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Sunday, December 06, 2009 

The SF Chronicles' Top 100 Wines of 2009 is here

and Santa Barbara Wine Country is well represented.

Chardonnay -

2007 Alma Rosa El Jabali Vineyard Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills($28) Mouthwatering lemon confit, bright mineral, peach, cassia and watermelon intersect in this new, lean-lined release from Richard Sanford's stellar El Jabali site. A veteran Santa Rita hand again nails the area's potential.

Sauvignon Blanc -

2007 Brander Au Naturel Sauvignon Blanc Santa Ynez Valley($32) This Central Coast specialist in Sauvignon Blanc left juice on the skins for 24 hours and then aged it in stainless steel. That made this deliciously textural and reminiscent of grapefruit skin, with lean peach flavors.

Other Whites and Roses -

2006 Qupé Roussanne Bien Nacido Hillside Estate, Santa Maria Valley($40) Bob Lindquist's long-standing devotion to white Rhone varietals again paid off. This latest got the sort of barrel aging and lees usage that Chardonnay might see, giving it gravitas and a vibrant core of lemon oil, marjoram, golden apple and quince. Cellar time will make it even better.

2007 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, Paso Robles($40) It's hard to think of anyone taking Rhone-style whites more seriously than Tablas. Waxy and luscious, layered with buoyant peach, hay, tangerine peel and freesia. Nervy mineral intensity cuts through it all. Predominantly Roussanne, with Grenache Blanc and Picpoul.

2008 Tercero Grenache Blanc Camp 4 Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley ($18) Larry Schaffer's knack with Rhone-style whites is underscored by this expression from Camp 4, part of the ranch at Fess Parker (where Schaffer also works). Its precise mineral edge underlines fresh-cut peach and apricot flavors, and its grip on the palate makes it food-friendly.

Pinot Noir -

2007 Au Bon Climat Knox Alexander Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley($45) One of Jim Clendenen's top two cuvees in a gorgeous year. Burnt orange, soy, creosote, clear raspberry and mineral grip across the baseline. A stoic, complex California Pinot that shows off the best of Clendenen's 58 estate acres in cooler sites.

Full list...click HERE

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