Ten new wines in Top 50; Steve’s Top 50 Value Wines from the LCBO – July 2012

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

There are hundreds of wine agents in Ontario representing thousands of wineries from all over the world. However most of the wines at the LCBO are the responsibility of the 30 biggest agencies. It’s difficult for small new agencies, often with a team of one, to get a listing and then moreover to keep that wine listed. These budding entrepreneurs realize that value helps a lot so it is maybe not surprising to find that three of the wines in the Top 50 are from small agencies. So the three great reds below deserve special attention since by buying these you can help some new Ontario companies grow and maybe afford to hire others.  All three are at the LCBO and all are great value, as is every wine on my Top 50 Value Wines list.

There are ten wines that are new to the list since last month. Read past the next three reds to find more bargains and to discover how the Top 50 is systematically selected. At WineAlign, we make it easy for you to find out who represents every wine in Ontario, by adding a link to the Agent for each wine on our site.

Three Great Value Reds brought to Ontario by three new entrepreneurs.

P K N T CarmenereEclipse Montepulciano D' AbruzzoEclipse Montepulciano D’ Abruzzo 2009, Italy $7.65

The 2009 vintage is similar but not quite as good as the 2008. It is still amazing value and of the best inexpensive Italian reds at LCBO. The nose shows mild red berry aromas with some tobacco notes. It is lightweight and well balanced with the lively fruit balanced by firm tannin that makes the finish very dry. This is not a patio sipper but a well balanced wine for food like grilled meats or tomato based sauces with cheese. It was perfect with cheese stuffed cannelloni in a rich tomato sauce. Best 2012 to 2015. Agent: Margaret D’Ugo, Mavirosa Import & Export

P K N T Carmenere 2010, Chile $10.95

A newcomer to the LCBO this is a vibrant well balanced red with good varietal character. Expect earthy black cherry fruit with some warm spicy and tobacco notes. The palate is super smooth and full bodied with supple juicy fruit not at all spicy as might be suggested by the label. It is clean and fresh with very good length. Best 2011 to 2014. Try with mildly spicy bbq meats. Agent: Michael Kingma, Michael Andrew Brands.

Curious Fruit Carignan GrenacheCurious Fruit Carignan Grenache 2009, France $9.95

A nice well balanced red for a great price. Expect mild aromas of blackcurrant jello with some oak spice tones. It is midweight with good depth of flavour. Well balanced with fine tannin and nice vibrant acidity. Very good length. Try with grilled lamb cutlets. Best 2012 to 2016. Agent: Shelley Saxena, Sax Wine Agency.

July 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 – Less than $13

Lurton Les Fumées Blanches Sauvignon BlancCono Sur Chardonnay ReservaChateau De GourgazaudChateau De Gourgazaud 2010, France $12.95

The 2010 is another excellent vintage for this syrah based red blend from the South of France. Expect complex aromas of black cherry, plum and raspberry fruit with thyme, dark chocolate, floral and spice tones. The palate is very smooth, and fruity with fine balancing tannin. Very good to excellent length. The finish is black pepper spicy and fruity. Try with a steak. Best 2012 to 2016.

Cono Sur Chardonnay Reserva 2011, Chile $12.95

This is a very classy chardonnay for a wine at this price. Expect aromas of white peach with lime citrus and white flowers. The palate is lively and midweight with an elegant structure. Very pure with racy acidity and a hint of oak. Very good length. Try with sauteed seafood or cheesy pasta sauces.

Lurton Les Fumées Blanches Sauvignon Blanc 2011, France, $11.95

The 2011 is a step up from the 2010 with a beautiful intense nose of green apple and lemon with dill, thyme and oregano herbal complexity. It is full and creamy, well balanced with very good length. Try with roast pork or sautéed seafood.

Less than $9.50

Castillo De Monseran GarnachaSanta Carolina Cabernet SauvignonCastillo De Monseran Garnacha 2011, Spain $9.25

The 2011 is another fine vintage for this great value red from Spain. It is a delicious unoaked, fruity red with aromas of red cherry and raspberry fruit plus cranberry jelly with some mild spice. It is medium to full-bodied, juicy with some sweetness and soft tannin, which is most noticeable on the dry finish. Chill lightly and enjoy with burgers, sausages and ribs. Very good length. Best 2012 to 2013.

Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Chile $8.95

An excellent cabernet at an amazing price. It is fresh, pure and clean with a good depth of flavour, decent structure and very good length. There is not much complexity with mild aromas of black cherry and cassis fruit with spicy and earthy tones. It is midweight, juicy and very drinkable. Try with bbq meats. Best 2012 to 2014.

Caliterra Cabernet Sauvignon ReservaPartager Reserve Merlot 2010Partager Reserve Merlot 2010, Vin De Pays D’ Oc, France $8.95

The Partager label has been in our market for decades so it was due for a makeover. This wine is varietally labelled as merlot and vintage dated 2010 and comes from Pays d’Oc in the south of France and is a great buy. Expect a deep purple red with mild aromas of black and red berry fruit. It is full bodied and flavourful with a long dry finish. It needs some juicy grilled meat or rich cheese for best enjoyment. Decant for an hour before serving. Best 2012 to 2015.

Caliterra Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2011, Chile $8.95

The 2011 vintage is another amazing cab from Caliterra for less than $9. It has a nose ripe blackberry fruit with dark chocolate, subtle oak spice plus earthy notes. The palate is very juicy full-bodied with lots of ripe fruit flavour and just enough acid and soft tannin for balance. Very good length. Try with a steak. Best 2012 to 2015

Less than $8.50

Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon MerlotCasal Thaulero Pinot GrigioCasal Thaulero Merlot Cabernet SauvignonSanta Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2011, Chile $8.45

The 2011 vintage of this Bordeaux style blend is another great value wine with clean black cherry fruit with spice, jam and leathery tones. It is midweight very smooth and dry with soft acidity and fine ripe tannin. Good to very good length. Try with roast meats. Best 2012 to 2015.

Casal Thaulero Pinot Grigio 2011, Italy $7.95

You get a lot of pinot grigio for your money with this wine which has more flavour than most of its Italian cousins that sell for twice the price. Expect mild aromas of pear lemon fruit with nutty and mineral tones. The palate is very fruity and creamy with lively acidity well balanced by the fruit. It is dry and clean with very good length. It finishes well with a nice touch of bitter almond. Don’t overchill and enjoy with seafood, white meats and mild cheese

Casal Thaulero Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Italy $6.95

A well balanced dry red with a lot going on for the money. It is midweight with mild 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. It finishes very dry with tough tannin so best enjoyed with food like meaty pasta sauces or grilled meats. Good to very good length. Best 2012 to 2014.

How I Choose the Top 50

I constantly taste the wines at the LCBO to keep the Top 50 list up to date. 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 all of the wines in the WineAlign database.  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


BBQ Barbera

International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration