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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (July 2015)

Your Guide to the Best Values, Limited Time Offers & Bonus Air Miles selections at the LCBO
by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

I have many new wine values to report since the LCBO announced lots of big discounts last Monday. So I have picked 20 wines under $20 that are the best values presently. My list includes nine wines new to my Top50 for you to try plus two more wines already on the list that are on promotion i.e.  have Bonus Air Miles (BAMs) that apply or are on sale (LTO), making these wines even more attractive; all this will surely make your summer drinking more affordable.

I have selected eleven wines 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). To these I added another nine wines, all with BAMs, that make them good choices as well.

The discount period runs until August 16th. So don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I was able to ensure that there were 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

Citra Sangiovese Terre Di Chieti 2013, Abruzzo, Italy ($7.75) New to Top 50 – An inexpensive red for pizza and tomato pasta sauces. Basic but it delivers.

Vila Regia 2013, Douro Valley, Portugal ($7.95 + 4BAMs) Top 50 July – A great BBQ red with a smooth texture and just a hint of oak. Chill a little and enjoy with sausages or burgers.

Santa Carolina Merlot 2012, Chile ($8.95 + 4BAMs) Top 50 July – A well-priced Chilean merlot that more than delivers on drinkability with its lively vibrant fruit. Very versatile.

Citra Sangiovese Terre di Chieti 2013 Vila Regia 2013 Santa Carolina Merlot 2012 Cape Heights Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Cape Heights Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Western Cape, South Africa ($10.80 + 7 BAMs) – A clean juicy midweight modern cabernet. Just a hint of oak and enough tannin to give a some grip to the finish.

La Vieille Ferme Red 2013, Ventoux, Rhone Valley, France ($11.45 was $12.45) New to Top 50 – A consistent favourite of mine since it is such a versatile food red; so buy some while it is a $1 off

Pezoules Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Peloponnese, Greece ($11.60 + 4BAMs) – A dry midweight balanced cabernet that would be great with grilled lamb cutlets.

La Vieille Ferme Red 2013 Pezoules Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Montgras Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013 Errazuriz Estate Series Carmenere 2013

Montgras Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013, Colchagua Valley Chile ($11.95 + 5 BAMs) – There is an earthy herbal tone to the soft juicy palate, that’s a little sweet on the finish. So try with mildly spicy bbq meats.

Errazuriz Estate Series Carmenere 2013, Aconcagua Valley, Chile ($13.95 + 8BAMs) – A vibrant young carmenere, that’s firm but not austere. A good example of just how good this grape can be. Try with grilled meats or baked brie.

Figuero Tinto 4 Tempranillo 2012 Ribera Del Duero, Spain ($14.40) New to Top 50 – An aromatic midweight red that has just a touch of oak to add to the fruit complexity. Try with BBQ meats.

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Coonawarra, South Australia ($16.95 + 10BAMs) – A reasonably priced classic Coonawarra cabernet with excellent length and the structure for a steak .

Figuero Tinto 4 Tempranillo 2012Jacob's Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Santa Rita Medalla Real Carmenere Gran Reserva 2011 Stoneleigh Pinot Noir 2013

Santa Rita Medalla Real Carmenere Gran Reserva 2011, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($17.90) New to Top 50 – A complex elegant powerful red. Decant for an hour or so and enjoy with a steak.

Stoneleigh Pinot Noir 2013, Marlborough, New Zealand ($19.95 + 10BAMs) – A very appealing, pretty, and fresh pinot with lots of cranberry and raspberry fruit. The floral nose with just a hint of oak is very classy. Sip on its own or with a some rare roast beef.

Whites

San Pedro Gato Negro Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Central Valley Chile  (1500mL, $13.95 + 6 BAMs) – A lot wine plus some BAMs for a great price. It’s a basic, clean, fresh sipping white. Enjoy with veggie dips.

Citra Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2013 Abruzzo, Italy ($7.75) New to Top 50 – A basic yet quite fruity Italian white that’s great with grilled calamari.

K W V Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2014, Western Cape ($9.45) New to Top 50 – Fantastic value for a floral green apple white that’s great with seafood and white meats.

San Pedro Gato Negro Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Citra Trebbiano d'Abruzzo 2013 K W V Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2014 Marqués De Riscal 2014

Marqués De Riscal 2014, Rueda, Spain ($11.85) New to Top 50 – Rueda is currently one of the top places European’s shop for inexpensive dry whites but this region has yet to catch on in Canada; try this and you will see why it should. Great with mildly flavoured seafood.

Trapiche Extra Brut Mendoza Argentina ($11.95 + 6 BAMs) – An excellent sparkling wine with lots of flavour for such an inexpensive wine. Great as an aperitif with pastry nibbles or with seafood or cheesy starters.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay 2013, Central Coast, California, USA ($14.45 was $16.95) New to Top 50 – A lively fresh cool climate chardonnay with lots of aroma and flavour and very good length. Try with roast chicken.

Trapiche Extra Brut Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay 2013 Are You Game Chardonnay 2012 Brancott Estate Letter Series B Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Are You Game? Chardonnay 2012, Victoria, Australia ($14.95 +5BAMs) – An elegant cool climate chardonnay with a sleek fresh fruity palate and just a hint of oak. Try with sautéed seafood.

Brancott Estate Letter Series B Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Southern Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand ($16.95 was $19.95) New to Top 50 – A classic elegant sauvignon that’s pure, fresh and mouthwateringly delicious. Try with seafood.

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

Top 20 Under 20There are three ways that a wine gets into this monthly report of wines that are always in the stores either in the LCBO Wines section 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

In addition to the wines mentioned above, there are another 37 wines on the Top 50 list this month. So if you did not find all you need in this report, 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 (Click on Wine =>Top 50 Value Wines to be taken directly to the list), 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.

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

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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California Square Russian River Chardonnay 2012

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Buy The Case: Cavinona Wine Agency

A Report on Consignment Wines in Ontario

BuyTheCaseLOGOimage

Each month we will taste wines submitted by one importing agent. WineAlign core critics will independently, as always, taste, review and rate the wines – good, bad and indifferent, and those reviews will be posted to WineAlign. We will then independently recommend wines to appear in our Buy The Case report. Importers pay for this service. Ads for some wines may appear at the same time, but the decision on which wines to put forward in our report, if any, is entirely up to each critic, as it is with our reviews of in-store wines.

These recommended wines can only be purchased by the case from importers registered in the LCBO’s Consignment Program. They are ‘already landed and stocked’ wines that can be delivered directly to your restaurant, home or office. For an explanation of the program, the process and our 10 Good Reasons to Buy the Case, please click here.

July – Cavinona Wine Agency

Cavinona was launched close to a decade ago as an independent business mainly to supply the Terroni Group of restaurants with unique Italian wines. The original company remit was to fill the gaps in selection of Italian wines then available through the consignment program in Ontario, which at the time was heavily skewed towards the usual name brand appellations. Traditional producers in under-represented regions were the focus, especially from the south. Such was the success that the portfolio was expanded significantly, and now covers a broad swath of the Peninsula (still exclusively Italian). Demand has also led to direct-to-consumers sales. But Cavinona’s emphasis on small-scale, regionally authentic producers, with few exceptions, remains largely intact. The wines provided to WineAlign for review represent just a fraction of the portfolio; the full selection can be sampled at any of the Terroni locations in Toronto, with many available by the glass. – JS   [Disclosure: John Szabo used to consult for the Terroni Restaurant Group]

Click on the wine name or bottle image to see full reviews by the WineAlign team. Prices shown below are retail and do not include taxes (licensee prices may be less). Cavinona has submitted their agency profile with more details below.

