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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (July update)

Your Guide to the Best Values, Limited Time Offers and Bonus Air Miles selections at the LCBO this month

by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

It was fun again this month finding 20 wines under $20 for this report. Some new wines joined  my Top 50 Best Values and there are some monthly discounts (LTOs) from the LCBO as well as a slew of Bonus AirMiles (BAMs) making some wines even more attractive for the next four weeks or so; all making your summer drinking more affordable.

The Top 20 under $20 are best buys among the 1600 or so wines in LCBO Wines and the Vintages Essentials Collection. I select some from Steve’s Top 50, a standing WineAlign list based on quality/price ratio. You can read below in detail how the Top 50 works, but it does fluctuate as new wines arrive and as discounts show up through Limited Time Offers (LTOs).

The discount period  for this report runs until August 17th – so don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you that there were decent stocks available when we published.

Editors Note: You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 30 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!

Reds

Citra Sangiovese Terre Di Chieti 2013, Abruzzo, Italy $7.75 + 4BAMs – Italian flavour and character at a good price for a food balanced wine.

Casal Thaulero Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Abruzzo, Italy $7.75, New to Top 50 – A simple red for enjoying with pizza and meaty tomato pasta sauces.

Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2011, Chile $7.95 + 4BAMs, Top 50 – A solid midweight red for enjoying with roast or bbq meats.

Citra Sangiovese Terre Di Chieti 2013 Casal Thaulero Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2011 Fonseca Periquita 2012 Santa Carolina Merlot 2012

Fonseca Periquita 2012, Peninsula De Setubal, Portugal $8.95, New to Top 50 – Dependable value medium bodied red with a spicy side to the fruit.

Santa Carolina Merlot 2012, Chile $8.95 + 4BAMs, Top 50 – A very drinkable red at a good price for everyday enjoyment.

Argento Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Mendoza, Argentina $9.95 + 4BAMs – A well made pure cabernet that has not been adulterated with over-oaking and sweetness.

Castillo De Monseran Garnacha 2013, Carinena, Spain $9.95 + 5BAMs – An exciting youthful red finely balanced for enjoying with many foods.

Quartetto 2009, Alentejano, Portugal $10.30 + 4BAMs – A full bodied red made from four Portuguese grapes with some elegance – rare for this price.

Argento Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Castillo De Monseran Garnacha 2013 Quartetto 2009 Pelee Island Lighthouse Cabernet Franc 2011 Montes Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Pelee Island Lighthouse Cabernet Franc 2011, Ontario $11.95 was $12.95, New to Top 50 – A soft fruity sweetish midweight red that’s balanced with good length.

Montes Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Colchagua Valley, Chile $13.40 + 4BAMs – An easy drinking ripe cabernet with lots of flavour. Very tasty.

Pascual Toso Malbec 2013, Mendoza, Argentina $13.95 + 5BAMs – A juicy fairly complex malbec with very good length.

Fifth Leg Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Merlot 2011, Western Australia $16.00 + 5 BAMs – A cool climate elegant red with a long juicy finish.

Las Rocas Garnacha 2011, Do Calatayud, Spain $16.75 + 8BAMs – An aromatic midweight red with good length and complexity.

Pascual Toso Malbec 2013 Fifth Leg Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Merlot 2011 Las Rocas Garnacha 2011 Jacob's Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Port 2008

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Coonawarra, South Australia $16.95 + 10 BAMs – Classic Coonawarra cabernet at a good price. Finely balanced with some ageing potential.

Grahams Late Bottled Vintage Port 2008 Douro Valley, Portugal $16.95, New to Top 50 – A soft powerful fragrant Port with the alcohol finely balanced by fruit and acidity.

Whites

Periquita White 2013, Portugal $8.80, New to Top 50 – A fruity fragrant white for mildly flavoured seafood.

Dunavar Muscat Ottonel 2012, Hungary $8.95 + 3BAMs, Top 50 – Great value for an aromatic flavourful juicy white for Asian cuisine or rich poultry.

Two Oceans Chardonnay 2012, Western Cape, South Africa $10.25 + 6BAMs, Top 50 – The 2012 is a big improvement. Lots of ripe flavours yet crisp and fresh. Great value.

Periquita White 2013 Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2013 Goats Do Roam White 2013

Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2013, Casablanca Valley, Chile $11.95, New to Top 50 – The new vintage is just as good. A mildly oaked vibrant juicy chardonnay.

Goats Do Roam White 2013, Western Cape, South Africa $11.95 + 5BAMs, Top 50 – An aromatic rich dry white, great as an aperitif or with Asian cuisine.

How does a wine get selected for the Top 20 under $20.

There are three ways that a wine gets into this monthly report of wines that are always in the stores either on the LCBO “General List” or the Vintages Essential Collection.

On Sale (LTO’s or Limited Time Offers): Every four weeks the LCBO discounts around 200 wines  I have looked through the current batch and have highlighted some of my favourites that offer better value at present…. so stock up now.

Bonus Air Miles (BAM’s): If you collect Air Miles then you will be getting Bonus Air Miles on another 150 or so wines…a few of these have a special appeal for a while.

Steve’s Top 50: Wines that have moved onto my Top 50 Best Values this month. This is on an-on going WineAlign selection (Top 50,) that mathematically calculates value by comparing the price and rating of all the wines on the LCBO General List. You can access the report any time and read more about it now.

The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

Steve's Top Value WinesThere are another 39 wines on the Top 50 list so if you did not find all you need above for your current needs dip into the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste.

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. I review the list every month to include newly listed and recently tasted vintages of current listings as well as monitoring the value of those put on sale for a limited time.

Before value wine shopping remember to consult the Top 50, since it is always changing. If you find that there is a new wine on the shelf or a new vintage that we have not reviewed, let us know. Moreover if you disagree with our reviews, tell us please us. And if you think our reviews are accurate, send us some feedback since it’s good to hear that you agree with us.

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.

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.

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.

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20 for July
Top 50 Value Wines

Editors Note: You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 30 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!


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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (July 2014)

Your Guide to the Best Values, Limited Time Offers and Bonus Air Miles selections at the LCBO this month

by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

I always get a great deal of pleasure finding the 20 wines under $20 for this monthly report, and this time was even more pleasurable as I was in Portugal last week visiting wineries. I was impressed to find some modern fresh reds and whites at great prices to add to the selection below. They should make excellent summer drinking.

The Top 20 under $20 are best buys among the 1600 or so wines in LCBO wines and the VINTAGES Essentials collection. I select some from Steve’s Top 50, a standing WineAlign list based on quality/price ratio. You can read below in detail how the Top 50 works, but does fluctuate as new wines arrive and as discounts show up through Limited Time Offers (LTOs) and Bonus Air Miles (BAMS).

The current discount period runs until July 20th. So don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you that there were decent stocks available when we published. You can also use WineAlign to create and print your list of those available at your local store.

[Stay tuned: John Szabo will be up next with his observations and recommendations on the July 5th VINTAGES release.]

Reds

Mezzomondo Negroamaro 2011, Salento, Puglia, Italy. $8.95 + 5 BAMs, Top 50 – An easy drinking flavourful red.

Obikwa Shiraz 2012, Western Cape, South Africa. $9.45 + 5 BAMs – An excellent inexpensive BBQ shiraz

P K N T Carmenere Reserve 2012, Central Valley, Chile. $9.95 was $10.95, Top 50 – A full-bodied red with supple juicy fruit, not at all spicy, as might be suggested by the label.

Mezzomondo Negroamaro 2011Obikwa Shiraz 2012P K N T Carmenere Reserve 2012Trapiche Cabernet Sauvignon 2013Nederburg Winemaster's Reserve Shiraz 2012

Trapiche Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Mendoza Argentina. $9.95, New to the Top 50 – An amazingly good cabernet for the money. Enjoy with BBQ meats.

Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve Shiraz 2012, Western Cape, South Africa. $11.95 + 7 BAMs, New to the Top 50 – A fullbodied red with freshness from minerality and vibrant acidity.

Thelema Mountain Red 2011, Stellenbosch, South Africa. $11.95, New to the Top 50 – Shiraz plus five other grapes in a dense complex red.

