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

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

When you enter the LCBO’s largest stores you are faced with walls of wine. In fact there are about 1,600 wines listed at the LCBO that are always available, plus another 100 or so Vintages’ Essentials.  So which bottle should you buy?

At WineAlign I maintain a list of the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines selected by price and value – in other words, the best least expensive wines. The selection process is explained in more detail below, but I review the list every month to include newly listed wines and monitor the value of those put on sale for a limited time.

November Additions to Top 50

C D A Old Vine Garnacha 2009There are five new wines on my Top 50 list this month. The LCBO selection changes all the time with five or so new wines every week. One of these jumped straight on to the Top 50 list when it arrived on the shelves last week.

C D A Old Vine Garnacha 2009, Carinena, Spain $11.95 is a very classy wine for the money that should appeal to pinot lovers with its harmonious nose of raspberry cranberry jelly fruit aromas mixed with tobacco and subtle oak spice. It is made from grenache (called garnacha in Spain). The palate is midweight, elegant and well balanced with the fruit floating in soft acidity and finely divided ripe tannin. Focus is well maintained on the finish. Very good length. Try with roast meats or hard mature cheese.  Best 2011 to 2015.

Parducci Sustainable Red 2006 Another recent arrival at the LCBO has joined the list because it is on sale for next few weeks. Parducci Sustainable Red 2006, Mendocino County, California $13.95 is an easy drinking red blend of zinfandel, syrah, cabernet sauvignon and carignan from grapes that are grown using sustainable farming practices. The nose is nicely lifted and harmonious with ripe red cherry and strawberry fruit plus some gentle oak spice and a hint of lavender. It is midweight juicy with a degree of elegance. Finely balanced with very good length. Best 2011 to 2014. Try with roast or grilled meats. The sale price ends on November 27th.
 Stlto Merlot Malbec 2009

Another new wine to the system this year is also on sale and gains a place in the Top 50. Stlto Merlot Malbec 2009, Abruzzo, Italy $10.95 is in very elegant fashionista package and a quite elegant wine, and its surprisingly good. Expect mild berry aromas with a hint of vanilla and oak spice. It is full bodied and very juicy with a long pure fruit finish. Well balanced with fine tannin and gentle acidity. Try with roast meats. Best 2011 to 2014. The sale price again ends on November 27th

Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2011The 2011 vintages of white wines from the Southern Hemisphere are now arriving. In many cases those from Chile are better than the 2010 version. Caliterra  Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2011, Casablanca Valley, Chile $8.95 joins the Top 50 for this reason. It’s remarkable that Caliterra can produce such a good wine for $8.95. There is lot of sauvignon here for the money with its nose of guava, lemon and melon fruit with herbal and mineral tones. The palate is mid-weight, well balanced with good definition and fresh lemony acidity and a degree of elegance. Very good length with the fruit persisting well. Try with grilled chicken or pork.

Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 As I write this piece I am in Stellenbosch in South African, so it is fitting that a wine from here also made it into the Top 50 when it went on sale. Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Western Cape, South Africa $8.95 is a little more polished than previous vintages and is great wine for the money. The nose shows aromas of ripe red cherry with some floral and earthy tones plus subtle oak spice and smoke. It is mid-weight fruity with good length and fine balance. Try with roast beef. Best 2011 to 2014. The sale price also ends on November 27th.

How I Chose the Top 50

Steve's Top 50 Value Wines MenuI constantly taste the wines at the LCBO to keep the Top 50 list up to date. You can easily find 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.

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.

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.


Steve Thurlow