$15 or less
WHAT : Kanu Chenin Blanc 2004 (white) Rating: NNNN WHERE : Stellenbosch, South Africa
WHY : Wines like this go a long way toward dispelling South Africa's reputation for making mediocre Chenin Blancs. It's flowery, very fresh, mellow and intelligently balanced. A versatile choice that matches up well with lots of summer food at a very attractive price.
PRICE : 750 ml/$11.95
AVAILABILITY : At selected Vintages outlets as of June 10 (product #675421)
WHAT : Chateau l'Hospitalet La Reserve Blanc 2004 (white) Rating: NNN WHERE : Midi, France
WHY : Who doesn't want to buy a wine called l'Hospitalet grown in the district of La Clape? Even more noteworthy is the wine's varietal blend: Bourboulenc, Vermentino and Grenache Blanc. The rich bouquet serves notice on the luxurious mouth feel to follow. Beneath that smoothness is enough complexity to keep things interesting.
PRICE : 750 ml/$18.95
AVAILABILITY : At selected Vintages outlets as of June 10 (product #684209)
Sips and nips
WHAT : Beefeater Dry Gin Rating: NNNN WHERE : London, England
WHY : Gin and tonic predates most of our summer tipples as a heat beater, and for martinis gin is ground zero. Beefeater, which has been made in London for almost 200 years, is a clean, razor-sharp classic. A distillation of juniper, coriander, citrus and other botanicals, its uncompromising taste is definitely worth acquiring.
PRICE : 750 ml/$23.25
AVAILABILITY : At most liquor stores (product #570)