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Judging competition finds some tasty wines

     It's an abundance of riches: The annual San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition gives its 60 or so judges a chance to sample wines from all over the country, with 4,913 wine entries from 23 states. And it gives us a chance to tell our readers about some really nice wines.

     * Dry Sparkling Wine: Nonvintage J Vineyards Brut Rosé, Russian River Valley,
Calif.: active bubbles, red apple flavors; $35.
     * White Wine: 2008 Keuka Springs Vineyard Gewürztraminer, Finger Lakes, N.Y.; crisp, dry lychee flavors; $20.
     *  Pink Wine: 2008 Bray Vineyards Barbera Rosato, Shenandoah Valley, Calif.: intense, sweet-tart strawberry flavors; $17.
     * Red Wine: 2007 Graton Ridge Cellars Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Paul Family Vineyard, Calif.: intense black cherry aromas and flavors; $40.
     * Dessert Wine: 2008 Watermill Winery Late Harvest GewÉrztraminer, Walla Walla Valley, Washington; medium sweet, intense lychee aromas and flavors; $14.

   Here are some of my favorites among the gold medal winners:
     *  2008 Robert Hall Sauvignon Blanc, Paso Robles; intense feline aroma, French
Sancerre style; $14.
     * 2008 Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley, Calif.: intense lemon-lime aromas and flavors, crisp; $16.
     * 2008 Navarro Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Cuvée 128, Mendocino, Calif.: sweet, spicy grapefruit flavors; $18.
     * 2008 Hess Collection Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Allomi Vineyard, Napa Valley, Calif.: sweet cut-grass aromas, lemon flavors; $18.
     * 2008 Brassfield Estate Sauvignon Blanc, High Serenity Ranch, High Valley, Calif.: dry, tart-pineapple aromas and flavors; $16.

RHONE WINES (All prices)
     * 2007 Sarah's Vineyard Carignane, Santa Clara Valley, Calif.: black cherry and sweet chocolate flavors, very rich; $30.
     * 2008 Black Sheep Vintners Cinsault, California; sweet red plum flavors; $20.
     * 2007 Kenneth Volk Vineyards Mourvedre, Lime Kiln: intense black plum and bitter  chocolate flavors; $36.

PINOT NOIR ($20-$25)
     * 2008 Willowbrook Cellars Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, Calif.: black cherries and
sweet chocolate; $24.
     * 2008 Rodney Strong Vineyards Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Calif.: tart black
cherries and bitter chocolate; $20.
     * 2007 Carmel Road Winery Pinot Noir, Monterey County, Calif.: sweet black cherries and milk chocolate; $20.

CHARDONNAY  ($8-$10):
     * 2008 McManis Family Vineyard Chardonnay, River Junction, Calif.; tart lemon-lime aromas and flavors; $10.
     * 2008 Round Hill Chardonnay, California: intense tart pineapple aromas and flavors,
tart finish; $8.

MUSCATS (all prices):
     * 2008 Benessere Vineyards Muscat, Napa Valley, Calif.: pure
orange aromas and flavors, spritzy; $18.
     * 2008 Solis Winery Muscat Canelli, Santa Clara Valley, Calif.: intense tangerine aromas, lush, crisp and fruity, lightly sweet; $12.

     * 2007 Muscardini Cellars Syrah, Sonoma Valley, Calif.: black plum liqueur and mocha, light tannins; $38.
     * 2006 Miller Vineyards Syrah, Fair Play, Calif.: sweet red plums and mocha; $35.
     * 2005 Farella Park Vineyards Syrah, Napa Valley: intense, sweet black cherry and mocha flavors, ripe tannins; $30.



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