daily wine picks


$15 to $30

Mar. 28, 2000: ZACA MESA Chardonnay Santa Barbara County Zaca Vineyards (85 points, $15)

Clean and refreshing, with crisp pear, melon, apple, grapefruit and spicy notes. Drink now through 2003. 20,000 cases made. —James Laube

Mar. 27, 2000: STEELE Zinfandel Mendocino Pacini Vineyard 1997 (88 points, $18)

Jed Steele scores again with this Zin. Firm and restrained, with ripe berry, plum, spice and peppery notes, it's focused and lean on the finish, with tight tannins. Drink now through 2006. 2,000 cases made. —James Laube

Mar. 25, 2000: MURPHY-GOODE Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 1998 (88 points, $19)

A wonderful value. Dark, firm and smoky, with complex, ripe, rich black cherry, plum, currant and spice notes. Finishes with mild tannins and good length. Best from 2001 through 2008. 11,300 cases made. —James Laube

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

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