Steve’s Top 50 Value Wines from the LCBO – December 2011 – Great Holiday Value Wines

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

More wine is purchased in the last three weeks of December than at any other time of the year. If you are like me you will be buying extra wine for entertaining at home. One needs plenty of inexpensive wine on hand at this time of the year as well as some prized bottles for the special moments. Trust me, there are many inexpensive wines on the shelves that will not impress your most discerning guests. However there is absolutely no reason why cheap wine cannot be great. If you follow my advice, your guests will be impressed, and you will save a few bucks per bottle. The six below, plus all my Top 50 Value Wines, are safe bets.

Holiday Entertaining Hot Picks – Six wines to stock-up on for the Holidays
Less than $7.50

Casal Thaulero Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Trapiche Astica Sauvignon/Semillon 2010 Casal Thaulero Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Abruzzo, Italy  $6.95
A well balanced dry red with a lot going on for the money. It is midweight with earthy black cherry aromas with some herbal and floral hints. The palate is smooth with the fruit well balanced by soft tannin and vibrant acidity. Best enjoyed with food like meaty pasta sauces or grilled meats. Good to very good length. Best 2011 to 2013.

Trapiche Astica Sauvignon/Semillon 2010, Argentina  $7.45

This white packs quite a punch with its depth of flavour, palate length and complexity for a wine at less than $8. The two grapes that form the blend are the basis for white Bordeaux wine. Expect aromas of green apple, grapefruit and melon with celery and some hay notes. The palate is rich and creamy well balanced with good length. Perfect for cheesy pasta sauces, sauteed seafood or turkey. Don’t overchill, it is quite rich and you might miss the good stuff. .

Less than $9

P K N T Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Hardys Stamp Series Riesling Gewurztraminer 2010 P K N T Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Chile  $8.95
This is an excellent cabernet with cassis fruit, clove and earthy tones on the nose. The palate is full bodied well extracted with lots of fruit balanced by good acidity and soft tannin. Very good length. There is a degree of elegance and focus is well maintained from nose through to finish. Best 2011 to 2016. Try with a steak or juicy lamb cutlets.

Hardys Stamp Series Riesling Gewurztraminer 2010, Southeastern Australia  $8.95
This is an off-dry aromatic white that shows well gewürztraminer’s characteristics of honeysuckle, lychee, orange and mild spice on nose and palate The riesling in the blend delivers acidity to keep it in balance. It is midweight with good length. Try with mildly spicy Asian cuisine or roast turkey.

Less than $13

Chateau De Gourgazaud 2009, Minervois France  $12.95
This is quite a treat for less than $13 with its elegant palate from syrah dominated fruit. The nose shows black cherry fruit with prune and herbal tones and oak spice notes. The palate feels light and vibrant though it is full bodied and delicately balanced with excellent length and purity. Try with lamb cutlets, sausages or hard mature cheese. Best 2011 to 2015.

Chateau De Gourgazaud 2009

Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2010, Chile  $11.95
Savour this wine’s complex aromas of peach, melon, grapefruit with honey and toffee notes and a hint of oak spice. It is rich and creamy on the palate yet there is some lovely lemony acidity which keeps it feeling light and, unlike many chardonnays these days, it is only a little sweet and finishes dry with very good length. Try with white meats, roast turkey, creamy cheeses and seafood. Don’t overchill.
Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2010

December Additions to Top 50 Values List

There are about 1,500 wines listed at the LCBO that are always available, plus another 100 or so Vintages’ Essentials. 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. There are an unprecedented 10 new wines on my Top 50 list this month.

Cousiño Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2009,  Cousiño Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Chile  $15.50
2009 is the best vintage for a while from this excellent Chilean winery. It is very classy with a degree of elegance. It is still youthful with a tightly wound nose of cassis fruit with tobacco, dark chocolate, menthol and sage notes. It is medium to full bodied and sexy smooth with the ample ripe fruit balanced by soft acidity with a little dry tannin giving some grip to the finish. Very good length. Will develop more complexity with a few years in the cellar. For now, decant for an hour and enjoy with a steak. Best 2013 to 2018.

Trapiche Reserve Syrah 2008 Trapiche Reserve Syrah 2008, Argentina  $11.95
This is a wine that is tough not to love with its complex nose of black cherry, cassis fruit with well integrated oak spice, floral violet and black pepper with hints of chocolate. The elegant palate is super smooth with the fruit buoyed in a creamy soft vibrant juice with very good to excellent length. The finish shows some finely divided tannin which will melt nicely into the wine with a few years of bottle age, adding to complexity, but it is very drinkable now. Try with roast duck or beef. Best 2011 to 2016.

Montes Classic Series Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Montes Classic Series Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Chile  $12.95
The is an excellent sauvignon at a great price. The nose shows gooseberry, lemon, white peach and hay aromas with some mineral, dill and celery notes. The palate is racy, rich, thick with fruit yet well balanced and finishes firmly with a nice touch of celery. Very good length. Try with creamy pasta sauces or herbed chicken.

Deen De Bortoli Vat 8 Shiraz 2008 Deen De Bortoli Vat 8 Shiraz 2008, Southeastern Australia  $13.55.
A well structured balanced shiraz with its earthy smoky black cherry fruit and well integrated oak spice. The palate is full bodied juicy with firm tannin though it remains juicy to the finish. Very good length. Best 2010 to 2015. Try with a roast or bbq meats. This is on sale until Dec 31, 2011.

Cono Sur Carmenere Rose Reserva 2010 Cono Sur Carmenere Rose Reserva 2010, Chile  $9.90
One can drink rose anytime of the year; especially one as rich as this. It is deep Sockeye salmon pink with delicate berry fruit aromas that lead to a rich palate with ripe raspberry and cherry fruit nicely balanced by vibrant acidity. Good to very good length. Best 2011 to 2013.

Boutari Moschofilero 2010 Boutari Moschofilero 2010, Greece  $10.95
Moschofilero is deservedly becoming Greece’s signature aromatic white grape and this is a great value ambassador with its orange blossom, apricot, peach and pear aromas. The palate is rich and creamy, yet it is soft well balanced and flavourful with the orangey acidity becoming more evident on the finish. Very good length. Try with mildly spicy Asian cuisine or roast turkey. Sale price ends on Dec 31, 2011.

Pelee Island Lighthouse Riesling 2009 Pelee Island Lighthouse Riesling 2009, VQA Ontario  $10.95
This riesling is just off dry with a perfumed nose of rose with orange and white peach notes. The palate is very smooth and rich with fruit and it is balanced by soft lemony acidity. Very good length with the fruit persisting well. Enjoy lightly chilled as an aperitif or match with seafood, creamy pasta sauces, roast poultry or braised veal. Sale price ends on Dec 31, 2011.

Caliterra Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2010 Caliterra Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2010, Chile  $8.95
This is amazing cab for less than $9 with its complex nose ripe blackberry fruit with dark chocolate, subtle oak spice plus herbal notes. The palate is very juicy full-bodied and well balanced with good length. Try with a steak. Best 2011 to 2015.

In addition Chateau De Gourgazaud 2009  ($12.95) and Casal Thaulero Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($6.95) both mentioned at the top are also new to the list making 10 new wines in total.

How I Chose the Top 50

I 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