Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (Aug 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 announced some big discounts last Monday plus many wines with Bonus Air Miles (BAMs) so I have quite a few new wine values to report. I picked 20 wines under $20 that are the best values presently.

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

To these I added another nine wines, all with BAMs, that make them good choices and though none of them quite made it on to the Top 50, they were all close.

The discount period runs until September 12th. So don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I was able to ensure that there were stocks available, when we published, of every wine that I highlight.

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


Beso De Vino Seleccion Red 2011 Carinena Spain ($8.95 was $9.95) New to TOP 50 – A ripe structured red with a nice lemony tone to nose and palate which is full bodied with some tannin and soft acidity for balance. Try with sweet ribs.

Lavau 2011, Cotes Du Rhone Villages, Rhone Valley France ($12.90) New to TOP 50 – A recent arrival at LCBO that jumped straight onto the Top50 list. A generous, fruity, lively red with very good length. Versatile food wine.

Hardys Stamp Of Australia Shiraz Cabernet 2013, South Eastern Australia ($9.85 +6BAMs) – Hardy’s Stamp series are well priced easy drinking wines that are balanced for food and are designed for current consumption. This is a bright lively midweight red. Try with lamb cutlets.

Beso de Vino Seleccion Red 2011 Lavau 2011 Hardys Stamp of Australia Shiraz Cabernet 2013Citra Sangiovese Terre di Chieti 2013Bodegas Volcanes de Chile Summit Reserva Cabernet Syrah 2013

Citra Sangiovese Terre Di Chieti 2013, Abruzzo, Italy ($7.75 + 4BAMs) – An inexpensive red for pizza and tomato pasta sauces. Basic but it delivers.

Bodegas Volcanes De Chile Summit Reserva Cabernet Syrah 2013, Rapel Valley, Chile ($9.95 + 8BAMs) – A midweight to full bodied juicy red at a great price. Grown on volcanic soils which adds to its purity of flavour.

Cusumano Syrah 2013, Sicily, Italy ($10.95 was $11.95) TOP 50 August – A midweight cool climate syrah that’s well balanced flavourful and very fruity.

Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($11.45 + 5BAMs) TOP 50 August – A perfumed nicely ripe carmenère with no hint of greenness and it’s not too ripe either. Try with grilled meats.

Cusumano Syrah 2013Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013Thelema Mountain Red 2012Santa Carolina Merlot Reserva 2012

Thelema Mountain Red 2012, Western Cape, South Africa ($12.90 + 7BAMs) – This delightful blend of shiraz and five other grapes comes from high mountain vineyards above Stellenbosch. It is very smooth and quite dense. Try with pizza or burgers .

Santa Carolina Merlot Reserva 2012, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($12.95+ 4BAMs) – A bright fresh merlot with pure aromas and flavours. It is deliciously vibrant with the juicy fruit balanced by soft tannin. Try with bbq meats.

Montecillo Crianza 2010 Rioja Spain ($12.95 was $14.95) New to TOP 50 – I love the classy orange red label on this classic Spanish red. It is easy drinking, well balanced and a very versatile food wine.

Château Des Charmes Gamay Noir 2013, VQA Niagara On The Lake, Ontario ($13.95 + 5BAMs) New to TOP 50 – There is a distinctly European feel to this full plush red with very good length. It shows how well suited this grape is to Niagara.

Montecillo Crianza 2010Château Des Charmes Gamay Noir 2013The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier 2013Hardys Chronicle No. 3Santa Rita Medalla Real Carmenere Gran Reserva 2011

The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier 2014, Western Cape ($13.95) New to TOP 50 – Another excellent vintage for this Rhone blend from the Cape. It is medium to full-bodied with a savoury peppery tone to the ripe fruit.

Hardys Chronicle No. 3 Butcher’s Gold Shiraz Sangiovese 2012, South Australia ($14.95 + 8BAMs) – Sangiovese, the Chianti grape from Italy, is blended in this wine with shiraz to deliver a fresher more vibrant wine than one normally expects from this region.

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


Riverlore Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand ($13.90 was $15.90) – New to TOP 50 – A crisp juicy very typical Kiwi sauvignon at a great price. Sautéed seafood or a goats cheese salad would be perfect.

Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2013, Livermore Valley, California ($17.95) New to TOP 50 – What I like most about this modern California chardonnay is that the fruit shows through on both nose and palate. Creamy smooth with a fresh pure nose. Try with tempura.

Citra Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2013 Abruzzo, Italy ($7.75 + 4BAMs) – A basic yet quite fruity Italian white that’s great with grilled calamari.

Riverlore Sauvignon Blanc 2014Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2013Citra Trebbiano d'Abruzzo 2013Cono Sur Bicicleta Chardonnay 2013Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014Château Des Arroucats 2012

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

Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Aconcagua Valley, Chile ($12.95 + 6BAMs) – A cool coastal sauvignon with good varietal character. Try with sautéed scallops with a lemongrass dressing or creamy goats cheese salad.

Château des Arroucats 2012, Ste. Croix du Mont, Bordeaux, France ($14.80 was $17.70) New to TOP 50 – An elegant sweet wine that makes a great aperitif but also good with white chocolate desserts. Recently delisted, over 1000 bottles remain.

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 39 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.


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!


Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc

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