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

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

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

We are now well into the busiest season of the year for wine sales, so there are lots of wines with big discounts and even more with Bonus Air Miles on my Top 50 to tell you about. While already great values, these incentives make my picks even more attractive this month.

Plus I am delighted to have found many new great values at the LCBO. This month, I have found eight wines to join the Top 50. All this should make your holiday season 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 current discount period runs until January 2nd 2016. 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

Trapiche Astica Merlot Malbec 2014, Cuyo, Argentina ($7.95 + 5 BAMs or $12.25 for 1.5L) Top 50 December – An inexpensive wine that offers a lot. Could be good for holiday entertaining of big crowds at say a cheese and wine reception.

Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2014, Abruzzo, Italy ($8.25 + 4 BAMs) Top 50 December – An honest good value red with a fragrant herbal raspberry nose. It is mid-weight and well balanced with just enough acidity and soft tannin to give it the structure for food. Great with pizza or grilled sausage.

Tatty Rd Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, South Australia ($8.50 was $14.80) Delisted. New to Top 50 December – Not your typical Aussie cabernet with a structure and acidity that might make one think it was European. Great sale price. Over 1100 bottles remain.

João Portugal Ramos Loios Red 2013, Alentejo, Portugal ($9.30) New to Top 50 December – This is a ripe, fleshy, clean, easy-drinking wine with soft tannins and fresh red berry fruit flavours. For a wine at this price there is more complexity than you might expect with herbal and spicy notes to the aromas and flavours. Try with roast lamb.

Trapiche Astica Merlot Malbec 2014Citra Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2014Tatty Rd Cabernet Sauvignon 2012João Portugal Ramos Loios Red 2013Fuzion Alta Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Fuzion Alta Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Mendoza, Argentina ($9.95 + 5 BAMs) Top 50 December – This is a soft flavourful yet well structured cabernet for a good price. It is mid-weight and juicy with the fruit well balanced by fine tannin and soft acidity. Very good length. Try with grilled meats.

Trapiche Malbec 2014, Mendoza, Argentina ($10.45 + 6 BAMs) – There is a degree of pureness and elegance here not often found in such inexpensive wines. Good depth of flavour and palate length make it a great buy for pasta, pizza or burgers.

Solaz Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Castilla León, Spain ($11.45) New to Top 50 December – 2014 is the best vintage yet of this juicy vibrant clean red with fresh raspberry and red cherry aromas plus spicy and jammy tones. Chill lightly and enjoy with grilled meats.

Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($11.45) New to Top 50 December – 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.

Trapiche Malbec 2014Solaz Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon 2014Carmen Reserva Carmenère 2013Cusumano Syrah 2013Argento Reserva Malbec 2013

Cusumano Syrah 2013, Sicily, Italy ($11.95 + 5 BAMs) Top 50 December – This is stunning value for a cool climate syrah. It is fresh with aromas of red grapefruit, blueberry and prune with a smooth palate. It’s well balanced and lively with soft tannin and very good length. Try with rack of lamb.

Argento Reserva Malbec 2013, Mendoza, Argentina ($12.95 +6 BAMs) – A rich pure smooth malbec with all the essentials of a good malbec especially the black berry fruit aromas and mild oak treatment. Very good length. Try with grilled meats.

Montes Twins Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($12.95 + 6 BAMs) – A classy very approachable red with ripe berry fruit aromas and flavours. Even though full bodied it feels lighter. Try with grilled meats.

Goats Do Roam Red 2014, Western Cape, South Africa ($12.95 + 5 BAMs) Top 50 December – The 2014 vintage continues a long line of consistently great value reds that are close stylistically to a French Côtes du Rhône. Try with burgers.

Montes Twins Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon 2013Goats Do Roam Red 2014Château Des Charmes Gamay Noir 2013Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2013Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Château Des Charmes Gamay Noir 2013, VQA Niagara On The Lake, Ontario ($13.95 + 5 BAMs) Top 50 December – There is a distinctly European feel to this wine with its somewhat rustic nose of berry fruit, beetroot and mushroom. Well focussed with very good length.

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, South Australia ($13.95 was $16.95) ) New to Top 50 December – The 2013 vintage of this very popular Aussie cab has more depth and is better structured than recent vintages. It is a balanced cabernet with the same ease of drinking as always, ripe fruit and tannin and a touch of oak on the finish.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Coonawarra, South Australia ($24.95 was $27.95) Top 50 December – It was already stunning value; now at $3 off its time to pick up a case. Checkout the reviews at Wine Align there are over 20 of us that love this excellent very drinkable very classy cabernet. It’s Christmas; spend more than $20 and see what you can get.

Whites

Emu Oloroso Cream Sherry, Australia ($7.50) ) New to Top 50 December – Ample aromas of orange marmalade and floral apricot mingle with fine herbs on the nose. The palate is rich and sweet yet light due to soft lemony acidity. It finishes sweet but not cloying with very good length. Try with fruitcake or mincemeat pie, or simply enjoy on its own lightly chilled with a quarter of an orange.

14 Hands Hot To Trot White Blend 2011, Washington State, USA ($8.75 was $14.95) Delisted. New to Top 50 December – It is a nice vibrant fresh white blend with fine aromas and bright lively fruit. It is well balanced and mid-weight with a nice juicy finish. Try on its own as an aperitif or with sautéed seafood or creamy brie. Great sale price; around 2000 bottles remain.

Montalto Pinot Grigio 2014, Sicily, Italy ($9.45 + 4 BAMs) Top 50 December – This offers surprising – amazing – character for the price with lots of aroma and flavour and more complexity than one would expect from such an inexpensive wine. Give it a try; it is a big improvement over recent vintages.

Emu Oloroso Cream Sherry14 Hands Hot To Trot White Blend 2011Montalto Pinot Grigio 2014Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014Mascota Vineyards OPI Chardonnay 2014

Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Aconcagua Valley, Chile ($10.95 was $12.05) New to Top 50 December – A lively fresh sauvignon with aromas and flavours of tropical gooseberry and passion fruit with lemon and freshly cut grass notes. Very smooth. Try with a creamy goat’s cheese salad.

Mascota Vineyards OPI Chardonnay 2014, Argentina ($12.95 + 6 BAMs) – A juicy fruity lightly oaked chardonnay with lovely creamy acidity, lots of flavour and very good length. Try with creamy pasta sauces.

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 34 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. 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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