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Sep. 28, 2002: HARTWELL Merlot Stags Leap District 2000 (93 points, $60)

A relatively new addition to the Hartwell portfolio (better known for its typically outstanding Cabernet), this Merlot is enormously complex, rich and silky, with tiers of juicy currant, blackberry, mocha and anise, also pretty, cedary oak, yet for all th —James Laube

Sep. 27, 2002: CAKEBREAD Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1999 (91 points, $48)

Here's another rich Napa Cab from the fine '99 vintage. Intense and spicy, a delightfully vibrant and complex wine with pure currant, black cherry and blackberry fruit enlivened by firm tannins and acidity. Best from 2003 through 2012. 16,500 cases made. —James Laube

Sep. 23, 2002: DARIOUSH Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1999 (94 points, $62)

Nearly a classic, the '99 Cabernet from Darioush shows off the vintage's pedigree. Wonderfully rich, intense and concentrated Cabernet, with neat layers of tightly focused currant, black cherry, anise, sage and cedary oak. Given all its flavor and richnes —James Laube

Sep. 20, 2002: SHAFER Merlot Napa Valley 2000 (92 points, $39)

California Merlot has steadily improved, despite the seemingly ubiquitous offerings. This version from Shafer is smooth-textured, with polished currant, mocha, cranberry and cherry, plus touches of tobacco, coffee and spice. A bit tough-edged with tannin, —James Laube

Sep. 19, 2002: TORBRECK RunRig Barossa Valley 1999 (95 points, $140)

In just a few vintages, Torbreck has put itself among the elite of Australia with its powerful RunRig Shiraz. Ripe and generous, showing impressive density without tremendous weight, this Australian red offers concentrated blueberry, plum, mineral and bit —Harvey Steiman

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