WHAT: 1707 Selecci-n de Barricas 2003 (red) Rating: NNNN
WHERE: Castilla La Mancha, Spain
WHY: Rich and well structured, this is another example of a wine that's accessible but not a pushover. Traditionalists might lament the vintners' choice of the all-too-familiar Merlot and Cabernet over lesser-known regional varieties, but it's hard to argue with the results. Good value.
PRICE: 750 ml/$14.95
AVAILABILITY: At selected Vintages outlets as of April 14 (product #26690)
WHAT: Wirra Wirra Church Block 2003 (red) Rating: NNN
WHERE: McLaren Vale, Australia
WHY: Wirra Wirra does the world a favour by using screw caps: no potential cork spoilage, easy to open and reseal, smallest environmental cost. Beneath that sensible closure awaits a bracing, twangy blend that's satisfyingly aggressive. Go buy a bottle and screw off!
PRICE: 750 ml/$20.95
AVAILABILITY: At selected Vintages outlets as of April 14 (product #24034)
Sips and nips
WHAT: Hockley Dark Ale Rating: NNNN
WHERE: Hockley Village, Ontario
WHY: It's 8 o'clock Sunday morning and you've been watching the characters on Coronation Street drink and smoke for half an hour, so it's time to crack open a locally made English-style ale. It's chocolatey, nutty, with a gentle fizz. Very yummy. Not too cold, I say, not too cold.
PRICE: 473 ml/$2.50
AVAILABILITY: At most liquor stores (product #34660)