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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (January 2016)

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

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

There are seventeen new wines on the Top 50 list this month. This is not surprising since so much wine is sold in the last six weeks of every year that many new vintages always arrive about now. Some of the new vintages I tasted were better and some not so good, so wines join the list and others fall off. Anyway I am delighted to have found so many new great values at the LCBO this month.

Additionally three wines already on my Top 50 Best Values list are discounted and a some have Bonus Air Miles that apply, making these wines even more attractive and affordable for the next four weeks or so.

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 all 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 January 31st. So don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you 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

Tini Sangiovese di Romagna 2013, Emilia Romagna, Italy ($7.75) New to Top 50 – This is excellent value for a very drinkable Italian red for pizza and meaty pasta dishes. It is soft and fruity with enough tannin and acidity for balance and good length. Chill a little and try with tomato pasta sauces. Not recommended for quaffing since the finish is quite austere.

Beso de Vino Seleccion Red 2011 Carinena, Spain ($7.95 was $9.95) New to Top 50 – This ripe structured red has a nice lemony tone to the nose and palate to give it freshness. It is full-bodied with good length. Try with sweet juicy ribs.

Citra Sangiovese Terre Di Chieti 2014 Abruzzo Italy ($7.95) New to Top 50 – This red is a little rustic with a savoury herbal nose. Try with mildly flavoured red meat dishes or a mild hard cheese like cheddar.

Tini Sangiovese di Romagna 2013 Beso de Vino Seleccion Red 2011 Citra Sangiovese Terre di Chieti 2014 Spadafora Terrano Rosso 2014

Spadafora Terrano Rosso 2014 Calabria Italy ($8.55) New to Top 50 – 2014 is another good vintage for this juicy, well balanced red from Calabria. It is easy drinking, vibrant and pure with not much complexity or depth, but it is very drinkable. Good length. Enjoy with pizza and meaty pasta sauces.

Solaz Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Castilla León, Spain ($9.45 was $11.45) Top 50 January – 2014 is the best vintage yet of this juicy, vibrant, clean red with very good length. Chill lightly and enjoy with grilled meats.

La Casona De Castano Old Vines Monastrell 2013, Yecla, SE Spain ($9.65) New to Top 50 – Mourvèdre is the French name for this grape that is grown widely in SE Spain. It is deep purple and very aromatic with a midweight palate and very good length. Try with spaghetti and meatballs in a tomato sauce.

Santa Carolina Merlot Reserva 2014, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($10.95 was $12.95) New to Top 50 – This is a lively, clean, very fruity merlot with just enough soft tannin for balance. Enjoy on its own or with hard mature cheese.

Solaz Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 La Casona de Castano Old Vines Monastrell 2013 Santa Carolina Merlot Reserva 2014 Santa Carolina Carmenère Reserva 2014 Boschendal The Pavillion Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Santa Carolina Carmenère Reserva 2014, Cachapoal Valley, Chile ($11.95 was $12.95) Top 50 January – This is a dense, powerful wine with a complex perfumed nose. Full bodied but still very juicy with dense ripe fruit and fine tannin.

Boschendal The Pavillion Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Stellenbosch South Africa ($11.95) New to Top 50 – Excellent value for a juicy, full bodied red with spicy berry aromas and ample fruit. It is balanced by soft tannin and soft acidity. Good focus and very good length. Try with lamb kabobs.

Ogier Cotes du Ventoux Red 2013 Rhone Valley, France ($11.95) New to Top 50 – 2013 is a good vintage for this soft, white pepper spiced, southern Rhone red. The fruit is well balanced with crisp, juicy acidity, blueberry and pepper notes and plenty of zip and zing.

Vila Regia Reserva 2013, Douro Valley, Portugal ($11.95) New to Top 50 – Excellent value for a fragrant, elegant red. Opaque purple, a soft nose of berry fruit and a mid weight palate, this has very good length. Try with roast beef or creamy soft cheese.

Ogier Cotes du Ventoux Red 2013 Vila Regia Reserva 2013 Goats do Roam Red 2014 Errazuriz Estate Pinot Noir 2014

Goats do Roam Red 2014 Western Cape, South Africa ($11.95 was $12.95) Top 50 January – The 2014 vintage continues a long line of consistently great value reds that are close stylistically to a French Côtes du Rhône. Try with burgers.

Errazuriz Estate Pinot Noir 2014, Aconcagua Valley, Chile ($13.95 + 8 BAMs) New to Top 50 – One of the best value pinots at the LCBO. It is quite Burgundian in style with ripe fruit aromas and flavours balanced by herbal and earthy tones. The palate has nice structural tannin and some vibrant acidity, keeping it lively.

Whites

Cono Sur Sparkling Brut, Bio Bio, Chile ($7.95 was $13.95) New to Top 50, Delisted – I am sorry to see that this elegant bubbly has been discontinued. Over 800 bottles remain so jump in quickly before it is all gone. It is quite flavourful and very smooth with a honeyed hazelnut apple nose and very persistent bubbles.

KWV Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2015, Western Cape, South Africa ($7.95 was $9.45) New to Top 50 – South Africa can make good inexpensive chenin like this with a good depth of flavour, well structured, and for a great price. The palate is midweight with ripe fruit balanced by lemony acidity. Very good length and just a little bitter on the finish. Try with seafood or white meats.

Cono Sur Sparkling Brut K W V Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2015 Are You Game Chardonnay 2012

Are You Game? Chardonnay 2012 Victoria Australia ($8.75 was $14.95) New to Top 50, Delisted – A soft, elegant, cool climate chardonnay with only a hint of oak. It’s midweight and finely balanced. Try with sautéed seafood. Over 1300 bottles remain.

Hardys Stamp Series Riesling Gewurztraminer 2014, Southeastern Australia ($8.95 was $9.95) New to Top 50 – This white has been a constant at the LCBO for years and always offers great value.  It is mouthwatering with peach, spice and candied lemon aromas and flavours, a smooth texture and very good length.

Brumont Gros Manseng Sauvignon 2014, Cote De Gascogne, SW France ($10.75 was $12.95) New to Top 50, Delisted – Gros manseng is a white grape native to southwest France. Here it is blended with sauvignon blanc to make a creamy white wine with herbal melon aromas and flavours. Very good length. Try with roast chicken.

Hardys Stamp Series Riesling Gewurztraminer 2014 Brumont Gros Manseng Sauvignon 2014 Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2015Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay 2014

Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2015, Leyda Valley, San Antonio, Chile ($11.95) New to Top 50 – Leyda Valley is now recognized as one of the best places for this variety in Chile. This is a complex, ripe sauvignon with beautiful aromas and a rich creamy palate.

Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay 2014, Coastal Region, South Africa ($14.80) New to Top 50 – A rich, full bodied, creamy chardonnay with the oak well integrated and adding complexity. It is full bodied and creamy smooth with lots of flavour balanced by ample acidity. Excellent length. Try with rich poultry dishes or creamy veal escallops.

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

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 Top50 Best Values this month. This is on an-on going WineAlign selection 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 3o 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. 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

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16 Value Wines for The 12 Days of Christmas

by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

The Twelve Days of Christmas, with a gift for each day like a partridge in a pear tree (among other bizarre gifts), is supposed to start on Christmas Day; my Twelve Days starts on Christmas Eve.

Moreover, since I am not good at choosing gifts for the twelve days, I thought instead I would select wines for you for these days of feasting with family and friends. After checking my current Top 50 Best Value wines at LCBO I have chosen 16 wines to get you through the holidays. So here we go.

On Christmas Eve I imagine many will be giving or attending parties with nibbles, hors d’oeuvres, cheese plates, sausage rolls and the like. This calls for easy drinking, lively fresh wines like Santa Carolina 2015 Chardonnay Reserva ($11.95) which is a creamy, fresh and very juicy white with just a touch of oak for added complexity. For a red selection, let me recommend Goats do Roam 2014 Red ($12.95) from South Africa. It is a consistently great value midweight red with vibrant acidity and juicy red berry fruit and soft tannin.

