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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (October)

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

There’s lots to tell you this month about wine values at the LCBO. Firstly many wines on my Top 50  Best Values list are discounted and some have Bonus Air Miles that apply, making these wines even more attractive for the next four weeks or so. Secondly, from among the many wines I have tasted since I last reported to you, I have found 8 new wines to join the Top 50; all making your fall 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 most from wines on 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 runs until November 9th. So don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you that there were decent stocks available, when we published, of every wine that I highlight.

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 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!

Reds

Santa Carolina Merlot 2012, Chile $8.95 plus 4 BAMs
TOP50OCTOBER – A pure fruity clean red that’s simple but generously flavoured.

K W V Contemporary Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013 Western Cape South Africa $9.45
NEW TO TOP50 – A juicy fruity red blend from the Cape at a great price.

Apelia Agiorgitiko 2012 (1000ml) Greece $9.95 plus 4 BAMs
TOP50OCTOBER – A clean fresh red that is fruity, midweight, well balanced; a good everyday wine. Agiorgitiko is one of Greece’s best red grapes .

Santa Carolina Merlot 2012 K W V Contemporary Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013 Apelia Agiorgitiko 2012 Boschendal The Pavillion Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Fuzion Alta Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Castillo De Monseran Garnacha 2013

Boschendal The Pavillion Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Western Cape South Africa $9.95 was $11.95
NEW TO TOP50 – I love the zippy juicy vibrant palate to this exuberant red with a touch of spice to the fruit.

Fuzion Alta Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Mendoza Argentina $9.95
NEW TO TOP50 – A soft and flavourful cabernet from high altitude vineyards in Argentina.

Castillo De Monseran Garnacha 2013 Carinena Spain $9.95 plus 6 BAMs
An exciting youthful very drinkable red. Chill lightly and enjoy with burgers, sausages or ribs.

Cusumano Syrah 2013 Sicily, Italy $10.45 was $11.95
TOP50OCTOBER – A seductive complex nose with raspberry jam, blueberry and prune aromas leads to a balanced fruity palate. Great value.

Carmen Reserva Carmenere 2013 Colchagua Valley, Chile $10.45 was $11.45
TOP50OCTOBER – Fresh black cherry, plum and herbal sage aromas make this aromatic fruity red very appealing.

Cusumano Syrah 2013 Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013 Santa Carolina Carmenère Reserva 2012 Farnese Casale Vecchio Montepulciano D'abruzzo 2012

Santa Carolina Carmenère Reserva 2012, Cachapoal Valley, Chile $10.95 was $12.95
TOP50OCTOBER – A complex balanced carmenere from the Peumo region of the Cachapoal Valley. Fragrant, full bodied and elegant with lots of ripe fruit flavour.

Farnese Casale Vecchio Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2012, Abruzzo, Italy $10.95 plus 4 BAMs
TOP50OCTOBER – A classy Italian red for fine dining at a great price.

Root:1 Carmenere 2012 Colchagua Valley, Chile $11.80 was $12.80
NEW TO TOP50 – A ripe, fresh and very smooth carmenere with none of the greenness sometimes associated with this grape.

La Vieille Ferme Red 2013, Ventoux, Rhone Valley, France $11.90 plus 4 BAMs
A consistent favourite that’s a very versatile red wine well balanced for food.

Root1 Carmenère 2012 La Vieille Ferme Red 2013 D'arenberg The Stump Jump Grenache Hardys Chronicle No. 3 Butcher's Gold Shiraz Sangiovese

D’Arenberg The Stump Jump Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvèdre 2011 South Australia $13.95 was $14.95
NEW TO TOP50 -A delicious fresh fragrant plummy red. Chill a little and enjoy on its own or with grilled meats.

Hardys Chronicle No. 3 Butcher’s Gold Shiraz Sangiovese 2012 South Australia $14.95 plus 6 BAMs
Sangiovese, the Chianti grape from Italy, is blended here with shiraz to deliver a fresher more vibrant wine than one normally expects from this region.

Whites

Poquito Moscato Sparkling (375ml) Spain $2.85 was $5.00+ 3 BAMs
DISCONTINUED AT LCBO (Over 10,000 in inventory currently) – This floral sweet summer bubbly listing is coming to an end so this half bottle has gone on sale and as an added incentive there are 3 Bonus AirMiles. Pick up an armfull, chill well and enjoy as an aperitif.

