Madrigal 1998 Napa Valley Merlot ($24)
Madrigal MerlotVery dark garnet, with cherry and vanilla scents, fruity and appealing. Full, juicy fruit flavor, ripe and structured; chocolate-covered cherries wiht a fresh, dry finish. Approachable Merlot, but watch that second glass: It's powerful stuff at 14.2% alcohol. It's difficult to find, I'm afraid, with just a few hundred cases made. I purchased mine from the winery, and you might try their Website, (Dec. 3, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: The wine's fruit and spice went well indeed with a pilaf of chicken and rice with almonds, pine nuts and a whiff of cinnamon.

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Madrigal 1997 Napa Valley Petite Sirah ($24)
Madrigal Petite SirahInky blackish-purple, so dark that it stains your tongue and teeth a startling midnight blue. Ripe black fruit and spicy perfumed oak aromas. Big and full, blackberry and cherry fruit and lemony acidity. Good Petite Sirah, and like its type, it's monolithic now; might be worth stashing one away for quite a few years to watch it develop. (Dec. 2, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Opens up with beef pot roast.

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