Boschendal The Pavillion Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Western Cape, South Africa. $11.95, New to the Top 50 – A lightly oaked savoury ripe red with a lot of complexity for the money.

Pezoules Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Peloponnese, Greece. $12.60 + 4 BAMs – A fresh midweight cabernet ideal for BBQ meats.

Thelema Mountain Red 2011Boschendal The Pavillion Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2012Pezoules Cabernet Sauvignon 2011Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva Douro 2010Stoney Ridge Pinot Noir 2011Quinta Do Encontro Q Do E 2011

Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva 2010 Douro Valley, Portugal. $12.95 New to the Top 50 – An opaque purple with a fragrant fruity nose, that’s full-bodied. Try with a steak.

Stoney Ridge Pinot Noir 2011, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario. $13.95 + 6 BAMs – A fruity pinot with some spice and smokey complexity.

Quinta Do Encontro Q do E 2011, Bairrada, Portugal. $14.25 + 4 BAMs – An elegant structured red.

Whites

Citra Trebbiano D’abruzzo 2012, Abruzzo, Italy. $7.45 New to the Top 50 – A good inexpensive fruity white.

Periquita White 2013, Portugal. $8.80 – A fruity fragrant white for mildly flavoured seafood.

Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2013, Central Valley, Chile. $9.95 Top 50 – A juicy very ripe sauvignon blanc with lots of balancing acidity.

Citra Trebbiano D'abruzzo 2013Periquita White 2013Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2013Carl Reh Riesling Kabinett 2012

Carl Reh Riesling Kabinett 2012, Mosel, Germany. $11.95 New to the Top 50 – An elegant balanced off-dry white ideal for Thai food.

Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2013, Leyda Valley, Chile. $11.95 New to the Top 50 – A fresh floral creamy sauvignon blanc.

The Wolftrap White 2013, Western Cape, South Africa $13.95 + 5 BAMs, Top 50 – An intensely flavoured white.

Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay Reserve 2013, Adelaide Hills, South Australia $14.95 + 10 BAMs – New style Aussie chardonnay; fresher, crisper and less oak.

Alpine Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Marlborough, New Zealand $14.95 + 10 BAMs – Good value for a typical kiwi sauvignon blanc

Brancott Estate Letter Series B Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Southern Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand $19.95 + 10 BAMs – Classic Marlborough sauvignon blanc, elegant, fresh, pure and mouthwateringly delicious.

Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2013The Wolftrap White 2013Jacob's Creek Chardonnay Reserve 2013Alpine Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2013Brancott Estate Letter Series B Sauvignon Blanc 2013

How does a wine get selected for the Top 20 under $20.

There are three ways that a wine gets into this monthly report of wines that are always in the stores either on the LCBO “General List” or the Vintages Essential Collection.

On Sale (LTO’s or Limited Time Offers): Every four weeks the LCBO discounts around 200 wines  I have looked through the current batch and have highlighted some of my favourites that offer better value at present…. so stock up now.

Bonus Air Miles (BAM’s): If you collect Air Miles then you will be getting Bonus Air Miles on another 150 or so wines…a few of these have a special appeal for a while.

Steve’s Top 50: Wines that have moved onto my Top 50 Best Values this month. This is on an-on going WineAlign selection (Top 50,) that mathematically calculates value by comparing the price and rating of all the wines on the LCBO General List. You can access the report any time and read more about it now.

The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

Steve's Top Value WinesThere are another 39 wines on the Top 50 list so if you did not find all you need above for your current needs dip into the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste.

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. I review the list every month to include newly listed and recently tasted vintages of current listings as well as monitoring the value of those put on sale for a limited time.

Before value wine shopping remember to consult the Top 50, since it is always changing. If you find that there is a new wine on the shelf or a new vintage that we have not reviewed, let us know. Moreover if you disagree with our reviews, tell us please us. And if you think our reviews are accurate, send us some feedback since it’s good to hear that you agree with us.

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.

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.

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.

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20 for July
Top 50 Value Wines

Editors Note: You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 30 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!


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TigerHorsePGnwsltr

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New at the LCBO: Essentials and Good Buys for June

Picking through the New Arrivals
by Steve Thurlow with selections from Sara d’Amato

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Here is what’s new – and what’s good – on the LCBO’s General List and VINTAGES Essentials Collection – the wines that are widely available and probably on shelf now at your local LCBO.

The LCBO is constantly adding new wines to the General List (GL) to replace wines that fail to achieve sales targets that have been removed or “delisted”. This keeps the number of wines available at around 1500. There were 27 new wines presented at a recent tasting. Most were underwhelming but we found some that we thought to be noteworthy.

We also tasted through over 100 of the VINTAGES Essentials Collection (E). These are wines that are always available in the VINTAGES section of the store. We found a few new wines and some new vintages that we think are worth a try.

The Reds

Viticoltori Acquesi Brachetto D’Acqui, Piedmont Italy ($13.35 GL) It’s actually a sparking rose, so almost a red with lots of flavour and aroma.

Porcupine Ridge 2013 Syrah, Swartland, South Africa ($14.95 E) This has been a great buy for the last umpteen vintages. A flavourful versatile well-balanced red.

Lan 2010 Crianza, Rioja, Spain ($15.95 E) New to the Essentials Collection. Classy, distinctive and just as appealing on its own or with grilled flank steak.

Featherstone 2012 Cabernet Franc, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($17.95 E) This is impressively fine – very characteristic of cabernet franc and a prime example of the surprisingly wonderful results this grape can achieve in Niagara .

Viticoltori Acquesi Brachetto D'acquiPorcupine Ridge Syrah 2013Lan Crianza 2010Featherstone Cabernet Franc 2012

Louis Jadot 2012 Beaujolais Villages Combes Aux Jacques, Beaujolais, France ($17.95 E) Although this vintage is considerably lighter than previous, it is still lovely, compelling and highly enjoyable.

19 Crimes 2012 Shiraz Durif, Victoria, Australia ($18.95 GL) Great packaging for this perfumed, dense very fruity shiraz that’s perfect for bbq meats.

Concha Y Toro 2012 Marques De Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto Maipo Valley, Chile ($21.95 E) Always reliable this is the best vintage in a while of this well structured, very classy cabernet from the Maipo Valley.

Stags’ Leap Winery 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, USA ($44.95 until June 22; was $49.95 E) This is a beautiful California cabernet, balanced, elegant and nicely structured for mid-term cellaring.

Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages Combes Aux Jacques 201219 Crimes Shiraz Durif 2012Concha Y Toro Marques De Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2012Stags' Leap Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

The Whites

Fleur Du Cap 2013 Chardonnay, Western Cape, South Africa ($12.80 GL) This wine has been sadly absent from our market for a few years and it is a welcome return to the LCBO list. It’s a mildly oaked richly flavoured bold chardonnay.

Torres Viña Esmeralda 2013, Catalonia, Spain ($13.95 GL) It is great to have this aromatic white blend once again in our stores.

Bonterra Chardonnay 2012, Mendocino County, California, USA ($16.95 until June 22; was $18.95 E) Well priced for a complex floral lively Californian chardonnay.

Cave Spring 2012 Estate Riesling, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($17.95 E) An unbeatable riesling value, the 2012 shows a real dynamic tension and complexity of flavours that can only come from older vines and vigilance in the cellar.

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Marlborough, New Zealand ($31.95 E) Cloudy Bay is back on top with one of its finest ever sauvignons from the exceptional 2013 harvest. This is classic Marlborough sauvignon blanc.

Fleur Du Cap Chardonnay 2013Torres Viña Esmeralda 2013Bonterra Chardonnay 2012Cave Spring Estate Riesling 2012Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013

We would love to get your feedback on this report. We will look at the July thematic at LCBO next month, as well as more new arrivals. Meanwhile check out all of my top values by dipping into the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste. And in two weeks time I will be back with the June 20 Under $20 report.

Cheers
Steve Thurlow

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Premium subscribers see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 30 days to see newly posted reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!


Mas Elena Newsletter

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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (June 2014)

Your Guide to the Best Values, Limited Time Offers and Bonus Air Miles selections at the LCBO this month

By Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

I am excited to have found another 20 wines under $20 this month to be your focus for value for the next four weeks. Top 20 Under $20 are best buys among the 1600 or so wines in LCBO Wines and the VINTAGES Essentials Collection.

