daily wine picks

$15 to $30

Mar. 22, 2000: HONIG Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1997 (88 points, $25)

From Napa Valley—s excellent 97 vintage comes this delicious Cabernet. Elegant and understated, with attractive ripe black cherry, plum, currant and herb-tinged flavors building momentum, gaining nuance. Drink now through 2007. 6,000 cases made. —James Laube

Mar. 21, 2000: STEELE Merlot Clear Lake 1997 (89 points, $22)

From winemaker Jed Steele comes this dark, firm and concentrated Merlot. Rich and polished, with pretty plum, currant and blackberry flavors. Turns smooth and polished. Drink now through 2007. 1,800 cases made. —James Laube

Mar. 20, 2000: THOMAS FOGARTY Chardonnay Monterey 1998 (87 points, $18)

Here—s a solid California Chardonnay. Ripe, smooth and rich, with complex fig, apricot, spice and pear flavors, turning elegant, if a bit short. Drink now through 2003. 3,220 cases made. —James Laube

Mar. 18, 2000: GALLO OF SONOMA Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley Barrelli Creek Vineyard 1996 (88 points, $26)

Dark, ripe and rich, with supple blackberry, anise, cedar, tar and wild berry flavors. Tannins are smooth and integrated. Drink now through 2007. Should be easy to find some of 7,067 cases made. —James Laube

Mar. 17, 2000: CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE Chardonnay Columbia Valley Reserve 1997 (92 points, $29)

This Washington offering is supple in texture, generous and beautifully proportioned to emphasize its honey and spice-scented pear and sweet orange flavors that echo persistently on the long, long finish. Yummy. Drink now through 2004. 4,500 cases made. —Harvey Steiman

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