Wine of the week

Published April 6, 2005

Little Penguin, merlot, 2003

One more easy drink from Australia that's cheap, near generic and made in huge quantities, wearing the name of some odd animal with MTV plumage. And, yes, it comes from a monstrous Aussie wine combine, Southcorp, that already makes Lindemans, Rosemount and the mighty Penfolds. What's good for the Yellow Tail is good for the penguin - and cheaper.

Nonetheless, the Little Penguin is rather lush drinking. It has the telltale blueberry flavors and silky-soft texture but isn't flabby, and it still has spice and a decent spine. Others in the flock are shiraz, cabernet and chardonnay.

Maybe some winemakers are embarrassed by the continent's reputation for quality at bargain prices, but we're not tired of it at all. Good value still impresses us, especially in the $5 bin, and Australia continues to dominate that category. Just ducky.

Availability: Widely available, $4 to $6.