daily wine picks

$15 to $30

Nov. 12, 2004: THELEMA Chardonnay Stellenbosch 2003 (89 points, $25)

Nice pear, toast and matchstick notes here, with a lengthy finish. A bit tight now, with the matchstick note dominating, but give it time to open in the cellar. Best from 2005 through 2007. 4,500 cases made. From South Africa. —James Molesworth

Nov. 11, 2004: DOMINIO DEL PLATA Syrah-Bonarda Mendoza Crios de Susana Balbo 2003 (89 points, $15)

Lovely fruit here--plum and cassis--with sweet vanilla, violet and spice notes that add dimension. Round and creamy throughout, with a long, fruit-filled finish. Drink now through 2005. 4,500 cases made. From Argentina. —James Molesworth

Nov. 10, 2004: BODEGAS MARTINEZ BUJANDA Garnacha Rioja Conde de Valdemar Reserva 1999 (88 points, $27)

This generous red shows good varietal character, with sweet cherry, raspberry and black pepper flavors, backed by vanilla oak notes. It's still fresh and has enough grip for food. Drink now. From Spain. —Thomas Matthews

Nov. 09, 2004: PARAISO Syrah Santa Lucia Highlands 2003 (90 points, $20)

Intense and complex, with excellent concentration to black pepper, Asian five spice, black cherry, cola and beef flavors, underscored by cedar and coconut from toasty oak and a tangy structure that needs food to shine. Drink now through 2008. 1,790 cases —James Laube

Nov. 08, 2004: MINER Chardonnay Napa Valley 2002 (90 points, $25)

This wine grows on you, gaining richness and depth of flavor at midpalate and on the finish, with spicy nutmeg, ginger, honeysuckle and pear flavors that slowly win you over. Very complex yet light on its feet. Drink now. 3,000 cases made. From California —James Laube

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