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Refreshing sauvignon blancs

Crisp, herbaceous, refreshing, flinty, grassy - the adjectives mount for sauvignon blanc.

The grape yields very distinctive, refreshing wines. What characterizes many is bracing acidity, making sauvignon blanc an ideal partner for shellfish, smoked fish, fish-and-chips, a Caesar salad, any salty-sweet combo, including prosciutto and melon.

You'll find a lot of tasty sauvignon blanc ready to be consumed today for less than $20. Here are 10 from four regions.

The 2008 Goldwater Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($15) from New Zealand has vivid tropical-and-citrus fruit notes. The 2009 Wild Rock Elevation Sauvignon Blanc ($14), also from New Zealand, comes across dry and bright, with a hint of nectarine and citrus. And the 2009 Dashwood Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($11) rounds out the trio with suggestions of melon and citrus.

For a French accent, consider the fruity 2008 La Petite Perriere Sauvignon Blanc ($10), a bargain from Vignobles Guy Saget. Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) offers the spirited Chilean 2009 Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc ($11) an herbal, fruity balanced choice. The 2009 Chateau de Jau Jaja de Jau Sauvignon Blanc ($10) is a mouthful, floral and snappy.

From California, try the 2009 Rodney Strong Charlotte's Home Estate Sauvignon Blanc ($13), which delivers citrus and melon in a fragrant package; easygoing 2009 Hess Select Lake County Sauvignon Blanc ($11), with notes of kiwi and litchi; citrusy, minerally 2009 Benziger Lake/Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc ($15); and the 2009 Foppiano Estate Sauvignon Blanc ($18), for a tropical-fruit accent. They're all food-friendly wines.

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