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daily wine picks


$15 to $30

Jul. 23, 2005: SPADINA Nero d'Avola Sicilia Una Rosa 2002 (90 points, $16)

Dark, full-bodied and chewy, with meaty blackberry and mineral character. Medium- to full-bodied, with good, solid tannins and a long finish. Well done. Best after 2005. 1,500 cases made. —James Suckling

Jul. 22, 2005: BODEGA Y VIÑEDOS CASTRO VENTOSA Bierzo El Castro de Valtuille 2002 (90 points, $25)

This lively red maintains a taut balance of firm tannins and crisp acidity, which support fresh, clean flavors of tart cherry, strawberry and herbs. Not huge, but well-proportioned. Drink now through 2009. 1,000 cases imported. —Thomas Matthews

Jul. 21, 2005: FOX CREEK Shiraz-Grenache McLaren Vale 2003 (89 points, $17)

A lively, juicy style, with gorgeous, ripe blueberry, plum, blackberry and peppery spice flavors, finishing with an appealingly lissome texture. A come-hither wine; nicely done. Drink now through 2008. 900 cases imported. —Harvey Steiman

Jul. 20, 2005: WHITEHALL LANE Merlot Napa Valley 2002 (90 points, $26)

An impressive Merlot, with a dark, rich, concentrated core of flavors dominated by earthy currant, blackberry, cedar, anise and pencil lead notes. Tight and focused, this wine has excellent balance and a complex finish. Drink now through 2010. 10,480 case —James Laube

Jul. 19, 2005: BUEHLER Chardonnay Russian River Valley Reserve 2002 (91 points, $20)

Plump, ripe and fleshy, with a complex range of pure Chardonnay flavors built around apple, pear, spice and a hint of mint that offers a shade of anise. Keeps its focus and finishes with a lingering aftertaste. Drink now. 300 cases made. —James Laube

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