Citra Trebbiano D’abruzzo 2013 Abruzzo Italy $7.75
NEW TO TOP50 – More flavour than most Italian whites at this price; the 1.5L bottle for $12.95 is even better value.

Apelia Moschofilero 2013 (1000ml) Greece $9.95 plus 4BAMs
TOP50OCTOBER – A good example of Moschofilero, one of Greece’s best indigenous grapes, with its lifted floral aromas and dry fruity minerally soft palate.

Poquito Moscato Sparkling Citra Trebbiano D'abruzzo 2013 Apelia Moschofilero 2013 Jackson Triggs Niagara Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2011 Château Des Charmes Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2011 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Jackson Triggs Niagara Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2011 Niagara Peninsula, Ontario $9.95 was $11.95
A rich creamy full-bodied chardonnay that is nicely mature and well integrated.

Château Des Charmes Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2011, Niagara On The Lake, Ontario $13.95 plus 5BAMs
TOP50OCTOBER – I love how the subtle oak flavours add to the structure and complexity of this charming balanced chardonnay.

Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Marlborough, New Zealand $14.95 was $16.95
TOP50OCTOBER – The 2013 vintage in Marlborough was one of the best in recent years, consequently we have a classic wine from Villa Maria.

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.

Steve Top50The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

There are another 33 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 October
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 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!


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What’s New at the LCBO September

The Fall line up
by Steve Thurlow with selections from David Lawrason

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

The wines on the shelves at the LCBO are constantly changing and I am tasting the new ones all the time. Many favourites are always there but the range and variety is gradually being updated. I have chosen to highlight 12 new arrivals that have refreshed the system out of the 50 or more that I tried.

These are some exciting new wines that I hope you will try because I would like them to survive, but that will ultimately depend upon them being bought in sufficient quantity. Sales quotas must be met otherwise its “hasta la vista baby” sometime next year. If you show your love, then they will meet or exceed the sales quota and will not be replaced or “delisted”.

So I suggest you read on, pick a few that appeal and then check on inventory at your local LCBO which should be set up as your Favourite Store in Find Wine at WineAlign. 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 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!

Reds

Borsao Garnacha 2012 Selección, Campo De Borja, Aragon, Spain ($11.95)
A fresh lively midweight Spanish red with little, if any, oak showing. Chill a little and enjoy with pizza. Steve

Argento 2012 Reserva Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina ($12.90)
This is a modern, rich, smooth malbec with an appealing take to enjoy around the BBQ. David

Borsao Garnacha Selección 2012Argento Reserva Malbec 2012Hinterbrook Deeply Red 2012 Angels Gate Rage Red 2012 Trapiche Pure Malbec 2014

Hinterbrook 2012 Deeply Red, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($13.95)
A classic Bordeaux red blend with a degree of elegance and pureness not often found in such an inexpensive wine. Bravo Hinterbrook. Steve

Angels Gate 2012 Rage Red, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($13.95)
A fresh vibrant pure red with little, if any, oak. Great with Italian tomato sauces. Steve

Trapiche Pure Malbec 2014 Mendoza, Argentina ($15.95)
A pure, dry, unoaked malbec; with so many over-oaked sweet reds around these days this was a delightful find. Steve

Whites & Sparkling

Cono Sur Bicicleta 2013 Pinot Grigio, Central Valley, Chile ($9.90)
A well made rich honeyed style of pinot grigio, that is more like Alsatian pinot gris than Italian pinot grigio. Steve

Douglas Green 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Western Cape, South Africa ($10.80)
A very appealing fresh juicy sauvignon with a lively palate and an expressive nose. Steve

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Grigio 2013Douglas Green Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Santa Julia+ Chardonnay 2013Brazos De Los Andes White 2013Sebastiani Sonoma County Chardonnay 2011

Santa Julia+ Chardonnay 2013, Mendoza, Argentina ($10.90)
This is a big chardonnay with a good depth of flavour, elegantly oaked so as to add complexity and structure without overdoing it. Steve

Brazos De Los Andes 2013 White, Mendoza, Argentina ($12.90 until Oct 12, was $13.90)
This exciting white is a blend of chardonnay and torrontes, an indigenous aromatic Argentine grape,  with a splash of pinot grigio. Steve

