What did they use to do in California before they discovered chardonnay grapes? There is such a flood of flavoursome white wines from that state it makes you wonder how they squeeze in Hollywood, Disneyland and the Golden Gate Bridge. The Joliesse '95, made in the Napa Valley and imported by the Olivier company, is typical of the breed. It is a jolly, lemony-limey wine with a hint of passionfruit. Served chilled, this is a very pleasing drink. It is as Californian as the Beach Boys, extroverted and uncomplicated. But the elegant wine has a French connection, being owned by the large House of Boisset, which is gathering Californian wineries like vineyard workers harvest grapes. On one of those rare days recently when the sun made a brief appearance, I sat out on the balcony in the afternoon and whipped out the cork. I had a couple of apricots and a pear and the wine improved my fruit diet. This is a hugely enjoyable vintage and at $99 from Oliver's delicatessen, it is good value. There are also a cabernet sauvignon and a merlot at a similar price. To my palate, the merlot is the nicer wine, softly gentle, with a delicious full flavour. As soon as I have lost 15 kilograms and my diet is over, I intend to attack a leg of lamb with a bottle of this plummy-strawberry red.