daily wine picks

More than $30

Sep. 22, 2000: ST. CLEMENT Oroppas Napa Valley (92 points, $45)

Here's a wine that bucks the trend of otherwise disappointing reds from California's difficult '98 vintage. Big, ripe, rich and chocolaty, this mostly Cabernet-Merlot blend delivers loads of polished currant, plum and black cherry flavors and pretty toast —James Laube

Sep. 15, 2000: JOSEPH PHELPS Insignia (96 points, $120)

Another of California's better-known Cabernet-based wines has turned in a classic performance in 1997. The '97 Insignia is a superrich and seductive version of this prestigious red, its layers of currant, black cherry, chocolate and ginger turning smooth —James Laube

Sep. 14, 2000: MATANZAS CREEK Merlot Sonoma Valley (92 points, $48)

Founded in 1978, Matanzas Creek has built its reputation primarily on its Merlot, though it also produces Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and now Syrah. The '97 Merlot is delicious, ripe and juicy, with pretty, rich, elegant black cherry, currant, cassis and —James Laube

Sep. 11, 2000: ST. FRANCIS Merlot Sonoma Valley Reserve (92 points, $40)

St. Francis winemaker Tom Mackey is known for using a heavy dose of smoky American oak -- yet the St. Francis wines have the fruit to back it up. The St. Francis Merlot is one of the top California Merlots. The '97 Reserve is superripe, rich and oaky, in —James Laube

Sep. 09, 2000: DALLA VALLE Maya Napa Valley (98 points, $120)

1997 has all the hallmarks of being a classic vintage for California Cabernet Sauvignon. Perennially one of the top Cabernet-based wines from California, the '97 Maya from Dalla Valle nears perfection. Dark, rich and absolutely delicious, boasting a tight —James Laube

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