$15 or less
WHAT : Terrale, Nero d'Avola 2003 (red) Rating: NNN
WHERE : Sicily, Italy
WHY : Looking at a couple of Italian wines available at LCBOs around town, you can tell that this Sicilian is an overachiever at the price. A hint of tobacco in the bouquet indicates some promise. In the mouth, it's soft, medium-bodied and verges on elegance. Very satisfying for less than the price of four bus rides come April 1.
PRICE : 750 ml/$9.95
AVAILABILITY : At selected LCBO stores (product #621177)
WHAT : Frescobaldi Campo Ai Sassi, Rosso de Montalcino 2004 (red) Rating: NN
WHERE : Tuscany, Italy
WHY : Here's more of an underachiever. Rosso di Montalcino is made from the Brunello grapes that didn't make the cut for the esteemed Brunello di Montelcino. Though 2004 was a good year, this wine needs some maturing, because right now it's being a complete tightwad with the pleasure. Unless you like things acidic, expect to be disappointed.
PRICE : 750 ml/$16
AVAILABILITY : At selected LCBO stores (product #201855)
Sips and nips
WHAT : A Pocket Guide To Ontario Wines, Wineries, Vineyards & Vines, by Konrad Ejbich (266 pages)
WHY : One phrase you will very rarely hear on Ejbich's wine program is "I've never heard of that wine." This expertise is distilled into his Pocket Guide To Ontario Wines. The A-to-Z section is extremely readable and reeks of first-hand knowledge. The primer on grape varieties and soil has a pleasingly acidic backbone. Now, if somebody could just prune that title.
PRICE : $22.99
AVAILABILITY : At your local bookstore (ISBN 0-7710-3055-X)