Handsome BrutVilla Sandi Il Fresco ProseccoSebastiani 2011 Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California USA ($19.80 plus 10 BAMs*)
This is a classic Sonoma chardonnay; very attractive with an appealing nose and creamy palate. Steve

Villa Sandi Il Fresco Prosecco, Treviso, Italy ($13.95)
A very authentic prosecco with a palate that is initially dry with melon fruit but then it explodes with a fine mousse that caresses the mouth and liberates fine lemon mineral and white peach flavours. Steve

Handsome Brut, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($24.95)
Made in the traditional method from 100% chardonnay, this is a flavourful, well balanced, fruit driven sparkler from Angels Gate. David

* BAM= Bonus AirMiles until Oct. 11th, 2014

*****

Feel free to share your feedback on these wines or on any of your favourties. We’ll be back in a few weeks time with our Top 20 Under $20. In the meanwhile  if you still need picks, 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.

Cheers,
Steve Thurlow


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Wolf Blass Event in Toronto

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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (September)

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 pleased to tell you that since my last report I have found 18 new wines to join my Top 50 Best Values. Over the last few weeks I have tasted around 300 wines so it is not surprising that there are so many new finds. Some additions are due to monthly discounts (LTOs) from the LCBO, plus a couple of delisted wines 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 fall 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 most from wines new to 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 runs until October 12th. 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 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!

Reds

Fonseca Periquita 2012, Peninsula De Setubal, Portugal $8.95 + 5BAMs
TOP50SEPTEMBER – Dependable value medium bodied red with a spicy side to the fruit.

Montalto Nero d’Avola Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Sicily, Italy $8.95
NEW TO TOP50 – A finely balanced red for red meat dishes or pizza from sunny Sicily.

Beso De Vino Old Vine Garnacha 2011, Spain. $8.95 was $9.95
NEW TO TOP50 – A fresh vibrant and tasty BBQ red from grenache known as garnacha in Spain.

Fonseca Periquita 2012 Montalto Nero d'Aavola Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Beso De Vino Old Vine Garnacha 2011 Xplorador Carmenere 2012 Santa Carolina Merlot Reserva 2012

Xplorador Carmenere 2012, Central Valley, Chile $9.15 was $10.95
DISCONTINUED AT  LCBO – Sadly this juicy fruit forward red will soon no longer be on the shelf.  There are over 3000 bottles in stock so one can enjoy at the sale price for a while I think.

Santa Carolina Merlot Reserva 2012, Colchagua Valley, Chile $10.95 was $12.95
NEW TO TOP50 – A bright fresh merlot with pure aromas and flavours of black cherry and pomegranate fruit with some spice and leather tones.

Cusumano Syrah 2013, Sicily, Italy $11.95
NEW TO TOP50 – This red gets better with every vintage. Fantastic value for a cool climate unoaked red.

La Posta Cocina Tinto Blend 2013, Mendoza, Argentina $13.50
NEW TO TOP50 – Try this opaque purple red with steak or enjoy with a cheese platter.

Carpineto Dogajolo Rosso 2012, Tuscany, Italy $14.60 + 5BAMs
NEW TO TOP50 – An elegant and very Tuscan red that is balanced just right for tomato based sauces.

Cusumano Syrah 2013 La Posta Cocina Tinto Blend 2013 Carpineto Dogajolo Rosso 2012 Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012 Pascual Toso Malbec Limited Edition 2012 Carmen Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012, Mendoza, Argentina $14.95
NEW TO TOP50 – This full bodied malbec is an Argentine classic, charming and delicious with a very inviting nose.

Pascual Toso Malbec Limited Edition 2012, Mendoza, Argentina $15.95
NEW TO TOP50 – The best vintage yet of this elegant harmonious malbec with lifted aromas of blackberry fruit plus well integrated oak, dark chocolate, vanilla and black plum jam.

Carmen Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Maipo Alto, Chile $15.95
NEW TO TOP50 – Try this elegant fruity, very aromatic, cabernet with a rack of lamb. A great price for a fine dining red.

Whites

Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Rapel Valley, Chile $8.95 + 4BAMs
TOP50SEPTEMBER – Best vintage yet of this lightweight juicy, crunchy, fresh sauvignon.