Roast turkey will be on the menu for Christmas Day Dinner in many homes. It is often a rich meal with the turkey and stuffing served with a rich, thick gravy. It is tough to find a white wine for this, however dry aged fortified whites from Jerez in Spain are usually up to the task. Try Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los Arcos ($15.35). It is a very complex powerful wine with a rich intensely flavoured palate that lingers forever. It comes with 18.5% alcohol yet it’s finely balanced and is fantastic value. You will find it in the fortified wine section near the ports. Errazuriz Estate 2013 Pinot Noir ($13.95) from Chile would be another good choice for this occasion. It’s midweight and very fruity with mild tannin and some nice spicy complexity.

Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2015 Goats Do Roam Red 2014 Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los Arcos Errazuriz Estate Pinot Noir 2013

On Boxing Day we traditionally organize a beef dish for the main meal. So it’s time for some full-bodied reds. Wynns Coonawarra Estate 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (now $24.95 for a limited time, was $27.95) is an elegant, pure, very smooth, complex cabernet. It is not a big red, so look elsewhere for power but treasure the creamy texture and pure fruit. There are about 30 very positive reviews for this superb Aussie cabernet on WineAlign so please give it a try – plus it’s $3 off at present. Another choice could be Santa Carolina Reserva da Familia Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($18.95). You will be enthralled by this opaque purple wine with its perfumed aromas of berry fruit, mint, herbal and dark chocolate complexity.

Sunday is often the day for leftovers from the turkey dinner. I often conjure up a risotto with turkey meat and some of the vegetables, stuffing and sauces that are in the fridge. The Frisky Beaver 2013 White from Niagara ($13.95) is an aromatic blend of five white grapes, quite rich with fruit sweetness that’s well balanced by acidity. Firestone Vineyard 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from California ($19.90) is an elegant well priced cabernet from the cooler Santa Ynez Valley just north of Santa Barbara. It has a fragrant nose, vibrant palate and excellent palate length.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Santa Carolina Reserva De Familia Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Frisky Beaver White 2013 Firestone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Monday comes and it’s back to work for three days, and a break from feasting for many, but the festivities will recommence on Thursday, New Year’s Eve.

New Year’s Eve is the day when many will be toasting the start of a new year with sparkling wine. It does not need to be an expensive affair. For example, why not choose Veuve Ambal Cremant De Bourgogne Grande Cuvee Brut ($17.95) a fresh creamy bubbly from Burgundy in France. It is a nice sipping wine that goes well with pastry nibbles. If you are looking for a nice sipping red for party food then Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot 2013 ($12.95) from Chile would be a good choice. It’s a polished organic merlot with clean, lively, bright aromas and flavours.

New Year’s Day is often another occasion for a long lingering lunch with roast or grilled meats. This year we will be having a hearty beef casserole with a thick meaty dark brown sauce and root vegetables. A good choice for wine would be the superb Pascual Toso Limited Edition 2012 Malbec ($16.05) from Argentina. It is full bodied with powerful aromas and flavours, a very even palate and excellent length. As an alternative, a midweight selection could be Lavau 2011 Cotes du Rhone Villages ($13.50) from France. The red berry fruit with sweet oak spices is well balanced by some fine tannin that will stand up well to the rich stew.

Veuve Ambal Grande Cuvée Brut Crémant De Bourgogne Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot 2013 Pascual Toso Malbec Limited Edition 2012 Lavau Cote Du Rhone Villages 2011

Once Saturday rolls around it will be time for a change of pace and a rest from kitchen chores. Chinese delivered to the door gets my vote. Lots of variety here and many dishes to choose from but I have two wines in mind for two of my frequent selections. The Wolftrap 2014 Syrah Mouvedre Viognier ($13.95) is great with Chinese beef and broccoli. This deeply coloured Rhone-style blend is midweight and quite savoury with soft ripe fruit supported by fine tannin. For Chinese shrimp with cashew nuts I love the Wolf Blass 2014 Yellow Label Chardonnay ($14.95). It is a modern, fresh, minerally chardonnay with just a touch of oak and a long, fruity finish.

Sunday brunch, with some seafood on offer, could be accompanied by Monkey Bay 2014 Pinot Grigio ($13.95). It comes from the warmer Hawke’s Bay region in New Zealand. It’s fresh, pure and fragrant with pear and melon fruit toned by minerality with hints of lemongrass. A good choice for a lively fresh red for brunch would be Chateau des Charmes 2013 Gamay Noir ($13.95 ) from Niagara. It’s light to mid-weight, juicy and fresh with good acidity and very good length. Great value.

The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier 2014 Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay 2014 Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014 Château Des Charmes Gamay Noir 2013

After all that the holidays will be over. In case I did not select a wine for your occasion, remember that there are another 34 other wines on my Top 50; many less than $10. So check out more wine values by dipping into the Top 50 LCBO and VINTAGES Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste. In the New Year, I will be back with a look at the updated list in our Top 20 Under $20 January report.

Best wishes to all for Happy Holidays with family and friends and I hope the New Year will bring you every desire.

 

Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20 for December
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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Wynns Connawara Black Label Cabernet

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

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

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

We are now well into the busiest season of the year for wine sales, so there are lots of wines with big discounts and even more with Bonus Air Miles on my Top 50 to tell you about. While already great values, these incentives make my picks even more attractive this month.

Plus I am delighted to have found many new great values at the LCBO. This month, I have found eight wines to join the Top 50. All this should make your holiday season 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 current discount period runs until January 2nd 2016. So don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you 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

Trapiche Astica Merlot Malbec 2014, Cuyo, Argentina ($7.95 + 5 BAMs or $12.25 for 1.5L) Top 50 December – An inexpensive wine that offers a lot. Could be good for holiday entertaining of big crowds at say a cheese and wine reception.

Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2014, Abruzzo, Italy ($8.25 + 4 BAMs) Top 50 December – An honest good value red with a fragrant herbal raspberry nose. It is mid-weight and well balanced with just enough acidity and soft tannin to give it the structure for food. Great with pizza or grilled sausage.

Tatty Rd Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, South Australia ($8.50 was $14.80) Delisted. New to Top 50 December – Not your typical Aussie cabernet with a structure and acidity that might make one think it was European. Great sale price. Over 1100 bottles remain.

João Portugal Ramos Loios Red 2013, Alentejo, Portugal ($9.30) New to Top 50 December – This is a ripe, fleshy, clean, easy-drinking wine with soft tannins and fresh red berry fruit flavours. For a wine at this price there is more complexity than you might expect with herbal and spicy notes to the aromas and flavours. Try with roast lamb.

Trapiche Astica Merlot Malbec 2014Citra Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2014Tatty Rd Cabernet Sauvignon 2012João Portugal Ramos Loios Red 2013Fuzion Alta Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Fuzion Alta Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Mendoza, Argentina ($9.95 + 5 BAMs) Top 50 December – This is a soft flavourful yet well structured cabernet for a good price. It is mid-weight and juicy with the fruit well balanced by fine tannin and soft acidity. Very good length. Try with grilled meats.

Trapiche Malbec 2014, Mendoza, Argentina ($10.45 + 6 BAMs) – There is a degree of pureness and elegance here not often found in such inexpensive wines. Good depth of flavour and palate length make it a great buy for pasta, pizza or burgers.

Solaz Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Castilla León, Spain ($11.45) New to Top 50 December – 2014 is the best vintage yet of this juicy vibrant clean red with fresh raspberry and red cherry aromas plus spicy and jammy tones. Chill lightly and enjoy with grilled meats.

Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($11.45) New to Top 50 December – This aromatic red with fresh black cherry and plum fruit aromas is well balanced and juicy with good to very good length. Full bodied but feels lighter. Try with grilled meats.