The selection came from some new vintages of wines tasted recently that are better than the last vintage and from a large raft of discounts (Limited Time Offers – LTOs) and Bonus Air Miles (BAMs) announced by LCBO on Monday. Especially interesting are some big discounts on wines on the VINTAGES Essentials list. There are around 120 Essentials wines that are always available in the VINTAGES section of stores – $2 discounts make some of them more affordable for the next four weeks.

Check out the 20 selections below of wines on offer and also wines that have joined my ongoing list of Top 50 Best Values. (Read on after the wine reviews to find how a wine is selected for Top 20 under $20 and the list of Top 50 LCBO and VINTAGES Essentials wines). You can use WineAlign to create and print your list of those available at your local store. Furthermore, thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you that there were decent stocks available when we published.

On Sale This Month (LTOs and BAMs)

Here are the best of the best among the Limited Time Offers and Bonus Air Miles selections this month. They are on sale until June 22nd, so take advantage right now.

Reds

Santa Julia Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Mendoza, Argentina $12.00 was $13.00

This is a finely balanced cabernet with complex aromas and flavours. Expect violets, blackberry and prune fruit with mild oak spice and some earthy tones. It is medium to full-bodied with a balanced finish and mild tannin. Very good length. Try with a steak. Best 2014 to 2020.

Sella & Mosca Riserva Cannonau Di Sardegna 2010, Sardinia, Italy $14.95 was $16.95 – VINTAGES ESSENTIALS

This is one of my house reds. It is an honest well balanced versatile mid-weight Italian red for a good price. It is made from grenache (Italy:cannonau) with a harmonious and fairly complex red cherry fruit nose with mild spice, tobacco, and herbal and floral tones. It is mid-weight and fruity with some nice savoury herbal and bacon flavours and finely balanced with firm lemony acidity and mild structural tannin. Needs food. Very good length. Goes well with a wide range of meat and cheese dishes. Best 2014 to 2017.

Santa Julia Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012Sella & Mosca Riserva Cannonau Di Sardegna 2010Gran Feudo Reserva 2007Rocca Delle Macie Chianti Classico 2011

Gran Feudo Reserva 2007, Navarra, Spain $14.95 was $16.95 – VINTAGES ESSENTIALS

This is an evolved mature Spanish red with blackberry fruit, mild spice with earthy and herbal tones plus well integrated oak aromas. It is elegant and juicy with a soft yet structured palate that comes with mature wines. The tannins have folded into the wine giving additional complexity yet enough remain on the finish to give some firmness. Very good length. Enjoy with lamb cutlets. Best 2014 to 2016.

Rocca Delle Macie Chianti Classico 2011, Tuscany, Italy $16.95 was $18.95 – VINTAGES ESSENTIALS

A very typical Chianti that’s correct for a good price. Expect aromas of dried black cherry fruit with some herbal and oaky notes and an earthy tone. There is some vibrancy to the palate with a degree of elegance and a dry fruity and mildly tannic finish. Very good length. Try with a Bolognese sauce. Best 2014 to 2017.

Whites

Obikwa Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Western Cape, South Africa $8.45 was $9.45

There is a lot going on here for the money. The 2013 is one of the best vintages in a long time with a fresh nose of zesty lemon apple pear fruit. The palate is juicy and flavourful with good focus and good length. Try with sautéed seafood or bbq chicken.

Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2012, Casablanca Valley, Chile $9.95 was $11.95

A delicious lightly oaked chardonnay with a creamy lively palate. Expect aromas of melon, oak spice and lemon with toffee notes. It is very smooth on the palate with soft acidity which keeps it feeling light. It finishes dry and a little bitter with very good length. Try with white meats, creamy cheeses and seafood. Don’t overchill.

Fleur Du Cap Chardonnay 2013, Western Cape, South Africa $12.80 plus 8 BAMs

This wine has been sadly absent from our market for a few years so it’s a welcome return to the LCBO.. It is an oaked chardonnay with just enough oak to add complexity to the nose and palate. Expect aromas of baked apple with vanilla, caramel, with lemon and cinnamon notes. The palate is rich and very smooth with intense flavours and very good length. It is old school but well done. Try with fish and chips.

Obikwa Sauvignon Blanc 2013Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2012Fleur Du Cap Chardonnay 2013 Willm Réserve Riesling 2012 Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Willm Reserve Riesling 2012, Alsace, France $14.95 was $15.95 – VINTAGES ESSENTIALS

The 2012 is classic Alsatian riesling, clean fresh and vibrant; one of the best vintages I can remember. Expect aromas and flavours of fresh apple with apple skin and mineral tones with some floral notes. It is midweight dry and crisp with lots of flavour and finely balanced. Try with sautéed seafood. Very good length.

Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Aconcagua Coast, Chile $15.95 plus 10 BAMs

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.

New to Steve’s Top 50

To round off the 20 Under $20, here are other great value bottles that have joined the Top 50 this month LCBO.

Reds

Apelia Agiorgitiko 2012, Greece (1000mL) $9.95 plus 4 BAMs

A clean fresh red wine from Greece that is fruity, midweight, well balanced and a good everyday wine. Agiorgitiko is one of Greece’s best red grapes The nose shows red berry fruit with some hints of spice and tobacco. The palate is fruity with good to very good length. Good value. Try with BBQ meats. Best 2014 to 2016.

Pelee Island Lighthouse Cabernet Franc 2011, Ontario $10.95 was $11.95

Pelee Island continues to improve its grip on this variety that does well in this part of Canada. A lively fruity midweight red with modest tannin and vibrant acidity. The nose is shows mild red berry aromas with a hint of smoke, raspberry jam and tobacco. The palate is juicy and well balanced with very good length. The finish is fruity with some chewy tannin. Enjoy with roast beef. Best 2014 to 2016.

Cusumano Nero d’Avola 2013, Sicily, Italy $11.00

This 2013 vintage of this fruity Sicilian red is one of the best ever. The nose shows bright pure aromas of blackberry and raspberry fruit with lemon tones. It is midweight and juicy with enough tannin for structure and acidity for liveliness. Very good length with a lemony dry finish and some fine tannin to give a little grip. Try with roast or bbq meats or hard mature cheeses. Best 2014 to 2017.

Apelia Agiorgitiko 2012 Pelee Island Lighthouse Cabernet Franc 2011 Cusumano Nero D'avola 2013Hardys The Chronicles Butchers Gold Shiraz Sangiovese 2012Pérez Cruz Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Hardys The Chronicles Butchers Gold Shiraz Sangiovese 2012, South Australia $13.50 was $15.00

Sangiovese, the Chianti grape from Italy, is blended in this wine with shiraz to deliver a fresher more vibrant wine than one normally expects from this region. Expect aromas and flavours of blackberry and blueberry fruit with earthy and herbal notes plus dark chocolate. It is soft and smooth on the palate with very good length. Try with a steak. Best 2014 to 2018.

Pérez Cruz Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Maipo Valley, Chile $14.45 was $15.95

The 2012 is one of the best vintages in a long while, with a perfumed nose of sweet basil with blackberry and black cherry fruit with some jammy notes and soft oak spice. The palate is very smooth and juicy with enough acid and tannin to give it some structure. Very good length. Try with bbq meats. Best 2014 to 2017.

Whites

Apelia Moschofilero 2013, Greece (1000mL) $9.95 plus 4 BAMs

Moschofilero is one of Greece’s best indigenous white grapes. This is a fresh dry white that pinot grigio adherents should try. The nose shows lifted aromas of floral apple with a green olive herbal tone plus some mineral notes. The palate is midweight and simple with lots of fruit flavour and it is well balanced. Good to very good length. Enjoy with seafood and creamy pasta sauces.

Casal Thaulero Pinot Grigio 2012, Osco, Molise, Italy $8.45

This is among the best pinot grigio on the shelves at the LCBO despite being one of the least expensive. Expect mild aromas of pear and melon fruit with nutty and lemon tones. The palate is very fruity and creamy with the lively acidity well balanced by the fruit. It is dry and clean with very good length. The finish shows lots nutty fruit. Don’t overchill and enjoy on its own or with seafood, white meats and mild cheese.

