Steve’s Top 50 Value Wines from the LCBO – October 2011

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

There are five new wines on the Top 50 this month as a result of recently tasted wines, price changes, new additions to the LCBO’s selection and new vintages of existing listings. The Top 50 list features the wines commonly referred to as General List and Vintages Essentials.  I constantly taste the wines at the LCBO to keep this report up to date. You can easily find my Top 50 Value Wines from the WineAlign main menu. Click on Wine => Top 50 Value Wines to be taken directly to the list.

To be included in the Top 50 for value a wine must be inexpensive while also having a high score, indicating high quality. We use a mathematical model to make the Top 50 selections from the wines in our database.

Every wine is linked to WineAlign where you can read more, discover pricing discounts, check out inventory and compile lists for shopping at your favourite store. Never again should you be faced with a store full of wine with little idea of what to pick for best value.In addition to the great value wines below, please check out the preview for season two of our video series.  We’ll be releasing new episodes from season two: “The Tournament” through-out the fall.

Additions to My Top 50

I have recently tasted some new vintages of wines which resulted in four wines joining my Top 50 list. Most of the wines on this list come from just a few regions of the world that are today supplying the stores in Ontario with the best value wines.
Vila Regia 2009Portugal  is the origin of three of the Top 50 wines. Known for centuries as the source of fortified sweet red wines known as Port, it also produces many excellent dry red wines from the same blend of grapes that are used for port.Vila Regia 2009, Douro Valley $7.95 is a pure well structured red with a nose of blueberry and black cherry fruit. It is midweight with bright berry fruit and fresh acidity with a smooth texture leading to a finish where some firm tannin shows through, though the fruit persists well. Very good length. Try with a steak.

Callia Alta Malbec 2010Ten of the wines on the list come from Argentina, which is a major world producer of wines, mainly red, and is renowned for the malbec grape. Most of Argentina’s wines come from the Mendoza region which is the other side of the Andes from the vineyards in Chile and around 1000km from the Atlantic Ocean and the capital Buenos Aires. The Argentine vineyards are established in a desert area in the Andean foothills and depend upon irrigation water from the Andes. San Juan is about 2 hours drive across the desert north of Mendoza. Another new entrant to the list comes from here.

Callia Alta Malbec 2010, San Juan $9.95 is a very drinkable malbec that is finely balanced with ample ripe fruit and is thankfully not as jammy as are many in the genre. Expect aromas of blackberry, with subtle oak spice plus some herbal and dark chocolate notes. Mid-weight smooth and juicy with spicy fruit and good length. Try with grilled meats.

Though best known for malbec, Argentina is also producing excellent wines from cabernet sauvignon and syrah, like the third new entrant to the list. Trivento Tribu Syrah 2010, Mendoza $7.60 has a lot of flavour for a wine at this price. It shows ripe fruit yet is balanced by soft tannin and juicy acidity and has very good length with the fruit persisting well. The nose is a bit slender with some blackberry fruit with tobacco notes. Try with meaty pasta sauces, pizza or roast meats. This wine has unfortunately been discontinued at LCBO hence its excellent price. Over 4000 bottles remain, so take advantage while inventory lasts.

Trivento Tribu Syrah 2010

Farnese Daunia Sangiovese 2010Southern Italy is the source of 11 wines in the Top 50. They come from three regions Sicily, Puglia and Abruzzo. Five of them, including the fourth entrant to the list come from one winery, Farnese; a remarkable achievement for this producer from Abruzzo.

Farnese Daunia Sangiovese 2010, Abruzzo $7.40 is very similar to previous vintages. It is fruity, clean and is a great buy to enjoy with everyday meals. The nose shows mild black and red berry fruit with a spicy note and some earthy complexity. It is medium to full bodied and fairly simple on the palate with the balanced ripe fruit flowing though to the finish. Very good length with a dry finish.

Limited Time Offers (LTO)

Every month about 100 products at the LCBO go on sale for four weeks. As a consequence of this temporary price reduction, one wine has joined the Top 50.

Fuzion Alta Malbec Reserva 2009, Mendoza $8.95 is made 100% from malbec. It is a  structured, tannin balanced wine with a good depth of flavour at a great price. Expect blackberry fruit with dark chocolate notes mild oak spice and a hint of prune. Medium-full bodied with good length.  You have until November 6, 2011 to take advantage of this price reduction, though at $9.95 it will still be a good deal.

Fuzion Alta Malbec Reserva 2009

Please click here for a complete list of the Top 50 Value Wines at your local LCBO. 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.


Steve Thurlow