Trapiche Malbec 2014Solaz Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon 2014Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013Cusumano Syrah 2013Argento Reserva Malbec 2013

Cusumano Syrah 2013, Sicily, Italy ($11.95 + 5 BAMs) Top 50 December – This is stunning value for a cool climate syrah. It is fresh with aromas of red grapefruit, blueberry and prune with a smooth palate. It’s well balanced and lively with soft tannin and very good length. Try with rack of lamb.

Argento Reserva Malbec 2013, Mendoza, Argentina ($12.95 +6 BAMs) – A rich pure smooth malbec with all the essentials of a good malbec especially the black berry fruit aromas and mild oak treatment. Very good length. Try with grilled meats.

Montes Twins Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($12.95 + 6 BAMs) – A classy very approachable red with ripe berry fruit aromas and flavours. Even though full bodied it feels lighter. Try with grilled meats.

Goats Do Roam Red 2014, Western Cape, South Africa ($12.95 + 5 BAMs) Top 50 December – The 2014 vintage continues a long line of consistently great value reds that are close stylistically to a French Côtes du Rhône. Try with burgers.

Montes Twins Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon 2013Goats Do Roam Red 2014Château Des Charmes Gamay Noir 2013Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2013Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Château Des Charmes Gamay Noir 2013, VQA Niagara On The Lake, Ontario ($13.95 + 5 BAMs) Top 50 December – There is a distinctly European feel to this wine with its somewhat rustic nose of berry fruit, beetroot and mushroom. Well focussed with very good length.

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, South Australia ($13.95 was $16.95) ) New to Top 50 December – The 2013 vintage of this very popular Aussie cab has more depth and is better structured than recent vintages. It is a balanced cabernet with the same ease of drinking as always, ripe fruit and tannin and a touch of oak on the finish.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Coonawarra, South Australia ($24.95 was $27.95) Top 50 December – It was already stunning value; now at $3 off its time to pick up a case. Checkout the reviews at Wine Align there are over 20 of us that love this excellent very drinkable very classy cabernet. It’s Christmas; spend more than $20 and see what you can get.

Whites

Emu Oloroso Cream Sherry, Australia ($7.50) ) New to Top 50 December – Ample aromas of orange marmalade and floral apricot mingle with fine herbs on the nose. The palate is rich and sweet yet light due to soft lemony acidity. It finishes sweet but not cloying with very good length. Try with fruitcake or mincemeat pie, or simply enjoy on its own lightly chilled with a quarter of an orange.

14 Hands Hot To Trot White Blend 2011, Washington State, USA ($8.75 was $14.95) Delisted. New to Top 50 December – It is a nice vibrant fresh white blend with fine aromas and bright lively fruit. It is well balanced and mid-weight with a nice juicy finish. Try on its own as an aperitif or with sautéed seafood or creamy brie. Great sale price; around 2000 bottles remain.

Montalto Pinot Grigio 2014, Sicily, Italy ($9.45 + 4 BAMs) Top 50 December – This offers surprising – amazing – character for the price with lots of aroma and flavour and more complexity than one would expect from such an inexpensive wine. Give it a try; it is a big improvement over recent vintages.

Emu Oloroso Cream Sherry14 Hands Hot To Trot White Blend 2011Montalto Pinot Grigio 2014Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014Mascota Vineyards OPI Chardonnay 2014

Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Aconcagua Valley, Chile ($10.95 was $12.05) New to Top 50 December – A lively fresh sauvignon with aromas and flavours of tropical gooseberry and passion fruit with lemon and freshly cut grass notes. Very smooth. Try with a creamy goat’s cheese salad.

Mascota Vineyards OPI Chardonnay 2014, Argentina ($12.95 + 6 BAMs) – A juicy fruity lightly oaked chardonnay with lovely creamy acidity, lots of flavour and very good length. Try with creamy pasta sauces.

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 34 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. 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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Canto Apalta WineAlign ad Dec 2015

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Buy The Case: Treasury Wine Estates

A Report on Consignment Wines in Ontario
Written by WineAlign

BuyTheCaseLOGOimageIn this regular feature WineAlign tastes wines submitted by a single importing agent. Our critics independently, as always, taste, review and rate the wines – good, bad and indifferent, and those reviews are posted to WineAlign. We 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.

For an explanation of the program, the process and our 10 Good Reasons to Buy the Case, please click here

Treasury Wine Estates

Treasury Wine Estates is one of the world’s largest premium wine producers. They grow, vinify and market wines, mostly from world renowned estates in California and Australia, such as Stag’s Leap, Beringer, Penfolds, Wolf Blass and Rosemount. They also have estates in New Zealand, Argentina and Italy. Many of their wines can be found at the LCBO and VINTAGES but others are available by the case through their consignment program.

The WineAlign Toronto team recently unearthed the following gems during a late November Buy the Case tasting of wines offered by Treasury Wine Estates.

Two of the wines tasted were selected by all 5 writers, so if you are looking for a couple of great wines to have on hand by buying or splitting a case then check out Stags’ Leap 2012 Napa Valley Petite Sirah and Wynns 2013 The Gables Cabernet Shiraz.

Most also thought that Stags’ Leap 2012 Napa Valley Merlot would be a great addition to anyone’s cellar.

If you are selecting wines for a restaurant list, three wines Chateau St. Jean 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Pepperjack 2013 Shiraz and Gabbiano 2012 Solatio would all be good wine-by-the-glass selections.

Below are recommended picks and suggested reasons why you might consider buying by the case.

Stags’ Leap 2012 Petite Sirah,Napa Valley ($39.95)

2015-12-03_16-57-25David Lawrason – As the black colour indicates this is very full bodied, dense, tannic and chewy. And like so many petite sirahs the nose is nothing to write home about – closed and curmudgeonly, with overripe dark fruit, raisiny fruit, damp wood and chocolate. But it has very good concentration and complexity. Needs some time (maybe three to five years). A winter warmer with game, stews and roasts. Split a case with like-minded lovers of big red.
Steve Thurlow – I have always liked this wine from Stags’ Leap for its elegance and pureness. The nose like many petite sirah (aka durif) is not that interesting with aromas of dusty black cherry but the palate is super smooth and very finely balanced with a wonderful poise and very good length. Try with roast beef. Best 2015 to 2020.
Sara d’Amato – Petite sirah can often be overwhelmingly the opposite of petite – dark, intense and tannic. Despite the black, smoky fruit notable in this example, it is also refreshingly open and there is a lightness here that makes it ready to drink and inviting. Pretty, elegant and with complex aromatics.
Michael Godel – A clear distinction can be ascertained from the Stag’s Leap house style across the varietal reds, even in an example like the devilishly rich Petite Sirah. This is quite restrained for the expatriate French variety (called durif), balanced and alcohol gentle, relatively speaking. The Stag’s Leap achieves that rare combination of big and easy. Would make for a good change of pace, either as a curio or a split a case selection.
John Szabo – A perennial favourite of mine from Stags’ Leap, this savage and savoury petite sirah offers a fine mix of earth, fruit, resinous herbs and dark fruit character. Tannins are still firm and burly, but there’s more than ample fruit to ensure proper integration in time. A cellar selection, best after 2018.

Wynns The Gables 2013 Cabernet Shiraz, Coonawarra, Australia ($19.95)

Steve Thurlow – This is a very fine classic Coonawarra cabernet shiraz blend with appealing aromas of blackberry and blueberry fruit with prune, lemon, tobacco and earthy tones. The palate is very pure with clean firm lines and juicy blackberry fruit finely balanced by finely divided tannin and lemony acidity. It will gain in complexity as the tannins fold into the wine if given further bottle age developing more savoury notes in the future. Best 2015 to 2025. Very good length. Though drinking well now this is a great cellar candidate and is awesome value.Wynns Coonawarra Estate The Gables 2013
Sara d’Amato – Possibly the best value of the lot, “The Gables” cabernet sauvignon offers wild and savoury flavours consistent with cabernets produced in the region’s rich, terra rossa soils. A touch of eucalyptus and pine on the finish adds typicity and charm.
Michael Godel – In ode to one of the architectural icons of the Wynns estate, this has classic Coonawarra looks and suave charisma. It’s also electric and alive and represents terrific Cabernet Sauvignon value from an Australian region where that continues to become the norm, not the anomaly. Would make an excellent restaurant pour by the glass with rich winter braises.
John Szabo – There’s nothing from Wynns I wouldn’t happily drink, and this well-priced cabernet offers fine character and genuine depth, complexity and balance. I appreciate the fresh mint-tinged cassis fruit and brambly pine needle flavours. A highly versatile wine to have around the house for all occasions.
David Lawrason – Great value for a modest home cellar and weekend drinking with steaks. This is a generously flavoured yet compact cab-shiraz with black cherry, pepper, cedar and vaguely iron-like minerality typical of Coonawarra. It’s medium-full bodied and vibrant with considerable tannin. Australia can do this grape combo better than most, and Coonawarra leads the pack. Best 2017 to 2022.

