daily wine picks

Less than $15

Mar. 27, 1999: HERON Chardonnay North Coast 1997 (87 points, $11)

From one of California's lesser-known areas comes this solid but inexpensive Chardonnay. Elegant and refreshing, with supple lemon, spicy pear and fig notes. Drink now. 7,000 cases made.

Mar. 25, 1999: VINA TARAPACA Merlot Maipo Valley Reserva 1997 (87 points, $10)

From Chile comes this polished and rich Merlot. Bright, deep flavors of plum, chocolate and mint give this red concentration and length. It's well structured, with firm tannins and good balance. Drink now through 2003.

Mar. 24, 1999: TURNING LEAF Chardonnay Sonoma County Sonoma Reserve 1996 (86 points, $10)

From the Gallo family of wines comes the Turning Leaf label. Their latest Chardonnay release offers up solid value for little expense. Nutty and creamy, with an earthy quality to the pear and apple flavors. Soft, smooth and slightly sweet, but quite tasty

Mar. 23, 1999: INDIGO HILLS Chardonnay Mendocino County (86 points, $10)

Some people just can't get enough tasty Chardonnay. Here's a very good one from California that is nice and inexpensive. Clean and lively, with a core of citrus and tart pear flavors that are crisp and tangy. Drink now.

Mar. 20, 1999: CONCHA Y TORO Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley Trio 1996 (85 points, $9)

This firm Chilean red shows the smoky, eucalyptus character typical of many Maipo Cabs, with very firm tannins and good concentration. It doesn't offer a lot of fruit, but should match well with smoked and grilled meats. Drink now through 2002.

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