daily wine picks


$15 to $30

Dec. 23, 1999: RIDGE Petite Sirah California York Creek 1996 (88 points, $20)

From one of California's most famous Zinfandel producers comes this Petite Sirah (which has no relation to Syrah or Shiraz). Firm, with chunky plum, wild berry, spice, earth and anise flavors wrapped in gritty tannins. Best from 2001 through 2007. 2,200 c —James Laube

Dec. 22, 1999: CHITTERING Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Western Australia 1997 (88 points, $15)

Made from a blend of two grapes, this Aussie white is generous with its fig, apple and herb flavors, managing to combine ripe richness with the twang of Sauvignon flavors for an intriguing wine. Drink now through 2005. 8,000 cases made. —Harvey Steiman

Dec. 21, 1999: JUSTIN Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles Reserve 1997 (91 points, $25)

Justin and Debby Baldwin founded their winery in 1982 and released their first wine with the 1987 vintage. Their consistently bold, flavored wines have won them many fans, and their '97 Reserve Cab is delicious. Serves up lots of complex, seductive flavor

Dec. 15, 1999: HAMILTON RUSSELL Chardonnay Walker Bay (90 points, $18)

If recent vintages are any indication, Hamilton Russell is currently making one of the best Chardonnays in all of South Africa. There are purity and depth to the pear, butter and spicy oak aromas of the '98, augmented by nutmeg and vanilla on the palate,

Dec. 13, 1999: DOMAINE D'AUPILHAC Coteaux du Languedoc Montpeyroux 1997 (90 points, $17)

A pure and lively-tasting red from France's burgeoning Languedoc-Roussillon region, filled with luscious berry, currant and red plum flavors with hints of anise. It's balanced and elegant, with crisp acidity, plenty of concentration and alluring aromas of

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