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Bright and fruity New Zealand sauvignon blancs make youthful, zingy sippers. 

Grape Zingers

White wine lovers who have grown weary of heavily oaked chardonnay are discovering the pleasures of other white wines, including sauvignon blanc. The sauvignon blanc grape, the chief white grape of Bordeaux and the Loire Valley, has also flourished in the temperate, maritime regions of New Zealand. Although New Zealand sauvignon blancs can be pricey compared to some from California, those from Down Under are well worth trying; they have a fruitiness on the palate that is generally richer, fuller and slightly more tropical than California Sauvignon Blancs. They also tend to be high in acid, which balances out the fruitiness and keeps the wine from becoming flat, flabby or sweet. New Zealand sauvignon blancs are often described as having aromas of smoke, herbs and passion fruit, and sometimes new mown hay.

These whites marry beautifully with fish, shellfish, poultry, pork and even pizza and creamy pasta dishes. Most New Zealand sauvignon blancs are best drunk within the first two years of vintage, while they are still youthful and zingy. The following wines are all from the Marlborough region, which is near the water and coincidentally — because of their intense freshness and acidity — taste delicious with fruits of the sea.

1998 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, $15. This white is beautifully balanced with fresh, forward fruit and a clean, dry finish. Try it with simply prepared shellfish or cheese pizza.

1998 Grove Mill Sauvignon Blanc, $17.99. A choice wine with an extraordinarily fragrant nose with hints of mango and coconut. It's robust and full in the mouth, but has a clean, dry finish. Try it with grilled shrimp, broiled scallops or crab cakes.

1998 Isabel Sauvignon Blanc, $19.99. This bracing white has a nose with green apple hints. On the palate, it's mouth-filling, lush and full of fruit with moderate acidity. It is delightful with grilled or broiled halibut, grouper or cod.

1998 Ponder Estate Sauvignon Blanc, $11.99. An affordable, uncomplicated white with an herbaceous nose and juicy-fruit flavors in the mouth. Pour it as an aperitif (it's wonderful with toasted almonds) or pair it with poached chicken breasts or pork
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