daily wine picks

$15 to $30

Sep. 18, 2003: VIÑA CARMEN Merlot Rapel Valley Reserve 2001 (88 points, $15)

Though it shares the same owner as the traditional Viña Santa Rita winery, Viña Carmen produces wines in a ripe, modern style, made by the winemaking team of Maria del Pilar González and Matias Lecaros. This Merlot is a juicy version, loaded with red a —James Molesworth

Sep. 17, 2003: KLEIN CONSTANTIA Sauvignon Blanc Constantia 2002 (89 points, $15)

South Africa is quietly asserting itself as a fine source for both white and red wines with distinctive character. The best Sauvignons offer racy Old World profiles with notes of ripe New World fruit. This offering from Klein Constantia is a prime example —James Molesworth

Sep. 16, 2003: VIÑA MONTES Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Alpha Apalta Vineyard 2001 (90 points, $20)

This Chilean winery, led by veteran winemaker Aurelio Montes, is a very solid performer. Lovely fruit here -- cassis, red currant and blackberry -- with supple texture. Yet there's serious grip, with mineral, cocoa and toast notes as well, all framed by f —James Molesworth

Sep. 09, 2003: MARC COLIN Chassagne-Montrachet Les Vide-Bourses 2001 (93 points, $30)

One of Burgundy's best white wine producers released another set of outstanding wines in the '01 vintage. Tough and firm at first, it took hours of contact with air before this shy and hard-as-nails white opened up and showed the deep ripe fruit, lemon pi —Per-Henrik Mansson

Sep. 06, 2003: ALTOS DE MEDRANO Malbec Mendoza Viña Hormigas Reserva 2001 (91 points, $24)

Italians Alberto Antonini and Attilio Pagli form the winemaking team at this Argentinean winery. They produce two Malbecs, and this is their high-end cuvée. It's serious juice, with deep, vivid purple color, loads of plum, boysenberry and blackberry frui —James Molesworth

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