$15 or less
What : Vina San Esteban In Situ Syrah 2003 (red) Rating: NNN
Where : Aconcagua Valley, Chile
Why : The LCBO's Vintages release for January 21 features lots of Syrah/Shiraz. How does the grape of the Rhone fare in Chile? In the hands of Vina San Esteban, it's doing well. The bouquet is a real nose-grabber, but time spent in oak rounds things off in the mouth. A good wine at this price.
Price : 750 ml/$13.95
Availability : At selected Vintages outlets as of January 21 (product #662817)
What : Mas des Aveylans Syrah 2003 (red) Rating: NNNN
Where : The Gard, France
Why : "Vin de pays" means country wine, but don't let the name fool you. Many wines in this catagory embody both innovation and quality, making them anything but bumpkins. Spicy, full and benefiting from the heat wave of 2003, this Syrah is suitable for studied sipping and dinner drinking.
Price : 750 ml/$23.95
Availability : At selected Vintages outlets as of January 21 (product #673244)
Sips and nips
What : Chaucer's Mead (honey wine) Rating: NN
Where : California
Why : Need something authentic to drink after a hard day of medieval role-playing? Problem solved with Chaucer's Mead. Being mead, it's thick and sweet, without acidic balance, but it delivers a lot of floral/herbal qualities derived from its natural honey source. Mix in the package of complimentary spices, pour it in a wine skin and you've got the perfect mystical potion to smuggle into the upcoming Lord Of The Rings musical.
Price : 750 ml/$17.95
Availability : At selected Vintages outlets as of February 4 (product #674838)