BEST WINES OVER $15
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BEST SAUVIGNON BLANC $15 AND UNDER
1998 HONIG VINEYARD & WINERY ($13)
Although many California Sauvignon Blancs have grown as big, fat and oaky as California Chardonnays, there are some that still follow the crisp, lean Loire Valley model. This Honig wine adheres to this style admirably, offering bright citrus flavors and crisp, mouth-cleansing acidity. The Napa Valley winery clearly deserves its long-held reputation for turning out good-value wines.
BEST SAUVIGNON BLANC OVER $15
1998 SELENE HYDE VINEYARD ($20)
Mia Klein, an enormously talented and exceedingly busy wine consultant (Dalla Valle, Araujo, Viader), makes entirely too little of her own wines under the Selene label--1,000 cases of this Sauvignon and 1,500 cases of two Merlots. The Hyde Vineyard lies in the Carneros region of Napa and tends to produce wines with particularly intense flavors, which Klein keeps at the forefront while working them to a rich but subtle turn on the finish.
BEST CHARDONNAY $15 AND UNDER
1998 CARTLIDGE & BROWNE ($10)
F&W contributing editor Robert M. Parker, Jr., called this Napa Valley wine "the finest domestic-value Chardonnay in the marketplace" in The Wine Advocate. Our judges agreed. Round, supple and lush, the wine was created by Tony Cartlidge and Glenn Browne 20 years ago and had near immediate success. Cartlidge & Browne also owns Ehler's Grove, where it produces equally commendable estate Chardonnays.