daily wine picks

Less than $15

Dec. 06, 2002: EXCELSIOR Cabernet Sauvignon Robertson 2001 (86 points, $8)

Jaco Marais is the winemaker for this South African winery, which is owned by the de Wet family. This Cabernet opens with blackberry and brier notes, with a slightly rustic edge throughout, before the smoky, coffee finish takes over. Still, very tasty fru —James Molesworth

Dec. 04, 2002: FREIXENET Brut Cava Cordon Negro NV NV (85 points, $9)

This ubiquitous Spanish brand provides good value. A hint of pencil shavings highlights this dry-style cava. With its firm structure and cleansing finish, it would work either as an aperitif or with light foods. This Spanish producer is a trustworthy name —Bruce Sanderson

Dec. 02, 2002: VINUM Petite Sirah Clarksburg Pets Wilson Vineyards 2001 (90 points, $13)

Dense and dark, with layers of cassis, ripe plum, blueberry, black cherry extract and meaty, wet clay flavors. Plenty of well-integrated toasty oak and round tannin provide structure through the intense, hot and lush finish. Drink now through 2007. 3,100 —James Laube

Nov. 30, 2002: CONCHA Y TORO Merlot Peumo Marqués de Casa Concha 2000 (89 points, $14)

Winemaker Marcelo Papa handles Concha's Marques de Casa Concha line, and the last two vintages (1999 and 2000) have been standouts. The '00 Merlot offers lovely cassis and plum fruit, with hints of vanilla bean and herbs, and a fleshy yet elegant, smoky f —James Molesworth

Nov. 26, 2002: COMTE DE MALESTROIT Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie Château La Noë 2001 (85 points, $9)

Hard not to like this nice, bracing Muscadet, showing citrus, brine and mineral notes, and a crisp, lively finish. Drink now. Try as an aperitif, or with seafood. 7,500 cases made. Best Value. —James Molesworth

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