Fetzer Sundial Chardonnay 2012, California $9.95 was $11.95

Great value for a charming, apparently unoaked, chardonnay with a nose of apple and mango fruit with some nutty and floral tones. The palate is creamy smooth with the ripe fruit well balanced by soft acid. Very good focus, very flavourful and very good length. It is pure clean and juicy. Enjoy on its own or with pastry based appetizers.

Apelia Moschofilero 2013 Casal Thaulero Pinot Grigio 2012 Fetzer Sundial Chardonnay 2012 Goats Do Roam White 2013 The Wolftrap White 2013 Cave Spring Estate Riesling 2012

Goats Do Roam White 2013, Western Cape, South Africa $11.85 plus 5 BAMs

This is a consistently great value white. The 2013 vintage is an aromatic blend of three white grapes with lifted floral fruity aromas and an intensely flavoured palate. The nose shows apple and custard with pasty, floral orange and white peach fruit. It is medium-full bodied with firm balancing acidity and a long firm finish. Very good length. Enjoy as an aperitif with pastry nibbles or try with mildly spicy Asian cuisine.

The Wolftrap White 2013, Boekenhoutskloof, Western Cape, South Africa $13.95

This is an amazing white for the money with its intensely flavoured palate and pure complex nose. Expect aromas of melon and baked pear fruit with lemongrass and floral heather plus some typical South African minerality. The palate is intense and very solid with some bitter tones nicely closing the finish. It’s a bit chunky and does not have the elegance of the 2012 vintage. Very good to excellent length. Match with sautéed pork chops.

Cave Spring Estate Riesling 2012, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario $ 17.95

This wine is consistently one of the best values in Niagara riesling and the 2012 does not disappoint. Despite the warm vintage, which has led to a greater intensity of flavour and aroma, it is has a steely mineral and acid backbone to give it a fine balance. Expect aromas of pear and white peach with mineral and mild petrol notes. The lively palate is clean and elegant with very good to excellent length. Try with baked ham.

How does a wine get selected for the Top 20 Under $20

There are three ways that a wine gets into this monthly report of wines that are always in the stores either on the LCBO “General List” or the Vintages Essential Collection.

- On Sale (LTO’s or Limited Time Offers): Every four weeks the LCBO discounts around 200 wines I have looked through the current batch and have highlighted some of my favourites that offer better value at present…. so stock up now.

- Bonus Air Miles (BAM’s): If you collect AirMiles then you will be getting Bonus AirMiles on another 150 or so wines…a few of these have a special appeal for a while.

- Steve’s Top 50: Wines that have moved onto my Top 50 Best Values this month. This is on an-on going WineAlign selection (Top 50,) that mathematically calculates value by comparing the price and rating of all the wines on the LCBO General List. You can access the report any time and read more about it now.

The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

Steve's Top Value WinesThere are another 39 wines on the Top 50 list so if you did not find all you need above for your current needs dip into the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste.

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. I review the list every month to include newly listed and recently tasted vintages of current listings as well as monitoring the value of those put on sale for a limited time.

Before value wine shopping remember to consult the Top 50, since it is always changing. If you find that there is a new wine on the shelf or a new vintage that we have not reviewed, let us know. Moreover if you disagree with our reviews, tell us please us. And if you think our reviews are accurate, send us some feedback since it’s good to hear that you agree with us.

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.

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.

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.

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20
Top 50 Value Wines
All Limited Time Offers
All Bonus Air Miles

Editors Note: You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 30 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!


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New at the LCBO: Pinks and Wine Styles 101

Pinks and Wine Styles 101
by Steve Thurlow with notes from David Lawrason and Sara d’Amato

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Welcome to a new monthly report on what’s new – and what’s good! – on the LCBO’s General List and Vintages Essentials list – the wines that are widely available and very likely on shelf now at your local LCBO. We will be covering major themes and promotions – like rosé this month – as well as rating new arrivals.

Best of the New Rosé

Each spring the LCBO rolls out a selection of pink wines under a “seasonal selection” theme. There is growing sentiment that more rosé should be available year’ round. Dry rosé – especially from the south of France and Spain, as well as carefully made wines the world over – are increasing in popularity and proving ideal as dinner wines paired with a wide range of milder and nuanced recipes.

This month there are 35 or so new rose or pink wines, mostly from the 2013 vintage, arriving on the shelves, of which we have tasted several. Some are indeed for the table, others for sipping on the patio when the weather allows.

Concha Y Toro Casillero Del Diablo Shiraz Rosé 2013, Chile ($11.85). Despite a little sulphur on the nose, this is a neatly composed shiraz-based rose with very good length and a dry finish. Lovely acidity and minerality is present on the palate boosting the delicate red berry fruit. Polished, stylish and quite versatile. Sara

Barefoot Refresh Perfectly Pink,  California USA ($11.95). A lightly sparkling pink moscato with lifted aromas of floral tangerine with peach and sherbet tones. It is off-dry with the fruit well-balanced by soft acidity. Decent length. Enjoy on its own or with pastry nibbles. Steve

Roodeberg Rose 2013, South Africa ($12.35). Bright and vibrant with a dark, pink colour and nicely concentrated fruit. Succulent but edgy and tart with wild earthiness on the palate. Dry with notes of cherry blossom, peach and pink grapefruit. Sara

Stoneleigh Pinot Noir Rose 2013, Marlborough, New Zealand ($16.95). This is a very bright, fairly deeply salmon coloured, pinot noir based rose with red currant, cherry and strawberry fruit aromas – a bit confected or jammy on the nose and sweet on the palate. There is also some herbal character. It’s mid-weight, balanced and fresh with a hint of sweetness but good balancing acidity. Very good length. David

Concha Y Toro Casillero Del Diablo Shiraz Rosé 2013  Barefoot Refresh Perfectly Pink  Roodeberg Rose 2013  Stoneleigh Pinot Noir Rose 2013

Picking through the New Arrivals

The LCBO is constantly adding new wines to the General List to replace wines that fail to achieve sales targets that have been removed or “delisted”. This keeps the number of wines available at around 1500. Given all the new rosés this month there were only another ten new wines shown for tasting. Here are three that we thought to be noteworthy

Carpineto Dogajolo Rosso 2012, Tuscany, Italy ($14.95). A fragrant soft flavourful red with a lot going on for the money. Expect aromas of raspberry and plum fruit with vanilla and mild oak spice well-integrated with some floral rose. It has a degree of elegance not often found at this price. The palate is midweight is very smooth and finely balanced with very good length. Best 2014 to 2018. Good value. Try with roast lamb or beef. Steve

Jaszbery Etyek Budai Riesling 2012Chateau Des Charmes Cabernet Sauvignon 2012Carpineto Dogajolo Rosso 2012Château des Charmes Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, VQA Niagara On The Lake, Ontario ($14.95). A ripe, firm cabernet with just the right amount of acidity to prove juicy and the appropriate level of tannins to give a solid scaffolding to the wine. Notes of blackberry, graphite, thyme, dried leaf and cedar present themselves on the distinctive palate. Elegant, taught and age-worthy. Very good length. Sara

Jaszbery Etyek Budai Riesling 2012 Hungary ($8.95 + 4 BonusAirMiles). A delicate dry riesling with fragrant aromas of honeysuckle lemon and pear fruit. It is lightweight well-balanced with just enough sweetness to cover the brisk acidity. The finish a little harsh, so it needs food. Try with a creamy pasta dish. Steve

Wine Styles 101

This month the LCBO is introducing a new educational promotion called Wine Styles 101. All wines on the “General List” have been classified into eight style categories; four for whites and four red styles. In each category there are wines on special promotion this month, that are supposed to be typical of a wine of that style. You can pick up a leaflet in stores that explains the wine style categories and promotes the 24 examples. We thought it would be useful to look at these wines to see which we might recommend and also to add some other examples to flesh out some categories where those on promotion are not very noteworthy.