Dunavar Pinot Blanc 2013, Hungary $8.95 + 3 BAMs
NEW TO TOP50 – A juicy flavourful white that shows mild mango and melon fruit aromas and flavours.

KWV Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2014, Western Cape, South Africa $9.45
NEW TO TOP50 – The 2014 vintage of this wine shows that South Africa can make good inexpensive chenin with a good depth of flavour and also well structured.

Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Dunavár Pinot Blanc 2013 K W V Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2014 Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Grigio 2013 Inniskillin Niagara Estate Unoaked Chardonnay 2011

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Grigio 2013, Central Valley, Chile $9.90
NEW TO TOP50 – Another beautiful flavourful white from Cono Sur at a great price.

Inniskillin Niagara Estate Unoaked Chardonnay 2011, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario $9.95was $11.95
NEW TO TOP50 – It is tough to make a good unoaked chardonnay so enjoy this slender pure wine at such a great price.

Boschendal The Pavillion Chenin Blanc Viognier 2013, Western Cape, South Africa $10.95
NEW TO TOP50 – A ripe and exotic white with a beautiful nose. South Africa is making some delicious aromatic white blends with lots of flavour.

Dopff & Irion Gewurztraminer Cuvee Rene Dopff 2012, Alsace, France $13.00 was $15.45
DISCONTINUED AT  LCBO – Regrettably this juicy textbook gewurz from Alsace will soon no longer be on the shelf but there are around 600  bottles in stock. So use WineAlign to locate the nearest to you and enjoy at the sale price while stock remains.

Boschendal The Pavillion Chenin Blanc Viognier 2013 Dopff & Irion Gewurztraminer Cuvee Rene Dopff 2012 Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand $13.95
NEW TO TOP50 – Now sourced from Hawkes Bay this is a major improvement on earlier vintages of this brand. It is a fresh pure flavourful grigio at a great price.

Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Marlborough, New Zealand $16.95
NEW TO TOP50 – I have tasted this vintage several times this year. It keeps getting better as it matures in bottle; often the case with sauvignon blanc. So pop a few in a cupboard at home to enjoy over next six months.

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 September
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 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!


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Michel Lynch Merlot 2011

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New at the LCBO for August

The latest general listings & current features
by Steve Thurlow with selections from Sara d’Amato

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

It may sometimes seem as though nothing really changes at the LCBO – the most popular wines are always there. But in fact new wines are constantly being added to the General List to replace wines that fail to achieve sales targets or have been removed or “delisted” for other reasons. This keeps the current number of wines available at around 1500. Over the last couple of months we have tasted about 50 new arrivals and have chosen 13 of them to highlight for you.

To check on inventory at your local LCBO set up your Favourite Store in Find Wine. 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 newly posted reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!

Reds and a Rosé

Radio Boka Tempranillo 2012, Valencia, Spain $11.00

A midweight balanced tempranillo red from Spain’s eastern region; should be great with a rack of lamb.

Sella & Mosca Rosato 2013, Alghero, Sardinia, Italy $11.65

A deep salmon pink rose with lots of flavour, made from the cannonau or grenache grape grown throughout this Mediterranean island.

Tons De Duorum Red 2011, Douro Valley, Portugal $12.30

An excellent BBQ red; fruity, flavourful with some structure. The new wave of reds from Portugal’s port country offer some of the best values today.

Radio Boka Tempranillo 2012Sella & Mosca Rosato 2013Tons De Duorum Red 2011Vina Leyda Reserva Pinot Noir 2012

Vina Leyda Reserva Pinot Noir 2012, Leyda Valley, Chile $12.50

A soft fragrant, juicy and very flavourful pinot noir from the exciting, new cool coastal Leyda Valley.

Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva Douro 2010 Portugal $12.70

Exceptional value for a fragrant structured dense fruity red. Another great Douro buy.

Castel Freres Haury Grenache Petite Edition 2011, Vin De France $12.70

A generous, supple, spicy and flavourful grenache from the generic Vin de France appellation.

Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva Douro 2010Castel Freres Haury Grenache Petite Edition 2011Wakefield Promised Land Cabernet Sauvignon 2011Figuero Tinto 4 Tempranillo 2012

Wakefield Promised Land Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 South Australia $14.85

A soft vibrant juicy cabernet. Loads of flavour here.

