Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (May 2014)

Your Guide to the Best Values, Limited Time Offers and Bonus Air Miles selections at the LCBO

By Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

Welcome to an expanded monthly guide to the best buys on the LCBO general list – 20 wines under $20 that will keep you well stocked on value bottles for the month.

There are three ways that I will be unearthing these values for your consideration.  As always, there will be a selection that have just moved into Steve’s Top 50.  This is an on-going WineAlign report that mathematically calculates value by comparing the price and rating of all the wines on the LCBO General List. You can access the report any time, and read more about it at the end of this article.

But there is more!  The Top 20 under $20 will also highlight the best buys under $20 that have been discounted or put on sale during LCBO promotions called LTOs, or Limited Time Offers. LTOs are only “on sale” for about one month.  This 20 under $20 report will be timed for publication two to three days after the LTO items are announced by the LCBO.

airmilesAnd third, we will also be considering wines that are featured in the Bonus Air Miles program during the given month.  There are no direct price reductions with BAMs, but obviously Air Miles collectors will benefit monetarily by buying these wines.

So check out my first 20 below, and then use WineAlign to create and print your list of those available at your local store.  Furthermore, thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you that there were decent stocks available when we published.

On Sale This Month (LTOs and BAMs)

Here are the best of the best among the Limited Time Offers and Bonus Air Miles selections this month. They are on sale until May 24th, so don’t dally!


K W V Roodeberg 2011Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2013Cusumano Nero D'avola 2012Cusumano Nero D’Avola 2012, Sicily, Italy  $9.85 (was $10.85)

This mid-weight fruity Sicilian red is always good value. The nose shows aromas of blackberry and black cherry fruit with some dried herbal tones. It is juicy with enough tannin for structure and acidity for liveliness. Very good length with a lemony dry finish and some fine tannin to give a little grip. Try with roast or BBQ meats or hard mature cheeses. Best 2014 to 2016.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir, Central Valley, Chile $9.95  (was $10.95)

You do not often find pinot noir for less than $10. There is nothing to compete with this for quality and varietal authenticity. Expect aromas of bright red cherry and raspberry fruit with hints of oak and some earthy tones. It is midweight with nice balancing acidity and soft tannin. Good to very good length. Try with grilled lamb cutlets. Best 2014 to 2017.

KWV Roodeberg 2011 Western Cape, South Africa $12.40 (6 BAM)

This Cape classic has been good value for decades on the shelves at the LCBO. It’s medium to full bodied, well balanced and quite complex. It reminds me of a French northern Rhône red with blackberry and cassis fruit, pepper, with herbal and mineral tones. Good to very good length and good focus make thus a dependable buy; try with a steak. Best 2014 to 2018.

Cousiño Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2010Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2011Cousiño Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Maipo Valley, Chile $16.10  (8 BAM)

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.

Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2011, Mendoza, Argentina $12.95  (was $14.95)

A big fruity malbec with mulberry and blackberry fruit aromas, hints of oak plus floral and herbal tones, plus some dark chocolate. It’s full bodied, fairly dense, creamy and lively. Focus is well maintained on to the finish. Try with rich game or roast meat dishes. Very good to excellent length. Best 2014 to 2018.


Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2013Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2013Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile $8.95 (was $9.95)

This is a beautiful lightweight viognier with tropical fruit aromas with tangerine blossom, peach and baked apple fruit with spice and nutty tones. It is light to midweight with the fruit well balanced by vibrant acidity. Great focus and very good length with a long fruity finish. It’s terrific value. Enjoy on its own lightly chilled with party nibbles or at the table with poultry dishes or sautéed seafood.

Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2013, Central Valley, Chile $9.95 (4 BAM)

You get a lot of wine for your money with this juicy ripe sauvignon. It had a lively fruity palate with the passion fruit and pear fruit flavours finely balanced by soft lemony acidity. Very good length. Expect mild aromas of lime and melon fruit with mineral tones. Try with oysters or fresh goats cheese salad.

Deinhard Green Label Riesling, Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany $10.45 (was $11.95)

Consistently good value the 2012 is again a well-made riesling at a good price. It is a typical Mosel riesling with aromas of melon fruit with lemon with floral and honey tones. It is off dry with the fruit nicely supported by racy lemony acidity. It finishes dry. Well balanced with good length. Try with mildly flavoured seafood.

Alvear Medium Dry, Montilla, Spain $11.80 (5 BAM)

Amazing value here. This wine is a beautiful golden brown with orange highlights. It is just off dry with the sweetness very well counter-balanced by the acidity that runs throughout the palate. The nose shows fruit cake aromas with nutty tones which are reflected on the palate. It is complex, well balanced and has a fairly tight structure. Try with seared foie gras or sip it with mixed dried fruit and nuts. It is especially good with blue cheese when the wine’s slight sweetness nicely balances the bitterness from the blue bits in the cheese.

Chateau des Charmes 2011 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario $13.95 (4 BAM)

A juicy well made chardonnay with just enough oak maturation to add complexity and structure without adding too much unnecessary flavour. Expect aromas of apple and pineapple fruit with lemon, salt and butter tones plus subtle oak spice. It is midweight and finely balanced with very good to excellent length. Great value. Best 2014 to 2016. Try with sautéed veal in a lemon butter sauce.

