Sauvignon Blanc "shootout"
From time to time, I enjoy checking my prejudices by setting up a little dinner-table game in which I'm served two or three similar-only-different wines in unmarked glasses so I can compare and contrast and see whether I can correctly determine which is which. The other night we tried this with a pair of Sauvignon Blancs - one a fairly typical New Zealand Sauvignon and the other a straightforward Sancerre from the Loire - and I was pleased to find that I could tell them apart without much difficulty. So could my wife, although interestingly, while agreeing on the identification, we disagreed on preference: She liked the Kiwi wine best, while I went for the Sancerre. Jack Spratt and his Missus had nothing on us.

Domaine Merlin-Cherrier 1998 Sancerre ($14.99)
SancerrePale straw color, with pleasant citric and subtle grassy aromas. Forward and tart flavor, lean, cleansing and long, with plenty of crisp fruit to balance the acidity. U.S. importer: Michel-Schlumberger Wines Ltd., Healdsburg, Calif. (Jan. 5, 2001)

FOOD MATCH: Perfect with a dish chosen to match: pan-grilled swordfish topped with a cool cucumber-almond puree.

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Nautilus 1999 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($13.99)
NautilusPale straw color. Characteristic green chile-pepper aromas give this away as a New Zealand Sauvignon. Fresh and tart in flavor, white-fruit and green-chile flavors are consistent with the nose. Full, almost unctuous, with pleasantly herbaceous flavors lingering. U.S. importer: Negociants USA Inc., Napa, Calif. (Jan. 5, 2001)

FOOD MATCH: Fine with swordfish in a cucumber-almond sauce.

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