$15 or less
WHAT : Assena 2003 (red) Rating: NNN
WHERE : Asenovgrad, Bulgaria
WHY : A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and the little known Mavrud, made by a Swede who earned his reputation in southern France. The label design is stylin', all minimalist-like, and the bottle blurb is an essay that starts with "The fall of the Iron Curtain...." Even if this wine weren't good, which it is, you'd still have to buy it. This is the indie hipster wine for 2006.
PRICE : 750 ml/$12.95
AVAILABILITY : At selected Vintages outlets as of August 19 (product #687152)
WHAT : Egon Müller-Scharzhof Riesling 2004 (white) Rating: NNNN
WHERE : Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany
WHY : Müller-Scharzhof wines are renowned and not cheap, but this is a QbA, which is a second-tier wine, making it more affordable. It's still a lot of wine for the money. The bouquet is all green apples with just a hint of earthy funk underneath. In the mouth the acidity and sweetness balance out beautifully.
PRICE : 750 ml/$19.95
AVAILABILITY : At selected Vintages outlets as of August 19 (product #727032)
Sips and Nips
WHAT : Anchor Liberty Ale Rating: NNNN
WHERE : San Francisco
WHY : It's 1969 and Fritz Maytag is wondering what to do with his washing machine fortune when he hears that the local brewery is going out of business. He buys it, nurses it back to health and creates North America's prototypical microbrewery. The LCBO's already discontinued Anchor Steam, so fight for your Liberty! It's fantastic beer and should stay in Ontario.
PRICE : 650ml/$3.70
AVAILABILITY : At a limited number of liquor stores (product #580217)