daily wine picks

Less than $15

Dec. 19, 2002: BODEGA NORTON Malbec Mendoza 2000 (87 points, $9)

Donald Hess' Bodega Norton is improving, as this value-priced Malbec shows. Modern in style, with vivid blueberry and black fruits, and a round, spicy finish. Nice succulent flesh to this. Drink now through 2003. 16,000 cases imported. Best Values.

—James Molesworth

Dec. 12, 2002: CLINE Syrah California 2000 (87 points, $10)

Black cherry, beef and roasted herb flavors have solid tannin and fine focus, with generous toasty oak character framing the lingering, tangy finish. A superb value. Drink now through 2006. 36,359 cases made. Best Values.

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Dec. 10, 2002: CONCHA Y TORO Merlot Rapel Valley Xplorador 2001 (85 points, $8)

Concha y Toro has really improved its lineup in the last few years, so don't overlook this solid value. This has a pretty mix of berry fruit, herbs and milk chocolate on a supple frame. Not big, but nicely done. This producer does it time and time again. —James Molesworth

Dec. 09, 2002: BRAMPTON Chardonnay Coastal Region 2002 (88 points, $11)

The second line of Rustenberg, Brampton has established itself as a fine source for value. This South African Chardonnay is more on the flinty, elegant side, but with hints of apple and fig as well. Nice cut on the finish. This might flesh out a touch mor —James Molesworth

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

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