Stags’ Leap 2012 Merlot,Napa Valley ($39.95)

David Lawrason – Merlot always plays second fiddle to cab in Napa, but this highly structured version rises up to cab stature – for less. It is a full bodied, fairly firm and dense merlot, with excellent length. Some grit and tension here so worth cellaring. Best 2020 to 2025.
John Szabo – A well crafted example from a reliable Napa name, Stags’ Leap’s 2012 Merlot is a dense and plummy, fruity and spicy wine, with bright, lively acids and moderate, lightly grippy tannins. All elements are in proportion and harmony, and length and depth are superior to the mean. A premium selection to gift to, or share, with special friends.
Steve Thurlow – An elegant classy mid-weight merlot with aromas of plum and red berry fruit with mild nicely integrated oak plus some earthy tones. The palate is juicy and mid-weight with fine tannins and vibrant acidity. Very good length. Try with roast beef. Best 2015 to 2019.

Stags' Leap Winery Merlot 2012Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

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

Michael Godel – Composed from fruit drawn out of the North Coast and Central Coast, this Cabernet Sauvignon works in the simplest, apropos ways. Highly aromatic, well-structured, righteously crafted and respectfully restrained. Would proudly pour any night of the week as a house wine.
Steve Thurlow – This is a pretty very appealing cabernet with some nice floral tones to the cassis fruit and oak spice. The mid-weight palate is soft and juicy and dry with some mild tannin on the finish. Good to very good length. A good wine by the glass selection.

Pepperjack Shiraz 2013, Barossa Valley, South Australia ($24.95)

David Lawrason – Here’s a great wine for a premium by-the-glass pour. It’s authentically Barossa, deep and even yet not as brutish as some, making it enjoyable as a sipper or with food. Love the sultry nose of cassis, vanilla cream, mossy earthiness, subtle ginger and chocolate. It’s full bodied, fairly dense yet elegant.
Sara d’Amato – A very peppery Barossa shiraz, dense with a terrific concentration of black fruit. Firing on all cylinders here, there is no shortage of bang but with less oak than expected. The delicate smokiness compliments the fruit. Rich, savoury, and dry with notable balance. Very good length.

Pepperjack Shiraz Saltram Of Barossa 2013Gabbiano Solatio 2012

Gabbiano Solatio 2012, Tuscany, Italy ($16.95)

David Lawrason – This delivers basic Tuscan character and some charm at a fair price, so consider a case for by-the-glass pours, banquets or larger home or office gatherings. It is light to medium bodied red with vague floral notes, some grainy/malty character, plus some nougat and chocolate. Quite sleek with fresh acidity and fine tannin. Approachable now.
Steve Thurlow – This is a red blend of 50% syrah, 45% cabernet franc and 5% sangiovese with aromas of black cherry fruit with prune, lemon and mild oak spice. It is mid-weight and soft with the ripe fruit balanced by soft tannin and gentle acidity. The finish is a little hot from alcohol but the length is very good. A powerful wine for hearty stews. Best 2015 to 2018.

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 LCBO in November 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.

Nouveau, Gifts and New Releases
by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

I found a nice selection of wines to tell you about from my recent tastings of new wines at the LCBO, including one from the Nouveau 2015 release and one from the new gift items on the shelf for the upcoming holiday season. Many are quite exciting; give them a try and let’s hope that some of them stay around for awhile.

Last week, the Beaujolais Nouveau arrived on the shelves. I do not normally like Nouveau wines as the method used to make them so quickly after the harvest does not usually deliver great wine. Fortunately the category is gradually falling out of fashion. So, as expected, I was not impressed by this year’s batch, with one exception from Drouhin that I selected below.

Most of the items in the gift section at LCBO stores are beautifully packaged, but again, not all great wines. The exception here is the Penfolds offering – a superb cabernet. So if your giftee is impressed by packages there are many options, but I for one would be delighted to get this gift from Santa which I’ve featured 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. I suggest you read on, pick a few that appeal, 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 reviews of great value wines!

REDS

The Entertainer Red Blend 2013, South Australia ($13.95 was $15.95) – This wine was created in honour of Wolf Blass, the famous Australian winemaker, whose passion in life has always been to entertain. It is certainly entertaining and at $2 off is also a great buy.

The Entertainer Red Blend 2013

Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Villages Nouveau 2015, Burgundy, France ($15.95) – Nouveau Wine Release: It is youthfully fruity and exuberant but there is more to it than that. It is very pure with some structure and good length. Try with veal scallopini.

Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Villages Nouveau 2015

Ara Pathway Single Estate Pinot Noir 2013, Marlborough, New Zealand ($16.95) – Great value for a juicy fruity pinot with a very harmonious nose. It’s dry, tightly knit and well balanced for food. Try with roast beef.

Ara Pathway Single Estate Pinot Noir 2013

Woodwork Pinot Noir 2013, Central Coast, California, USA ($16.95) – A clean ripe sweetish very typical Central Coast pinot. It’s soft and very drinkable. Chill a little and enjoy with a ham and cheese sandwich.

Woodwork Pinot Noir 2013

Mark West Pinot Noir 2013, California, USA ($16.95) – A well made juicy fruity sweetish pinot that’s very appealing with a good depth of flavour and good length. Chill a little and enjoy on its own or with delicate cheeses.

Mark West Pinot Noir 2013

Château Canteloup 2012, Médoc, Bordeaux, France ($19.65) – This has the presence and aromas of a top quality Bordeaux red. It has very traditional styling and though the structure is not that of the top wines, it is still very impressive for the money.

Château Canteloup 2012

Penfolds Bin 9 Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, South Australia ($23.95) – Holiday Gift Section: A superb elegant cabernet with a gorgeous nose and finely balanced palate. Makes a great gift for any lover of fine red wine who enjoys a steak.

Penfolds Bin 9 Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

WHITES

Chateau d’ Eternes Brut, Saumur, Loire Valley, France ($14.95) – This is a very classy sparkling wine at a great price with an enticing nose. It is dry and finely balanced with very good to excellent length. A great aperitif but also a wine for delicate seafood dishes

Chateau D' Eternes Saumur Brut

Ara Pathway Single Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand ($14.95) – A fresh mellow sauvignon that’s a little sweet but there is very good length and it makes for a good sipping wine.

Ara Pathway Single Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Fiol Prosecco Extra Dry Veneto, Italy ($15.60) – A fresh lively non-vintage Italian bubby with clean aromas of pear and melon fruit with lemon and icing sugar tones.

Fiol Prosecco Extra Dry

Woodwork Chardonnay 2013, Central Coast, California, USA ($16.95) – This is a modern California chardonnay with modest well integrated oak adding to the lemon, melon and pear fruit aromas. Chill well and enjoy with chicken, veal or pork dishes.

Woodwork Chardonnay 2013

Villa Maria Lightly Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Marlborough, New Zealand ($17.95) – A new trend from the Kiwis. Take good quality sauvignon crammed with aromas and flavours, leave some sugar and lightly carbonate just before bottling to get a delightful refreshing bubbly.

Villa Maria Lightly Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc 2015

 

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20 for November
Top 50 Value Wines
World Wine Awards of Canada

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 (November 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 write this from Hermanus; best known for pinot noir and for the whales that can be seen in the bay from my hotel window. I am in South Africa leading a group of wine lovers who are exploring Cape wines with me. I will be bringing another group here in 2017, so if that sounds interesting, you can get more info at SteveThurlow.com

South African wines are relatively inexpensive for the quality they offer. I am delighted to have found three among the many new great values at the LCBO this month.

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. From among wines that I have tasted since I last reported to you, I have found six new wines to join the Top 50. 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 29th, so don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you that when we published there were stocks available 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

Tini Sangiovese di Romagna 2012, Emilia-Romagna, Italy ($7.55) New to Top 50 – This is excellent value for a very drinkable Italian red for pizza and meaty pasta dishes. It is soft and fruity with enough tannin and acidity for balance and good length. Chill a little and try with tomato pasta sauces.

Citra Sangiovese Terre di Chieti 2014 Abruzzo Italy ($8.25 + 4 BAMs) – This red is a little rustic with a savoury herbal nose. Try with mildly flavoured red meat dishes or a mild hard cheese like cheddar.

Tini Sangiovese di Romagna 2012 Citra Sangiovese Terre di Chieti 2014 Santa Carolina Merlot 2015 Domaine La Gardie Merlot 2013

Santa Carolina Merlot 2015 Chile ($8.95 + 4BAMs) Top 50 November – This is an exuberant fruity merlot. Enjoy on its own lightly chilled or with a wide range of meat and cheese dishes.

Domaine La Gardie Merlot 2013, Vin De Pays d’Oc, France ($8.95 was $10.95) New to Top 50 – This is opaque purple-red wine is a great buy for a pure clean structured red. Not a lot of complexity but well balanced for cheese or meat dishes.

Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013 Colchagua Valley, Chile ($9.45 was $11.45) New to Top 50 – Great value at $2 off. This aromatic red with fresh black cherry and plum fruit aromas is well balanced and juicy with good to very good length. Full bodied but feels lighter. Try with grilled meats.

Montecillo Crianza 2010 Rioja Spain ($11.95 was $14.95) New to Top 50 – Stunning value at $3 off. This is an easy-to-drink Rioja crianza that’s midweight and lively with ripe berry fruit yet structured with firm tannin appearing on the finish. Very classy. Try with roast lamb.

Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013 Montecillo Crianza 2010 Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2013 Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot 2013

Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2013 Mendoza Argentina ($12.95 was $14.95) Top 50 November – This is a very fruity fresh malbec is $2 off for next 4 weeks making it even better value. There is a lot of complexity on the palate also which is almost full bodied with excellent length. Try with sautéed duck breast.

Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot 2013 Rapel Valley Chile ($12.95 + 4BAMs) Top 50 November – This is a polished, organically grown merlot that’s clean and lively with pure fresh bright aromas and flavours. It is medium to full bodied with good focus and very good length.

Goats Do Roam Red 2014 Western Cape, South Africa ($12.95) Top 50 November – The 2014 vintage continues a long line of consistently great value reds that are close stylistically to a French Cotes du Rhone. Try with burgers.

Guardian Reserva Red 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($13.90 + 7 BAMs) – This juicy fruity red blend is 50% cabernet sauvignon with carmenere and syrah. It is an easy drinking red but there is a good underlying structure to give balance.

Goats do Roam Red 2014 Guardian Reserva Red 2013 KWV Cathedral Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier 2014

KWV Cathedral Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Western Cape, South Africa ($13.95 was $15.95) New to Top 50 – This very consistent cabernet is well balanced with soft minerality to lighten the palate. The nose has a delightful impression of freshness. Midweight and well structured. Try with roast beef.

The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier 2014, Western Cape, South Africa ($13.95 + 5BAMs) Top 50 November – This deeply coloured blend of syrah, mourvedre and viognier is medium to full bodied with firm tannin which gives a nice edge to the finish. Very good to excellent length. Try with grilled red meats.

Whites

Citra Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2014 Abruzzo Italy ($8.25 + 4 BAMs) – Most inexpensive trebbiano is rather boring but this is much fruitier and riper than normal. Chill well and try with grilled calamari.

Shingleback Haycutters Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014, Adelaide Hills and Mclaren Vale, South Australia. ($9.45 was $13.80) Discontinued at LCBO. Top 50 November – This is a classic Bordeaux white blend with subtle oak that is very smooth with the lively fruit well supported by racy acidity. Very good length. Try with roasted poultry or sautéed veal. Around 850 bottles left.

Citra Trebbiano d'Abruzzo 2014 Shingleback Haycutters Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014 Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2015 Montgras Amaral Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2015, Leyda Valley, Chile ($11.95) New to Top 50 – The chardonnay reserva used to come from the Santa Isabella Estate in the Casablanca Valley, but this vintage comes from an estate in Leyda in the San Antonio Valley. It is a fine lively fresh gently oaked white.

Montgras Amaral Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Leyda Valley, Chile ($13.85 + 7 BAMs) – The Leyda Valley in Chile is fast proving to be the hot spot for great sauvignon blanc and this is an excellent example of just how good it can be. Lots of  flavour and very good length. Try with sautéed seafood, roast poultry or vegetarian quiche.

Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014 Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand ($13.95 + 5BAMs) Top 50 November – A concentrated fresh pure grigio with a rich and lively palate that is well balanced by zesty acidity. Very good length. Don’t overchill and enjoy with a wide variety of seafood and white meat dishes.

Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los Arcos Jerez Spain ($15.45) Top 50 November – The best value white on the Top 50, this lovely wine that has lots of complexity. It is a classic amontillado with its nutty almond, lemon, bread, and salty ham aromas. It is very smooth with the dry, rich intensely flavoured palate lingering for ever. Excellent length. Try with rich white meat dishes. Find it in the fortified wine section.

Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014 Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los Arcos Riverlore Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Stoneleigh Chardonnay 2014

Riverlore Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand ($15.90 + 8 BAMs) – A crisp very juicy kiwi sauvignon that is midweight and well balanced with a creamy rich palate and crisp dry herbal lemon finish. Try with sautéed seafood or goats cheese.

Stoneleigh Chardonnay 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand ($16.95 + 10 BAMs) – This is a bold complex rich chardonnay with the ample oak well integrated with the fruit. The palate is super smooth with the rich fruit buoyed up by lemony acidity and the oak well integrated such that it is only just noticeable on the finish. Well balanced with very good length.

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 Essentials 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 36 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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Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2015

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What’s New at LCBO in October

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.

Gold Medal Winning New Values
by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

WineAlign has recently announced the results of the 10th Edition of the World Wine Awards of Canada. The name has changed over the years but the intent has always been the same – to assemble Canada’s leading palates and taste through hundreds of wines that sell somewhere in Canada for less than $50. In fact, the vast majority of this year’s entries were under $25. (You can read all about The World’s in David Lawrason’s recent article: It’s all about Value at the World Wine Awards of Canada)

I judged along with my colleagues from WineAlign when we spent a week together in late August tasting around a 1000 wines, so when I was compiling my list of What’s New at the LCBO this month, I was happy to see a few new wines here which won a Gold Value medal at the Awards.

The wines on the shelves at the LCBO are constantly changing and I am tasting the new ones all the time. Many wineries send us new wines in advance for us to review before they hit the shelves and we also taste the latest vintages of current listings. Many favourites are always there but the range and variety is gradually being updated.

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

Porta 6 2012, V R Lisboa, Portugal ($12.35) – This is a bright lively fresh red blend of several indigenous Portuguese red grapes.  Pleasant and easy drinking with decent length. Try with burgers or pizza.

Porta 6 2012

Santa Julia Reserva Malbec 2014, Mendoza ($12.95) – This is a rich malbec with a creamy texture that is well balanced and quite juicy with good length and  a long lingering very dry finish. Try with a rack of juicy ribs.

Santa Julia Reserva Malbec 2014WWAC15_Gold_White

Kellermeister The Funk Wagon G S M 2011 South Australia ($16.20) – A lovely GSM blend with a complex nose and a lemony fruity finish that could easily have come from the Rhone Valley.

