Ten wines join Steve’s Top 50 at LCBO

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

The Top 50 list changes all the time. Prices go up and down, new vintages of current listings arrive, over 200 new products are launched each year and as a consequence around the same number of wines are discontinued. All of these factors cause changes to the Value list.

This month there are ten wines that are new to the list. So let’s look at the arrivals in detail, but please also check out all the rest of the wines on my Top 50 Value Wines list, since all offer great value. So read beyond the new entrants to find more values, and to discover how the Top 50 is systematically selected.

New to the Top 50

Ten wines arrived on the Top 50 this month. I’ve highlighted them below in various price categories.

Less than $17

Cousiño Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2010Masi Serego Alighieri Possessioni Rosso 2010Cousiño Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Maipo Valley, Chile, ON $16.05

Cousino Macul has been making Antiguas Reservas for decades and it keeps getting better. Still very youthful, this is a cellar candidate that’s fine now but even better if you decant for an hour or so before serving. It is very classy with a degree of elegance rarely found in such an inexpensive wine. The nose is youthful with the cassis fruit aromas complicated by tobacco, dark chocolate, menthol and herb notes. It is medium to full-bodied and very smooth with the 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 2014 to 2020.

Masi Serego Alighieri Possessioni Rosso 2010
Veneto, Italy, ON $15.00

This is a very classy elegant Italian red for a great price. It comes from the hills that rise behind Verona and is made from corvina and sangiovese grapes matured in large cherry wood barrels. Expect fragrant aromas of blackberry fruit with tobacco, vanilla and jammy notes. It is ripe, full-bodied with just enough tannin and acidity in support. Very good length. Best 2013 to 2018. Try with roast duck or hard mature cheeses.

Less than $13

Argento Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2010Paul Mas Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2010Paul Mas Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2010 Nicole Vineyard
Pezenas, France $12.95 on sale until April 28 was ON $14.95

This is great value for a Bordeaux blend from the south of France. There is a lot of complexity on nose and palate with aromas of earthy baked cassis fruit with dark chocolate. It is well-balanced with the juicy fruit supported by vibrant acidity and soft tannin. Focus is well maintained onto the finish with a nice dry cranberry jelly flavour persisting well. Try with a beef casserole or rack of lamb. Very good length. Best 2013 to 2017.

Argento Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2010
Mendoza, Argentina, ON $12.95

An elegant approachable fruity cabernet that’s available for an amazing price. The nose shows lifted aromas of black cherry and blueberry fruit with fragrant oak spice, vanilla, tobacco and leather. It full-bodied and finely balanced with a long lingering finish, on which the fruit persists well. Excellent length. Try with roast game or a grilled steak. Best 2013 to 2016.

Trapiche Reserve Syrah 2011Bodegas Castaño Hécula Monastrell 2009Castello Del Poggio MoscatoTrapiche Reserve Syrah 2011
Mendoza, Argentina, ON $11.95

This is a very well made wine at a great price. It’s a juicy syrah with aromas of blueberry and blackberry fruit plus oak spice with cocoa and vanilla notes. It is midweight and creamy smooth with the fruit flavours balanced by soft acidity and soft tannin. Good to very good length. Try with bbq meats or mature cheddar. Best 2013 to 2016.

Bodegas Castaño Hécula Monastrell 2009
Yecla, Spain, ON $11.80

The monastrell grape in southern Spain makes many delicious juicy dark, full-bodied reds like this wine. It is wonderfully smooth with vibrant acidity that gives it a degree of elegance that will cost you over $20 normally. Expect aromas of blackberry with fragrant lavender, vanilla and cocoa plus some raspberry jam notes. The palate is rich yet not heavy and it finishes dry with some meaty notes and fine tannin for grip. Very good length. Try with roast meats. Best 2013 to 2017.

Castello Del Poggio Moscato
Asti, Piedmont, Italy, ON $11.10

A delicate well priced Moscato with lively acidity to balance the fruit and the sweetness. Expect lifted floral lemon, melon and honey aromas. The palate is fresh and pure with very good length. Enjoy on its own or with delicate pastries. I have found that this is a wine that almost everyone will like, even if they say don’t like wine!

Less than $9

Puglia, also known as Apulia, is at the southeastern foot of Italy forming the “heel” on the map. Negroamaro, a local grape, is ideally suited to its hot dry climate. Try these two sun-drenched value wines to warm up your winter. I know it’s spring, but it still feels like winter to me!

Mezzomondo Negroamaro 2011
Salento, Puglia, Italy, ON $9.00

This has been one of the best value reds at the LCBO for years; you always get a lot for the money. I don’t know how they can make such a bright, tasty wine for this price. The nose is black cherry fruit with some earthy spicy tones and a hint of pine. It is medium bodied, juicy and well-balanced with good to very good length and enough tannin for balance. Chill slightly and enjoy with strongly flavoured cheese, pizza or bbq meats. Best 2013 to 2015.

Eclipse Montepulciano D' Abruzzo 2011Farnese Negroamaro 2011Mezzomondo Negroamaro 2011Farnese Negroamaro 2011
Puglia, Italy, ON $8.25

A new classier label has arrived mid-vintage on the 2011 bottles of this generous southern Italian red. It’s full-bodied and ripe with the fruit well-balanced by lemony acidity. Expect aromas of prune and blackberry fruit to lead to a soft juicy palate. Good to very good length. Try slightly chilled with ribs or enjoy on its own. Best 2013 to 2015.

Abruzzo, a wine region known for its reds from local grape montepulciano, is on the eastern Adriatic coast of Italy just across the Apennine mountains from Rome. This red is one of the best values in structured Italian wine at the LCBO.

Eclipse Montepulciano D’ Abruzzo 2011
Abruzzo, Italy, ON $7.60

Lovers of Italian wine should be buying this by the armful. It is such an amazing price for a well-balanced structured red; don’t pass it by because you think it’s too cheap. However it’s not for sipping on its own; with some red meat or hard mature cheese it’s quite delicious. It is medium cherry red in colour with a fairly complex nose of raspberry and cherry fruit plus some earthy notes and a hint of forest floor. The palate is midweight with the fruit supported by good gentle acidity and modest tannin. The flavours linger for a long time on the finish. Best 2013 to 2016.

Top 50 Value Wines at LCBO

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. 

How I Choose the Top 50

Steve's Top Value WinesI 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.

Once you have tried a wine, you can use the ‘thumbs up/thumbs down’ to agree or disagree with our reviews. Or better yet, you can add your own review and join our growing community of user reviewers. If you find that there is a new wine on the shelf, or a new vintage that we have not reviewed, let us know. 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.

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

Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials Wines

Villa Sandi Pinot Grigio 2010

New Zealand Wine Fair