Light Bodied and Fruity Reds

Sterling Vintners Collection Pinot Noir 2012, Central Coast, California, USA ($15.95 + 10 Bonus Air Miles). There is marked improvement here. The nose is bright, engaging and clean with typical California pinot raspberry nicely embedded with spice and a hint of vanilla. It’s light to mid-weight, fairly supple and spicy, with a gentleness that is appealing. A bit warm and bitter and dusty on the finish, with good to very good length. A nice chillable summer sipping pinot. Best now to 2017. David

Medium Bodied and Fruity Reds

Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2011, Mendoza, Argentina ($12.95 was $14.95). This is not the fruitiest malbec on the block, which is one reason I really like it. There is a ring of Argentine authenticity in the vaguely leathery, chocolaty, garrigue (dried herb), peppery notions around the otherwise ripe floral, mulberry fruit. It’s quite full bodied, dense and smooth with some elevating sourness then a dusty tannin. Very good length. Excellent length. Great for BBQ. Just a hint of oxidation so not one to age long. David

Full Bodied and Smooth Reds

Folonari Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2011, Veneto, Italy ($15.95 was $17.95). The 2011 is again an elegant mid weight red with nicely integrated oak and red berry fruit aromas and flavours. Expect red cherry fruit with plum jam, mild spice with hints of tobacco and vanilla to lead to a soft yet structured palate with lots of ripe red berry fruit to balance the tannins and acidity. Very good length. Try with game, lamb or hearty beef dishes. Best 2014 to 2018. Steve

Full Bodied and Firm Reds

Bertani Secco Bertani 2011, Veneto, Italy ($15.95). This is a lighter more elegant style of red wine from Verona. Expect delicate aromas of red cherry with some cranberry jelly and mild spice notes plus a hint of mint. The palate is juicy and well-balanced with lemony acidity driving through to the finish which is dry with some mild tannin appearing at the end. Good to very good length. Try with roast meats or a hamburger. Best 2014 to 2017 . Steve

Sterling Vintners Collection Pinot Noir 2012  Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2011  Folonari Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2011  Bertani Secco Bertani 2011

Light and Crisp Whites

Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Aconcagua Valley Chile ($12.95). A juicy creamy sauvignon from the Aconcagua coast which shows that Leyda Valley isn’t the only great place for this variety in Chile. Expect aromas of passion fruit and lime with hay tones and hints of green peas. It is very smooth with good to very good length. Try with asparagus quiche and salad. Steve

Off-dry and Fruity Whites

Deinhard Green Label Riesling 2012, Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany ($10.45 was $11.95). Consistently good value the 2012 is again a well made riesling at a good price. It is a typical Mosel riesling with aromas of melon fruit with lemon with floral and honey tones. It is off dry with the fruit nicely supported by racy lemony acidity. It finishes dry. Well balanced with good length. Try with mildly flavoured seafood. Steve

Aromatic and Flavourful Whites

Are You Game? Chardonnay 2012, Victoria, Australia ($15.95). The cooler state of Victoria is carving out a reputation for more elegant chardonnay, and although not as complex and nuanced as top examples this captures the essential acidity, apple fruit and some vanilla/butterscotch and a hint of toast. It’s quite sleek, fresh and pleasant. Some alcohol heat and minerality on the finish. David

Full-bodied and Rich Whites

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay 2012, Australia ($12.95 was $14.95). The 2012 is an especially good vintage for this chardonnay with a lot of flavour and some complexity. It is very well-balanced with abundant racy acidity to freshen and lighten the palate. Expect aromas of pineapple, peach, baked lemon and resin with mineral tones. The palate is quite full, creamy smooth with a nice vibrant feel and very good to excellent length. The fruit flavours persist well on the finish. Try with roast pork or sautéed veal. Steve

Ghost Pines Winemaker’s Blend Chardonnay 2012, California, USA ($17.95 was $19.95). A good example of modern California chardonnay with just enough oak for added complexity. Expect aromas of baked apple and melon fruit with buttered toast, oak spice and a hint of lemon. It is medium bodied, rich and creamy but also racy with the focus well maintained from nose thru palate to finish. A little sweet for me with some resin notes on the finish. Best 2014 to 2016. It needs strongly flavoured white meats like pork, veal or chicken. Steve

Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013  Deinhard Green Label Riesling 2012  Are You Game Chardonnay 2012  Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay 2012  Ghost Pines Winemaker's Blend Chardonnay 2012

We would love to get your feedback on this new report. We will look at the June thematics at LCBO next month, as well as more new arrivals. Meanwhile check our my list of Top 50 wine values by dipping into the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste. And in two weeks time I will be back with a look at the updated Top 50 list in our WineAlign Top 20 Under $20 report.

Cheers
Steve Thurlow

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 30 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (May 2014)

Your Guide to the Best Values, Limited Time Offers and Bonus Air Miles selections at the LCBO

By Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Welcome to an expanded monthly guide to the best buys on the LCBO general list – 20 wines under $20 that will keep you well stocked on value bottles for the month.

There are three ways that I will be unearthing these values for your consideration.  As always, there will be a selection that have just moved into Steve’s Top 50.  This is an on-going WineAlign report that mathematically calculates value by comparing the price and rating of all the wines on the LCBO General List. You can access the report any time, and read more about it at the end of this article.

But there is more!  The Top 20 under $20 will also highlight the best buys under $20 that have been discounted or put on sale during LCBO promotions called LTOs, or Limited Time Offers. LTOs are only “on sale” for about one month.  This 20 under $20 report will be timed for publication two to three days after the LTO items are announced by the LCBO.

airmilesAnd third, we will also be considering wines that are featured in the Bonus Air Miles program during the given month.  There are no direct price reductions with BAMs, but obviously Air Miles collectors will benefit monetarily by buying these wines.

So check out my first 20 below, and then use WineAlign to create and print your list of those available at your local store.  Furthermore, thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you that there were decent stocks available when we published.

On Sale This Month (LTOs and BAMs)

Here are the best of the best among the Limited Time Offers and Bonus Air Miles selections this month. They are on sale until May 24th, so don’t dally!

Reds

K W V Roodeberg 2011Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2013Cusumano Nero D'avola 2012Cusumano Nero D’Avola 2012, Sicily, Italy  $9.85 (was $10.85)

This mid-weight fruity Sicilian red is always good value. The nose shows aromas of blackberry and black cherry fruit with some dried herbal tones. It is juicy with enough tannin for structure and acidity for liveliness. Very good length with a lemony dry finish and some fine tannin to give a little grip. Try with roast or BBQ meats or hard mature cheeses. Best 2014 to 2016.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir, Central Valley, Chile $9.95  (was $10.95)

You do not often find pinot noir for less than $10. There is nothing to compete with this for quality and varietal authenticity. Expect aromas of bright red cherry and raspberry fruit with hints of oak and some earthy tones. It is midweight with nice balancing acidity and soft tannin. Good to very good length. Try with grilled lamb cutlets. Best 2014 to 2017.

KWV Roodeberg 2011 Western Cape, South Africa $12.40 (6 BAM)

This Cape classic has been good value for decades on the shelves at the LCBO. It’s medium to full bodied, well balanced and quite complex. It reminds me of a French northern Rhône red with blackberry and cassis fruit, pepper, with herbal and mineral tones. Good to very good length and good focus make thus a dependable buy; try with a steak. Best 2014 to 2018.

Cousiño Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2010Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2011Cousiño Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Maipo Valley, Chile $16.10  (8 BAM)

Cousino Macul has been making Antiguas Reservas for decades and it keeps getting better. Still very youthful, this is a cellar candidate that’s fine now but even better if you decant for an hour or so before serving. It is very classy with a degree of elegance rarely found in such an inexpensive wine. The nose is youthful with the cassis fruit aromas complicated by tobacco, dark chocolate, menthol and herb notes. It is medium to full bodied and very smooth with the ripe fruit balanced by soft acidity with a little dry tannin giving some grip to the finish. Very good length. Will develop more complexity with a few years in the cellar. For now, decant for an hour and enjoy with a steak. Best 2014 to 2020.

Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2011, Mendoza, Argentina $12.95  (was $14.95)

A big fruity malbec with mulberry and blackberry fruit aromas, hints of oak plus floral and herbal tones, plus some dark chocolate. It’s full bodied, fairly dense, creamy and lively. Focus is well maintained on to the finish. Try with rich game or roast meat dishes. Very good to excellent length. Best 2014 to 2018.

