There's no vintage year and no indication of what sort of grapes are in this bottle. At this price, who cares? It comes from the torrid region of San Luis Obispo and my guess is this has a lot of zinfandel. There's a companion white, similarly anonymous, which tastes like chenin blanc. They're both drinkable. You can splash it in soda or make punch or just happily glug away at a barbecue. With an 11 per cent alcohol level, you're not going to harm your liver or your wallet.
ParknShop: 2606 8833
This sauvignon blanc is the lowest rung of three ranges from the noted Sacred Hill estate in New Zealand's Hawkes Bay. That doesn't mean it's a pedestrian wine. Although it comes 400km north of the cool-climate Marlbrough region that produces excellent sauvignon, these grapes have distinction. The 2000 vintage is a light white, aromatic and crisp. The grapes were lightly pressed, then fermented cold by renowned winemaker Tony Bish. The result is pleasing; natural flavours come through with fresh vibrancy.
Manly Wine City: 2911 0163
Chateau St Cosme Gigondas
Vats from the 11th century are found on this estate in the Southern Rhone, where Barruol family members have been making wine since 1490. The most recent clansman, Louis, has modernised things. This blend of grenache with shiraz and cinsault is light, fruit-driven and exquisitely tasty. The 1999 is a purplish wine with silky blackberry tones and holds a powerful 14 per cent alcohol. It's ideal with roast lamb. I found it went well with a substantial Shanghainese dinner. This is top of the line from the 18-hectare estate which makes only 3,000 cases. For a special occasion.
Espace Wine Boutique: 2525 6408