Kellermeister The Funk Wagon G S M 2011WWAC15_Gold_White

Ara Pathway Single Estate Pinot Noir 2013, Marlborough, New Zealand ($16.95 + 10BAMs) – Great value for a juicy fruity pinot with a very harmonious nose. Its dry, tightly knit and well balanced for food. Try with roast beef.

Ara Pathway Single Estate Pinot Noir 2013

Luis Felipe Edwards Family Selection Gran Reserva Carmenere 2014 Colchagua Valley, Chile ($16.95) – There is a lot of complexity in this juicy structured cabernet with an elegant palate that shows a good depth of flavour with very good to excellent length.

Luis Felipe Edwards Family Selection Gran Reserva Carmenere 2014WWAC15_Gold_White

Château Canteloup 2012, Médoc, Bordeaux, France ($19.65) – This has the presence and aromas of a top quality Bordeaux red. It has very traditional styling and though the structure is not that of the best, it is still very impressive for the money.

Château Canteloup 2012

WHITES

Two Oceans Moscato 2015 Western Cape, South Africa ($9.95) – A fairly simple sweet white low in alcohol with a very aromatic nose. Chill well and enjoy on its own or with baked apple desserts.

Two Oceans Moscato 2015

Ara Pathway Single Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand ($14.95) – A fresh mellow sauvignon that’s a little sweet but there is very good length and it makes for a good sipping wine.

Ara Pathway Single Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Veuve Ambal Grande Cuvée Brut Crémant De Bourgogne, Burgundy, France ($17.95) – An elegant fresh clean bubbly for a great price. Smooth and lively with very good length. Try with pastry nibbles or creamy sauces.

Veuve Ambal Grande Cuvée Brut Crémant De BourgogneWWAC15_Gold_White

Basa Blanco 2014 Rueda, Spain ($17.95) –  An elegant Spanish white from verdejo with delicate aromas and a juicy fruity palate that is well balanced with the fruit persisting well on the long finish. Very good length. Try with sautéed seafood.

Basa Blanco 2014WWAC15_Bronze_White

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20
Top 50 Value Wines
World Wine Awards of Canada

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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Concha Y Toro Terrunyo Andes Pirque Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

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

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 discontinued many wines this month and there are some big discounts. Quite a few of my favourites are nearly all gone, probably snapped up by some of you, but I have found eight with enough inventory still for you to jump on if you are quick.

Regular readers of this report know that wines from Chile feature frequently with Cono Sur, Errazuriz (our Outstanding Value Winery of the Year) and Santa Carolina among others being often mentioned. Since I last reported I tasted twelve new vintages from Santa Carolina and several of these have joined the Top 50. Some of these vintages (listed below) may not yet be in your store but they will be there soon and the previous vintage was usually just as good.

As a consequence I am delighted to have found seventeen new great values at the LCBO this month to join the Top 50.

Several wines already on my Top 50 Best Values list are discounted this month and some have Bonus Air Miles that apply, making these wines even more attractive for the next four weeks or so; so in addition I have selected another three wines; 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 8th. So don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you 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

Undurraga U Pinot Noir 2013, Maipo Valley, Chile ($6.45 was $9.95) NEW TO TOP50 – DELISTED – Good value for a simple earthy pinot with red cherry fruit aromas. It is lightweight and well balanced with good length with a long dry yet fruity finish. Chill and try with grilled pork cutlets. Over 1100 bottles left.

Tiger Horse Shiraz Mourvedre 2013 Western Cape, South Africa ($6.95 was $11.80) NEW TO TOP50 – DELISTED – It is a soft easy drinking red that needs a little chill to give it some edge. It is full bodied, sweetish with ripe fruit flavours and decent palate length. Try with bbq meats. Over 1300 bottles left.

Argento Bonarda 2013, Mendoza, Argentina ($6.95 was $9.95) NEW TO TOP50 – DELISTED – This is an opaque purple with an earthy nose of black cherry fruit with basil and dark chocolate notes. It is juicy and midweight with vibrant acidity and decent length though the finish is a little bitter. Try with burgers.

Undurraga U Pinot Noir 2013 Tiger Horse Shiraz Mourvedre 2013 Argento Bonarda 2013 Citra Montepulciano D'abruzzo 2014 Faustino V Tempranillo Rosado 2014

Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2014 Abruzzo, Italy ($8.25) – NEW TO TOP50 – A well balanced versatile food red. Try with meaty pasta sauces or mildly spicy sausages.

Faustino V Tempranillo Rosado 2014, Rioja Spain ($7.45 was $12.90) TOP50 OCTOBER – DELISTED – Over 1100 bottles of this summer rose listing remain. You know can drink rose all year, its just a lightweight red with lots of flavour and great length. Over 1100 bottles left.

Mezzomondo Negroamaro 2014, Salento, Puglia, Italy ($8.95) NEW TO TOP50 – This is a flavourful, fragrant red that is midweight with the fruit well supported by some ripe fine tannin. Very good length. Try with grilled red meats.

Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Rapel Valley, Chile ($8.95) NEW TO TOP50 – A basic well made cabernet at a great price. The length is good and the palate is very even; it’s clean and fresh with good structure. Try with roast meats.

Mezzomondo Negroamaro 2014 Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Trapiche Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 George Wyndham Founder's Reserve Shiraz 2012 Goats Do Roam Red 2014

Trapiche Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Mendoza, Argentina ($11.95 + 6BAMs) TOP50 OCTOBER – This is an opaque elegant cabernet with ripe, but not overripe fruit, and a fine balance. Very good to excellent length. Try with a steak.

George Wyndham Founder’s Reserve Shiraz 2012, Langhorne Creek, South Australia ($11.95 was $19.95) NEW TO TOP50 – DELISTED – A fine elegant shiraz, with a smooth palate, powerful flavours and very good length. Try with a steak or a succulent duck breast. Over 700 bottles left.

Goats Do Roam Red 2014, Western Cape, South Africa ($12.95) NEW TO TOP50 – This red blend from the Cape is close stylistically to a French Cotes du Rhone. It is midweight and well balanced with vibrant acidity and juicy red berry fruit and soft tannin. Very good length with a dry earthy finish. Try with burgers.

Santa Carolina Carmenère Reserva 2014, Cachapoal Valley, Chile ($12.95) NEW TO TOP50 – A well made juicy ripe carmenere with none of the greenness sometimes associated with this grape. Try with bbq and roast red meats, casseroles or mature hard cheese.

Santa Carolina Carmenère Reserva 2014 Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2014 Errazuriz Estate Pinot Noir 2012 Santa Carolina Reserva De Familia Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2014, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($12.95) NEW TO TOP50 – This is a pure fresh elegant wine with complexity and structure that usually costs a lot more. It is finely balanced with excellent length. Enjoy with fine cuisine.

Errazuriz Estate Pinot Noir 2013, Aconcagua Valley, Chile ($13.95 + 10BAMs) TOP50 OCTOBER – This is a delicious Chilean pinot with a good depth of colour, fragrant nose and a well balanced complex midweight palate. Very good to excellent length. Enjoy with roast turkey, seared tuna or mature cheddar cheese.

Santa Carolina Reserva De Familia Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Maipo Valley, Chile ($18.95) NEW TO TOP50 – An elegant well balanced classic Maipo cabernet. Delicious now but very cellar worthy. So buy some and tuck a few away for later.

White

Tiger Horse Chenin Blanc Pinot Grigio 2013, Western Cape, South Africa ($6.45 was $11.55) NEW TO TOP50 – DELISTED – This is a solid, midweight and flavourful white with a fine balance. The palate is rich with good length. Chill and enjoy with creamy pasta sauces or flavourful seafood. Over 1300 bottles left.

Big House White 2012, Central Coast, California, USA ($7.45 was $12.95) NEW TO TOP50 – DELISTED – This is an aromatic white that is well balanced with a long lingering finish.  Try with mildly spicy bbq seafood or Thai cuisine. Over 2900 bottles left.

