Top 20 under $20 at the LCBO (January)

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

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

I hope you had a good holiday. Please accept my best wishes for 2015. January is the month when value wine shopping is most important, since many of you will be cutting back on the grand crus and looking for great wines at modest prices for the next little while. So I am happy to report that there are six new wines on the Top 50 for you to try.

Additionally six wines, already on the list, have Bonus Air Miles (BAMs) that apply or are on sale (LTO), making these wines even more attractive for the next four weeks or so; all this will surely make your January drinking more affordable.

The Top 20 under $20 are best buys among the 1600 or so wines in LCBO Wines and the Vintages Essentials Collection. I select most from wines on Steve’s Top 50, a standing WineAlign list based on quality/price ratio. You can read below in detail how the Top 50 works, but it does fluctuate as new wines arrive and as discounts show up through Limited Time Offers (LTOs).

The discount period runs until February 1st. So don’t hesitate. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you that there were stocks available, when we published, of every wine that I highlight.

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 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!


Esporao Alandra Red 2013, Alentejo, Portugal $7.70
TOP50JANUARY – A ripe fruity vibrant red with a fragrant nose of blackberry and blackcurrant fruit with some floral and spicy notes. Try with salty fatty meats like salami or soft creamy cheese like brie.

Trapiche Astica Merlot Malbec 2014, Cuyo, Argentina $7.95
NEW TO TOP50 – A well-balanced fruity red with more complexity than one might expect for such an inexpensive wine.

Casal Thaulero Sangiovese 2012, Terre Di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy $7.75 plus 3BAMs
TOP50JANUARY – Super value red that’s midweight pure and vibrant. Try with meaty pizza.

Esporao Alandra Red 2013 Trapiche Astica Merlot Malbec 2014Casal Thaulero Sangiovese 2012Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2011Fonseca Periquita 2012

Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2011 Chile $8.45 plus 4BAMs
TOP50JANUARY – An appealing easy drinking Bordeaux style blend that’s balanced for food. Try with roast beef.

Fonseca Periquita 2012, Peninsula De Setubal, Portugal $8.95 plus 4BAMs
TOP50JANUARY – A great value staple Portuguese red that’s a little spicy with the fruit persisting well on the finish. Try with grilled lamb cutlets.

BV Coastal Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, California, USA $8.95 was $10.95
NEW TO TOP50 – Great value with a soft floral peppery nose. Lightly chill this well-balanced fruity cabernet and enjoy with a rack of lamb.

Trapiche Malbec 2014, Mendoza, Argentina $9.95 plus 4BAMs
A finely balanced pure fruity red. Try with meaty pasta sauces, grilled sausages or pizza

Ogier Cotes Du Ventoux Red 2013 $11.95 plus 6BAMs
A peppery red with bright cherry fruit that’s midweight with soft tannin and zesty fresh dry finish. Try with cheesy pizza.

BV Coastal Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2011Trapiche Malbec 2014Ogier Cotes Du Ventoux Red 2013Trapiche Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013clone_wine_49584_web

Trapiche Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Mendoza, Argentina $11.95
NEW TO TOP50 – An opaque elegant and ripe (but not overripe) cabernet with a good acid and tannin structure. Try with a steak.

Trapiche Reserve Syrah 2013, Mendoza, Argentina $11.95
NEW TO TOP50 – Beautiful lifted aromas of blueberry and blackberry fruit with herbal and well-integrated oak spice lead to a velvety smooth palate. Complex and elegant. Try with grilled meats or mature cheddar.

Cusumano Nero d’Avola 2013, Sicily, Italy $11.95 plus 4BAMs
A delicious Sicilian red with soft zesty lemony tone to the ripe blackberry and raspberry fruit aromas and flavours.

Montes Twins Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Colchagua Valley, Chile $12.90 plus 5BAMs
A soft juicy ripe red blend of 50% malbec with 50% cabernet sauvignon that’s fullbodied but feels lighter due to vibrant acidity. Try with grilled meats.

Cusumano Nero D'avola 2013Montes Twins Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon 2012Errazuriz Estate Pinot Noir 2013Taylor Fladgate First Estate Reserve Port

Errazuriz Estate Pinot Noir 2013, Aconcagua Valley, Chile $13.95 plus 8BAMs
NEW TO TOP50 – This is a delicious Chilean pinot with a good depth of colour, fragrant nose and a well-balanced complex palate.  Try with seared tuna.

Taylor Fladgate First Estate Reserve Port, Douro Valley, Portugal $16.50 plus 5BAMs
A very good reserve port made from fruit from several recent vintages. It is not too sweet and is thick with fruit. Try with dark chocolate desserts, nuts or blue cheese.


K W V Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2014, Western Cape, South Africa $7.95 was $9.45
TOP50JANUARY – Pinot grigio lovers should try this wine with a good depth of flavour and a fresh fruity nose at an amazingly low price.

Trapiche Astica Sauvignon Semillon 2014, Cuyo, Argentina $7.95
NEW TO TOP50 – The 2014 vintage arrived recently and it’s very good as usual with a pure fresh nose and soft creamy palate. Try with cheesy pasta sauces or seafood pizza.

Periquita White 2013 Portugal $8.95 plus 4BAMs
TOP50JANUARY – This blend of three white grapes is a delicious delicate wine for seafood and mildly flavoured chicken dishes.

K W V Contemporary Collection Chenin Blanc 2014Trapiche Astica Sauvignon Semillon 2014Periquita White 2013Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2013Montgras Amaral Sauvignon Blanc 2014Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los Arcos

Santa Carolina Chardonnay Reserva 2013, Casablanca Valley, Chile $9.95 was $11.95
TOP50JANUARY – Lemony zesty fresh acidity balances the bold flavours with the oak supported by the intensity of the fruit. Quite delicious.

Montgras Amaral Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Leyda Valley, Chile $13.85 plus 8BAMs
The Leyda Valley is fast proving to be the hot spot for great sauvignon blanc. Lovely lifted aromas of passion fruit and guava with ginger, lavender, and lemon notes lead to a juicy creamy palate. Try with sauteed seafood.

Lustau Amontillado Solera Reserva Los Arcos, Jerez, Spain $14.85
A complex dry white with beautiful nutty, citrus, toasty aromas. Perfectly balanced, would be excellent with roast turkey and a rich brown gravy.

How does a wine get selected for the Top 20 under $20.

There are three ways that a wine gets into this monthly report of wines that are always in the stores either on the LCBO “General List” or the VINTAGES Essential Collection.

– On Sale (LTO’s or Limited Time Offers): Every four weeks the LCBO discounts around 200 wines  I have looked through the current batch and have highlighted some of my favourites that offer better value at present…. so stock up now.

– Bonus Air Miles (BAM’s): If you collect Air Miles then you will be getting Bonus Air Miles on another 150 or so wines…a few of these have a special appeal for a while.

– Steve’s Top 50: Wines that have moved onto my Top 50 Best Values this month. This is on an-on going WineAlign selection (Top 50,) 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 now.

Steve Top50The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

There are another 37 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 (Click on Wine =>Top 50 Value Wines to be taken directly to the list), 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.

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 January
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 60 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!


 La Posta Armando Bonarda 2013