Cellaring Wine

Fattoria Di Milziade Antano Montefalco Sagrantino 2011

Fattoria Di Milziade Antano Montefalco Sagrantino 2011John Szabo – Sagrantino is a burly wine at the best of times, but in the hands of ultra-traditionalist Francesco Antano, following in his father Milziade’s footsteps, this example is a massive grizzly bear of a wine, with Amarone-like dried fruit extract. And at 15.5% alcohol there’s a significant dried grape component to be sure. This is how I imagine wine might have been made in Umbria in the 16th century (although probably sweeter). Tannins are thick and chewy – you’ll need a chain saw to carve a path to the finish if you open it now. It’s not to be touched without a giant roast of beef or lamb on the table, or hard cheese, or anything with salt and protein to soften the impact. Better yet, tuck this away for a decade; it will reward patience. For the Cellar.

David Lawrason – This is pricey, but not out of the realm at $50. This traditionally rendered example is 100% sagrantino aged over three years in large oak, and several months in bottle before release. It pours deep ruby black. The nose is chock full of blueberry/prunish and black olive fruit well framed by spicy, woodsy oak and licorice. It’s full bodied, dense and firmly tannic and drying yet surprisingly, not too austere. The length is excellent. Ready to drink now despite the tannins suggesting otherwise. They will melt into a hearty stew or lasagna.

Steve Thurlow – Though this is fine to drink now it will surely improve in the cellar over the next decade if one can resist. It is a deep almost opaque ruby red made from the sagrantino grape with an appealing elegant nose of black cherry fruit with a floral tone plus licorice, black olive, prune and tar. The fullbodied palate is well balanced by soft acidity making it feel lighter and adding to the elegance. The finish is dry with the fruit persisting well. Excellent length. It is fine now but will reward from some time in the cellar.

Fattoria Di Milziade Antano 2011 Montefalco Rosso Riserva

Fattoria Di Milziade Antano Montefalco Rosso Riserva 2011David Lawrason – Proprietor and winemaker Francisco Antano is making quite traditional, concrete fermented, long aged reds in Montefalco. The ‘Riserva’ is based on 65% sangiovese with sagrantino, merlot and cabernet sauvignon, aged 36 months in large barrels. This is a very seductive, rich but old-styled, slightly oxidative and volatile red. The bouquet nicely weaves complex leather, dusty wood, forest notes and curranty fruit, with a touch of acetone. It’s full bodied, dense and smooth with impressive texture. The acetic notes creeps on the finish. The length is excellent. Needs a rich meat dish.

Michael Godel – The WineAlign team tasted three wines by Milziade side by side by side. This was a great learning experience and a portal into their style. It also allowed us to imagine the aging potential of these monster reds from Umbria. This is Italian wine to define the meaning of provinciale, deeply ingrained for place, history and tradition. This Riserva is a perfect candidate for up to 10 years in the cellar.

Function Wines

Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Rosé, Lombardy

Steve Thurlow – This is a very classy rose bubbly that would be a sure hit at an upmarket reception if those attending are Champagne lovers. It is a pale caramel in colour but there is little sign of worrisome oxidation to its complex nose of white cherry fruit with mineral and brioche aromas plus some floral and mild toffee notes, which could easily be mistaken for real Champagne. The palate is lightweight with a touch of sweetness and lively vibrant acidity. Finely balanced with very good to excellent length.

David Lawrason – This very pale, almost pearl pink traditional method rose is made from 60% chardonnay, 40% pinot noir, part of which was aged in barrel as a first wine. Together they were aged 24 months on the lees. It has a fairly generous, vaguely sour cherryish fruit, bready and mineral nose that could easily be mistaken for Champagne. It’s light-bodied, slim and quite elegant with a touch of sweetness. Really very tender, but not soft. The length is very good to excellent. Good value in elegant rose bubbly.

Micheal Godel – Franciacorta is not the most well-known or understood bubbles but it can be fascinating stuff. This is a total, classical, storied package of gastronomy in a bottle. Not so much Rosé as much as bubbles with a fostered history of age.

La Cavalchina 2014 Bardolino Chiaretto, Veneto

La Cavalchina Bardolino Chiaretto 2014 Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta RoséMichael Godel – It’s summer and with outdoor functions in full swing, every host needs to have a Rosé on hand. Bardolino from Verona in the Italian Veneto does blush in a beautifully subtle way. This Chiaretto is a true food Rosé. It has everything you might want or need to pair with a feast of cuisine.

David Lawrason – This pale coppery, onion-skin shaded rose is from the shores of Lago di Garda in northeast Italy. Chiaretto is the local name for the rose genre in this area. It has mild and subtle nose of dried strawberry and herbs. It’s light to medium bodied with firm but not tart acidity, a hint of background sweetness yet a dry, slightly mineral and earthy finish. Nice sense of poise and polish, with very good length.

Personal House Wines

Terre Di Giurfo 2013 Kudyah Nero d’Avola, Sicily

John Szabo – This is a pretty, floral, rather elegant version of Sicily’s flagship red variety, with fine-grained, dusty tannins and lively acids. I love the freshness and balance here, often missing in many over-wrought versions of nero d’avola. It’s the sort of versatile, easy-drinking, but authentic and characterful wine you want to have around at all times. Drink with a light chill.

Michael Godel – Kudyah is the arabic name for the Sicilian town of Licodea Eubea nearest to the producer Terre di Giurfo’s vineyards. Nero d’Avola not shrouded in oak, full of red fruit and all about simple, direct pleasure. A stress reliever. What else can you ask to get out of a house wine?

Contadi Franciacorta N/V Brut, Lombardia

John Szabo – No house should be without a stock of bubbly on hand, and this Franciacorta plays double duty: classy (and expensive) enough to impress on special occasions, yet not so far out of reach that grabbing a bottle on Tuesday night will end in financial ruin. Contadi (est. 1987) is a quality spin-off operation from the excellent Bellavista winery in the same region (under the Terra Moretti umbrella), a lovely fullish and fleshy Franciacorta, on the richer side of brut to be sure, ample, mouthfilling and satisfying.

David Lawrason – Franciacorta is considered the finest classic method sparkler of Italy. It’s a nicely slim, fairly intensely flavoured bubbly with a hint of sweetness cushioning the tart acidity. Expect complex aromas of dried pear/apple fruit, almond, light toast and an undercurrent of mushroomy earthiness. Lively, light and pleasant on the palate, with serious flavour depth. Excellent length; very good value.

Terre di Giurfo Kudyah Nero d'Avola 2013Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta BrutCarvinea Frauma 2008

Gifting Wines

Carvinea 2008 Frauma, IGT Salento Rosso, Puglia

John Szabo – Although this is a thoroughly modern wine made by consulting oenologist Riccardo Cotarella in his unabashedly international style, and has little to do with Pugliese traditions, it’s nonetheless a bottle with massive appeal that will impress widely. The blend of 60% Aglianico, and 40% Petit Verdot yields plenty of dark, ultra ripe fruit, very dense, battling with generous lashings of coffee-flavoured oak for domination on the palate. This could handily compete with many in the super Tuscan genre; be sure to share with your naysaying friends who believe that Italy begins and ends in Florence.

David Lawrason – Wow – great aromatic fireworks here, with considerable depth and elegance. No wonder it has earned a rare three glasses from Gambero Rosso. The winery is small but consulting winemaker Riccardo Cotarella is a big name in Italian wine. Love the lifted, complex riot of dried currant/pruny fruit, soya, balsamic, olive and smoked herbs. It’s full bodied, intense yet silky on the palate, with excellent to outstanding focus and length. Love the mineral/pencil lead trail petit verdot leaves on the finish.

Steve Thurlow – This is an excellent complex Italian red that would be a good restaurant wine by the glass since it is from a relatively unknown region and is consequently well priced for such a complex wine and would benefit from some promotion (plus any wine remaining in an opened bottle would probably improve over several days). It has a very enticing nose of dried blackcurrant, black cherry and prune fruit with smokey bacon, dried herbs, kelp and tobacco. The palate is midweight and very juicy with fine balancing tannin and vibrant acidity. Excellent length and great focus. Will gain in complexity as the tannins fold into the wine.