Tiger Horse Chenin Blanc Pinot Grigio 2013 Big House White 2012 Casal Thaulero Pinot Grigio 2014

Casal Thaulero Pinot Grigio 2014,Terre Di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy ($8.95) NEW TO TOP50 – Great value for a fruity lively rich pinot grigio. Don’t overchill and enjoy on its own or with seafood, white meats and mild cheese.

Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Rapel Valley, Chile ($8.95 +4BAMs) NEW TO TOP50 – This is a lovely ripe sauvignon with a minty and salty tang to the lemon pear fruit aromas and flavours. A very drinkable sauvignon at a great price.

Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2015 Shingleback Haycutters Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014

Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2015 Chile ($8.95 was $9.95) TOP50 OCTOBER – A floral rich dry white with an appealing aromatic nose. Great as an apertif or with strongly flavoured cheese.

Shingleback Haycutters Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014, Adelaide Hills McLaren Vale South Australia ($9.45 was $13.80) NEW TO TOP50 – DELISTED – This is a classic Bordeaux white blend with subtle oak that is very smooth with the lively fruit well supported by racy acidity. Very good length. Try with roasted poultry or sautéed veal. Over 2900 bottles left.

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 36 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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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (September 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 am delighted to have found many new great values at the LCBO this month. From among all the wines I have tasted since I last reported to you, I have found ten new wines to join the my standing list of Top 50 Value wines.

Additionally many wines from that list are discounted and a some have Bonus Air Miles that apply, making these wines even more attractive for the next four weeks or so; all making your fall drinking more affordable.

I have selected six wines that did not quite make it to the Top 50 but they all have BAMs this month. Several of you have written to me saying that BAMs are only of marginal interest. I do somewhat agree however they do have some value. All the wines chosen below are good value already; the BAMs simply add temporarily to their appeal.

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 current discount period runs until October 11th. So don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you 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

Mike Weir The Underdog Red 2012, VQA Niagara Peninsula ($6.45 Discontinued at LCBO) New to Top 50 – This lightweight simple red is now at a great price. Over 700 bottles remain.

Figuero Tinto 4 Tempranillo 2012, Spain ($9.90 Discontinued at LCBO) New to Top 50 – A lively juicy red with soft berry aromas and a lively fruity palate.

Fuzion Alta Reserva Malbec 2014, Mendoza, Argentina ($9.95) Top 50 September – A fruity juicy malbec. Chill a little and try with pizza or meaty pasta sauces.

Trapiche Malbec 2014, Mendoza, Argentina ($10.45 +4 BAMs) – Pretty good malbec for the price, not that complex but quite correct. Try with grilled meats.

Mike Weir The Underdog Red 2012 Figuero Tinto 4 Tempranillo 2012 Fuzion Alta Reserva Malbec 2014 Trapiche Malbec 2014

Quinta Do Valdoeiro Baga, Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah 2011 Bairrada, Portugal ($10.80) Top 50 September – A fresh clean blend of the Portuguese grape baga with cabernet and syrah. It is midweight with an elegant juicy palate, lively acidity and fine tannin. Very good length. Try with roast meats.

Errazuriz Estate Series Carmenere 2013, Rapel Valley, Chile ($11.40) New to Top 50 – This is a vibrant young carmenere with lifted aromas and lots of flavour and shows just how good this grape can be. It’s smooth and quite firm but not the least austere, with chalky tannin and a lemony tone to the finish. Very good length. Try with grilled meats or baked brie.

Santa Carolina Carmenère Reserva 2013, Cachapoal Valley, Chile ($12.95 + 8 BAMs) – A well made juicy ripe carmenere with none of the greenness sometimes associated with this grape. Try with bbq and roast red meats, casseroles or mature hard cheese.

Quinta Do Valdoeiro Baga, Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah 2011 Errazuriz Estate Series Carmenere 2013 Santa Carolina Carmenère Reserva 2013 Fielding Fireside Red Cabernet 2012 Cape Heights Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Fielding Fireside Red Cabernet 2012, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($14.95 +5 BAMs) – A well structured youthful red that needs a decanter for an hour then it will be great with a steak.

Cape Heights Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Western Cape, South Africa ($9.35) New to Top 50 – A clean juicy dry midweight modern cabernet with a mild oak treatment. It is a little sweet but finishes dry with decent length.

Whites

San Pedro Gato Negro Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (1500ml) Chile $13.95 +6BAMs – A clean pure sipping white for a good price with some sauvignon character. Chill well and enjoy with vegetable dips.

Periquita White 2013, Portugal ($8.95 + 3 BAMs) – Top 50 September – Aromatic with a very smooth palate and good depth of flavour and some fruit sweetness, yet it finishes dry with good to very good length. Enjoy with mildly flavoured seafood.

Montalto Pinot Grigio 2014, Sicily ($9.45 + 4 BAMs) New to Top 50 – This grigio from Sicily has a lot of aroma and flavour with more complexity than one would expect from such an inexpensive wine.

San Pedro Gato Negro Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Periquita White 2013 Montalto Pinot Grigio 2014 Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2014

Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2014, Central Valley, Chile ($9.95) New to Top 50 – A warmer climate sauvignon with lots of flavour. Try with grilled chicken.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2015 Chile ($9.95) New to Top 50 – A floral rich dry white with an appealing aromatic nose. Great as an apertif or with strongly flavoured cheese.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Chardonnay 2014 Casablanca Valley Chile ($10.50) New to Top 50 – Mild aromas with just a hint of oak led to the fresh pure palate with delicate fruit and very good length, Try with sauteed seafood.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2015 Cono Sur Bicicleta Chardonnay 2014 Cono Sur Chardonnay Reserva Especial 2014

Cono Sur Chardonnay Reserva Especial 2014, Casablanca Valley, Chile ($10.65) New to Top 50 – This vintage is quite sauvignon like; fresh lively with just a touch of oak and mouthwateringly delicious.

Osborne Santa Maria Cream Sherry, Jerez, Spain ($12.95 + 6 BAMs) – Excellent value for a classic cream sherry from Spain with abundant aromas, great depth of flavour and excellent length. Enjoy with a quarter of a fresh orange squeezed on ice as an aperitif.

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava Catalonia Spain ($13.45 was $14.95) – New to Top 50 – This is my favourite LCBO bubbly under $15, great for receptions as an aperitif; essentially anywhere you would consider Champagne.

Osborne Santa Maria Cream Sherry Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava Santa Rita Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2015 Villa Wolf Riesling 2013

Santa Rita Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2015, Casablanca Valley, Chile ($13.95) New to Top 50 – A pure rich zesty sauvignon with good varietal character. Try with sautéed seafood.

Villa Wolf Riesling 2013, Qualitätswein, Pfalz Germany ($14.95 + 8 BAMs) – A racy juicy quite elegant riesling that’s finely balanced with very good length. Just what you need in a riesling at this price.

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 36 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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Tilia Malbec

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Buy The Case: Da Capo Wines

A Report on Consignment Wines in Ontario
Written by WineAlign

BuyTheCaseLOGOimageAs a regular feature WineAlign tastes wines submitted by a single importing agent. Our critics independently, as always, taste, review and rate the wines – good, bad and indifferent, and those reviews are posted to WineAlign. We 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.

For an explanation of the program, the process and our 10 Good Reasons to Buy the Case, please click here

September – Da Capo Wines

Looking for a couple of great unsung Barbarescos to fill out the Piedmont section of your cellar? How about a classic Napa chardonnay and cabernet that rarely show up at the LCBO – ideal for holiday season gifts? Or a dandy young Roussillon red to pour by-the-glass or keep on hand as a fall house wine? The WineAlign Toronto team recently unearthed the following gems during a Buy the Case tasting of wines offered by Da Capo Wines.

