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

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

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

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

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

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

The discount period runs until November 29th, so don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you that when we published there were stocks available of every wine that I highlight.

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

Reds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 20 Under 20There are three ways that a wine gets into this monthly report of wines that are always in the stores either in the LCBO Wines section or the VINTAGES Essentials Collection.

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

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

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

The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

In addition to the wines mentioned above, there are another 36 wines on the Top 50 list this month. So if you did not find all you need in this report, dip into the Top 50 LCBO and VINTAGES Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste.

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

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

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

Cheers!

Steve Thurlow

Top 20 Under $20
Top 50 Value Wines

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


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