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Jan. 10, 2002: VIÑA PORTA Merlot Aconcagua 2000 (86 points, $9)

This Chilean Merlot is polished, with currant, black cherry, smoke and mineral notes and a focused finish. With a touch more development, it'll be a solid drink, at a bargain price. Drink now through 2003. Best Buy.

For a complete look at the past —James Molesworth

Jan. 09, 2002: RENWOOD Syrah California Sierra Series 2000 (87 points, $12)

Looking for a solid red that's affordable too? This Syrah is firm, offering beef, spice, black cherry, currant and chocolate flavors, while tannins, toasty oak and herbal notes linger on the finish. Drink now through 2005. 10,000 cases made. Best Buy.

Jan. 07, 2002: TYRRELL'S Chardonnay McLaren Vale-Hunter Valley Old Winery 2000 (88 points, $13)

Bright and juicy, vivid with citrus, nectarine and creamy aromas and flavors, finishing smooth and polished, this Australian Chardonnay appeals to both palate and pocketbook. Drink now through 2005. 40,000 cases made. Best Buy. —Harvey Steiman

Jan. 04, 2002: TYRRELL'S Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc South Eastern Australia The Long Flat Vineyard 2001 (85 points, $8)

Light, dry and fruity white at a try-me price, refreshing for its citrusy apple and herb flavors, which echo gently on the soft finish. Drink now. 50,000 cases made. Best Buy. —Harvey Steiman

Dec. 29, 2001: GALLO OF SONOMA Merlot Sonoma County 1999 (86 points, $11)

Made in ample quantity and priced right, this California Merlot is restrained and compact in style, with mineral, currant and herbal flavors and earthy tannins, finishing with notes of coffee and green bean. Gallo keeps an eye on value. Drink now through —James Laube

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