daily wine picks


Less than $15

Dec. 11, 2004: FARNESE Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Casale Vecchio 2003 (86 points, $13)

Grapey and rich with vanilla, berry and cherry character. Medium body. Good fruity finish. Drink now. 20,000 cases made. From Abruzzi, Italy. —James Suckling

Dec. 10, 2004: QMS GROUP Syrah Lake County Writer's Block 2002 (86 points, $14)

Ripe, with cola, mocha, espresso and spice flavors that deliver fine richness. Round tannins and smoky cedary oak tones linger on the finish. Drink now through 2007. 1,200 cases made. From California. —James Laube

Dec. 09, 2004: MARQUÉS DE IRÚN Verdejo Rueda 2003 (86 points, $9)

Crisp and firm, almost muscular, this big, straightforward white shows flavors of pear, grapefruit and almond. Good typicity. Drink now through 2006. 12,000 cases made. From Spain. —Thomas Matthews

Dec. 08, 2004: WHITE OAK Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley 2003 (86 points, $14)

Concentrated, with an array of tart nectarine, candied grapefruit and melon flavors. Lively citrus acidity, vanilla and a hint of onion peel shape the finish. Drink now. 2,775 cases made. From California.

Dec. 07, 2004: VIU MANENT Carmenère Colchagua Secreto 2003 (86 points, $11)

Juicy, with delicious red and dark berry fruit, tobacco and spice hints, and a nice briary note on the finish. Not as supple as usual for this grape, but quite tasty. Drink now. 2,000 cases made. From Chile. —James Molesworth

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