daily wine picks

$15 to $30

Jun. 02, 2004: RUTHERFORD HILL Chardonnay Napa Valley 2002 (90 points, $18)

A lean, focused style with spicy pear, green apple and lemon meringue touches, with a flinty edge, finishing with lively acidity, a burst of citrus flavors and a dash of toasty oak. Drink now through 2007. 12,426 cases made. Smart Buys. From California. —James Laube

May. 28, 2004: TARDIEU-LAURENT Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2001 (93 points, $25)

Loaded with richly layered plum and boysenberry fruit, this creamy-textured Châteauneuf has tons of vanilla, mocha and sweet spice up front, while hinting at its stony, gamy side underneath. Concentrated, long and plush. Very impressive. Best from 2005 t —James Molesworth

May. 24, 2004: CASA LAPOSTOLLE Chardonnay Casablanca Valley Cuvée Alexandre 2002 (91 points, $17)

Alluring nose of honey and spice, with lots of lush fig, Bosc pear and piecrust flavors. Long, smoky finish has notes of grilled hazelnuts and pear tartine, but it stays stylish and balanced. Drink now through 2005. 5,800 cases made. Smart Buys. From Chil —James Molesworth

May. 17, 2004: CASA LAPOSTOLLE Syrah Rapel Valley Cuvée Alexandre 2002 (92 points, $19)

A pure, modern, fruit-driven version, with plum, cassis and boysenberry fruit offset by mineral, violet, vanilla and spice notes. Rich and thick, yet not at all tiring to drink, with muscular tannins framing the finish. Short-term cellaring should let thi —James Molesworth

May. 06, 2004: S.A. HUËT Vouvray Sec Le Haut-Lieu 2002 (93 points, $24)

Gives just hints of spice, green almond and fig on the nose, but the palate is explosive, with a lacy texture offset by ripe acidity that chisels the ginger, white truffle, cinnamon stick, green apple and nectarine flavors into form. Great twinge of bitte —James Molesworth

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