daily wine picks

$15 to $30

Mar. 29, 2001: THE HESS COLLECTION Chardonnay Napa Valley (87 points, $19)

Always a winner, this Chardonnay is produced in ample quantity and comes at an easy-to-handle price. Ripe, rich and layered with spicy fig, apricot, nutmeg, citrus and herbal notes. Drink now through 2004. 14,000 cases made. —James Laube

Mar. 28, 2001: BYRON Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley Byron Vineyard 1997 (89 points, $22)

This late release '97 Chardonnay is rich and earthy, with a tight range of anise, pear, guava and citrus flavors that slowly unfold, revealing added flavor nuances and depth. Drink now through 2005. 19,000 cases made. —James Laube

Mar. 23, 2001: TIKAL Malbec Altos de Mendoza Amorío 1999 (91 points, $27)

From Ernesto Catena comes one of the best Argentinean reds we've tasted. This shows the more briery, coffeelike side of Malbec, with gorgeous plum, raspberry and cinnamon flavors. Chewy and dense on the finish, with tongue-coating tannins. Needs a little —James Molesworth

Mar. 20, 2001: JOH. JOS. PRÜM Riesling Kabinett Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Wehlener Sonnenuhr 1999 (91 points, $21)

From a Mosel estates comes an outstanding Riesling. Beautifully displayed elements of slate, peach and citrus blossom -- all integrated and suspended on a feathery, open texture. No shortage of concentration though, followed by a lingering finish. Drink n —Bruce Sanderson

Mar. 13, 2001: FOPPIANO Petite Sirah Sonoma County 1998 (91 points, $20)

A dazzling wine, dark, rich and exuberant, with layers of peppery plum, black cherry and blueberry fruit that turn lush, with smooth tannins. Drink now through 2008. 8,000 cases made. —James Laube

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