INTO THE CELLAR

Albino Rocca Ronchi Barbaresco 2011

Albino Rocca Duemilaundici Barbaresco 2011Albino Rocca 2011 Duemilaundici Barbaresco, Piedmont, Italy $65.76  (six bottle case)
All five tasters aligned on the impressive Barbareco as the hit of the show.

John Szabo – This is just the kind of premium, but not untouchable, wine that you’d like to have at least a few bottles of on hand for that special (wintry) occasion. Albino Rocca crafts nebbiolo in a tender, fruity and polished modern style, without sacrificing any of the variety’s beguiling perfume to overripeness or wood influence.
Steve Thurlow – Very classy classic Barbaresco with elegance. It is a pale garnet red with fine seamless aromas of red cherry and plum fruit with a dried herbal tone, leather, dark chocolate and pine cone.
Michael Godel – Rocca’s Ronchi (below) leaves a distinct, single-focused impression but the “normale” vineyard blend is even that much more remarkable. It is a best of all worlds Barbaresco, from vineyard fruit in the eponymous town, along with Neive and Alba’s San Rocca Seno D’elvio. A Nebbiolo to drink for upwards of two decades.
David Lawrason – This nervy young Barbaresco shows impressive flavour intensity and length!
Sara d’Amato – This profound Barbaresco was housed in large, non-traditional oak barrels for 20 months to round out some austerity, which it still exhibits, and integrate its complex array of flavours. Notes of violets, pomegranate and leather spike the elegant nose creating a captivating first impression.

Albino Rocca 2011 Ronchi Barbaresco, Piedmont, Italy ($75.75) (six bottle case)

John Szabo – Unlike Rocca’s immediately engaging “Duemilaundici” vineyard blend above, the single vineyard 2011 Ronchi, from old vines (50-70 years old), is deep, dark and sinewy, with youthfully firm, unyielding palate, miles from prime enjoyment. I’d tuck this in the cellar for at least another 2-4 years before revisiting, yet already the balance between fruit intensity, savoury-floral nebbiolo perfume, densely-knit tannins and seamless acids augurs well.
David Lawrason –  It’s rather constricted and tannic now but I expect impressive results when you crack a bottle somewhere after the turn of the decade.

GREAT GIFT PAIR FOR CALIFORNIA FANS

Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Rombauer Chardonnay 2013Rombauer Chardonnay 2013, Carneros, California  ($65.75)

David Lawrason –  Rombauer is an iconic Napa label that first shot to stardom in the 1980s, but rarely shows up in Ontario. This is a very typical, full on California style chardonnay. It’s medium-full bodied, elegant, refined and quite juicy. There is some sweetness but the acid leverage is just right, leaving a tight, slightly mineral finish.
Sara d’Amato – From the cooler, southern reaches of Napa Valley, this elegant yet fleshy chardonnay straddles an old and new world style. There is great definition on the palate and a mineral/saline component that is more reminiscent of Burgundy. However, the buttery component and ample viscosity is uniquely Californian. This best of both worlds find is widely appealing.
Michael Godel – Not everyone wants a big red and sometimes it’s hard to pick out a high end white when that is what the gift requires. This Chardonnay does not re-invent the wheel but move over Napa Valley, Carneros can do classic, sun-shining Chardonnay too. More interesting than many Napa counterparts as well.
Steve Thurlow – If you love California chardonnay then this classic is for you with its unmistakable style. It has a complex nose of baked apple and pineapple fruit with toffee, cream corn, baked lemon and oak spice. It is a little sweet but that goes with the style and there is ample acidity for balance; medium to full bodied, elegant, and very classy.

Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Napa Valley, California, $95.75

David Lawrason – It’s pricy but it nicely captures the essential richness and ripeness of Napa cabernet, although youthfully oaky and tannic at this point. Lifted cabernet aromatics include blackcurrant, peppermint, menthol, violets plus oak vanillin and toast. It’s full bodied, dense, juicy and warm, with considerable tannin. It needs some age. Best 2017 to 2025.

SEASONAL WINES

Frank Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2013, Carneros, California $42.75

David Lawrason – The Frank Family owns a whopping 450 acres in various sub-regions of Napa. The cool Carneros site produces this generous, smooth and slightly soft pinot. There is a certain rusticity to the Frank Family line-up and real generosity and complexity with almost autumnal flavours. Steve Thurlow – The nose is quite complex with cherry and raspberry fruit with ripe beets plus baked bell pepper. It is very smooth and quite soft with lots of ripe but not overripe fruit. Very good length. Chill a bit and enjoy on its own or with mildly flavoured cheese dishes.

Frank Family Zinfandel 2012, Napa Valley, California, USA $42.75

David Lawrason –  This is a fairly rustic zin, if a bit sweet and hot and earthy but it is certainly generous, with ripe plummy/raisiny fruit, spicy, cedary oak and some pencil eraser. It’s full bodied, loosely knit, hottish and a bit rugged, but it thankfully does not resort to the sweetness and mochafication that is endemic to California zin nowadays.
Michael Godel – It’s important to house a few high-end seasonal wines for specific times, like when you plan to grill a Tomahawk Chop or a few racks of the best ribs you’ve ever purchased. This Zinfandel has so many barbecue forms and fetishes written into its DNA. It is just the right kind of red to pull out with a special autumn meal.
Sara d’Amato – High priced zinfandel from Napa can often blow you over with blockbuster flavours that make the varietal character indistinct. What is so lovely about this zinfandel is that it is juicy, aromatic and refreshingly transparent. Very expressive of the cheerful and approachable nature of the varietal while respecting its mid-weight character.

Frank Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2013 Frank Family Zinfandel 2012 Mas Las Cabes Côtes Du Roussillon 2012

BY THE GLASS

Mas Las Cabes Côtes Du Roussillon 2012, Ac Côtes Du Roussillon, Languedoc-Roussillon, France $19.75 

Michael Godel – A treat for the senses, not unlike the rugged beauty of Roussillon, in the Pyrenees-Orientales area, one of the sunniest wine regions in southwest France. Solid protein red for any day of the week and a candidate for restaurant list partner.
Sara d’Amato – A very funky but traditional blend that is immensely compelling with its minty edge, notes of pine resin and fresh fig. There is wildness about this organic blend of syrah, grenache, carignan and mourvèdre that begs for another sip. Aged more in concrete than oak, it also pleasantly expressive of its terroir.
Steve Thurlow – This is all about the south of France and I love its rustic charm. It is not pure and clean but it is very authentic. It is lively on the palate with vibrant acidity making it feel lighter than it is. Try with liver and onions. Best 2015 to 2019.
David Lawrason – This is savoury, generous, smooth and engaging red with lifted aromas of basil, evergreen, pomegranate/currant fruit, syrah pepper and some meaty character. It is medium-full bodied, juicy, vibrant fruit and appealing for drinking now. Delish!

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

Da Capo Wines

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 Da Capo Wines. WineAlign critics have independently recommended the above wines based on reviews that are posted on WineAlign as part of this sponsored tasting. Da Capo has provided the following agency profile with more details on their consignment program and delivery options.

~

Da Capo Wines

Da Capo WinesDa Capo Wines is a boutique wine agency based in Toronto, Ontario. We proudly represent premium and luxury consignment brands for the Ontario market. From prestige single vineyards in Napa, to small, family-owned estates in Piedmont our wines represent passion, terroir, and quality. Our clients range from private collectors, fine restaurants, as well as private clubs across the province. We focus on delivering the best products and support for our customers large, and small. At Da Capo we are proud of the strong relationships we have fostered with our producers across the world and work towards finely tuning our brands year-over-year. We are passionate about wine and consummate professionals to better serve our discerning clientele.

General Inquiries and Orders:

Order Minimums are 1 case (12 bottles) per product. Wines over $50 per bottle are sometimes available in cases of six. Delivery within 3-4 business days. Delivery charges may apply.

For inquiries about wines available, upcoming arrivals, and prices, please contact:
info@dacapowines.com
416-546-0474

Sales Director
Maryanne Terzis
maryanne@dacapowines.com
416-880-8393


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WineAlign Reviews

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008