~

For more reviews, visit the agent’s profile page on WineAlign: Cavinona Wine Agency. Because these wines are not in stores, remember to click “All sources” and “show wines with zero inventory” to see all of the reviews.

Cavinona Wine Agency

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names or bottle images above. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!

This report was sponsored by the Cavinona Wine Agency. WineAlign critics have independently recommended the above wines based on reviews that are posted on WineAlign as part of this sponsored tasting. Cavinona has provided the following agency profile with more details on their consignment program and delivery options.

~

Cavinona Wine Agency

Cavinona Wine AgencyCavinona is an Ontario-based wine agency that imports Italian wines.

Cavinona has handpicked over fifty wine producers throughout the Italian peninsula and distributes their wines exclusively to the Terroni family of restaurants and to private consumers through our online store at www.cavinona.com.

We seek out small regional producers who are driven by passion for quality and devotion to traditional Italian culture. All our wines come from producers who go against the grain of mass marketing and the homogenization of wine. Rather, they strive to uphold the principles of regional diversity. Our producers create wine that reflects the indigenous grape varieties and the soils and climate of their region.

Our goal is to offer the best expressions of Italy’s enormous range of native grape varieties. From vintners whose winemaking philosophies tend toward tradition and minimal intervention, we invite you to discover wines that are true to the grape, the people and the place.

For consumers living within the Toronto area we offer daytime delivery to your home or office starting at $10.50 for the first case (5 cases or more are free). For clients living outside of the Toronto area we can also ship wines to an LCBO of your choice at no extra cost. The shipment usually takes 2-4 weeks, but may take up to 8 depending on the business of the season and distance the case must travel. Your chosen LCBO store will give you a call to let you know when your order has arrived.

You can subscribe to our Newsletter here.

www.cavinona.com – (416) 203-6108

 


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What’s New at the LCBO – July 2015

Between our VINTAGES Buyers’ Guide and Steve Thurlow’s top picks from the LCBO Wines, we have the whole store covered each and every month.

Tour de France, Portugal, Spain, Ontario …
by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

The French section of the LCBO has been refreshed with several new wines for around $18 from Bordeaux and the Rhône. I have picked four that I recommend plus some new well priced selections from Ontario and New Zealand. The LCBO has also added to the Portuguese and Spanish sections, so  you can find several new wines in your local store to try.

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 selected eleven new wines that have refreshed the system out of the 70 or so that I have tried since I last reported. Some are on shelf already; the rest will arrive over next few weeks.

Anyway, I suggest you read on, pick a few that appeal, then sign in to WineAlign to 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 reviews of great value wines!

REDS

Quinta Do Valdoeiro Baga, Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah 2011 Bairrada, Portugal ($12.95) – A fresh lively blend of the indigenous grape baga with two other grapes. Try with roast meats.

Las Mulas Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2013 Chile ($12.95) – A pure flavourful organic cabernet for a great price.

Chateau Fort Lignac 2012, Haut Médoc, Bordeaux, France ($18.95) – A dense oaky modern Bordeaux ready for fine dining now or into your cellar for later.

Quinta Do Valdoeiro Las Mulas Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2013 Chateau Fort Lignac 2012 Lavau 2011 Chateau Haut Langlade 2012 Chateau Tour Carmail 2011

Lavau 2011, Cotes Du Rhone Villages, Rhone, France ($12.90) – A very youthful 2011 Rhone red, lively with mild tannin.

Chateau Haut Langlade 2012, Montagne Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, France ($19.95) – A juicy red Bordeaux with some cellar potential but great now with roast meats or mature cheese.

Chateau Tour Carmail 2011, Haut Medoc, Bordeaux, France ($19.95) – A classically styled Bordeaux that has a traditional French feel to it; balance, oak and length are all good.

WHITES

Fasto Verdejo 2014, Rueda Spain ($11.30 + 6 BAMs until July 18th) – Rueda is the hot category for inexpensive fresh dry whites in Europe these days. The wines from this region are made from the verdejo grape. This fresh pure dry white should help the cause in ON. Try with seafood, chicken and mildly flavoured veal.

Long Weekend Chardonnay Pinot Grigio 2014, VQA Niagara Peninsula ($12.95) – A well priced fresh aromatic juicy white from Fielding Estate; good for sipping but fine also for seafood or chicken appetizers.

Fasto Verdejo 2014 Long Weekend Chardonnay Pinot Grigio 2014 Banero Extra Dry Prosecco Riverlore Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Tawse Quarry Road Riesling 2013

Banero Extra Dry Prosecco, Veneto, Italy ($14.05) – This juicy fresh prosecco is well priced with nice clean lines, a soft mousse and explosive flavours. It is also kosher certified.

Riverlore Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand ($15.90) -A crisp classic kiwi sauvignon for a good price. Sautéed seafood or creamy goats cheese would both be good food matches.

Tawse Quarry Road Riesling 2013, VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara ($23.95 VINTAGES Essentials) – An elegant nervy very typical Niagara riesling. A very versatile food wine.

*****

We would love to get your feedback on this report. 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. In two week’s time I will be back with a look at the updated list in our WineAlign’s Top 20 Under $20 report.

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20
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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Cave Spring Estate Bottled Chardonnay


International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration

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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (June)

Your Guide to the Best Values, Limited Time Offers & Bonus Air Miles selections at the LCBO
by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Many summer whites and BBQ reds joined the Top list this month. With this many new selections there is surely a value shopping choice for everyone.

There are eleven new wines on the list for you to try with two coming from the recently delisted section. For the next four weeks another four wines already on the list are on promotion i.e.  have Bonus Air Miles (BAMs) that apply or have a Limited Time Offer (LTO), making these wines even more attractive; all this will surely make your June drinking more affordable.

The Top 20 under $20 are best buys among the 1,600 or so wines in LCBO Wines and the VINTAGES Essentials collection. This month I selected thirteen wines 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 LTOs.

To make up the Top 20 under $20 I added another five wines, all with BAMs, that make them good choices and though none of them quite made it on to the Top50, they were all close.

The discount period runs until July 19th. So don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I was able to ensure that there were 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

Villa Ponciago Beaujolais Villages 2012, Burgundy, France ($6.80 was $12.20 Discontinued. Limited quantities) – A charming fruity light red. Try lightly chilled with poultry. About 1000 bottles remain.

Eclipse Montepulciano D’ Abruzzo 2013 Abruzzo Italy ($7.55) New to Top 50 – The 2013 is the latest vintage of this well priced Italian red. Try with pizza and meaty or tomato pasta sauces.

Citra Sangiovese Terre Di Chieti 2013, Abruzzo, Italy ($7.75 + 4 BAMs) – A midweight dry vibrant red that is great with tomato sauces.

Villa Ponciago Beaujolais Villages 2012 Eclipse Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2013 Citra Sangiovese Terre di Chieti 2013 Jean Philippe Janoueix l'Evidence 2011 Vila Regia 2013

Jean Philippe Janoueix L’Evidence 2011 Bordeaux, France ($7.95 was $14.00 Discontinued. Limited quantities) – A supple easy drinking Bordeaux red with charm and structure for enjoying with food. Try with roast beef. About 1700 bottles remain.

Vila Regia 2013, Douro Valley, Portugal ($7.95) New to Top 50 – A dependable versatile table red for a wide variety of dishes at a great price.

Spadafora Terrano Rosso 2012, Calabria. Italy ($8.15 + 3 BAMs) Top 50 June – A juicy well balanced southern Italian red for burgers or grilled sausages.

Fuzion Alta Reserva Malbec 2013 Mendoza, Argentina ($8.95 was $9.95) New to Top 50 – A soft fruity malbec that’s well balanced. Chill a little and try with pizza.

