Smooth and generous with its nutmeg-scented pear and cream flavors, round and refined through the finish as the flavors echo, this is a good example from Australia's ever-improving Chardonnay scene, for still a reasonable price. Drink now through 2004. 10 —Harvey Steiman
Great bang for the buck with this round and soft California Merlot, with good intensity to the pleasant flavors of plum, currant and cranberry, underscored by soft tannins. Drink now through 2003. 7,000 cases made.
This fresh and lively medium-bodied white from Veneto boasts a pineappley nose, a good backbone of minerals, and fresh acidity that lasts through the finish-all at a budget-conscious price. Drink now. 15,000 cases made. —James Suckling
This Italian Pinot Grigio shows good fruit, its apple, cream and honey character couched in a medium-bodied frame, with fresh acidity and a medium finish. It's a nice bottle, and won't leave you skint. Drink now. 2,080 cases made. —James Suckling
Looking for a wallet-friendly French red? This one from France—s southern Languedoc region is lively, with nice fruit in a Beaujolais style, serving up flavors of berry, red cherry and a touch of currant. Drink now. 12,000 cases made. —Kim Marcus
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