Chilean wines dominate Steve’s Top 50 at LCBO

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

I’m filing this month’s report from Rias Biaxas in northwestern Spain, where I have travelled with a few other writers from Canada to sample the wines, mostly whites made from Albariño and to explore the seafood cuisine of Galicia. I’ll share a few observations on this in a future posting.

When compiling the Top50 today I noticed that Chile supplies one-quarter of the wines on the Top50 list this month. The improvement in quality of wines from Chile, while maintaining value prices over the last ten years has been truly remarkable. I highlight a few below but read about all 13 on my Top 50 Value Wines list.

An even greater selection of fine super value wines can be sampled at Chile’s annual celebration of wine, food, music and culture – the Chilean Wine Festival  – which comes to Toronto on Oct 8. Approximately 120 wines will be available for tasting from more than 20 wineries. You can find the complete event details on WineAlign, including a special Promo code to save on admission. Click here for details.

Beyond Chile, there are 37 more super value wines from Argentina, Australia, Italy, France and a few other countries on my Top 50 Value Wines list, since all offer great value. Read beyond the featured wines to find more values, and to discover how the Top 50 is systematically selected.

Less than $10

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2012
Central Valley, Chile $9.95 until Oct 13 was $10.95

The Cono Sur Bicicleta pinot noir is consistently one of the best values in inexpensive pinot each vintage. The 2012 is an excellent straight forward pinot noir that delivers well for such an inexpensive wine. It is ruby red in colour with aromas of red cherry and raspberry fruit with some spice, smoke and herbal notes. The palate is mid-weight with the fruit supported by acidity and mild tannin. It is fresh, pure, fruity and very drinkable. Match with roast turkey, cold roast beef or baked salmon. Very good length. Best 2013 to 2016.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2012

Caliterra Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2012
Casablanca Valley, Chile $9.95

There are very few red wines of this quality at this price. It has a nose of ripe blackcurrant fruit with dark chocolate, subtle oak spice plus herbal notes. The palate is very juicy and midweight with lots of ripe fruit flavour and just enough acid and soft tannin for balance. Very good length. Try with a steak. Best 2013 to 2016.

Caliterra Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2012

Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2012
Colchagua Valley, Chile $9.95

A beautiful lightweight viognier with tropical fruit aromas with orange blossom, baked apple, ginger and nutty tones. It is light to midweight with the fruit well-balanced by vibrant acidity. Very good length. Its terrific value. Enjoy on its own lightly chilled with party nibbles or at the table with poultry dishes or sautéed seafood.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2012

Less than $12

Carmen Carménère Reserva 2011
Colchagua Valley, Chile $11.45

A fruity aromatic red with pure blackberry and black currant fruit aromas and flavours. It is great value with a degree of elegance not common for such an inexpensive wine. There is some complexity to the fruit with cedar, tobacco and white pepper spice in the mix. Well balanced and juicy with good to very good length. Best 2013 to 2015.

Carmen Carmenere Reserva 2011

Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2012
Casablanca Valley, Chile $11.95

An oaked chardonnay with a creamy lively palate, made in a Burgundian style. Expect aromas of melon, oak spice and lemon with toffee notes. It is very smooth on the palate with soft acidity which keeps it feeling light. It finishes dry and a little bitter with very good length. Try with white meats, creamy cheeses and seafood. Don’t overchill.

Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2012

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 for immediate access to 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


Red Knot Shiraz

Chilean Wine Festival - Oct 8