Fonseca Periquita 2012, Peninsula De Setubal, Portugal ($8.95 + 5BAMs) Top 50 June – A perennial favourite that keeps on delivering. It’s a midweight dry red that works well with lamb cutlets.

Spadafora Terrano Rosso 2012 Fuzion Alta Reserva Malbec 2013 Fonseca Periquita 2012 Mezzomondo Negroamaro 2013

Mezzomondo Negroamaro 2013, Salento, Puglia, Italy ($8.95) New to Top 50 – The 2013 now comes with a convenient screwtop. Same great value for a balanced fruity dry red for many food choices.

Bodegas Volcanes de Chile Summit Reserva Cabernet Syrah 2013 Rapel Valley, Chile ($9.95 + 7BAMs) – A midweight to full bodied juicy red at a great price. Grown on volcanic soils which adds to great its purity of flavour.

Santa Julia Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Mendoza, Argentina ($10.95 was $12.95) New to Top 50 – A structured ripe fragrant cabernet that is cellar worthy, but you can also enjoy now with a steak after an hour in a decanter.

Guardian Reserva Red 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($11.60 was $13.60) New to Top 50 – A complex red cabernet blend finely balanced with a fruity long lingering finish with some fine tannin. Try with a steak.

Bodegas Volcanes de Chile Summit Reserva Cabernet Syrah 2013 Santa Julia Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Guardian Reserva Red 2013The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier 2013 Quinta Do Valdoeiro Baga Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah 2011

The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier 2013, Western Cape, South Africa ($12.95 was 13.95) Top 50 June – A red blend from the Cape that captures the essence of a Rhone red. Try with BBQ meats.

Quinta Do Valdoeiro Baga, Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah 2011 Bairrada Portugal ($12.95) New to Top 50 – A fresh lively blend of the indigenous grape baga with two other grapes. Try with roast meats.

Whites

Citra Trebbiano D’Abruzzo 2013, Abruzzo, Italy ($7.75 + 4BAMs) – A ripe fruity white with a good depth of flavour and good palate length for such an inexpensive white.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2014, Colchagua Valley Chile ($9.95 + 5BAMs) Top 50 June – An inexpensive fragrant white. Enjoy as an aperitif or with mildly flavoured seafood or white meat dishes.

Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2014 Casablanca Valley, Chile ($9.95 + 4BAMs) – A well priced fresh sauvignon with a fragrant nose. Try with grilled chicken or sautéed seafood.

Citra Trebbiano D'abruzzo 2013Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2014 Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2014 Folonari Soave 2013 Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Marqués De Riscal 2014, Rueda

Folonari Soave 2013, Veneto, Italy ($9.95 + 5BAMs) – A classic Italian white with delicate aromas and a juicy midweight palate. Try as an alternative to pinot grigio.

Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Aconcagua Valley, Chile ($10.95 was $12.95) New to Top 50 – A cool coastal sauvignon with good varietal character. Try with sautéed scallops with a lemongrass dressing or creamy goats cheese salad.

Marqués De Riscal 2014, Rueda, Spain ($11.60 + 4BAMs) New to Top 50 – A delicious bright crisp fresh white with a very inviting fruity nose. Try with seafood.

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

Top 20 Under 20There are three ways that a wine gets into this monthly report of wines that are always in the stores either in the LCBO Wines section 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

In addition to the wines mentioned above, there are another 37 wines on the Top 50 list this month. So if you did not find all you need in this report, 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 (Click on Wine =>Top 50 Value Wines to be taken directly to the list), 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.

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

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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Catena Malbec High Mountain Vines 2013

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Buy The Case: Treasury Wine Estates

A Report on Consignment Wines in Ontario

BuyTheCaseLOGOimage

Each month we will taste wines submitted by one importing agent. WineAlign core critics will independently, as always, taste, review and rate the wines – good, bad and indifferent, and those reviews will be posted to WineAlign. We will then independently recommend wines to appear in our Buy The Case report. Importers pay for this service. Ads for some wines may appear at the same time, but the decision on which wines to put forward in our report, if any, is entirely up to each critic, as it is with our reviews of in-store wines.

These recommended wines can only be purchased by the case from importers registered in the LCBO’s Consignment Program. They are ‘already landed and stocked’ wines that can be delivered directly to your restaurant, home or office. For an explanation of the program, the process and our 10 Good Reasons to Buy the Case, please click here.

June – Treasury Wine Estates

Treasury Wine Estates is a global wine company with a large portfolio including some of the world’s most recognised wine brands. Names like Penfolds, Stags’ Leap Winery, Etude, Wynns and Wolf Blass are regularly found in the LCBO and VINTAGES, but in addition many others are available through their consignment program. Four WineAlign critics sat down in late May to taste a dozen Treasury submissions. Here are our recommendations, grouped loosely under reasons why we would buy the wine by the case.

Click on the wine name or bottle image to see full reviews by the WineAlign team. Prices shown below are retail and do not include taxes (licensee prices may be less). Treasury has submitted their agency profile with more details below.

Restaurant Pours by the Glass

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2011, Tuscany, Italy ($22.95)

Etude Pinot Gris 2013 Castello Di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2011Steve Thurlow – A very typical Chianti with mild aromas and a soft midweight fruity palate that will work well with a wide variety of meat and cheese dishes. It is supple and smooth on the palate but there is just the right amount of acidity for freshness and some firm tannin for grip. It finishes dry with good to very good length. Best with food.
Michael Godel – This Tuscan offers the best of both worlds, in two ways. First, this is Sangiovese made by an old wine making family steeped in tradition under the conglomerate ownership of a very large wine company that supports with modern infrastructure. Second, the wine is rich, modern and approachable with accents that reek of old world style. Sometimes wine with a foot each in the past and the present is a very good thing. Ideal for the licensee in need of wines with broad, immediate and accessible appeal.

Cellaring Wine or Gifting Wine

Etude 2013 Pinot Gris, Carneros, California ($39.95)

John Szabo – Etude is one of the classier operations in Carneros, always focused on elegance and refinement. This is a wine to buy a case of, keep a few bottles for yourself, and give the rest away to your close, wine-savvy friends with a nudge and a wink (they wouldn’t likely spend $40 on a bottle of California pinot gris, which means they would miss out on this lovely wine, perfect at the table with anything lightly spiced and aromatic herb-infused). You’ll become their go-to wine source, if you weren’t already.
Michael Godel – If not the first to do so, this Carneros offers a rare comparison in the way it intimates with near pitch-perfect exactitude the kind of Pinot Gris experience that comes from a similarly priced, lieu-dit, ‘premier cru’ Alsatian. Etude’s stylish PG should be considered a case buy without hesitation, to enjoy once a year for the next dozen. Or, convince a wine geek friend or two to split the case with you.

Function Wines or Personal House Wines

Chateau St. Jean 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, California, Usa ($19.95)

Colores Del Sol Malbec 2012 Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon 2012John Szabo – This is a smart option when a foolproof, widely appealing wine is required, like those larger functions (with decent budgets) with important but unknown guests that you need to impress. This has the star power of both California and cabernet sauvignon, coupled to name brand recognition amongst those in the know, for a powerful and attractive combination.
Sara d’Amato – A touch pricey for an everyday house wine but one to stock up on for when barbecued steak is on the menu. There is an impressive amount of substance and depth here and without sweetness or the use excessive oak.
Steve Thurlow – This is a pretty cabernet with some nice floral tones to the cassis fruit and oak spice. The midweight palate is soft and juicy and dry with some mild tannin on the finish. Good to very good length. Good value for an appealing Californian cabernet.
Michael Godel – Having first tasted this at dinner with winemaker Margo Van Staaveren, what stood out so profoundly was this simple, ‘entry-level’ California Cabernet Sauvignon’s ability to mimic and transition to Chateau St. Jean’s more expensive and increasingly complex Cabernets. At this price you can pour at will to crowds large and small.

