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daily wine picks

More than $30

Dec. 31, 2003: PALOMA Merlot Spring Mountain District 2001 (95 points, $45)

This magnificent Merlot is our 2003 Wine of the Year. It's about as good as it gets from California, with gorgeous fruit that's ripe, rich and distinctive, with a bounty of complex flavors, ranging from enticing black cherry, currant, blackberry and spice —James Laube

Dec. 23, 2003: PETER MICHAEL Chardonnay Sonoma County Mon Plaisir 2001 (95 points, $60)

From one of California's top Chardonnay producers comes this stunning wine. Rich, opulent, creamy and seductive, with layers of complex fig, apricot, honeysuckle and hints of roasted grain, hazelnut and toasty oak. Finishes with amazing length and complex —James Laube

Dec. 19, 2003: TWO HANDS Shiraz Barossa Valley Bella's Garden 2002 (96 points, $40)

Here's a classic-rated Aussie Shiraz that won't break the bank. Rich, dense and distinctive for its pepper and exotic spice notes weaving through the chewy cherry pie, dried blueberry and coffee flavors, echoing forever on the long, long, finish. Classic —Harvey Steiman

Dec. 15, 2003: CHÂTEAU LA NERTHE Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2001 (93 points, $40)

Alain Dugas runs this estate, which has a track record for producing outstanding, modern-styled Châteauneuf. This wine is seductive, elegant and refined, with the subtle but rich flavors, in a full-bodied package that includes ripe fruit, spice, smoke, p —Per-Henrik Mansson

Dec. 10, 2003: DOMAINE DE LA CHARBONNIÈRE Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Mourre des Perdrix 2001 (93 points, $40)

The Rhône Valley has been on a roll in recent years, and 2001 is another fine year for Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Silky, full-bodied, with plenty of ripe fruit and well-integrated tannins. Fabulously balanced, long finish, with some mineral and wet earth. Ano —Per-Henrik Mansson

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