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Steve Thurlow’s Top 50 value picks: Sept. 2011

By Steve Thurlow

There are seven new wines on the Top 50 this month as a result of recently tasted wines, price changes, new additions to the LCBO’s selection and new vintages of existing listings. The Top 50 list features the wines commonly referred to as General List and Vintages Essentials. I constantly taste the wines at the LCBO to keep this report up to date. You can easily find my Top 50 Value Wines from the WineAlign main menu. Click on Wine > Top 50 Drop Down MenuTop 50 Value Wines to be taken directly to the list.

To be included in the Top 50 for value a wine must be inexpensive while also having a high score, indicating high quality. We use a mathematical model to make the Top 50 selections from the wines in our database.

Every wine is linked to WineAlign where you can read more, discover pricing discounts, check out inventory and compile lists for shopping at your favourite store. Never again should you be faced with a store full of wine with little idea of what to pick for best value.

In addition to the great value wines below, please check out the season finale of our video series.  We just finished recording season two and we’ll be releasing new episodes from season two: “The Tournament” through-out the fall.

Additions to the Top 50

When I started this report more than a year ago VQA wines from Ontario were not a major feature in the list. This month I am pleased to report that four of the seven new wines on the list are VQA from Ontario, which is a notable achievement.

Limited Time Offers (LTO)

Every month about 100 products at the LCBO go on sale for four weeks. As a consequence of this temporary price reduction, three wines have joined the Top 50. All are VQA wines from Ontario.

Alvar 2008 Cabernet Merlot 2008Angels Gate Riesling Sussreserve 2009Alvar 2008 Cabernet Merlot 2008, Ontario VQA $12.45 is a cabernet franc dominated wine from Pelee Island. This winery seems to be on a roll with this variety. It is a delicious flavourful structured wine made from 60% cabernet franc, 30% merlot, 10% zweigelt. The nose shows delicate aromas of red berry fruit with a hint of tobacco and some beet notes. The midweight palate is velvety smooth and very fruity with crab-apple jelly and raspberry tea flavours and nice balancing acidity and grippy tannins and a notion of elegance. Very good length.

Angels Gate Riesling Sussreserve 2009, VQA Niagara Peninsula $12.95 is made using a technique often used in Germany. Unfermented grape juice is added just before bottling to boost sweetness and fruit. This is a nicely balanced fresh pure wine that is dry and lively with some nice racy acidity. Expect aromas of green apple with a touch of ginger. It is mid-weight, nicely rounded and well balanced with lemon and pear on the finish. Good aperitif style.

Pelee Island Lighthouse Riesling 2009, VQA Ontario $10.95 is just off dry with a perfumed nose of rose with orange and white peach notes. The palate is very smooth and rich with fruit and it is balanced by soft lemony acidity. Very good length with the fruit persisting well. Enjoy lightly chilled as an aperitif or match with seafood, creamy pasta sauces, roast poultry or braised veal.
Pelee Island Lighthouse Riesling 2009

You have until October 9th to take advantage of the lower prices.

New Arrival on the Top 50 List

Four wines join the Top 50 this month.
Rigal Les Terraces Malbec 2009Inniskillin Varietal Series Pinot Noir 2009Rigal Les Terraces Malbec 2009, Cahors, France $12.95 has just arrived on shelf at LCBO and jumps straight on to the Top 50 list. It is only $1 more than the Original Rigal malbec; well worth it. Expect aromas of blackberry, with cassis jam and floral notes with a hint of oak spice. It is medium bodied well structured with lovely mouthwatering fresh acidity and soft tannin. There is a degree of elegance and it is very well balanced with the fruit persisting well on the finish. Very good length. Try with a steak.

Inniskillin Varietal Series Pinot Noir 2009, VQA Niagara Peninsula $13.95 is one of the best values in pinot noir at the LCBO. It shows good pinot noir character with a nose of  delicate cherry cranberry fruit with some beet and spice notes. It is fresh clean and fruity with good balance and good to very good length.

Bodegas Castaño Hécula Monastrell 2008Masi Tupungato Passo Doble Malbec Corvina 2009Bodegas Castaño Hécula Monastrell 2008, Yecla Spain $13.95 joins the list but will soon depart since it is just lost its Vintages Essential status. About 500 bottles remain in stores in Ontario. It is a well structured fruity wine with elegant aromas and flavours. The nose shows blackcurrant and blackberry fruit with chocolate, floral violet with some mineral tones. The palate is graceful, very smooth with the fruit well supported by acid and tannin.

Masi Tupungato Passo Doble Malbec Corvina 2009, Mendoza Argentina $13.95 seems more Tuscan than Argentine. Which is perhaps not surprising given Masi’s Italian heritage. It is vibrant and midweight with dry berry fruit flavours soft grapefruit acidity and is balanced by velvety dry tannin; so don’t buy this is you are looking for big fruit. The nose shows blackberry and prune fruit with cedar, smoke, forest floor and mushroom notes. Good to very good length. Best 2011 to 2015. Try with roast beef.

Please click here for a complete list of the Top 50 Value Wines at your local LCBO. The Top 50 changes all the time, so remember to check before shopping. I will be back next month with more news on value arrivals to Essentials and the LCBO.

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