Seasonal Wines

Colores del Sol 2012 Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina ($11.95)

John Szabo – A perfectly serviceable, soft and fruity, easy drinking malbec, which fulfills the party or BBQ wine role nicely. At this price you can serve generously, while your guests will think you spent more on this fashionable bottle, as Argentine Malbec continues to garner recognition and sales.
Steve Thurlow – This is a soft somewhat overripe malbec with some high toned aromas on top of the blueberry fruit with peppermint and honey. The palate is soft and fruity with some tannin showing up on the finish. Good to very good length. Try with burgers or grilled sausage.

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2012 Devil's Lair Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2012Six Packs Please

Devil’s Lair Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Margaret River, Australia, $49.95

Sara d’Amato – Dry, full-bodied and most importantly balanced, this fleshy cabernet from Devil’s Lair has preserved an impressive amount of acidity contributing to a solid, age-worthy wine. What is most compelling, however, is the wine’s savory, floral nose with notes of mint, black fruit and purple flower. Available in an easy to swallow 6-pack case.

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2012, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia ($29.95)

Sara d’Amato – Beautifully developed, this cool climate pinot noir from select parcels throughout the Yarra Valley delivers a round, appropriately rich and appealing palate with impressive complexity. Offered in a 6-pack case, it will be easy to find friends who are willing to split.

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names or bottle images above. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!

This report was sponsored by the Treasury Wine Estates. WineAlign critics have independently recommended the above wines based on reviews that are posted on WineAlign as part of this sponsored tasting. Treasury has provided the following agency profile with more details on their consignment program and delivery options.

~

Consignment at Treasury Wine Estates:

Treasury Wine EstatesWe are passionate about providing our clientele with the very best wines and service in the industry. We provide daytime delivery to your residence or office within the Greater Toronto Area. This service is completely complimentary, regardless of the volume purchased. We strive to ensure that all orders are delivered within five business days.

Our consignment program has been designed to make the procurement of our fine wines simple and bespoke. Wines can also be delivered to an LCBO store of your choice at no additional cost.  This service usually takes two to four weeks however, could take longer based on the geographical location of the clientele’s LCBO of choice. The cases arrive pre-paid and we simply email an invoice or credit card slip in advance. The store will then call to notify you when the requested wine has arrived.

Throughout the process, your personal consignment concierge is only a phone call or email away if there are any questions.

Phone: 905-337-6217  |  Mobile: 416-358-0177

leslie.gray@tweglobal.com  | orders.consignment@tweglobal.com


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What’s New at the LCBO – June 2015

Between our VINTAGES Buyers’ Guide and Steve Thurlow’s top picks from the LCBO Wines, we have the whole store covered each and every month.

Niagara, Macedonia and More
by Steve Thurlow

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 selected 11 new wines that have refreshed the system out of the 50 or so that I have tried since I last reported. Most are on the shelf already with the rest arriving over the next few weeks.

Among the many new wines added are some well priced selections from Ontario and Greece. I have selected two inexpensive VQA wines and three finely priced Greek wines for you to consider. The Greek selection at the LCBO has seen some excellent new additions over the last few months. If you’re curious to discover more about wines from Greece, you may want to read John Szabo’s recent article on Reasons to Drink Greek.

For now I suggest you read on, pick a few of these that appeal and then check the inventory at your local LCBO which should be set up as your Favourite Store. You can find my complete review by clicking on any of the wine names or bottle images highlighted below. 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 reviews of great value wines!

Reds

Fielding Estate Winery Fireside Red Cabernet

Kir Yianni Paranga 2012

Tsantali RapsaniTsantali Rapsani 2011 2011, Macedonia, Greece ($12.80) – Made from vineyards on the slopes of Mount Olympus from three indigenous grapes, it is a midweight well structured red with the fruit supported by firm tannin and vibrant acidity with a long very dry finish. Needs some protein, try with creamy cheese or juicy roast meats.

Kir Yianni Paranga 2012, Macedonia, Greece ($14.30) – This is a modern styled red blend with little evidence of its Greek origin. It is fullbodied and quite vibrant with very good length. Try with lamb cutlets.

Fielding Estate Fireside Red Cabernet 2012, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($14.95) – An appealing blend of cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon that’s built for a few years of maturation in the cellar. Decant for an hour and enjoy with a steak.

Whites

Lindemans Bin 85 Pinot Grigio 2014, South Eastern Australia ($10.95 also 1500ml $19.70) – This wine has been around for a few years, I know, but the 1.5L version is new, so it’s even better value for a well-balanced fruity sweetish white. Try well chilled with cheesy pasta dishes.

Mauro Chardonnnay 2014, Puglia, Italy ($11.50) – A fresh lively chardonnay with good focus and palate length and a nice floral tone to the pear and melon fruit. Try with cheesy pasta sauces.

Domaine Glinavos Primus Zitsa 2013, Zitsa, Greece ($12.60) – Made from the indigenous grape, debina, this is a food friendly easy drinking white. It’s lightly floral and herbal with a zesty fresh palate. Try with seafood pastry nibbles.

Lindemans Bin 85 Pinot Grigio 2014 Mauro Chardonnnay 2014 Domaine Glinavos Primus Zitsa 2013 Norton Barrel Select Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Norton Barrel Select Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Mendoza, Argentina ($12.95) – A barrel matured sauvignon with nicely integrated oak and a rich creamy palate. Try with creamy pasta sauces.

Lagaria Chardonnay 2013, Trentino, Italy ($13.55) – A pure, fresh, apparently unoaked chardonnay with aromas of white peach with lemon sherbet, white flowers and clover honey. Try with roast chicken.

Cheval Quancard Réserve Blanc 2013, Bordeaux, France ($13.90) – A typical Bordeaux white with oak aromas nicely woven into the lemon, apple pear fruit. It’s vibrant and juicy with a solid structure from oak and brisk acidity. Very good length.  Try with roast veal or pork.

Lagaria Chardonnay 2013 Cheval Quancard Réserve Blanc 2013 Rockway Vineyards Block Blend Riesling 2013 Balthasar Ress Hattenheimer Schützenhaus Riesling Kabinett 2013

Rockway Vineyards Block Blend Riesling 2013, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Ontario ($13.95) – A delicious well priced Ontario riesling, minerally soft with just enough sweetness for balance. Try with oysters or creamy goats cheese.

Balthasar Ress Hattenheimer Schützenhaus Riesling Kabinett 2013 Rheingau, Germany ($17.95) – This classic Rheingau riesling is a soft, off-dry, very fresh riesling with just enough sweetness to counteract the acidity with a generous palate and a long, dry and crisp finish. Try with lemon chicken stir fry.

*****

We would love to get your feedback on this report. 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. In two week’s time I will be back with a look at the updated list in our WineAlign’s Top 20 Under $20 report.

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20
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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Tavernello Collezione Friuli Grave Sauvignon 2013

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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (May)

Your Guide to the Best Values, Limited Time Offers & Bonus Air Miles selections at the LCBO
by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

The Top 20 under $20 are best buys among the 1600 or so wines in LCBO Wines and the VINTAGES Essentials Collection. This month I selected 13 wines 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).

With all of the wines on promotion, now is a great time for value wine shopping. There are six new wines on the Top 50 for you to try and for the next four weeks there’s another seven wines already on the list that are on promotion i.e. have Bonus Air Miles (BAMs) that apply or are on sale (LTO), making these wines even more attractive; all this will surely make your May/June drinking more affordable.

To make up the balance of this report’s Top 20 I added another seven wines, all with BAMs, that make them good choices. Though none of them quite made it on to my standard Top 50, they were all close.

The discount period runs until June 21st. So don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I was able to ensure that there were 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

Casal Thaulero Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Terre Di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy ($7.75) New to Top 50 – A balanced dry red with a lot going on for the money.

