I gathered a group of good friends together right before the Thanksgiving holiday with the purpose of sampling several wines — many off the beaten path of the California staples they normally enjoy.

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The first that we tried was an Arnaldo-Caprai Grecante Grechetto.  Grecante Grechetto is a white wine made in Umbria, Italy, from the indigenous Grechetto grape.  It was a well balanced and fruity wine, but had enough acidity to be soft.  This was a new grape to me, and it will definitely be on my list of refreshing white wines that I will buy in the future.

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The second wine was the 11 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, known as one of New Zealand’s top Sauvignon Blanc classics.  I discovered this by chance on a wine list several years ago and it was one I would always order when I could.  This wine had a stronger grapefruit taste than I remembered, but it still had notes of stonefruit, grass, pine nut and lots of acidity.  Our gang of four was divided on this one, but I still am a fan.

Terrazas Malbec

The third wine was the 09 Terrazas de los Andes Reserva Malbec.  This was a very concentrated wine with notes of licorice.  I liked its smokiness and this was one that unified all four tasters.  And, since Malbec is one of the fastest growing grapes in the U.S., this is an affordable and tasty way to try one.