Whites

Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2013Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2013Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile $8.95 (was $9.95)

This is a beautiful lightweight viognier with tropical fruit aromas with tangerine blossom, peach and baked apple fruit with spice and nutty tones. It is light to midweight with the fruit well balanced by vibrant acidity. Great focus and very good length with a long fruity finish. It’s terrific value. Enjoy on its own lightly chilled with party nibbles or at the table with poultry dishes or sautéed seafood.

Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2013, Central Valley, Chile $9.95 (4 BAM)

You get a lot of wine for your money with this juicy ripe sauvignon. It had a lively fruity palate with the passion fruit and pear fruit flavours finely balanced by soft lemony acidity. Very good length. Expect mild aromas of lime and melon fruit with mineral tones. Try with oysters or fresh goats cheese salad.

Deinhard Green Label Riesling, Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany $10.45 (was $11.95)

Consistently good value the 2012 is again a well-made riesling at a good price. It is a typical Mosel riesling with aromas of melon fruit with lemon with floral and honey tones. It is off dry with the fruit nicely supported by racy lemony acidity. It finishes dry. Well balanced with good length. Try with mildly flavoured seafood.

Alvear Medium Dry, Montilla, Spain $11.80 (5 BAM)

Amazing value here. This wine is a beautiful golden brown with orange highlights. It is just off dry with the sweetness very well counter-balanced by the acidity that runs throughout the palate. The nose shows fruit cake aromas with nutty tones which are reflected on the palate. It is complex, well balanced and has a fairly tight structure. Try with seared foie gras or sip it with mixed dried fruit and nuts. It is especially good with blue cheese when the wine’s slight sweetness nicely balances the bitterness from the blue bits in the cheese.

Chateau des Charmes 2011 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario $13.95 (4 BAM)

A juicy well made chardonnay with just enough oak maturation to add complexity and structure without adding too much unnecessary flavour. Expect aromas of apple and pineapple fruit with lemon, salt and butter tones plus subtle oak spice. It is midweight and finely balanced with very good to excellent length. Great value. Best 2014 to 2016. Try with sautéed veal in a lemon butter sauce.

Brumont Gros Manseng Sauvignon 2012, Cote de Gascogne, France  $11.95 (was $12.95)

An interesting blend of two white grapes from Alain Brumont in southwest France. The nose is herbaceous with dill and mild rosemary herbal notes mixed with lemon and melon fruit aromas. It is very fresh on the palate with the nose aromas reflected in the flavours. Well balanced it finishes dry. Needs food; try with sautéed seafood or vegetable stir fry.

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay 2012 $12.95  (was $14.95)

The 2012 is an especially good vintage for this chardonnay with a lot of flavour and some complexity. It is very well balanced with abundant racy acidity to freshen and lighten the palate. Expect aromas of pineapple, peach, baked lemon and resin with mineral tones. The palate is quite full, creamy smooth with a nice vibrant feel and very good to excellent length. The fruit flavours persist well on the finish. Try with roast pork or sautéed veal.

Deinhard Green Label Riesling 2012  Alvear Medium Dry  Château Des Charmes Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2011  Brumont Gros Manseng Sauvignon 2012 Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay 2012

New to Steve’s Top 50

Here are other great value bottles that have joined my Top 50 at the LCBO this month.

Reds

Casal Thaulero Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Terre di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy $7.45

A well balanced dry red that’s super value for every day dining. It is midweight with earthy black cherry aromas with some herbal and floral hints. The palate is smooth with the fruit well balanced by soft tannin and vibrant acidity. Best enjoyed with food like meaty pizza or bbq meats. Good to very good length. Best 2014 to 2016.

Nederburg Winemaster's Reserve ShirazCasal Thaulero Sangiovese 2012Casal Thaulero Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2012Casal Thaulero Sangiovese 2012, Terre di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy $7.45

2012 is another good vintage for this super value red from the south of Italy. Expect a mild nose of black cherry fruit with herbal and spice tones. It is midweight, fruity pure and vibrant with a fine balance with some soft dry tannin on the finish. Good length and focus. Enjoy with red meats or mature cheddar. Best 2014 to 2016.

Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve Shiraz 2012, Western Cape, South Africa $11.45

This is such excellent value for a structured and very drinkable shiraz. Expect fresh aromas of black cherry and blackberry fruit with black pepper, mild oak spice and prune. It is full bodied yet feels fresh and light on the palate due to the minerality and vibrant acidity. Very good length. Try with a steak. Best 2014 to 2017.

Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Shiraz Rosé 2013, Chile, $11.85

A delicate fruity rose that’s well balanced with mild fragrant aromas of cherry ice cream with some floral notes. The palate is juicy with the delicate fruit nicely balanced by soft acid. Very good length. Try with grilled salmon. Best 2014 to 2015.

Concha Y Toro Casillero Del Diablo Shiraz RoséTrapiche Malbec Reserve 2012The Wolftrap Syrah-Mourvèdre-Viognier 2013Trapiche Malbec Reserve 2012, Mendoza Argentina, $11.95

A fruity, structured wine with intense flavours and good balance that is suited for fine dining with robust roast meats despite its modest price. Expect aromas of fine black cherry, with forest floor accents, mild oak spice, and some herbal notes for freshness. Medium bodied and juicy with soft mature tannin well integrated acidity delivering a gentle velvety smooth palate. Good to very good length.

The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier 2013, Western Cape South Africa $13.95

This wine captures each vintage the essence of a Rhone red. It is made mostly from syrah with about 30% mourvèdre and a splash of viognier. There are no jammy tones and the palate is firm with acid and tannin for balance. The tannins are ripe which gives it structure for food balance. Expect earthy black cherry and bramble fruit aromas with some smoke and black pepper spice and hints of dark chocolate. The palate is full-bodied and the length is very good to excellent. Try with BBQ meats.

Whites

Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Riesling 2011Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2012Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2012, Livermore Valley, California, USA $16.95

The elegant 2012 vintage continues the trend of less oak in this wine so the fruit shows through beautifully on both nose and palate. I like this modern Californian chardonnay very much. Expect aromas of apple with floral pear, lemon and soft oak spice with toffee and nutty notes. It is creamy smooth on the palate with lots of flavour and very good length Try with tempura or sautéed seafood. Best 2014 to 2016.

Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Riesling 2011, VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario $19.95

This is very fine riesling from one of the oldest riesling vineyards in Canada. It has a delightful mineral fresh apple pear fruit nose with lemon some floral complexity. It is midweight almost off dry with lots of flavour and excellent length. Very stately and quite powerful. This will gain in complexity with a few more years in the cellar. Try with roast poultry or pork or a mildy spicy Thai dish. Best 2014 to 2020.

The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

Steve's Top Value WinesThere are another 39 wines on the Top 50 list so if you did not find all you need above for your current needs dip into the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste.

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. I review the list every month to include newly listed and recently tasted vintages of current listings as well as monitoring the value of those put on sale for a limited time.

Before value wine shopping remember to consult the Top 50, since it is always changing. If you find that there is a new wine on the shelf or a new vintage that we have not reviewed, let us know. Moreover if you disagree with our reviews, tell us please us. And if you think our reviews are accurate, send us some feedback since it’s good to hear that you agree with us.

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.

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.

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.

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20 for May
Top 50 Value Wines

 

Editors Note: You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 30 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!


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Championship Round: “So, You Think You Know Wine?”

Season 4 is a Wrap! Who will come out Victorious?

We have sadly come to the end of So, You Think You Know Wine? – Season 4.  This departure from the previous critic-against-critic challenge of past seasons was very exciting and full of energy. This time the competition had a game show/family feud feel with tasters battling against each other in teams, rather than individually.

Season 4 was certainly a big learning experience for us, as we had originally thought that working in teams would make it easier for the competitors to identify the wines. We soon discovered that teamwork is not always an advantage. We watched despairingly as the critics sometimes strayed from their first, and usually correct, instincts and wandered down a completely different path. But, we also saw teams almost perfectly guess certain wines, like in this, the final, episode.