Citra Sangiovese Terre Di Chieti 2013, Abruzzo, Italy ($7.75) New to Top 50 – A midweight dry vibrant red that is great with tomato sauces.

Casal Thaulero Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Citra Sangiovese Terre Di Chieti 2013 Yellow Tail Reserve Shiraz 2012 Tini Sangiovese Di Romagna 2012

Yellow Tail Reserve Shiraz 2012, Southeastern Australia ($8.95 was $15.95) New to Top 50 – A charming wine with perfumed aromas, that’s full bodied with ripe sweet blackberry fruit. Grab an armful at this price before it is all gone. There were over 1300 bottles left when we published.

Tini Sangiovese Di Romagna 2012, Sangiovese Di Romagna, Italy ($8.95 was $10.95) Top 50 May – A very drinkable lightweight Italian red for pizza and meaty pasta sauces. Best to chill a little.

Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot 2013, Rapel Valley, Chile ($10.95 was $12.95) Top 50 May – A lot of depth and complexity for such an inexpensive wine. Its clean and lively with pure aromas and flavours and very good length.

Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot 2013 Mountain Fish Agiorgitiko 2012 Borsao Garnacha Selección 2012 Thelema Mountain Red 2012 Faustino V Tempranillo Rosado 2014

Mountain Fish Agiorgitiko 2012, Peloponnese, Greece ($11.10 was $13.10) Top 50 May – Agiorgitiko is one of Greece’s best indigenous red grapes; grown widely in the Peloponnese region. This is a deep purple red with lots of fruit and food friendly acidity. Try with lamb cutlets.

Borsao Garnacha Selección 2012, Campo De Borja, Spain ($11.95 + 4BAMs) – A lightly oaked fresh young Spanish red that’s quite full bodied with a soft warm finish. Chill lightly and enjoy with pizza.

Thelema Mountain Red 2012, Western Cape, South Africa ($12.90 + 6BAMs) – This delightful blend of shiraz and five other grapes comes from high mountain vineyards above Stellenbosch. It is very smooth and quite dense. Try with pizza or burgers .

Faustino V Tempranillo Rosado 2014, Rioja, Spain ($12.90) New to Top 50 – This deep fuchsia pink rose is almost a light red. Match with mildly flavoured meat dishes.

La Posta Cocina Tinto Blend 2013, Mendoza, Argentina $12.95 plus 8BAMs Top 50 May – An easy drinking well balanced red with juicy berry fruit lively acidity with just enough tannin and a mild spicy tone.

La Posta Cocina Tinto Blend 2013 Guardian Reserva Red 2013 Errazuriz Estate Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Errazuriz Estate Pinot Noir 2013

Guardian Reserva Red 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($13.60 + 6BAMs) – A complex red cabernet blend finely balanced and fruity long lingering finish with some fine tannin. Try with a steak.

Errazuriz Estate Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($13.95 + 9BAMs) – A midweight juicy cabernet with aromas of plum and raspberry fruit, with pencil shavings and herbal tones. Not as powerful as some, but has some charm.  Very good length.

Errazuriz Estate Pinot Noir 2013, Aconcagua Valley, Chile ($13.95 plus 8BAMs) Top 50 May – This is a delicious Chilean pinot with a good depth of colour, a fragrant nose and a well balanced complex palate.  Try with seared tuna.

Whites

Citra Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2013, Abruzzo, Italy ($7.75) New to Top 50 – A ripe fruity white with a good depth of flavour and good palate length for such an inexpensive white.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Chardonnay 2013 Chile ($10.45 + 5BAMs) – A bright fresh chardonnay with peach and apple fruit and soft complementary oak aromas and flavours.

Citra Trebbiano D'abruzzo 2013 Cono Sur Bicicleta Chardonnay 2013 Fleur Du Cap Chardonnay 2013

Fleur Du Cap Chardonnay 2013, Western Cape, South Africa ($10.80 was $12.80) Top 50 May – A rich smooth intense old style chardonnay with well integrated oak spice. Try with fish and chips.

Mascota Vineyards O P I Chardonnay 2014 Argentina ($10.95 was $12.95) Top 50 May – A rich flavourful chardonnay with just a touch of oak and a firm dry finish.

Villa Wolf Riesling 2013 Pfalz, Germany ($14.80 + 8BAMs) – A juicy flavourful well balance riesling thats almost dry with lovely racy acidity and very good length. A very versatile food wine with seafood, pastry and white meat dishes.

Mascota Vineyards O P I Chardonnay 2014 Villa Wolf Riesling 2013 Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay 2014 Pocketwatch Chardonnay 2013

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay 2014, Padthaway Adelaide Hills, South Australia ($14.95) New to Top 50 – An elegant fresh lightly oaked chardonnay with very good length.

Pocketwatch Chardonnay 2013, Central Ranges, New South Wales, Australia ($15.00 + 10BAMs) – Expect an enticing nose of lemongrass, peach and ripe pear aromas with well integrated oak spice and lovely patisserie vanilla, like a baker’s shop. The palate is juicy, midweight and very creamy with elegant fruit.

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

Top 20 Under 20There are three ways that a wine gets into this monthly report of wines that are always in the stores either in the LCBO Wines section 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

In addition to the wines mentioned above, there are another 37 wines on the Top 50 list this month. So if you did not find all you need in this report, 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 (Click on Wine =>Top 50 Value Wines to be taken directly to the list), 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.

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

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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Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2014

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What’s New at the LCBO – May 2015

Between our VINTAGES Buyers’ Guide and Steve Thurlow’s top picks from the LCBO’s general list, we have the whole store covered each and every month.

Everything’s Coming Up Rosés
by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

It is spring at last in my part of Canada, and summer will not be far behind. So that means one thing at the LCBO – it’s time for rosé wines. Most places in the world enjoy rosé wines all year round but we are programmed by the LCBO only to seek them out for the few months of the year that comprise our summer. As a consequence the vast majority of rosés now arriving in the stores are seasonal listings and will disappear from the shelves come fall.

Rosés are light red wines. Usually they are made from red or black grapes with minimal skin contact between juice and skins after pressing. Hence you get the flavour of the wine grape, with only a splash of red colour and a hint of the vegetal flavours and tannin that comes from the skins. They can be sweet or dry, just like red wines. The dry ones, for me, are perfect for alfresco dining, slightly chilled, with mildly flavoured meat dishes.

Rosé wines are increasingly popular and there is a record number of new ones this year. WineAlign colleague, Sara d’Amato has already highlighted several pinks from recent VINTAGES releases and I have tasted and reviewed about 40 from the LCBO’s general list in the last few weeks alone. Sadly many failed to impress despite some beautiful packaging which will help some no doubt sell well. However those of you who care about quality and value will zero in on the six that I have selected below.

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. In addition to my six rosé picks I have chosen to highlight another seven new wines that have refreshed the system out of the more than 70 that I have tried since I last reported. Most are on shelf already; the rest will arrive over next few weeks.

I suggest that 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 or bottle images highlighted below. 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 reviews of great value wines!

Rosés

Citra Cerasuolo Rosé d’Abruzzo 2014, Abruzzo, Italy ($8.45) – A great price for a nice fresh rosé. Try with baked salmon or seared tuna. Best 2015 to 2016.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir Rosé 2014, Bio Bio Valley, Chile ($9.95) – Delicate rhubarb and cherry fruit aromas lead to finely balanced palate with very good length. Try with roast chicken. Best 2015 to 2016.

Bodega Volcanes Summit Reserva Rosé 2014, Central Valley, Chile ($9.95) – A very fruity rosé with a lot of flavour and creamy smooth rich palate. Enjoy with baked ham. Best 2015 to 2017.

