanly styled with generous acidity and green fruit lingering on the finish.
  • Pair it with: shellfish, salads with vinaigrette dressing, goat cheese
  • How much: $11.99
  • Where to buy: Stew Leonard's Wines locations

2009 Clayhouse Wines, "Adobe White," White Blend, Central Coast, California

  • A refreshing, aromatic blend of viognier, roussanne, grenache blanc, chenin blanc, and a touch of the lesser known Princess varietal. Light golden color. The nose offers engaging aromas of apricot, melon, lime zest, floral and wet stone. A creamy, juicy texture and balanced acidity strikes a chord of freshly cut apple and pear.
  • Pair it with: pasta with shellfish and rich, creamy cheeses
  • How much: $11.99
  • Where to buy: widely available

2009 The Dreaming Tree, "Crush," Red Blend, North Coast, California

  • This zinfandel/merlot blend is a collaboration between the musician Dave Matthews and winemaker Steve Reeder. Garnet hue with raspberry, anise, black tea and sage, all wrapped in sweet oak and brush fire. The raspberry prevails on the palate alongside easy tannins for a solid, yet approachable wine.
  • Pair it with: grilled burgers and sausage, hearty pasta, casual fare
  • How much: $15.99
  • Where to buy: widely available

2009 Souverain, Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, California

  • The fruit for this cabernet sauvignon is sourced mainly from vineyards in the Alexander Valley. The nose exhibits dark berries, cocoa, red licorice and oak. On the palate, it's leathery and earthy up front, but finishes with a striking balance of juicy berries and elegant tannins.
  • Pair it with: grilled meats, portobello mushrooms, blue cheese
  • How much: $14.99
  • Where to buy: widely available

Joe Iurato is a certified sommelier, wine consultant and lecturer, and a working fine artist. For questions and comments, email him at features@northjersey.com.

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