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Drinks: California style this spring

This spring has a California style to it. All that sun, those warm evenings, spending more time outside than in. Maybe it won't last. But you can keep it going with a sampler of Golden State winners.

For a light sipper: the 2010 Sofia Monterey County Riesling ($19), from the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Off-dry, easygoing, good company for Chinese, Thai and Japanese fare, plus ham.

If you're preparing for the season's first picnic: the 2011 Benessere Napa Valley Rosato ($16), a floral, slightly citrusy and tart rose made with sangiovese, merlot and sagrantino. Chill this smooth, tangy, versatile wine.

The 2010 B Cellars Blend 23 ($35) is a zesty, spirited white blend, made with chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and viognier. It's a bright, balanced white, with suggestions of tropical fruit and citrus.

Veer red with the 2010 Meiomi Belle Glos Pinot Noir ($25), a generous and flavorful Sonoma-Monterey-Santa Barbara alliance that delivers cherry and vanilla and is a partner for roast chicken and duck, loin of pork and grilled salmon.

The 2008 Bella Lily Hill Estate Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($40) comes across as peppery with a shot of black raspberry and a whiff of cherry as a chaser. Time to open the barbecue, for burgers, steaks, pork chops, sausages.

And for a big, rich red blend: the 2008 Newton Vineyard "The Puzzle" ($80), intense and long-lived. Black fruit, especially plum, defines it, along with cherry, and spice. Ideal with roast beef or roast lamb. A seamless package, mostly merlot and cabernet sauvignon, with some petit verdot and malbec.

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