Citra Cerasuolo Rose d'Abruzzo 2014 Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir Rose 2014 Bodega Volcanes Summit Reserva Rose 2014 La Vieille Ferme Cotes Du Ventoux Rosé Faustino V Tempranillo Rosado 2014 Henry Of Pelham Rose 2014

La Vieille Ferme Cotes Du Ventoux Rosé 2014, Rhone Valley, France ($10.95) – This is a typical Rhone rosé with lots of flavour and a long dry fruity finish. Try with roast chicken or veal. Best 2015 to 2016.

Faustino V Tempranillo Rosado 2014, Rioja, Spain ($12.90) – This shocking pink rosé is hard to miss on the shelf in its distinctive tall bottle, so grab a few and enjoy with mildly flavoured meat dishes. Don’t overchill or you might miss the good stuff! Best 2015 to 2016.

Henry Of Pelham Rosé 2014, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($12.95 until May 24th was $13.95) – Consistently this is a good rosé every year with a dried herbal tone to red fruit flavours. It is vibrant in colour and mouthfeel. Lots going on for the money, so pick up a few while on offer. Best 2015 to 2017.

Reds

Mcguigan Black Label Shiraz 2013, South East Australia ($10.90 and 1500mL $19.85) – I know this well-balanced fruity shiraz has been on the shelves for years but the 1500mL format is new and makes for even better value if you can find enough friends to help you enjoy all that wine. Best 2015 to 2016.

Luccarelli Primitivo 2013, Puglia, Italy ($10.95 and 1500ml $19.95) – The 750mL bottle is joined on the shelf by a 1500mL version making this full-bodied ripe lively opaque wine even better value. Best 2015 to 2016.

Mcguigan Black Label Shiraz 2013 Luccarelli Primitivo 2013 Cliff 79 Cabernet Shiraz Norton Barrel Select Malbec 2013 Dominio Del Plata Crios Limited Edition Red Blend 2013

Cliff 79 Cabernet Shiraz, South East Australia ($10.95) – This non-vintage red blend is quite drinkable when lightly chilled despite being a little sweet, since there is enough mild tannin and acidity for balance. Very good length. Try with mildly spicy meaty sauces. Best 2015 to 2016.

Norton Barrel Select Malbec 2013, Mendoza, Argentina ($12.95) – Lots here for the money. Deeply flavoured with fine tannin and soft acidity, though sweetish it is balanced. Chill a little and enjoy on its own or with mildly flavoured cheese. Best 2015 to 2017.

Dominio Del Plata Crios Limited Edition Red Blend 2013, Mendoza, Argentina ($14.95) – A cellar worthy red that needs an hour or two in a decanter if consumed now to fully open up. It is an opaque purple-red with loads of flavour with a sweetish fruity appeal, though the tannins kick in big time on the finish. Best 2016 to 2020.

Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Nugan Estate Third Generation Chardonnay 2013Whites

Nugan Third Generation Chardonnay 2013, New South Wales, Australia ($11.95) – A rich powerful fully oaked chardonnay with very good length and a long intense fruity finale. Try with strongly flavoured white meats like roast pork or veal.

Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand ($16.95) – A very harmonious fairly typical Kiwi sauvignon with a zesty lemony fruit palate and very good length. Try with rich creamy cheese sauces.

*****

We would love to get your feedback on this report. 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. In two week’s time I will be back with a look at the updated Top 50 list in our WineAlign’s Top 20 Under $20 report.

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20
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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Bottega Prosecco

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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO, part 2

Your Guide to the Best Values, Limited Time Offers & Bonus Air Miles selections at the LCBO
by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

The LCBO has started a second promotional period this month  this one running until May 24th. So here’s Part 2 of my April report that includes these new offers. The Top 20 under $20 are best buys among the 1600 or so wines in LCBO Wines and the VINTAGES Essentials Collection.

In this report, nine of the wines selected are wines that are also on Steve’s Top 50, a standing WineAlign list based on quality/price ratio. (You can read in detail how the Top 50 works below).

To make up the balance of the Top 20 I added another eleven wines, all will Bonus Air Miles (BAMs), that make them good choices. Though none of these quite made it on to the Top 50, they were all close.

This promotional period runs until the May 24th, so don’t miss your chance to make these wines even more affordable. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I was able to ensure that there were 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

Casal Thaulero 2013 Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon, Terre Di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy ($7.75 + 3BAMs). A balanced dry red with a lot going on for ther money.

Citra 2013 Sangiovese Terre Di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy ($7.75 + 4BAMs). A midweight dry vibrant red that is great with tomato sauces.

Latin Lover Passionately Red 2013, Rapel Valley, Chile ($8.95 was $14.95). New to Top 50: This red from Concha y Toro was listed for Valentine’s Day and is now discounted to clear inventory. It’s a powerful opaque red blend that’s soft and fairly rich.

Casal Thaulero 2013 Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon Citra Sangiovese Terre Di Chieti 2013 Latin Lover Passionately Red 2013 Fuzion Alta Reserva Malbec 2013

Fuzion Alta 2013 Reserva Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina ($9.95 + 5BAMs). A soft light to midweight red that should be great with pizza or meaty pasta sauces.

Beso De Vino 2011 Old Vine Garnacha, Carinena, Spain ($9.95 + 6BAMs). A fresh vibrant soft juicy red ideal for grilled meats made from grenache (aka garnacha).

Luccarelli 2013 Primitivo, Puglia, Italy ($10.95 also new 1500ml for $19.95). Top 50 April: Known as zinfandel in California, this is a full-bodied succulent red great with a rack of lamb.

Beso De Vino Old Vine Garnacha 2011 Luccarelli Primitivo 2013 Santa Carolina Merlot Reserva 2012 K W V Roodeberg 2012 Ogier Cotes Du Ventoux Red 2013

Santa Carolina 2012 Merlot Reserva, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($10.95 was $12.95). New to Top 50: A bright fresh merlot with pure aromas and flavours. It is deliciously vibrant with the juicy fruit balanced by soft tannin. Try with bbq meats.

K W V 2012 Roodeberg, Western Cape, South Africa ($11.15 was $12.65). New to Top 50: A medium bodied Cape classic that’s been great value for years. Try with rack of lamb.

Ogier 2013 Cotes Du Ventoux Red, Rhone Valley, France ($11.95 + 7BAMs). A peppery red with bright cherry fruit that’s midweight with soft tannin and zesty fresh dry finish. Try with cheesy pizza.

Santa Carolina 2013 Carmenère Reserva, Cachapoal Valley, Chile ($12.95 + 4BAMs). A complex balanced carmenere from the Peumo region of the Cachapoal Valley. Fragrant, full bodied and elegant with lots of ripe fruit flavour.

Taylor Fladgate First Estate Reserve Port, Douro Valley, Portugal ($16.50 + 5BAMs). A very good reserve port made from fruit from several recent vintages with the thick fruit well supported by soft acidity and mild tannin.Try with dark chocolate desserts, nuts or blue cheese.

Santa Carolina Carmenère Reserva 2013 Taylor Fladgate First Estate Reserve Port Santa Rita Medalla Real Carmenere Gran Reserva 2011 Stoneleigh Pinot Noir 2013

Santa Rita 2011 Medalla Real Carmenere Gran Reserva, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($16.90 was $17.90). New to Top 50: A complex powerful red that it also elegant with youthful aromas. Very cellar worthy.

Stoneleigh 2013 Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand ($19.95 + 10BAMs). A ripe modern pinot with juicy fruit and aromas of ripe red cherry, raspberry and plum fruit with mild oak spice with some earthy tones. Lots of charm and very drinkable.

Whites

J J McWilliams 2013 Pinot Grigio, South Eastern Australia ($6.95 was $9.95). New to Top 50: A clean fresh fruity grigio with lots of flavour and delicate aromas of melon and lemon fruit.

Cono Sur 2014 Bicicleta Viognier, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($8.95 was $9.95). Top 50 April: Was already the best value white in Ontario; now a $1 off. It’s time to stock up on this fragrant juicy white.