Click here to watch The Final Round, as Raiders of the Lost AOC battle it out against Whole Bunch Press, or read on for highlights from the last round.

RaidersAOC

WholeBunch

Highlights and Score from Round #8

In the second semi-final round, the last-placed (or as Rhys reminds us, “4th place”) Whole Bunch Press faced The Inglorious Bitters, who were in first place. Whole Bunch Press were on the right track when they guessed California as the place the wine came from.  They said it had “the plush texture of California.”  Unfortunately, they guessed that the grape was Merlot, not Petite Sirah, and they thought it was from Sonoma, not Napa.

The Inglorious Bitters also had a tough time identifying Stags’ Leap Winery Petite Sirah.  Because of the high alcohol level, and very ripe, almost dried grape notes in the wine, they concluded that it was an Amarone from Veneto, Italy.

In the end, Whole Bunch Press won the round and went on to the Championship round against the Raiders of the Lost AOC.

The scoring remains the same as past episodes, with points for Variety, Country, Region, Appellation and Vintage, and a little less emphasis on Price this season. After 8 rounds the totals are in and the Semi Final match-ups have been set:

So, You Think You Know Wine? Scorecard

 

Season 4 For those of you new to our video series, “So, You Think You Know Wine?”, we have saved all previous episodes under the Video tab.

We hope that you found this new format entertaining and that you had as much fun watching as we did filming. As usual, please send your comments to feedback@winealign.com and feel free to share this video with your friends and family.

So, You Think You Know Wine?

Special thanks to our glassware sponsor, Schott Zwiesel, for their beautiful glasses and carafes used during filming.

Previously on “So, You Think You Know Wine?”

Espisode 4.1: California Square Russian River Chardonnay

Episode 4.2: Louis M Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Episode 4.3:  Travaglini Gattinara

Episode 4.4: Finca Decero Malbec

Episode 4.5 Paul Zinck Eichberg Riesling

Episode 4:6  Wolf Blass Gold Label Shiraz Viognier

Episode 4:7 Semi-final #1 The Chocolate Block

Episode 4:8 Semi-final#2 Stags’ Leap Winery Petite Sirah

 


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LCBO Top Values and New Releases

Welcome to expanded coverage of wines on the LCBO’s “General List”. Each month there will be a report on a regional or grape variety theme, a selection of new release recommendations, and an updating of Steve Thurlow’s Top 50 Value List. (We are very sorry about the inconvenience, but due to the postponement of a VINTAGES tasting and the very recent return of David and John from a trip to South Africa, VINTAGES Preview will be published Friday at about noon)

South America’s Fountain of Value
By Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

I have just returned from a two-week trip to Chile and Argentina leading a tour group that included many WineAlign readers. All were delighted by the quality and even more pleased by the value. At virtually every winery we visited there were at least two or three outstanding value wines. Quality is evident at all price points, but at less than $16 wines from these countries dominate the shelves at the LCBO for value.

For some time now, I have been visiting this region about twice a year. South America benefits from low labour and land costs and both places have weak currencies. In many cases wineries also have low capital costs due to infrastructure paid for a hundred years ago. They compete ferociously for market share and export revenue is very important. So costs and hence prices have always been low, while quality improves in leaps and bounds. Take advantage now since it may not last for ever.

I have updated my notes with the latest vintages, including nine highly recommended wines that have made it onto my Top 50 Values list (see more below). Use WineAlign to create and print your list of those available at your local store. Furthermore, thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you that there were decent stocks available as of March 24th of all the wines below. And if you find yourself enjoying them over the next months, perhaps you might be tempted to join me when I return to South America with another group in March 2015? See www.stevethurlow.com

Top 50 White Picks

Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2013Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2013Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($9.95). This is a beautiful lightweight viognier with tropical fruit aromas with tangerine blossom, peach and baked apple fruit with spice and nutty tones. It is light to midweight with the fruit well-balanced by vibrant acidity. Great focus and very good length with a long fruity finish. Its terrific value. Enjoy on its own lightly chilled with party nibbles or at the table with poultry dishes or sautéed seafood.

Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2013, Central Valley, Chile ($9.95). You get a lot of wine for your money with this juicy ripe sauvignon. It had a lively fruity palate with the passion fruit and pear fruit flavours finely balanced by soft lemony acidity. Very good length. Expect mild aromas of lime and melon fruit with mineral tones. Try with oysters or fresh goats cheese salad.

Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2012Amalaya Torrontes Riesling 2012Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2012, Casablanca Valley, Chile ($11.95). A delicious lightly oaked chardonnay with a creamy lively palate. Expect aromas of melon, oak spice and lemon with toffee notes. It is very smooth on the palate with soft acidity which keeps it feeling light. It finishes dry and a little bitter with very good length. Try with white meats, creamy cheeses and seafood. Don’t overchill.

Amalaya Torrontés Riesling 2012, Salta, Argentina ($10.95). This is a complex aromatic white from the Salta region, in northern Argentina, which is the home of the aromatic indigenous torrontés grape. It is a blend of 85% of that grape with 15% riesling; the addition of which gives some zip to the mid palate and finish. Expect floral aromas of honeysuckle with ripe melon and canned pear fruit with ginger spice. The palate is mid-weight, rich and creamy with very good length. Enjoy as an aperitif or with mildly spicy Asian cuisine or rich seafood dishes. Delisted there are around 1000 bottles remaining.

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.

Top 50 Red Picks

Trapiche Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012Carmen Carmenere Reserva 2013Carmen Carmenere Reserva 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($11.45). A fruity aromatic wine with fresh black cherry and plum fruit aromas and flavours. It is great value with an elegant pure fruity, vibrant palate. There is some complexity with cedar, smoke and tobacco in the mix. Well balanced and juicy with good to very good length. Best 2014 to 2018. Try with grilled meats.

Trapiche Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Mendoza, Argentina ($11.95). This is an opaque cabernet with none of cabernet’s greenness and a delicate nose. Expect aromas of blackberry fruit with some subtle oak spice, dark chocolate and a hint of black olive. It finishes dry with the fruit balanced by acidity and fruit. Very good length. Try with a steak. Best 2014 to 2016.

Santa Julia Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012Cousiño Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2010Santa Julia Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Mendoza, Argentina ($13.00). This is a finely balanced cabernet with complex aromas and flavours. Expect violets, blackberry and prune fruit with mild oak spice and some earthy tones. It is medium to full-bodied with a balanced finish and mild tannin. Very good length. Try with a steak. Best 2014 to 2020.

Cousiño Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Maipo Valley, Chile $13.95 until March 30th was ($15.95). Cousino Macul has been making Antiguas Reservas for decades and it keeps getting better. Still very youthful, this is a cellar candidate that’s fine now but even better if you decant for an hour or so before serving. It is very classy with a degree of elegance rarely found in such an inexpensive wine. The nose is youthful with the cassis fruit aromas complicated by tobacco, dark chocolate, menthol and herb notes. It is medium to full-bodied and very smooth with the ripe fruit balanced by soft acidity with a little dry tannin giving some grip to the finish. Very good length. Will develop more complexity with a few years in the cellar. For now, decant for an hour and enjoy with a steak. Best 2014 to 2020.

New Releases on the LCBO General List (GL)

Here are recently encountered new releases worthy of note; sometimes for quality, sometimes for value, or because they add something new to the mix. Click on the links to see reviews by WineAlign critics.

New GL Whites

Wayne Gretzky 2012 Riesling, Niagara Peninsula ($13.95). This is a great buy with real Niagara nerve and authentic riesling persona. Low alcohol is key to its buoyancy.

Riverview 2012 Gewürztraminer Angelina’s Reserve, Niagara River ($18.95). This big, buxom and almost blowsy gewürz has been turning heads, and not just in this vintage. Alsatian gewürz fans should have a look.

Hugel 2012 Sylvaner, Alsace, France ($14.95). Always under-stated and often under-rated dry Alsatian sylvaner is offer an ideal backdrop to subtle fish and pork creations – and asparagus.

New GL Reds

Louis Latour 2011 Gamay, Burgundy, France ($18.95). Here’s a rare French gamay this is not from Beaujolais. Not a world beater but interesting for fans of this increasingly popular light red.

Michel Lynch 2011 Merlot, Bordeaux, France ($16.95). This is a decent, mid-weight fairly fleshy Bordeaux merlot (100%) from a well-regarded negociant. A but more charm than other basic Bordeaux.

Bellingham 2012 Big Oak Red, Western Cape, South Africa ($11.80). This is a fairly hefty, good value shiraz cabernet blend named for a tree on Bellingham’s property, not necessarily length of time in oak barrels.

Goats in Villages 2011 Shiraz Pinotage, Western Cape, South Africa ($12.95). This over delivers for the money – a fairly rich, smooth yet not soupy blend that captures syrah pepper and pinotage acidity and curranty fruit.

Bodega Volcanes 2012 Summit Cabernet Syrah, Rapel Valley, Chile ($10.95). Decent value for an approachable, youthful and smooth fruit centred red. Chill a bit.

Steve’s Top 50 Value Wines at LCBO

Steve's Top Value WinesThere 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. 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 feedback@winealign.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

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.

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow

Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials Wines

Editors Note: You can find our Critic’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!


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Quinta do Noval Tawny Port


County in the City

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Round 8 – Semi Final #2: “So, You Think You Know Wine?”

Will they Crack Under Pressure in the Second Semi-Final?

Watch the competition progress as the first place Inglorious Bitters take on the fourth place Whole Bunch Press in the second of two semi-final rounds.  Pour yourself a glass of wine and watch to see which team will move forward to the final round to battle it out against The Raiders of the Lost AOC.

Click here to watch Round #8 – Semi Final #2, or read on for highlights from the last round.

The Inglorious Bitters

Whole Bunch Press

Highlights and Score from Round #7

Last time on SYTYKW, The Good, The Bad, and The Blind faced the Raiders of the Lost AOC in the first semi-final round.  The Good, The Bad, and The Blind immediately jumped on South Africa as the country the wine came from.  At one point, they almost wavered but decided to stick with their first impressions.  “Go with the guts…and the liver…,” they said.  Their final answer was a 2008 Syrah from South Africa because of the “classic, wonderful, iodiny, smoky, meaty notes” to The Chocolate Block 2010.

Raiders of the Lost AOC also quickly concluded that the wine was South African.  They guessed that the wine was a Shiraz, Cab, Pinotage blend with Shiraz as the dominant grape “because of the peppery notes, and the coffee, and the chocolate.”  While both teams were very close in their guesses, the Raiders of the Lost AOC pulled ahead by one point because they were closer on the vintage.

The scoring remains the same as past episodes, with points for Variety, Country, Region, Appellation and Vintage, and a little less emphasis on Price this season. After 6 rounds the totals are in and the Semi Final match-ups have been set:

So, You Think You Know Wine? - Scorecard

Season 4

For those of you new to our video series, “So, You Think You Know Wine?”, we have saved all previous episodes under the Video tab. Season 4 is a departure from the previous critic-against-critic challenge of past seasons. This time the competition has a game show/family feud feel with tasters battling against each other in teams, rather than individually. As always, the competitors have the daunting challenge of identifying the wine with only their nose, eyes, and palate – no other clues are given.

We hope that you find this new format entertaining and that you have as much fun watching as we did filming. As usual, please send your comments to feedback@winealign.com and feel free to share this video with your friends and family.

So, You Think You Know Wine?

Special thanks to our glassware sponsor, Schott Zwiesel, for their beautiful glasses and carafes used during filming.

Previously on “So, You Think You Know Wine?”

Espisode 4.1: California Square Russian River Chardonnay

Episode 4.2: Louis M Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Episode 4.3:  Travaglini Gattinara

Episode 4.4: Finca Decero Malbec

Episode 4.5 Paul Zinck Eichberg Riesling

Episode 4:6  Wolf Blass Gold Label Shiraz Viognier

Episode 4:7 Semi-final #1 The Chocolate Block

 


Fortessa Canada Inc. Glassware sponsor to SYTYKW

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Steve’s Top 50 at LCBO – Feb 2014

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

There are many additions to my Top 50 list this month. Let me tell you about a few of them. I have been tasting the latest vintages of wines on LCBO shelves and have discovered that a few are better than previous vintages. Moreover, two of these wines have jumped onto my list due to their improved quality.

There’s one Ontario VQA wine on sale at present at the LCBO with a discount that propelled it onto the list and sadly one of my favourites has been discontinued and consequently is on clearance for a steal until it is all sold out. Check them out below and then use WineAlign to search your local store and print your list from the Top 50. With your shopping list in hand, you’ll be equipped with lots of good wine, while saving some dollars.

Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you that there are decent stocks available of all the wines below. (By registering with your postal code, you can find the inventory at your closest LCBO store). Here’s a list of seven great value bottles with the price at your local LCBO.

The Reds

Pelee Island Lighthouse Cabernet Franc 2011
Ontario VQA, $10.95 until March 2nd was $11.95

Pelee Island Lighthouse Cabernet Franc 2011

Pelee Island continues to improve its grip on this variety that does so well in this part of Canada. A lively fruity midweight red with modest tannin and vibrant acidity. The nose shows mild red berry aromas with a hint of smoke, raspberry jam and tobacco. The palate is juicy and well-balanced with very good length. The finish is fruity with some chewy tannin. Enjoy with roast beef. Best 2013 to 2016.

Trapiche Malbec Reserve 2012
Mendoza, Argentina $11.95

Trapiche Malbec Reserve 2012WWAC Top 25 Value Wines

A fruity structured wine with intense flavours and good balance that is suited for fine dining with robust roast meats despite its modest price. Expect aromas of fine black cherry, with forest floor accents, mild oak spice, and some herbal notes for freshness. Medium bodied and juicy with soft mature tannin well-integrated acidity delivering a gentle velvety smooth palate. Good to very good length.

Trapiche Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Mendoza, Argentina $11.95

Trapiche Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

This is an opaque cabernet with a delicate nose showing none of cabernet’s greenness. Expect aromas of blackberry fruit with some subtle oak spice, dark chocolate and a hint of black olive. It finishes dry with the fruit balanced by acidity and fruit. Very good length. Try with a steak. Best 2013 to 2016.

The Whites

Trapiche Broquel Chardonnay 2011
Mendoza, Argentina delisted now $8.45 was $11.95

Trapiche Broquel Chardonnay 2011

This is a delicious chardonnay with very little oak showing on the nose since only a small proportion of it was matured in French oak barriques. Expect aromas of melon and baked apple fruit with some spice and toffee notes. It is a big wine and quite rich with a nice creamy texture and lots of flavour. Good focus and very good length. Try with roast poultry, roast pork or fish and chips. About 1000 bottles remain.

Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2012
Casablanca Valley, Chile $11.95

Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2012

A delicious lightly oaked chardonnay with a creamy lively palate. Expect aromas of melon, oak spice and lemon with mild caramel notes. It is very smooth on the palate with soft acidity which keeps it feeling light. It finishes dry and a little bitter with very good length. Try with white meats, creamy cheeses and seafood. Don’t overchill or you might miss the good stuff.

Carl Reh Riesling Kabinett 2012
Mosel, Germany $11.95

Carl Reh Riesling Kabinett 2012

An elegant well-balanced off dry riesling with pear melon aromas toned by some mineral notes with hints of custard. It is midweight and very fruity with firm racy acidity and very good length. It finishes firmly with apple lemon acidity with just enough sweetness for balance.

Goats Do Roam White 2012
Western Cape, South Africa $11.95

Goats Do Roam White 2012WWAC Top 25 Value Wines

The Goats white is a blend of three whites grapes, all of which originate in the Rhone Valley in France. It is an aromatic white with loads of flavour and a touch of class. Expect aromas of apple and pasty with orange and white peach fruit with some floral and spicy notes. It is medium-full bodied with nice balancing acidity and good length. Very good length. Enjoy as an aperitif with pastry nibbles or try with roast poultry.

There are another 43 wines on the Top 50 list so if you did not find all you need above for your current needs dip into the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste.

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.

Steve's Top Value WinesTo 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 feedback@winealign.com. 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.

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow

Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials Wines

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!


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Tenuta Frescobaldi Di Castiglioni 2011

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