An unprecedented 15 wines are new to the Top 50 this month. I have been tasting many new vintages of existing listings and since many are better than the previous vintage they have joined the list. However you must take care when picking off the shelf since both editions are often mixed in together.
Additionally three of my favourite wines have been discontinued and have gone on sale to clear inventory. There are still many bottles left of these but you may have to use WineAlign to find inventory at a store close-by. Enjoy while you can still get them.
Read beyond the featured wines to discover how the Top 50 is systematically selected.
Less than $17
Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Aconcagua Coast, Chile $15.95
This is an exceptionally good sauvignon from the cool Aconcagua coastal region. Expect pure clean mineral aromas of green apple skin, nettle, dill and cucumber with lemon freshness. It’s light to midweight and well-balanced with very good to excellent length. Good focus. Try with poached fish with a tangy lemon dill sauce.
Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2007
Douro Valley, Portugal $16.95
This port shows a beautiful fragrant nose of blackberry jam, vanilla, licorice, and dark chocolate. It’s full-bodied velvety smooth, with a soft, creamy texture yet light on the palate despite the considerable alcohol. Very good to excellent length. Excellent value. Best 2013 to 2020.
Less than $14
Big House Red 2012
California, USA $11.95
This a great buy for a Californian red blend. Expect aromas of floral cherryade with subtle well-integrated oak spice, tobacco raspberry and rose petals. It is midweight, juicy and fruity with delicate flavours and is well-balanced by some soft tannin and gentle acidity. Very good length. Try with roast beef. Best 2013 to 2015.
Santa Rita Reserva Carmenere 2010
Rapel Valley, Chile $13.95
This is a well made delicious carmenere with a complex nose of cassis and blackcurrant fruit with mint, thyme and pencil lead notes. It is full-bodied and velvety smooth with the fruit sweetness nicely balanced by some lemony acidity, herbal flavours and soft mature tannin. Very good to excellent length. Try with grilled lamb cutlets. Best 2013 to 2020. Will gain complexity with a few years of bottle age. Fine winemaking at a great price.
Less than $11
Farnese Casale Vecchio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2012
Abruzzo, Italy $10.95
Great value for a very classy Italian red. The complex nose shows black berry fruit, with floral and jammy notes and mild oak spice, hints of vanilla and a touch of mocha. It is very smooth on the palate with the clean bright fruit well-balanced by soft acidity and soft tannin. Very good length. Quite an elegant wine. Try with roast game or roast beef.
Two Oceans Chardonnay 2012
Western Cape, South Africa $10.25
The 2012 is a big improvement over previous vintages with great depth of flavour and a degree of complexity rarely found in such an inexpensive wine. Expect apple and melon fruit with nicely integrated oak and some mineral freshness. It is midweight and creamy smooth with very good length. Try with creamy pasta sauces.
Cooralook Chardonnay 2009
Victoria, Australia $10.45
(discontinued at LCBO was $13.75 over 2300 bottles remain)
An elegant cool climate chardonnay with very gentle oak treatment. The nose shows pear melon fruit with hints of oak spice and floral tones. It is midweight and creamy smooth with a lot of flavour. It is well-balanced and there is very good length with a nice mineral close to the finish. Very nicely styled. Try with cheese pasta sauces, roast poultry, veal or rich sautéed seafood.
Juan Gil Gos Monastrell 2009
Jumilla, Spain $10.65
(discontinued at LCBO was $12.75 over 1800 bottles remain)
Southeastern Spain is rapidly developing as a producer of big fruity reds from the monastrell grape; it’s called mourvedre in France. Expect blackberry and blueberry fruit with floral and tobacco notes and a hint of spice. It is midweight soft and plush with some hints of jam but it finishes dry. Good focus and very good length. Try with bbq meats. Best 2012 to 2015.
Less than $9
Farnese Fantini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2012
Abruzzo, Italy $7.95
Great value for a fruity southern Italian red. It is a deep purple-red with a nose of spicy blackcurrant with licorice and tobacco notes. The palate is full-bodied, round and dense and very juicy with the fruit well-balanced by soft acidity and tannin. Very good length. Try with roast meats. Best 2013 to 2016.
Callia Alta Shiraz Rosé 2012
San Juan Argentina $8.15
(discontinued at LCBO was $10.90 over 1300 bottles remain)
A strongly flavoured midweight rosé that should appeal to red wine drinkers this summer. It is a deep salmon pink with aromas of strawberry and plum fruit with some mineral tones. The palate is intense with a little tannin and enough acidity for balance. Very good length. Enjoy well chilled with ham, lamb and pork dishes
Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Rapel Valley, Chile $8.95
This wine seems to get better with each vintage. The 2013 is fresh and pure with authentic varietal character. Expect aromas of lemon and passion fruit with notes of hay. It is lightweight and juicy with a touch of fruit sweetness to balance the soft acidity. Very good length. Enjoy with sautéed seafood, creamy soft cheeses or creamy pasta sauces.
Montalto Nero d’Avola Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Sicily, Italy $8.95
This is great value for a juicy full-bodied red. Expect aromas of red berry fruit with herbal and spicy notes. It is very fruity and well structured with soft tannins and vibrant acidity. Very good length. Well balanced except it is just a bit hot on the finish from alcohol. Ideal with pizza and meaty pasta sauces. Best 2013 to 2016.
Top 50 Value Wines at LCBO
There are about 1,500 wines listed at the LCBO that are always available, plus another 100 or so VINTAGES Essentials. At WineAlign I maintain a list of the Top 50 LCBO and VINTAGES Essentials wines selected by price and value – in other words, the best least expensive wines. The selection process is explained in more detail below, but I review the list every month to include newly listed wines and monitor the value of those put on sale for a limited time.
How I Choose the Top 50
I constantly taste the wines at the LCBO to keep the Top 50 list up to date. You can easily find all of my all Top 50 Value Wines from the WineAlign main menu. Click on Wine =>Top 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. I 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.
Once you have tried a wine, you can use the ‘thumbs up/thumbs down’ to agree or disagree with our reviews. Or better yet, you can add your own review and join our growing community of user reviewers. If you find that there is a new wine on the shelf, or a new vintage that we have not reviewed, let us know. It is very easy to do this. Click on Update This Wine or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.
When I compiled the Top 50 this month, twelve wines joined the list. 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.
Editors Note: You can find Steve Thurlow’s complete reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 30 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!