Four ‘not to be missed’ reds from Argentina; Steve’s Top 50 Value Wines from the LCBO – April 2012

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

I am just back from a trip to Argentina where they are making some really great red wines. During my trip it became very clear to me that Argentina is not just all about malbec. It is true that they are making the best malbec in the world, but then so little is planted elsewhere. The next challenge for this wine region is to get us drinking their other reds; which also compete well on the world stage against some formidable well established regions. While I was there I found some amazing cabernet sauvignon and great syrah as well as some delightful red blends. The four wines below are all at the LCBO and all are great value, as is every wine on my Top 50 Value Wines list. There are 12 wines that are new to the list since last month. Read past the next four reds to find more bargains and then continue to discover how these wines are systematically selected and hear more about my time in South America.

Four Reds from Argentina

Trapiche Syrah ReservaTrapiche Cabernet Sauvignon ReservaTrapiche Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2010, Mendoza $11.95
This is an opaque elegant cabernet with lots of flavour and a delightful nose. It’s a big improvement over previous vintages. Aromas of cassis and blackberry fruit are complicated by some subtle oak spice, dark chocolate and a hint of black olive. The perfumed nose is a perfect introduction to the seamless juicy palate with finely divided tannin tickling the tongue. It finishes dry with the alcohol balanced by acidity and fruit. Very good to excellent length. Try with duck confit or rare roast beef. Another year in the cellar may well improve it. Best 2013 to 2016.

Trapiche Syrah Reserva 2010, Mendoza $11.95
A soft juicy syrah with aromas of blueberry and blackberry fruit plus dark chocolate and vanilla notes. It is midweight and creamy smooth with the fruit flavours balanced by soft lemony acidity and gentle fine tannin. Good to very good length. A very classy wine at a great price. Try with bbq meats or mature cheddar. Best 2012 to 2015.

La Posta Cocina Tinto BlendTrapiche Cabernet SauvignonLa Posta Cocina Tinto Blend 2010, Mendoza $12.95
This red blend of malbec with syrah and bonarda is an opaque purple wine with aromas of blackberry jello, blueberry and prune fruit with herbal and floral tones. It is full bodied, flavourful and well structured with some firm tannin giving grip and acidity for vibrancy. Very good length. Try with a steak. Will gain in complexity with a year or two of bottle age, but fine now. Best 2013 to 2016.

Trapiche Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Mendoza $8.95 (and $15.95 1500ml)
Great value for very drinkable cabernet that is much more than a fruit bomb. Expect fresh aromas of red cherry and black plum fruit with mild spice plus some herbal tones. It is midweight with lots of flavour from the soft red fruit and with just enough tannin to give it grip and sufficient vibrant acidity to drive it on to the dry finish. Good to very good length. Try with bbq meats. Best 2012 to 2015.

April 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.

New to the Top 50

Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Aconcagua Valley, Chile $11.95
This has nicely lifted sauvignon aromatics of hay, lemon, gooseberry and melon. It is elegant, creamy and well balanced with very good length with some vibrant passion fruit flavour. Try with sautéed scallops with a lemongrass dressing.

Nederburg Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Western Cape, South Africa $10.95
This is a classy sauvignon at a great price. Expect mild aromas of lemon, green apple and hay with a hint of white mushroom. It is midweight and very smooth with soft balancing acidity and very good length. There is a degree of elegance not often seen in such an inexpensive wine. Try with sautéed seafood, veal or roast pork.

Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon BlancNederburg Sauvignon Blanc

Dunavar Muscat Ottonel 2010, Hungary $8.00
The 2010 vintage is similar to the 2009 and again offers excellent value for this wine made from muscat ottonel, a less aromatic version of the muscat grape common to central Europe. Expect nicely lifted floral and tropical fruit aromas similar to viognier with herbal and lavender notes. It is quite rich well balanced with good acidity and good to very good length. This will work well with mildly spicy Asian cuisine or rich poultry dishes.

Cono Sur Organic Chardonnay 2011, San Antonio Valley, Chile $10.95 on sale until April 29th normally $11.95.
A lively zesty unoaked chardonnay with a lot of flavour for the money. Expect aromas of lemon, white peach and pineapple fruit with mineral overtones. It is very rich and creamy with lots of flavour and very good length. Well balanced. Try with sautéed seafood, roast chicken or creamy pasta sauces.

Dunavar Muscat OttonelCono Sur Organic Chardonnay

Cono Sur Tocornal Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2011, Chile (1500ml) $14.45
The 2011 is another good vintage for this great value red blend. The harmonious nose shows ripe black cherry and plum fruit with tobacco, raspberry jam and smoky complexity. It is midweight and very juicy with the fruit nicely balanced. Good length and focus. Try with roast meats or mature cheese. Best 2012 to 2015.

Fonseca Periquita 2009, Terras Do Sado, Portugal $7.95
The 2009 is another good vintage of this bargain priced red from Portugal that must have been on the shelves for 20 years or more. Expect red cherry and plum aromas with some spicy tones and beet notes. It is mid weight, dry and well balanced with the fruit ripeness toned by earthy and leathery flavours. Quite delicious with grilled lamb cutlets or calf liver and onions. Best 2012 to 2015.

Cono Sur Tocornal Cabernet Sauvignon/ShirazFonseca Periquita

Trumpeter Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Mendoza, Argentina $12.95
This cabernet from Argentina is such great value with a complex nose of black cherry fruit with black olive soft oak spice plus herbal and leather tones. It is fresh and vibrant with the mature fruit well balanced by acidity and soft tannin. Very good length. There is a degree of elegance and it is perfectly balanced for roast or bbq meats.

Fuzion Alta Malbec Reserva 2010, Mendoza, Argentina $9.95
The 2010 vintage of this 100% malbec delivers a lot of structure and depth of flavour for a wine under $10. Expect lifted currant fruit with tea and herbal notes, mild oak spice and a hint of prune. It is elegant and quite rich, medium-full bodied with good to very good length.

Trumpeter Cabernet Sauvignon Fuzion Alta Malbec Reserva

Why was I in Argentina in March?
There were two major reasons. First to check out the latest wines. It is difficult today to imagine our store shelves without wines from Argentina but it has only been a few years since they arrived in force. They were quickly recognized as “the” value for money wines and were a major factor in redefining quality in the less than $10 section. To say that they alone dragged down prices is to over simplify, since the stronger loonie and the recession also helped, and credit should also be given to the LCBO buying team. But we have today better wines for the same money as 5 years ago and Argentina malbec has been a big part in that.

Today it’s time to move above $10 and to look beyond malbec since Argentina delivers quality wines at all price points. Anyone looking for value and quality should be spending time in this section of the LCBO or scanning the Argentina section of any wine list. In addition to the four reds above there are another six wines from Argentina in the Top50; so Argentina takes 20% of the list. And there are hundreds more on the WineAlign site.

The other reason for my trip to Argentina was to make final plans for my WineforLife tour to Chile and Argentina in March 2013.

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