Five Regions for Value; Steve’s Top 50 at LCBO

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Argentina, Chile, Southern France, Southern Italy and Spain provide most of the wines on the Top 50 Value Report. This has been the case since I started compiling the list three years ago. Low costs for land and labour and cheap international logistics mean that they can land wines here at a lower cost than the more established wine regions like USA, Australia and Northern France and Italy. They also have perfected how to make good wine and have found the ideal places to grow grapes under optimal conditions. The combination of high quality and low price is what the Top 50 is all about.

I have chosen one wine from each of these regions as an example for you to explore that section of the store. Three reds and two whites that are all between $10 and $13, with two that are new to the list this month.

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 my five regional examples to find more values, and to discover how the Top 50 is systematically selected.


Santa Julia Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Mendoza, Argentina $13.00

Joins the list this month: A nicely balanced ripe cabernet from the Zuccardi family; famous for their Fuzion wines. This is quite elegant with a complex nose of cassis and blackberry fruit with some earthy tones, subtle oak spice and sweet basil notes. The palate is finely poised with the fruit supported by some finely grained tannin which give nice grip to the finish. Very good length. Try with a fine cut of roast lamb or beef. It will gain in complexity with another year or so of bottle age. Best 2013 to 2016.

Santa Julia Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2011


Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Aconcagua Valley, Chile $11.45 (on sale until June 23 was $12.95)

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 dressing.

Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Southern France

Lurton Les Fumées Blanches Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Vin De France $12.95

This wine has a beautiful intense nose of green apple and lemon with dill, thyme and oregano herbal complexity. It is full and creamy, with very good length. Try with roast pork or sautéed seafood.

Lurton Les Fumées Blanches Sauvignon Blanc

Southern Italy

Cusumano Syrah 2012, Sicily, Italy $10.95

Joins the list this month: This is a well balanced fresh cool climate syrah from Sicily with a lot going on for the money. Expect aromas of black cherry fruit with raspberry jam, chocolate and floral tones. The palate is smooth, well balanced and lively with soft tannin and good length. Best 2013 to 2016.

Cusumano Syrah 2012


Bodegas Castaño Hécula Monastrell 2009, Yecla, Spain $11.80

The monastrell grape in southern Spain makes many delicious juicy dark, reds like this one. It is wonderfully smooth with vibrant acidity that gives it a degree of elegance that would 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 its finishes dry with some meaty notes and fine tannin for grip. Very good length.Try with roast meats. Best 2013 to 2017.

Bodegas Castaño Hécula Monastrell 2009

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

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.

Steve's Top Value WinesTo 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

We invite our Premium Subscription members to use this link to find all of Steve Thurlow’s reviews of the Top 50 Value Wines. Paid membership to WineAlign has its privileges – this is one of them. Enjoy!

Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials Wines

Ironstone Obsession Symphony 2011