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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (February)

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 started 2015 with a big house cleaning with dozens of wines being discontinued and selling at big discounts to clear inventory during January. Among these were sadly some of my favourites. I am especially saddened to see some great value Portuguese and Spanish reds go. For whatever reason they did not sell in sufficient quantities to keep their place on the shelf, so it’s hasta la vista baby. Many of these discontinued wines have already sold out, but I have listed below a few that will be around for the next couple of weeks or so. There are seven new wines on the Top 50 for you to try.

The LCBO has kicked off February with a slew of wines on promotion such that thirteen wines, already on the list, have Bonus Air Miles (BAMs) that apply or are on sale (LTO), making these wines even more attractive for the next four weeks or so; all this will surely make your February 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. This month all of the wines I selected are from Steve’s Top 50, a standing WineAlign list based on quality/price ratio. You can read below in detail how the Top 50 works, but it does fluctuate as new wines arrive and as discounts show up through Limited Time Offers (LTOs).

The discount period runs until February 28th. 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

Sella & Mosca Rosato 2013, Alghero, Sardinia, Italy $7.95 was $9.80 – This summer rose has gone on sale to clear inventory. It is a deep salmon pink almost light red, very fruity yet dry with very good length. Try with baked ham. Over 1200 bottles remain.

Sileni Cellar Selection Merlot 2013 Hawkes Bay New Zealand $8.45 was $15.95 – New to Top50 – Discontinued at LCBO - Around 900 bottles of this ripe classy merlot remain. Great with meaty past sauces.

Montalto Nero d’Avola Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Sicily, Italy $8.95 + 5BAMs – A finely balanced red for red meat dishes or pizza from sunny Sicily.

Fuzion Alta Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Mendoza, Argentina $8.95 was $9.95 – A soft flavourful cabernet from high altitude vineyards. It’s juicy and fruity with some savoury tones..

Sella & Mosca Rosato 2013 Sileni Cellar Selection Merlot 2013 Montalto Nero D'avola Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Fuzion Alta Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Volcanes Summit Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013

Volcanes Summit Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013 Chile $9.10 was $10.95 – New to Top50 – Discontinued at LCBO -There is an Italian feel to this Chilean red blend with notable acidity and minerality giving it freshness. Try with pepperoni pizza. Around 1000 bottles remain.

Trapiche Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Mendoza $9.95 + 4BAMs – A pure fragrant ripe cabernet that’s finely balanced with very good length. Try with mature cheddar or a juicy hamburger.

Quinta Do Encontro Q do E 2011, Bairrada, Portugal $9.95 was $14.25 – New to Top50 – Discontinued at LCBO – An elegant structured red. Very classy try with roast beef. Around 600 bottles remain.

Trapiche Reserve Syrah 2013, Mendoza, Argentina $10.95 was $11.95 – Beautiful lifted aromas of blueberry and blackberry fruit with herbal and well integrated oak spice notes that lead to a velvety smooth palate. Complex and elegant. Try with grilled meats or mature cheddar.

Trapiche Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Quinta Do Encontro Q Do E 2011 Trapiche Reserve Syrah 2013 Trapiche Malbec Reserve 2013

Trapiche Malbec Reserve 2013, Mendoza, Argentina $10.95 was $11.95 – A full bodied malbec with a fragrant nose that’s rounded, fairly dense and juicy with fine tannin. Try with a steak.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2013, Central Valley, Chile $11.00 + 5BAMs – An excellent value for pinot noir. There is little to compete for around $11 for this quality and varietal authenticity. So pick a few up and collect some BAMs.

Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot 2013, Rapel Valley, Chile $11.05 was $13.05 – New to Top50 – This is a polished, organically grown merlot with a soft velvety palate and very good length.

Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012, Mendoza, Argentina $12.95 was $14.95 – Was great value at $14.95 now outstanding at $2 off. Time to stock up again on this delicious elegant malbec.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2013 Emiliana Adobe Reserva Merlot Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012 The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier 2013 Mountain Fish Agiorgitiko 2012

The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier 2013, Western Cape $12.95 was $13.95 – A delicious fruity red with savoury tones and modest oak that avoids the confected jammy style so often seen in reds from the Cape. Try with grilled meats.

Mountain Fish Red 2012 Peloponnese , Greece $13.10 – New to Top50 – A juicy, zesty midweight red with savoury tones made from agioritiko, one of Greece’s best indigenous red grapes grown widely in the Peloponnese region. Try with juicy lamb cutlets.

Whites

Dunavar Muscat Ottonel 2012, Hungary $6.45 was $9.05 – Discontinued at LCBO – Over a 1000 bottles remain of this aromatic juicy very inexpensive white. Try with mildly spicy Asian cuisine such at Pad Thai.

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

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Grigio 2014, Central Valley, Chile $9.90 + 5BAMs – This delicious grigio has deservedly been so popular since it launched in the summer that the LCBO kept running out of it last year. There are large stocks at present so pick up a few and enjoy with seafood and cheese dishes.

Dunavar Muscat Ottonel 2012Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2014 Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Grigio 2014Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2013 Goats Do Roam White 2013 Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2013, Central Valley, Chile $9.95 + 3BAMs – A juicy very ripe sauvignon blanc with lots of balancing acidity.

Goats Do Roam White 2013, Western Cape, South Africa $10.95 was $11.95 – New to Top50 – An aromatic rich dry white, great as an aperitif or with Asian cuisine.

Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Aconcagua Valley, Chile $15.95 plus 10BAMs – Great complexity and balance, this is unmistakably sauvignon with an herbal tone to the tropical citrus fruit. Try with rich creamy cheese dishes to balance the wine’s acidity.

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Top50The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

There are another 37 wines on the Top 50 list so if you did not find all you need above for your current needs dip into the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste.

To be included in the Top 50 for value a wine must be inexpensive while also having a high score, indicating high quality. I use a mathematical model to make the Top 50 selections from the wines in our database. I review the list every month to include newly listed and recently tasted vintages of current listings as well as monitoring the value of those put on sale for a limited time.

Before value wine shopping remember to consult the Top 50 (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 2013

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Rare Grapes and an Unknown Land

Sardinia – An Italian island eager to join the international wine sceneJanuary 21, 2015

by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Given that it is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean, it is remarkable that Sardinia is relatively unknown to most Canadians. Even among those Canadians who can trace their origins to Italy, there are few who have a past that includes Sardegna, as the island is called by the inhabitants. So it is not surprising that its wines are equally obscure to us. In fact it was the only wine producing region in Italy that I had never visited in nearly 40 years of global wine travel. So I was pleased to be invited to join a group of eight wine writers from Canada to spend three days last November on this large island that lies about 250km southwest of Rome.

It is not clear why Sardegna has been slow to join the international wine scene. It is distinct from the rest of Italy in that it was ruled for around 400 years until 1708 by Aragon, now part of modern Spain. This probably explains why its most widely planted red grape is cannonau (known as garnacha in Spain or grenache in the rest of the world). Cannonau is rare on the nearby Italian mainland despite, I am told, being the most widely planted red grape in the world. Moreover vermentino, the island’s most popular white grape, is supposedly a form of malvasia that also came from Spain.

Rare grapes and an unknown land made for an exciting three days in the northern part of the island.

The best vermentino comes from the northeastern corner, Gallura. So it was there that we started our exploration at the Cantina Gallura in Tempio Pausania. This is clearly a very poor part of the country with many small homes that stood in sharp contrast to the opulence of the Costa Smeralda, but more about that later.

The cantina makes several wines from vermentino and its wine shop displays the dozens of prizes it has received from wine competitions all over the world.

Cantina Gallura

My favourite was the Cantina di Gallura 2013 Canayli Vermentino di Gallura Superiore. It has a dry floral peachy nose, a rich minerally palate and very good length. A great seafood wine. It is not available at present in Canada but can be found in the USA for around $20.

After tasting wines at the winery we were whisked away in the fog to the nearby Ristorante Il Melograna da Claudio in Nuchis for one of the best seafood meals I have ever had. The menu consisted of the freshest seafood and delicious combinations of Sardegnan cuisine carefully prepared by chef Claudio. The service and atmosphere were superb, such that it could have been a fantastic eating experience matched to the wines of the Cantina. Unfortunately we were all exhausted from the travel, trying to stay awake having crossed the Atlantic with little sleep for 36 hours. It was frustrating that the trip planners timed this meal just after our arrival from Canada.

Pedres - Wine DispenserThe next day after a good sleep, there was a visit to a couple of wineries – Piero Mancini and Cantina Pedres. Piero Mancini makes a delightful sparkling Vermentino di Gallura Spumante Brut which has a fresh floral, mineral, lemon, baked pear nose with a soft elegant palate and long pure finish; a good reception wine. They have hopes of sales in Newfoundland.

We had an excellent buffet lunch at Pedres where, while tasting their wines, I noticed this wine dispensing apparatus.

It looks a bit like a gas station pump. Locals arrive with a plastic can, like one does for gas in Canada, and you purchase by the litre. It is €2 per litre for red or white, that’s about C$2 per bottle, tax included.

After lunch we went to visit the millionaire’s playground of the Costa Smeralda. The area was developed in the 1960s by an investment consortium led by Prince Karim Aga Khan. With white sand beaches, golf clubs, private jet and helicopter services and exclusive hotels, the area has drawn celebrities, business leaders and other affluent visitors.

Costa Smeralda is now the most expensive location in Europe for real estate. House prices of over $400,000 per square meter have been reported.

If you are just visiting, the Presidential suite at the Hotel Cala di Volpe can be yours for C$37,000 for the night. There are discounts for longer stays.

Porto Cervo, the largest community, has a resident population of 421 very wealthy inhabitants. It was created to resemble a fishing village on the shores of a  natural harbour. To me, it felt like touring a very large film set; a sort of make-believe village that could occupy part of Disneyland.

Porto Cervo

Anyway after hearing stories of billionaires and film stars it was time to get back on mission and taste some more local wines.

The Surrau winery is close to all this splendour and it fits right in. It is a stunning modern winery built by three brothers who are all active in the local construction industry.

It is built on the site of their grandfather’s farm and is called Surrau after the name of the valley in which it is located.

Surrau Winery Visitors Centre

The visitor area is opulent and the winery is modern and  splendidly equipped with the latest that technology can deliver. The wines are also very impressive.

Surrau 2012 Cannonau di Sargenga Sincaru is a deep ruby red with a rich fruity nose and palate with white pepper, raspberry and strawberry fruit. It sells in the USA for around $30.

Surrau Isola Dei Nuraghi Rosso 2012 Surrau Sciala Vermentino Di Gallura 2013The single vineyard Surrau Sciala 2013 Vermentino di Gallura has a floral nose of white peach and baked lemon with a minerally firm rich fruity palate. Most impressive was Surrau 2012 Isola dei Nuraghi Rosso. This is a blend of cannonau, carignano and cabernet sauvignon with 10% of the local grape muristellu. It is a lively, fruity, fresh well-structured cool climate red with smoky, savoury, cherry and cranberry jelly aromas and flavours and excellent length. Both are available in Ontario for $27.95 through WineWire.ca. After supper at the winery we left our hosts for the hotel. It had been another very long day.

