daily wine picks

Less than $15

Apr. 23, 1999: CARTA VIEJA Merlot Maule Valley 1998 (86 points, $6)

Good balance and structure provide this Chilean red with an appealing combination of muscle and freshness, with ripe berry flavors, light smoke and herbal notes rounding out the package. A smart buy when the occasion requires multiple bottles. Drink now t

Apr. 22, 1999: SANTA AMELIA Merlot Maule Valley Reserve Selection 1998 (86 points, $8)

Focused and balanced, this lively red from Chile offers bright cherry and cedar flavors with light, firm tannins and crisp acidity. Though no blockbuster, it has the character and complexity to match well with medium-weight dishes -- and gives change from

Apr. 21, 1999: BOGLE Zinfandel California Old Vine Cuvee 1997 (88 points, $10)

Joining Bogle's Petite Sirah of the same vintage as a Best Buy is this soft, rich, very ripe plum- and blackberry-flavored Zin, with pleasant notes of herbs and spices. Drink now through 2002. 10,000 cases made.

Apr. 19, 1999: VINA SANTA CAROLINA Chardonnay Maipo Valley Reserva 1996 (86 points, $8)

Lush tropical flavors of mango and papaya stay lively in this big, fresh Chilean white, thanks to a core of lime-scented acidity. It's exotic yet refreshing, making it a good match with fusion-type foods, and the asking price surely can't be quibbled over

Apr. 16, 1999: RABBIT RIDGE Zinfandel California Barrel Cuvee 1997 (86 points, $9)

This Zin is soft and fleshy, with earthy, toasty flavors, blackberry, black cherry and wild berry notes, finishing with mild tannins. Drink now. 45,000 cases made.

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