Last Chance at Four Great Wines; Steve’s Top 50 Value Wines – August 2012

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

The Ins and Outs of General List

The LCBO is constantly adding new wines to its general list selection; often as many as five new wines can arrive in one week. As a consequence wines are also being discontinued at the same pace, usually with a 25% reduction in price to move inventory out of the system quickly.

This week four discontinued wines are on the Top 50 list. There are still at least 1000 bottles of each but don’t delay since all will probably be gone by September. You may have to shop around since your local store might not have any left.

Find this WineThe WineAlign ‘Find this Wine’ feature on the review page makes it easy for you to find the closest store that still has inventory.

There are five wines that are new to the list since last month. Read past the next four wines to find more bargains and to discover how the Top 50 is systematically selected.

Last Chance at Four Great Top 50s

These wines are all discontinued and discounted to clear inventory, but all four are great value, as is every wine on my Top 50 Value Wines list.

Deen De Bortoli Vat 8 ShirazDeen De Bortoli Vat 8 Shiraz 2008, Southeastern Australia $11.95

A well structured balanced shiraz which is a step up from the 2007 vintage 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 2012 to 2015. Try with a roast or bbq meats.

Xanadu Next Of Kin Sauvignon Blanc SemillonXanadu Next Of Kin Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009, Margaret River, Australia $11.95

A delicate soft white with great varietal characteristics. Expect aromas of hay, lemon, and gooseberry fruit with a touch of sweet herbs and mild spice. It is very creamy with a long fresh finish. Try with sautéed seafood.

Little Yering ChardonnayLittle Yering Chardonnay 2009, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia $10.95

A lean lively chardonnay with lots of juicy fruit and gentle oak treatment. This is not what you would expect in an Aussie chardonnay of old. Aromas of lemon, ripe apple and white peach lead to the juicy yet taught palate. Very good length. Try with creamy pasta sauces.

Montes Classic Series Sauvignon BlancMontes Classic Series Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Curico Valley, Chile $10.45

The 2010 is another 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. Best 2012 to 2013.

August 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 $12

Santa Carolina Chardonnay ReservaSanta Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2011, Casablanca Valley, Chile $11.95

The 2011 is very similar to the 2010 that spent the last year on the Top 50 list. It has a lifted nose of complex aromas of peach, melon and grapefruit with honey and toffee notes and a hint of oak spice. It is rich and creamy on the palate with lovely soft lemony acidity which keeps it feeling light. It finishes dry with very good to excellent length. Try with white meats, creamy cheeses and seafood. Don’t overchill.

Amalaya Torrontes RieslingAmalaya Torrontes Riesling 2011, Salta, Argentina $10.95

This is a brand new listing at LCBO which jumps straight onto the Top 50 list since it is such excellent value for a complex aromatic white. It comes from the Salta region in northern Argentina, which is the indigenous home to the aromatic torrontes grape. It is a blend of 85% of that grape with 15% riesling that gives some zip to the mid palate and finish. Expect floral aromas of daffodil with ripe melon, white peach and ginger spice. The palate is rich and creamy with very good length. Try with mildly spicy Asian cuisine.

Less than $9

Montalto Nero D'avola Cabernet SauvignonMontalto Nero D’Avola Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Sicily, Italy $8.95

This is a juicy full bodied red made from the nero d’avola grape a native of Sicily with a nose that shows red berry fruit with herbal and spicy notes. It is very fruity and well structured with soft tannins and juicy acidity. Very good length. Well balanced except it is just a bit hot on the finish from alcohol. Ideal with pizza and meaty pasta sauces. Best 2012 to 2015.

Santa Carolina MerlotSanta Carolina Merlot 2011, Chile $8.95

Amazing value for a vibrant fruity merlot. Expect pure aromas of raspberry and red cherry fruit with some jammy tones and herbal hints. The palate is brimming with lively bright fruit with enough tannin for balance and good to very good length. Enjoy on its own lightly chilled or with a wide range of meat and cheese dishes. Would make a great restaurant wine-by-glass pour. Best 2012 to 2014.

Mezzomondo NegroamaroMezzomondo Negroamaro 2010 Salento, Puglia, Italy $7.95

The 2010 is another good vintage and this wine remains one of the best red values at LCBO. It is a flavourful, fragrant red from Puglia made from the indigenous negroamaro grape. Blackberry fruit with plum jam aromas are enhanced by herbal and warm spice notes and a hint of dark chocolate. It is midweight with the fruit well supported by some mature tannin. Very good length. Very drinkable now but best 2013 – 2016.

Top 50 Value Wines at LCBO

Before value wine shopping remember to consult the Top50, 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 why we got it wrong and if you think our reviews are accurate, send us some feedback since it’s good to hear that you agree with us.

It is very easy to do this.  Click on Suggestions & Feedback or send an email to [email protected].

We look forward to hearing from you.

How I Choose the Top 50

I constantly taste the wines at the LCBO to keep the Top 50 list up to date. You can easily find all of 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

Grooner Grüner Veltliner 2009

The Wine Establishment - Le Nez deu Vin