Our final day was spent driving back across the north of the island to Alghero, where we had landed two days before, to visit the Sella & Mosca winery. The trip organizers had left the best to last. This winery was established in 1899 and was initially planted with over 1600 different grape varieties. Experimentation over the years has reduced this to less than 20 today. The estate has around 520 hectares planted  making it the largest on the island.

The soil is still incredibly rocky. Even after over a hundred years of cultivation and rock removal, rocks still keep appearing out of the ground.

Altogether they have 1200 hectares of vines on the island making Sella & Mosca one of Italy’s largest wineries.

Sella & Mosca became part of the Campari group in 2002. Subsequent investment in the property and equipment is starting to show in the quality of the wines.

Campari also has a vast distribution network which means that wines from the property are widely available throughout the world. In Canada, Quebec has been their most successful market in terms of numbers of wines but Ontario is important from a volume perspective, with Sella & Mosca 2010 Riserva Cannonau Di Sardegna as a VINTAGES Essentials for many years.

Sella & Mosca Riserva Cannonau Di Sardegna 2010 Sella & Mosca Marchese Di Villamarina Alghero 2009 Sella & Mosca Terre Rare Carignano Del Sulcis Riserva 2009 Sella & Mosca Capocaccia 2010

The flagship wine is Sella & Mosca Marchese Di Villamarina. The 2009 vintage of this cabernet sauvignon would not be out of place in a line-up of top quality Bordeaux.

They also produce a wine from carignan, Sella & Mosca 2009 Terre Rare Carignano del Sulcis Riserva, that is in the stores in Quebec, as is the Sella & Mosca 2010 Capocaccia, Alghero Rosso.

The latter is a beautiful blend of cannonau with cabernet sauvignon. It is elegant and well balanced with excellent length.

The winery is a delight to visit with massive underground cellars and a fascinating museum of artifacts that have been found on the estate. The remains of a stone-age necropolis have yielded many interesting finds, copies of which can be seen at the winery.

Sella & Mosca winerySella & Mosca winery

We packed a lot into the three days spent in the north of Sardinia. I enjoyed the fresh, pure, rich Vermentino do Gallura whites and the island’s reds, mostly based on cannonau. I hope to return one day to see the southern part of the island better known for reds wines from the Cagliari and Sulcis areas.

Thanks are due to the Italian Trade Commission for organizing the trip and to our many hosts on the island. The welcome we received, the hospitality, the meals and the wines were exceptional. I wish them every success as they strive to market their wines in 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!


AdvertisementsGuardian Reserva Red 2012

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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (January)

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

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

I hope you had a good holiday. Please accept my best wishes for 2015. January is the month when value wine shopping is most important, since many of you will be cutting back on the grand crus and looking for great wines at modest prices for the next little while. So I am happy to report that there are six new wines on the Top 50 for you to try.

Additionally six wines, already on the list, have Bonus Air Miles (BAMs) that apply or are on sale (LTO), making these wines even more attractive for the next four weeks or so; all this will surely make your January 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 February 1st. 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

Esporao Alandra Red 2013, Alentejo, Portugal $7.70
TOP50JANUARY – A ripe fruity vibrant red with a fragrant nose of blackberry and blackcurrant fruit with some floral and spicy notes. Try with salty fatty meats like salami or soft creamy cheese like brie.

Trapiche Astica Merlot Malbec 2014, Cuyo, Argentina $7.95
NEW TO TOP50 – A well-balanced fruity red with more complexity than one might expect for such an inexpensive wine.

Casal Thaulero Sangiovese 2012, Terre Di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy $7.75 plus 3BAMs
TOP50JANUARY – Super value red that’s midweight pure and vibrant. Try with meaty pizza.

Esporao Alandra Red 2013 Trapiche Astica Merlot Malbec 2014Casal Thaulero Sangiovese 2012Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2011Fonseca Periquita 2012

Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2011 Chile $8.45 plus 4BAMs
TOP50JANUARY – An appealing easy drinking Bordeaux style blend that’s balanced for food. Try with roast beef.

Fonseca Periquita 2012, Peninsula De Setubal, Portugal $8.95 plus 4BAMs
TOP50JANUARY – A great value staple Portuguese red that’s a little spicy with the fruit persisting well on the finish. Try with grilled lamb cutlets.

BV Coastal Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, California, USA $8.95 was $10.95
NEW TO TOP50 – Great value with a soft floral peppery nose. Lightly chill this well-balanced fruity cabernet and enjoy with a rack of lamb.

Trapiche Malbec 2014, Mendoza, Argentina $9.95 plus 4BAMs
A finely balanced pure fruity red. Try with meaty pasta sauces, grilled sausages or pizza

Ogier Cotes Du Ventoux Red 2013 $11.95 plus 6BAMs
A peppery red with bright cherry fruit that’s midweight with soft tannin and zesty fresh dry finish. Try with cheesy pizza.

BV Coastal Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2011Trapiche Malbec 2014Ogier Cotes Du Ventoux Red 2013Trapiche Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013clone_wine_49584_web

Trapiche Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Mendoza, Argentina $11.95
NEW TO TOP50 – An opaque elegant and ripe (but not overripe) cabernet with a good acid and tannin structure. Try with a steak.

Trapiche Reserve Syrah 2013, Mendoza, Argentina $11.95
NEW TO TOP50 – Beautiful lifted aromas of blueberry and blackberry fruit with herbal and well-integrated oak spice lead to a velvety smooth palate. Complex and elegant. Try with grilled meats or mature cheddar.

Cusumano Nero d’Avola 2013, Sicily, Italy $11.95 plus 4BAMs
A delicious Sicilian red with soft zesty lemony tone to the ripe blackberry and raspberry fruit aromas and flavours.

Montes Twins Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Colchagua Valley, Chile $12.90 plus 5BAMs
A soft juicy ripe red blend of 50% malbec with 50% cabernet sauvignon that’s fullbodied but feels lighter due to vibrant acidity. Try with grilled meats.

Cusumano Nero D'avola 2013Montes Twins Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon 2012Errazuriz Estate Pinot Noir 2013Taylor Fladgate First Estate Reserve Port

Errazuriz Estate Pinot Noir 2013, Aconcagua Valley, Chile $13.95 plus 8BAMs
NEW TO TOP50 – This is a delicious Chilean pinot with a good depth of colour, fragrant nose and a well-balanced complex palate.  Try with seared tuna.

Taylor Fladgate First Estate Reserve Port, Douro Valley, Portugal $16.50 plus 5BAMs
A very good reserve port made from fruit from several recent vintages. It is not too sweet and is thick with fruit. Try with dark chocolate desserts, nuts or blue cheese.

Whites

K W V Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2014, Western Cape, South Africa $7.95 was $9.45
TOP50JANUARY – Pinot grigio lovers should try this wine with a good depth of flavour and a fresh fruity nose at an amazingly low price.

Trapiche Astica Sauvignon Semillon 2014, Cuyo, Argentina $7.95
NEW TO TOP50 – The 2014 vintage arrived recently and it’s very good as usual with a pure fresh nose and soft creamy palate. Try with cheesy pasta sauces or seafood pizza.

Periquita White 2013 Portugal $8.95 plus 4BAMs
TOP50JANUARY – This blend of three white grapes is a delicious delicate wine for seafood and mildly flavoured chicken dishes.

K W V Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2014Trapiche Astica Sauvignon Semillon 2014Periquita White 2013Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2013Montgras Amaral Sauvignon Blanc 2014Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los Arcos

Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2013, Casablanca Valley, Chile $9.95 was $11.95
TOP50JANUARY – Lemony zesty fresh acidity balances the bold flavours with the oak supported by the intensity of the fruit. Quite delicious.

Montgras Amaral Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Leyda Valley, Chile $13.85 plus 8BAMs
The Leyda Valley is fast proving to be the hot spot for great sauvignon blanc. Lovely lifted aromas of passion fruit and guava with ginger, lavender, and lemon notes lead to a juicy creamy palate. Try with sauteed seafood.

Lustau Amontillado Solera Reserva Los Arcos, Jerez, Spain $14.85
A complex dry white with beautiful nutty, citrus, toasty aromas. Perfectly balanced, would be excellent with roast turkey and a rich brown gravy.

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Top50The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

There are another 37 wines on the Top 50 list so if you did not find all you need above for your current needs dip into the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste.

To be included in the Top 50 for value a wine must be inexpensive while also having a high score, indicating high quality. I use a mathematical model to make the Top 50 selections from the wines in our database. I review the list every month to include newly listed and recently tasted vintages of current listings as well as monitoring the value of those put on sale for a limited time.

Before value wine shopping remember to consult the Top 50 (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 for January
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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 La Posta Armando Bonarda 2013

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On the Five Days of Christmas…

by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

I know there are supposed to be Twelve Days of Christmas and one’s true love sends you a partridge in a pear tree, among other bizarre gifts, but actually this year most of us will only be feasting for a mere five days starting on Christmas Eve. So I put my mind to imagining not which gifts I would send but which wines I would be buying for these five special days. After checking my current Top 50 Best Value wines at LCBO I chose two for each day, all under $15. 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. Cono Sur Bicicleta 2014 Viognier (9.95) is a delicious aromatic fresh white from Chile with lots of flavour and it is probably the best value white wine at the LCBO. For a red selection, let me recommend Cusumano Syrah 2013 ($11.95) from Sicily. It is a vibrant pure cool climate syrah with a fragrant nose and lots of flavour, mild tannin and it comes with a glass stopper, so there’s no chance of a corked wine!

Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2014 Cusumano Syrah 2013 Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los Arcos Errazuriz Estate Series Merlot 2012

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 brown 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 ($14.85). 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 Series 2012 Merlot ($9.95) from Chile would be another good choice for this occasion. It’s midweight and very fruity with mild tannin and some nice spicy complexity.

Luccarelli Primitivo 2013 Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012On Boxing Day we traditionally organize a beef dish for the main meal. So it’s time for some full-bodied reds. Trapiche Broquel 2012 Malbec 2012 ($14.95) has lots of charm, a gorgeous nose, great depth of flavour and excellent length and it is fantastic value. Another choice could be Luccarelli 2013 Primitivo from Puglia in the south of Italy, where Primitivo is the local name for Zinfandel. This opaque purple wine comes with ripe brambly aromas and flavours with some mild tannin and a long fruity finish.

Saturday 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 Wolftrap White 2013 ($13.95 plus 5BAMs) is a rich delicious wine from South Africa and, though fun to drink on its own, will nicely match such a rich risotto. Pessoa Da Vinha 2010 Reserva Douro ($12.30 plus 5BAMs) from Portugal would be a great red wine for the same dish. It is exceptional value for a fruity well structured red with fragrant, pure berry aromas.

Sunday brunch, with some seafood on offer, could be accompanied by Monkey Bay 2014 Pinot Grigio ($13.95 +5BAMs). It comes from the warmer Hawke’s Bay region in New Zealand. It’s fresh and 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 Cono Sur Bicicleta 2013 Pinot Noir ($10.95). It is very quaffable with juicy raspberry and cherry aromas and flavours. There is nothing to compete for less than $11 for such quality in pinot noir.

The Wolftrap White 2013 Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva Douro 2010 Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014 Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2013

In case I did not select a wine for your occasion, remember that there are another 40 wines on my Top 50. 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 Top 50 list in our January WineAlign Top 20 Under $20 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

Steve’s Top 50 Value Wines

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 reviews of great value wines!

BAM= Bonus Air Miles until January 3, 2015


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La Marca Prosecco


Niagara Icewine Festival 2015


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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (December)

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

by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

I was in Italy last week and found a wine from Sardinia to join the Top 50. In total there are 11 new wines on the Top 50 for you to try. Sadly four of those have joined the list because they have been discontinued, so their price has dropped by around 25% to clear inventory. There are still good stocks of all four, so take advantage while you can.

Additionally seven wines, already on the list, have Bonus Air Miles (BAMs) that apply, making these wines even more attractive for the next five weeks or so; all this must make your December 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 January 3rd. 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

Apelia Agiorgitiko 2012 (1000ml), Greece $9.95 plus 4 BAMs
Agiorgitiko is one of Greece’s best red grapes. This is a is fruity, midweight, well balanced good everyday wine.

Esporao Alandra Red 2013, Alentejo, Portugal $7.60
NEW TO TOP 50 – A ripe fruity vibrant red with a fragrant nose of blackberry and blackcurrant fruit with some floral and spicy notes. Try with salty fatty meats like salami or soft creamy cheese like brie.

Casa Planeta Syrah 2012, Sicily, Italy now $7.95 was $9.95
DISCONTINUED AT LCBO – A lightweight, very drinkable versatile food wine for pizza and meaty pasta sauces. 500 bottles remain.

Apelia Agiorgitiko 2012Esporao Alandra Red 2013Casa Planeta Syrah Igt 2012K W V Contemporary Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013Sella & Mosca Rosato 2013J. Portugal Ramos Loios Red 2013
KWV Contemporary Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013, Western Cape, South Africa now $7.95 was $9.45
DISCONTINUED AT LCBO – Great value for a balanced fruity red blend with mild aromas of plum, lemon and blackcurrant jam. Simple clean and refreshing. Try with sausages. 1600 bottles remain.

Sella & Mosca Rosato 2013, Alghero, Sardinia, Italy now $8.95 was $9.80
NEW TO TOP 50 – This summer rosé has gone on sale to clear inventory. It is a deep salmon pink almost light red, very fruity yet dry with very good length. Try with baked ham. Over 5000 bottles remain.

J. Portugal Ramos Loios Red 2013, Alentejo, Portugal $9.05
NEW TO TOP 50 – A ripe, fleshy, clean, easy-drinking wine with soft tannins and fresh red berry fruit flavours with more complexity than you would expect for such an inexpensive wine.

D’Arenberg The Stump Jump Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvèdre 2011, South Australia now $9.95 was $14.95
DISCONTINUED AT LCBO – This delicious fragrant plummy red will soon be no longer available. Around 1500 bottles remain so pick up a handful, while you can, at this great price. 1500 bottles remain.

Errazuriz Estate Series Merlot 2012, Curico Valley, Chile now $9.95 was $13.95
DISCONTINUED AT LCBO – This is a ripe, fairly soft and plummy merlot with mild oak spice. It’s midweight smooth with a long finish. Try with a rack of lamb. 1000 bottles remain.

D'arenberg The Stump Jump Grenache:Shiraz:Mourvèdre 2011Errazuriz Estate Series Merlot 2012Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva Douro 2010La Posta Cocina Tinto Blend 2013Guardian Reserva Red 2012Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Port 2008

Pessoa Da Vinha Reserva Douro 2010, Douro Valley Portugal $12.30 plus 5 BAMs
TOP 50 DECEMBER – A very fruity well balanced rich red wine with a solid structure and very good length.

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

Guardian Reserva Red 2012, Colchagua Valley, Chile $13.65
NEW TO TOP 50 – A complex red cabernet blend, finely balanced and fruity, with a long, lingering finish, and some fine tannin. Try with a steak.

Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2008, Douro Valley, Portugal now $15.45 was $16.95
TOP 50 DECEMBER – A full-bodied, very fruity, smooth, rich and powerful port with a fragrant nose.

Whites

Apelia Moschofilero 2013 (1000ml) Greece $9.95 plus 4 BAMs
Moschofilero is one of Greece’s best indigenous grapes. This is a fresh dry white with lifted aromas of floral apple, with a green olive herbal tone, plus some mineral notes.

Mascota Vineyards O P I Chardonnay 2013, Mendoza Argentina $12.95o
NEW TO TOP 50 – A classy rich flavourful chardonnay with just a touch of oak for added complexity and structure.

Apelia Moschofilero 2013Mascota Vineyards O P I Chardonnay 2013Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014The Wolftrap 2013

Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio 2014, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand $13.95 plus 5 BAMs
TOP 50 DECEMBER – This is a is fresh, pure and fragrant grigio, with pear and melon fruit, toned by minerality with hints of lemongrass with a rich lively fruity palate.

The Wolftrap White 2013, Boekenhoutskloof, Western Cape, South Africa $13.95 plus 5 BAMs
TOP 50 DECEMBER – An appealing aromatic nose of peaches, melons, spices and floral notes lead to rich creamy palate with crisp acidity and lots of fruit.

Frisky Beaver White 2013, VQA Ontario $13.95o
NEW TO TOP 50 – A gewurztraminer led white blend that’s aromatic, almost off-dry and very flavourful.

Lustau Amontillado Solera Reserva Los Arcos, Jerez, Spain $14.85
NEW TO TOP 50 – A complex dry white with beautiful nutty, citrus, toasty aromas. Perfectly balanced, would be excellent with roast turkey and a rich brown gravy.

Frisky Beaver White 2013Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los ArcosLustau Solera Reserva Dry Oloroso Don NunoErrazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Oloroso Don Nuno, Jerez, Spain $14.85
NEW TO TOP 50 – This tawny brown dry white has been aging for decades, yet still gives an impression of freshness with nutty raisin fruit. Intensely flavoured and finely balanced. Try with rich pork or veal dishes.

Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Aconcagua Valley, Chile $15.95 plus 10 BAMs
TOP 50 DECEMBER – Great complexity and balance, this is unmistakably sauvignon, with an herbal tone to the tropical citrus fruit. Try with rich creamy cheese dishes to balance the wine’s acidity.

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Top50The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

There are another 36 wines on the Top 50 list so if you did not find all you need above for your current needs dip into the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste.

To be included in the Top 50 for value a wine must be inexpensive while also having a high score, indicating high quality. I use a mathematical model to make the Top 50 selections from the wines in our database. I review the list every month to include newly listed and recently tasted vintages of current listings as well as monitoring the value of those put on sale for a limited time.

Before value wine shopping remember to consult the Top 50 (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 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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What’s New at the LCBO in November

by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

The LCBO has taken a bold step by launching two new superb dry wines from Jerez in Spain onto their shelves, just in time for the upcoming holiday season. These wines are from Lustau, one of the top producers in the region. At $14.85 they are amazing value. If you have never tried a dry aged fortified white, now is the time. If you are already a lover of the wines of Jerez, then don’t hesitate. Bravo LCBO.

The wines on the shelves at the LCBO are constantly changing and I am tasting the new ones all the time. Many favourites are always there but the range and variety is gradually being updated. I have chosen to highlight ten new wines that have refreshed the system out of the more than 40 that I have tried since I last reported.

Surprisingly there is a slew of very good new whites. November is not usually the best time to launch whites when sub-zero temperatures outside make us lean towards red wines. They must know what they are doing, I am sure? I hope they will survive in the system until next summer arrives. Please try a few. You will not be disappointed.

In addition to these new wines, I have tasted many of the latest batches of sparkling wines, a category which is popular at this time of the year. Sparkling wines often are not vintage dated, since they are blends from many different harvests. Winemakers try to make the wine consistent from batch to batch but they do vary. I have picked four current wines that represent good value.

I suggest you read on, pick a few that appeal and then check the inventory at your favourite LCBO. Most are on the shelves already; the rest will arrive over the next couple of weeks.

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 reviews of great value wines!

SPARKLING WHITES

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava, Penedes, Spain ($14.25)
My favourite bubbly at LCBO for less than $15. It hits all the essentials for the genre. Fresh clean aromas, super creamy mousse and fine bright palate with very good length.

Val d’Oca Prosecco Brut Superiore 2013, Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy ($16.50)
The best Proseccos from Valdobbiadene are now vintage dated. This explodes in the mouth with a creamy mousse and fine balance.

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava Val d'Oca Prosecco Brut Superiore 2013 Mumm Napa Brut PrestigeTarlant Brut Reserve Champagne

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige, Napa Valley, California, USA ($25.95)
A rich bubbly with an appealing nose and a degree of sweetness that endears it as an aperitif.

Tarlant Brut Reserve Champagne, France ($41.65)
If you are looking for a fine Champagne then this is a good example at a fair price (for Champagne).

WHITES

Casa Planeta Grecanico 2013 Chardonnay, Sicily, Italy ($11.95)
A delightful fresh dry white blend great for all sorts of seafood.

Mascota Vineyards O P I 2013 Chardonnay, Mendoza Argentina ($12.95)
A classy rich flavourful chardonnay with just a touch of oak for added complexity and structure.

Frisky Beaver 2013 White, VQA Ontario ($13.95)
A gewurztraminer led white blend that’s aromatic, almost off-dry and very flavourful.

Casa Planeta Grecanico Chardonnay 2013 Mascota Vineyards O P I Chardonnay 2013 Frisky Beaver White 2013 Montgras Amaral Sauvignon Blanc 2014Villa Wolf Riesling 2013Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay 2013

Amaral Sauvignon 2014 Blanc, Leyda Valley, Chile ($14.45)
The Leyda Valley is fast proving to be a hot spot for great sauvignon blanc and this is an excellent example of just how good it can be .

Villa Wolf 2013 Riesling, Qualitätswein, Pfalz Germany ($14.80)
Great value for a juicy flavourful well balanced riesling that is such a  versatile food wine with seafood, pastry and white meat dishes.

Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay 2013, Western Cape, South Africa ($14.85)
A rich full bodied creamy chardonnay with powerful aromas and flavours with the oak well integrated.

SHERRY AND REDS

Lustau Amontillado Solera Reserva Los Arcos, Jerez, Spain ($14.85)
A complex dry white with beautiful nutty, citrus, toasty aromas. Perfectly balanced, would be excellent with roast turkey with a rich brown gravy.

Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Oloroso Don Nuno, Jerez, Spain ($14.85)
This tawny brown dry white has been aging for decades yet still gives an impression of freshness with nutty raisin fruit. Intensely flavoured and finely balanced. Try with rich pork or veal dishes.

Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los Arcos Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Oloroso Don Nuno Guardian Reserva Red 2012 Graffigna Elevation Reserve Red 2012

Guardian Reserva 2012 Red, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($13.65)
A complex red cabernet blend finely balanced and fruity long lingering finish with some fine tannin. Try with a steak.

Graffigna Elevation 2012 Reserve Red, San Juan, Argentina ($14.95)
An impressive red blend from high altitude vineyards about a 2 hour drive north of Mendoza. It s powerful and complex with a rich flavour but is also bright and lively.

We would love to get your feedback on this report. Meanwhile check out my complete list of Top 50 wine values by dipping into the Top 50 LCBO and VINTAGES Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste. In two week’s time I will be back with a look at the updated Top 20 Under $20 report for December.

Cheers,

Steve Thurlow

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 reviews of great value wines!


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Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay 2013

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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (November)

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

by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

I am 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 nine new wines to join the Top 50.

Additionally many wines on my Top 50 Best Values list are discounted and some have Bonus Air Miles that apply, making these wines even more attractive for the next four weeks or so; 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 this time runs until November 29th. 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

Fuzion Alta Reserva Malbec 2013, Mendoza, Argentina $8.95 was $9.95
NEW TO TOP50 – A fruity juicy malbec for pizza and meaty pasta sauces.

Xplorador Carmenere 2012, Central Valley, Chile $9.15 was $10.95
DISCONTINUED AT LCBO – Sadly this juicy, fruit-forward red will soon no longer be on the shelf.  There are over 800 bottles in stock so one can still enjoy at the sale price for a while I think.

Berco Do Infante Red Reserva 2012, Lisboa Region, Portugal $9.80 + 4BAMs
From the Lisbon area in Portugal comes this tasty fruity red, great for pizza and burgers.

Fuzion Alta Reserva Malbec 2013 Xplorador Carmenere 2012 Berco Do Infante Red Reserva 2012 Tini Sangiovese Di Romagna 2012 Beso De Vino Old Vine Garnacha 2011

Tini Sangiovese Di Romagna 2012, Emilia-Romagna, Italy $9.96 + 6BAMs
A Sangiovese (the Chianti grape) that’s great with tomato sauces.

Beso De Vino Old Vine Garnacha 2011, Carinena, Spain $9.95 + 5BAMs
A fresh vibrant soft juicy red ideal for grilled meats made from grenache (aka garnacha).

Argento Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Mendoza, Argentina $9.95 + 4BAMs
An inexpensive cabernet with lots of varietal character and a decent structure without too much confection.

Cusumano Nero d’Avola 2013, Sicily, Italy $9.95 was $11.95
TOP50NOVEMBER – Super value for $9.95; worthy of a multiple bottle purchase of this delicious Sicilian red.

Quartetto 2009, Alentejano, Portugal $10.00 plus 4BAMs
Made from four native Portuguese grapes. Chill slightly and enjoy with pizza, burgers and meaty pasta sauces.

Argento Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Cusumano Nero d'Avola 2013 Quartetto 2009 Farnese Casale Vecchio Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2013 Pelee Island Lighthouse Cabernet Franc 2011 Luccarelli Primitivo 2013

Farnese Casale Vecchio Montepulciano D’abruzzo 2013, Abruzzo, Italy $10.95
NEW TO TOP50 – The 2013 is a very good vintage for this very classy Italian red. Ripasso lovers should be shopping here at less than $11!

Pelee Island Lighthouse Cabernet Franc 2011, Ontario VQA $10.95 was $11.95
NEW TO TOP50 – A juicy fruity ripe cabernet franc for roast meats or lamb cutlets.

Luccarelli Primitivo 2013, Puglia, Italy $11.05
NEW TO TOP50 – Known as zinfandel in California, this is a full-bodied succulent red great with a rack of lamb.

Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile $11.45 plus 4BAMs
NEW TO TOP50 – Great value for a fragrant ripe well balanced Chilean cabernet.

Miguel Torres Sangre De Toro 2012, Catalonia, Spain $12.95 + 8 BAMs
This wine has been around for ever and still keeps going strong. Time to try again. Always a safe bet.

Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2013 Miguel Torres Sangre De Toro 2012 Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012 Carpineto Dogajolo Rosso 2012 Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2012, Mendoza, Argentina $12.95 was $14.95
TOP50NOVEMBER – Was great value at $14.95 now outstanding at $2 off. Time to stock up on this delicious elegant malbec.

Carpineto Dogajolo Rosso 2012, Tuscany, Italy $14.45
NEW TO TOP50 – A fragrant soft red with lots of flavour and character for a wine at this price.

Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Aconcagua Valley, Chile $15.95 was $18.95
NEW TO TOP50 – 2012 is one of the best vintages ever for this classic Chilean cabernet. Enjoy while $3 off.

Whites

Poquito Moscato Sparkling (375ml) Spain $2.85 was $5.00
DISCONTINUED AT LCBO (Over 8,000 in inventory currently) – This floral sweet summer bubbly listing is coming to an end so this half bottle has gone on sale. Pick up an armfull, chill well and enjoy as an aperitif.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2014, Colchagua Valley, Chile $8.95 was $9.95
TOP50NOVEMBER – Was already the best value white in Ontario; now a $1 off. It’s time to stock up on this fragrant juicy white.

Poquito Moscato Sparkling Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2014 Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Grigio 2014 Cono Sur Chardonnay Reserva Especial 2014

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Grigio 2014, Central Valley, Chile $9.90
NEW TO TOP50 – This delicious grigio has deservedly been so popular since it launched in the summer that the LCBO keeps running out of it. Use WineAlign’s inventory tracking to make sure there is some in your store and pick up a few.

Cono Sur Chardonnay Reserva Especial 2014, Casablanca Valley, Chile $12.95
NEW TO TOP50 – The new vintage is quite sauvignon like; fresh lively with just a touch of oak and mouthwateringly delicious.

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Top50The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

There are another 36 wines on the Top 50 list so if you did not find all you need above for your current needs dip into the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste.

To be included in the Top 50 for value a wine must be inexpensive while also having a high score, indicating high quality. I use a mathematical model to make the Top 50 selections from the wines in our database. I review the list every month to include newly listed and recently tasted vintages of current listings as well as monitoring the value of those put on sale for a limited time.

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

How I Choose the Top 50

I constantly taste the wines at the LCBO to keep the Top 50 list up to date. You can easily find all of my all Top 50 Value Wines from the WineAlign main menu. Click on Wine =>Top 50 Value Wines to be taken directly to the list.

Every wine is linked to WineAlign where you can read more, discover pricing discounts, check out inventory and compile lists for shopping at your favourite store. Never again should you be faced with a store full of wine with little idea of what to pick for best value.

The Top 50 changes all the time, so remember to check before shopping. I will be back next month with more news on value arrivals to Essentials and the LCBO.

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20 for November
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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Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay 2013

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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (October)

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

by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

There’s lots to tell you this month about wine values at the LCBO. Firstly many wines on my Top 50  Best Values list are discounted and some have Bonus Air Miles that apply, making these wines even more attractive for the next four weeks or so. Secondly, from among the many wines I have tasted since I last reported to you, I have found 8 new wines to join the Top 50; all making your fall drinking more affordable.

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

The discount period runs until November 9th. So don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you that there were decent stocks available, when we published, of every wine that I highlight.

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

Reds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Top50The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

There are another 33 wines on the Top 50 list so if you did not find all you need above for your current needs dip into the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste.

To be included in the Top 50 for value a wine must be inexpensive while also having a high score, indicating high quality. I use a mathematical model to make the Top 50 selections from the wines in our database. I review the list every month to include newly listed and recently tasted vintages of current listings as well as monitoring the value of those put on sale for a limited time.

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

How I Choose the Top 50

I constantly taste the wines at the LCBO to keep the Top 50 list up to date. You can easily find all of my all Top 50 Value Wines from the WineAlign main menu. Click on Wine =>Top 50 Value Wines to be taken directly to the list.

Every wine is linked to WineAlign where you can read more, discover pricing discounts, check out inventory and compile lists for shopping at your favourite store. Never again should you be faced with a store full of wine with little idea of what to pick for best value.

The Top 50 changes all the time, so remember to check before shopping. I will be back next month with more news on value arrivals to Essentials and the LCBO.

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20 for October
Top 50 Value Wines

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


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What’s New at the LCBO September

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

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

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

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

So I suggest you read on, pick a few that appeal and then check on inventory at your local LCBO which should be set up as your Favourite Store in Find Wine at WineAlign. You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!

Reds

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whites & Sparkling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

Feel free to share your feedback on these wines or on any of your favourties. We’ll be back in a few weeks time with our Top 20 Under $20. In the meanwhile  if you still need picks, check our my list of Top 50 wine values by dipping into the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste.

Cheers,
Steve Thurlow


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Wolf Blass Event in Toronto

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Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (September)

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

by Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

I am pleased to tell you that since my last report I have found 18 new wines to join my Top 50 Best Values. Over the last few weeks I have tasted around 300 wines so it is not surprising that there are so many new finds. Some additions are due to monthly discounts (LTOs) from the LCBO, plus a couple of delisted wines as well as a slew of Bonus AirMiles (BAMs) making some wines even more attractive for the next four weeks or so; all making your fall drinking more affordable.

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

The discount period runs until October 12th. So don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you that there were decent stocks available when we published.

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

Reds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

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

To be included in the Top 50 for value a wine must be inexpensive while also having a high score, indicating high quality. I use a mathematical model to make the Top 50 selections from the wines in our database. I review the list every month to include newly listed and recently tasted vintages of current listings as well as monitoring the value of those put on sale for a limited time.

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

How I Choose the Top 50

I constantly taste the wines at the LCBO to keep the Top 50 list up to date. You can easily find all of my all Top 50 Value Wines from the WineAlign main menu. Click on Wine =>Top 50 Value Wines to be taken directly to the list.

Every wine is linked to WineAlign where you can read more, discover pricing discounts, check out inventory and compile lists for shopping at your favourite store. Never again should you be faced with a store full of wine with little idea of what to pick for best value.

The Top 50 changes all the time, so remember to check before shopping. I will be back next month with more news on value arrivals to Essentials and the LCBO.

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20 for September
Top 50 Value Wines

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


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Michel Lynch Merlot 2011

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Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008