Figuero Tinto 4 Tempranillo 2012 Ribera del Duero, Spain $17.75

A great price for a classy elegant red for fine dining.

Whites and a Sparkling

Periquita White 2013, Portugal $8.80

A fruity fragrant white made from indigenous Portuguese grape varieties, that is ideal for mildly flavoured seafood.

Laroche Viognier De La Chevaliere 2013 Pays D’Oc France $12.70

A rich powerful viognier – the queen of the Rhone whites varieties – with strong aromas and flavours.

Winzer Krems Sandgrube 13 Grüner Veltliner 2013 Kremstal, Austria $12.80

A good entry-level gruner – Austria’s signature white – with a typical white pepper spice tone to nose and palate.

Periquita White 2013Laroche Viognier De La Chevaliere 2013Winzer Krems Sandgrube 13 Grüner Veltliner 2013Cavas Hill 1887 BrutSilver Bay Riesling Gewurztraminer 2013

Cavas Hill 1887 Brut, Penedes, Spain $13.20

Bright, cheerful and dry sparkling Spanish Cava with a lightness befitting the warmer months.

Silver Bay Riesling Gewurztraminer 2013 VQA Ontario $13.95

New from the Speck brothers of Henry of Pelham fame, this is a fruity, fresh and fun, rather simple but with good varietal character in an elegant beachy package.

*****

Feel free to share your feedback on these wines or on any of your favourties. We’ll be back in a few weeks time with our Top 20 Under $20. In the meanwhile  if you still need picks, 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.

Cheers,
Steve Thurlow


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LaurentMiquelChardNwsltr_Aug

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Gourmet Dinner & Tutored Tasting Featuring Wines from Graffigna

On August 21st, WineAlign is pleased to present a gourmet dinner & tutored tasting featuring wines from one of Argentina’s oldest wineries – Graffigna.

Graffigna HistoryGraffigna

Join us for an exclusive dinner at Jump restaurant with sommelier and global brand ambassador from Argentina, Federico Lleonart. Federico will guide you through a range of Graffigna wines and speak about the unique terroir of San Juan, Argentina as well as the history of the company that started with one man, Santiago Graffigna, in 1870. You will also have the opportunity to experience the exclusive Malbec glass – created in partnership with Riedel and Graffigna, and take home a box of 2 official Malbec Riedel glasses (valued at $50).

Federico will be joined by WineAlign’s Steve Thurlow.

2014-08-06_15-34-33

Event Details:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Location:  Jump (18 Wellington St W – Commerce Court East)

Reception: 6:30pm

Dinner: 7:00pm – 9:30pm

Tickets:  $80.00 plus HST and fees

*Please note tickets are limited to 50, so book early to avoid disappointment.

Purchase Your Tickets Here

Menu

Sparkling cocktails and hors d’oeuvres

Lime Cured Manitoulin Island Rainbow Trout
Avocado mousse, lemon jelly vinaigrette, lotus root crisps

Wine pairing: Graffigna Centenario Pinot Grigio

Grandview Farms Grass-fed Angus

Seared Flat Iron, stewed black beans and salt pork, chimmichurri rotolo of oxtail and tongue, braised mushroom forrestiere, escarole

Wine pairing: Graffigna Grand Reserve Malbec 2011

Cheese Course

Wine pairing: Santiago Graffigna (40% Malbec, 30% Cab Sauv, 30% Syrah) 2008

Hazelnut chocolate mousse
Bitter chocolate crunch, fresh raspberry coulis, baby mint

Wine pairing: Graffigna Late Harvest Malbec

*There are no substitutions*

About Jump

In the heart of Toronto’s Financial district, Jump combines classic style with sleek modern eclecticism. The sky high glass atrium, signature New York style bar and courtyard patio provide the perfect backdrop for world-inspired cuisine. Jump is renowned for its locally sourced meat and seafood, and seasonal vegetables, while continually creating fresh and innovative dishes.

2014-08-06_16-01-17

Our winemaker events have been consistently and quickly selling out.  If you are interested in attending then we advise you to purchase your tickets as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

 

Purchase Your Tickets Here

 

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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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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!


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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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Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008