Brumont Gros Manseng Sauvignon 2012, Cote de Gascogne, France  $11.95 (was $12.95)

An interesting blend of two white grapes from Alain Brumont in southwest France. The nose is herbaceous with dill and mild rosemary herbal notes mixed with lemon and melon fruit aromas. It is very fresh on the palate with the nose aromas reflected in the flavours. Well balanced it finishes dry. Needs food; try with sautéed seafood or vegetable stir fry.

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay 2012 $12.95  (was $14.95)

The 2012 is an especially good vintage for this chardonnay with a lot of flavour and some complexity. It is very well balanced with abundant racy acidity to freshen and lighten the palate. Expect aromas of pineapple, peach, baked lemon and resin with mineral tones. The palate is quite full, creamy smooth with a nice vibrant feel and very good to excellent length. The fruit flavours persist well on the finish. Try with roast pork or sautéed veal.

Deinhard Green Label Riesling 2012  Alvear Medium Dry  Château Des Charmes Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2011  Brumont Gros Manseng Sauvignon 2012 Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay 2012

New to Steve’s Top 50

Here are other great value bottles that have joined my Top 50 at the LCBO this month.


Casal Thaulero Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Terre di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy $7.45

A well balanced dry red that’s super value for every day dining. It is midweight with 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. Best enjoyed with food like meaty pizza or bbq meats. Good to very good length. Best 2014 to 2016.

Nederburg Winemaster's Reserve ShirazCasal Thaulero Sangiovese 2012Casal Thaulero Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2012Casal Thaulero Sangiovese 2012, Terre di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy $7.45

2012 is another good vintage for this super value red from the south of Italy. Expect a mild nose of black cherry fruit with herbal and spice tones. It is midweight, fruity pure and vibrant with a fine balance with some soft dry tannin on the finish. Good length and focus. Enjoy with red meats or mature cheddar. Best 2014 to 2016.

Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve Shiraz 2012, Western Cape, South Africa $11.45

This is such excellent value for a structured and very drinkable shiraz. Expect fresh aromas of black cherry and blackberry fruit with black pepper, mild oak spice and prune. It is full bodied yet feels fresh and light on the palate due to the minerality and vibrant acidity. Very good length. Try with a steak. Best 2014 to 2017.

Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Shiraz Rosé 2013, Chile, $11.85

A delicate fruity rose that’s well balanced with mild fragrant aromas of cherry ice cream with some floral notes. The palate is juicy with the delicate fruit nicely balanced by soft acid. Very good length. Try with grilled salmon. Best 2014 to 2015.

Concha Y Toro Casillero Del Diablo Shiraz RoséTrapiche Malbec Reserve 2012The Wolftrap Syrah-Mourvèdre-Viognier 2013Trapiche Malbec Reserve 2012, Mendoza Argentina, $11.95

A fruity, structured wine with intense flavours and good balance that is suited for fine dining with robust roast meats despite its modest price. Expect aromas of fine black cherry, with forest floor accents, mild oak spice, and some herbal notes for freshness. Medium bodied and juicy with soft mature tannin well integrated acidity delivering a gentle velvety smooth palate. Good to very good length.

The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier 2013, Western Cape South Africa $13.95

This wine captures each vintage the essence of a Rhone red. It is made mostly from syrah with about 30% mourvèdre and a splash of viognier. There are no jammy tones and the palate is firm with acid and tannin for balance. The tannins are ripe which gives it structure for food balance. Expect earthy black cherry and bramble fruit aromas with some smoke and black pepper spice and hints of dark chocolate. The palate is full-bodied and the length is very good to excellent. Try with BBQ meats.


Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Riesling 2011Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2012Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2012, Livermore Valley, California, USA $16.95

The elegant 2012 vintage continues the trend of less oak in this wine so the fruit shows through beautifully on both nose and palate. I like this modern Californian chardonnay very much. Expect aromas of apple with floral pear, lemon and soft oak spice with toffee and nutty notes. It is creamy smooth on the palate with lots of flavour and very good length Try with tempura or sautéed seafood. Best 2014 to 2016.

Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Riesling 2011, VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario $19.95

This is very fine riesling from one of the oldest riesling vineyards in Canada. It has a delightful mineral fresh apple pear fruit nose with lemon some floral complexity. It is midweight almost off dry with lots of flavour and excellent length. Very stately and quite powerful. This will gain in complexity with a few more years in the cellar. Try with roast poultry or pork or a mildy spicy Thai dish. Best 2014 to 2020.

The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

Steve's Top Value WinesThere are another 39 wines on the Top 50 list so if you did not find all you need above for your current needs dip into the Top 50 LCBO and Vintages Essentials wines. There will surely be something inexpensive that suits your taste.

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. I review the list every month to include newly listed and recently tasted vintages of current listings as well as monitoring the value of those put on sale for a limited time.

Before value wine shopping remember to consult the Top 50, 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 us. And if you think our reviews are accurate, send us some feedback since it’s good to hear that you agree with us.

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.

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

Top 20 Under $20 for May
Top 50 Value Wines


Editors Note: You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 30 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!