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A Golden State sojourn reveals some great wines

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My wife, Cheryle, and I just returned from a weeklong trip to California wine country, and we were reminded of some great wines that over-deliver on quality for the dollar.

Here are four standouts:

» 2012 Costa de Oro Chardonnay “Santa Barbara” (about $20 a bottle): Costa de Oro produces three chardonnays. I chose this one to feature because of its incredible purity, mesmerizing sea shell-like minerality, tastiness and wonderful balance. Your money would be very well spent with this one.

» 2012 Alta Maria Sauvignon Blanc (about $18): Although we are familiar with this label and its lineup of wines, we were pleasantly surprised with this bottling during a quick stop to their tasting room, located in the town of Los Olivos.

The grapes come from two vineyards, one planted in 1972 and the other in 1986. We loved the minerality and vitality of the 2012 and imagine it will refresh the palate all summer long.

» 2012 Ancient Peaks Cabernet Sauvignon “Paso Robles” (about $18): The grapes of this offering come from a breathtaking mountain vineyard in southern Paso Robles. Planted in 1999, the vines are really coming into their own, and this is reflected in each subsequent vintage, making it truly a great value for the dollar.

» 2012 Neyers “Sage Canyon Cuvee” (about $25): Here is a winery that works with heirloom grape vines farmed sustainably and then crafted in a highly minimalist manner.

Take this cuvee, for instance, which is well worth seeking out: Its essence comes from 130-year-old vines of Carignane and Mourvedre; it is foot-stomped, native-yeast fermented, and bottled unfiltered and unfined.

More important, it is wonderfully delicious, charming and food-friendly.

Chuck Furuya is a master sommelier and a partner in the DK Restaurants group. Follow his blog at

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