J J Mcwilliams Pinot Grigio 2013 Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2014 Periquita White 2013 Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014

Periquita White 2013, Portugal ($8.95 plus 5BAMs). Top 50 April: This blend of three white grapes is a delicious delicate wine for seafood and mildly flavoured chicken dishes.

Monkey Bay 2014 Pinot Grigio, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand ($13.95 + 4BAMs). Top 50 April: A good basic pinot grigio with a fragrant, floral, peachy nose with some minerality. It is clean, fresh with a crisp almost dry finish.

Caliterra 2014 Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Central Valley, Chile ($9.95 + 4BAMs). A juicy very ripe sauvignon blanc with lots of balancing acidity.

Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2014 Santa Julia+ Chardonnay 2013 Brancott Estate Letter Series B Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Santa Julia+ 2013 Chardonnay, Mendoza, Argentina ($10.90 + 10BAMs). This is a big chardonnay with a good depth of flavour, elegantly oaked so as to add complexity and structure without overdoing it.

Brancott Estate 2013 Letter Series B Sauvignon Blanc, Southern Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand ($19.95 + 10BAMs). A classic Marlborough sauvignon that is elegant fresh pure and mouthwateringly delicious.

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

Top 20 Under 20There 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

In addition to the wines mentioned above, there are another 41 wines on the Top 50 list this month. So if you did not find all you need in this report, 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 (Click on Wine =>Top 50 Value Wines to be taken directly to the list), 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.

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

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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Yellow Tail Sangria

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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (April)

Your Guide to the Best Values, Limited Time Offers & Bonus Air Miles selections at the LCBO
by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

The Top 20 under $20 are best buys among the 1600 or so wines in LCBO Wines and the VINTAGES Essentials Collection. This month, most of the wines selected are wines that are also on Steve’s Top 50, a standing WineAlign list based on quality/price ratio. (You can read in detail how the Top 50 works below).

There are many wines on promotion in April, such that eight on today’s Top 20 list have Bonus Air Miles (BAMs) that apply or are on sale (Limited Time Offer), making these wines even more attractive for the next four weeks or so. You may notice that two wines come from the VINTAGES section of the store. I normally don’t include wines from here, except for VINTAGES Essentials, since they rarely offer as much value as those in the LCBO’s general list section and they tend to sell through very quickly. However, I made an exception here since there are large stocks and they both offer great value. I was in Chile and Argentina for the last three weeks leading a wine tour and had the chance to re-taste both of them.

April’s promotional period runs until the 26th, so don’t miss your chance to make these wines even more affordable. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I was able to ensure that there were 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

Apelia Agiorgitiko 2012 (1000ml), Greece ($10.15 + 4 BAMs). New to Top 50: Agiorgitiko is one of Greece’s best red grapes. This is a clean fresh red wine that is fruity, midweight and well balanced making it a good everyday red.

Spadafora Terrano Rosso 2012, Calabria, Italy ($8.50 + 3 BAMs). Top 50 April: A recent listing that shows plummy fresh aromas with no oak and a midweight juicy palate. Try with burgers.

Portugal Ramos Loios Red 2013, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal ($9.30). New to Top 50: This is a ripe, fleshy, clean, easy-drinking wine with soft tannins and fresh red berry fruit flavours with some complexity and good depth of flavour.

Apelia Agiorgitiko 2012 Spadafora Terrano Rosso 2012 J. Portugal Ramos Loios Red 2013 Hardys Stamp Of Australia Shiraz Cabernet 2013

Hardys Stamp Of Australia Shiraz Cabernet 2013, South Eastern Australia ($9.85 + 5 BAMs). A  fresh pure syrah/cabernet blend, very linear with great focus. Good depth of flavour with lots of fruit and very good length.

Fuzion Alta Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Mendoza, Argentina ($9.95 + 5 BAMs). Top 50 April: A soft flavourful and well structured cabernet for a good price.

Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva 2010 Douro Valley, Portugal ($11.20 was $12.20). Top 50 April: An opaque full-bodied purple wine with a fragrant pure nose of blackberry fruit with well integrated oak spice plus vanilla and herbal tones. Decant for an hour and enjoy with a steak.

Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($11.45). New to Top 50: An aromatic carmenère with just the right amount of ripeness. Very good length.

Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($11.45). New to Top 50: A well priced fragrant caberent that’s full-bodied and deeply flavoured. Try with lamb cutlets.

Fuzion Alta Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva Douro 2010 Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013 Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013 Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012

Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012, Mendoza, Argentina ($12.95 was $14.95). Top 50 April: A fruity malbec with herbal and floral tones and, though full-bodied, seems lighter due to vibrant lemony acidity. It finishes firm and dry with very good length.

Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot 2013, Rapel Valley, Chile ($13.05 + 8 BAMs). New to Top 50 EARTH DAY SPECIAL DURING APRIL: A lot of depth and complexity for such an inexpensive wine. Its clean lively with pure aromas and flavours and very good  length.

Santa Carolina Specialties Dry Farming Carignan 2010, Cauquenes Valley, Chile ($17.95). VINTAGES EXCEPTIONAL VALUE: A beautiful full-bodied vibrant red that’s elegant with a wild character. Try with lamb cutlets.

Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot 2013 Santa Carolina Specialties Dry Farming Carignan 2010 Firestone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Firestone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Santa Ynez Valley, California, USA ($19.90). New to Top 50: An elegant refined cabernet that’s ripe without being overripe with just enough oak, finely balanced with excellent length.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Coonawarra, South Australia ($27.95). New to Top 50 from VINTAGES Essentials: First a disclaimer. This is more than $20. But it is so awesome and such great value that it got into my Top 50 list this month and I wanted to tell you all about it. So if you want to splurge a little and enjoy, this is a superb, very drinkable, very classy cabernet with layers of flavour and a refined very appealing pureness. Finely balanced with excellent length.

Whites

Apelia Moschofilero 2013 (1000ml), Greece ($9.95 + 4 BAMs). New to Top 50: Moschofilero is one of Greece’s best indigenous grapes. This is a fresh dry white that pinot grigio adherents should try.

K W V Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2014, Western Cape, South Africa ($9.45 + 4 BAMs). Top 50 April: Clean well made white at a great price. Good depth of flavour and palate length. Try with seafood or mildly flavoured chicken dishes.

Apelia Moschofilero 2013 K W V Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2014 Frisky Beaver White 2013 The Wolftrap White 2013

Frisky Beaver White 2013, VQA Ontario ($13.95). New to Top 50: An aromatic off-dry white which is smooth and juicy. A nice aperitif or try with seafood. Don’t be misled by the wacky packaging; there is some quite serious wine inside.

The Wolftrap White 2013, Western Cape, South Africa ($13.95). New to Top 50: A very aromatic intensely flavoured pure white, that is rich and very creamy. Try with pork chops.

Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand ($13.95). New to Top 50: A good basic pinot grigio with a fragrant, floral, peachy nose with some minerality. It is clean, fresh with a crisp almost dry finish.

Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014 Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava Santa Carolina Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2012

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava, Spain ($14.45). New to Top 50: Best value bubbly under $15 at LCBO. Fresh nose with pure apple pear flavour, a soft creamy texture and very good length.

Santa Carolina Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2012, Casablanca Valley, Chile ($15.95). VINTAGES EXCEPTIONAL VALUE: Fantastic value for a serious very bold chardonnay for rich white meat dishes.

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

Top 20 Under 20There 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

I am pleased to tell you that we have now worked through the massive recent delist at the LCBO, such that none of the wines currently on the Top 50 list rely on a delist price to be there. In addition to the wines mentioned above, there are another 33 wines on the Top 50 list this month. So if you did not find all you need in this report, 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 (Click on Wine =>Top 50 Value Wines to be taken directly to the list), 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.

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

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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Montresor Soave Classico 2013

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Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008