daily wine picks

Less than $15

Mar. 01, 2004: BODEGAS MUERZA Rioja Vega Crianza 2000 (85 points, $10)

This small-scale red offers pretty cherry and berry fruit flavors with accents of spice and vanilla. It's firm, but silky, balanced and clean. Drink now through 2006. 55,000 cases made. Best Values. From Spain. —Thomas Matthews

Feb. 28, 2004: VERAMONTE Pinot Noir Casablanca Valley 2002 (87 points, $10)

Here's a rare value in Pinot Noir -- and from Chile to boot. Solid varietal character, with pretty red and black cherry fruit mingling with sweet earth, elegant toast and mineral hints. Clean and ripe. A nice surprise for this grape from Chile. Drink now. —James Molesworth

Feb. 25, 2004: BODEGAS ESCORIHUELA Syrah Mendoza Don Miguel Gascón 2002 (89 points, $11)

Vivid color, with lots of racy plum, blackberry and currant fruit, along with sweet toast, bittersweet chocolate and spice notes. Nice richness here, but it's accessible now. Very tasty. Drink now through 2005. 500 cases imported. From Argentina. —James Molesworth

Feb. 20, 2004: ROCK RABBIT Syrah Central Coast 2002 (86 points, $10)

Vibrant, with cassis, black cherry and pomegranate flavors. Floral and spice undertones offset the firm acid, and tannins grip on the tangy finish. Drink now through 2008. 20,000 cases made. Best Values. From California.

Feb. 18, 2004: BODEGAS Y VIÑEDOS TAPIZ Malbec Mendoza 2002 (86 points, $8)

Good, solid Malbec here, with juicy plum and brier flavors and a plush, smoky finish. Drink now. 11,400 cases made. Best Values. From Argentina. —James Molesworth

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