Top Values at the LCBO (February 2016)

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

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

I am writing to you from Marlborough in New Zealand, where I am attending the first ever International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration. As many of you know, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is a distinct, very drinkable, usually unoaked white wine that has been recognised all over the world for its uniqueness. It has for at least a decade now been the benchmark by which most producers measure their savvys, as the grape is fondly referred to downunder. I will write more about my trip to New Zealand in March when I get home.

I am not surprised that there a nine new wines on the Top 50 list this month. So much wine is sold in the last six weeks of every year that many new vintages always arrive about now. Some of the new vintages I tasted were better and some not so good, so wines join the list and others fall off. Anyway I am delighted to have found so many new great values at the LCBO this month.

The wines featured are best buys among the 1600 or so wines in LCBO Wines and the Vintages Essentials Collection which I select 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 28th, 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!

A Dozen Best Value Wines

Citra Sangiovese Terre di Chieti 2014 Abruzzo Italy ($7.95 + 4 BAM) – This red is a little rustic with a savoury herbal nose. Try with mildly flavoured red meat dishes or a mild hard cheese like cheddar.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2014, Central Valley, Chile ($10.95) New to the Top 50 – Probably the best value pinot in the LCBO. It has classic aromas and  is fresh on nose and palate. Lively red berry fruit and a long lingering finish make it very appealing.

Citra Sangiovese Terre di Chieti 2014Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2014 Cono Sur Sparkling Pinot Noir Rose Montecillo Crianza 2010

Cono Sur Sparkling Pinot Noir Rose, Bio Bio Valley, Chile ($11.95 was $13.95) New to the Top 50 – This is my pink bubbly Valentines pick. It is a fawn pink sparkling rose made from pinot noir brimming with aromas and has a delicate creamy dry palate. Very good length with long lasting fine bubbles. Chill well and enjoy on its own.

Montecillo Crianza 2010 Rioja Spain ($12.45 was $14.95) New to the Top 50 – With its gorgeous classy red label this is consistently a great, easy-to-drink, food balanced red that is traditionally styled. Very good length. Try with a lamb or pork casserole.

Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2014, Swartland, South Africa ($13.95 was $14.95) New to the Top 50, VINTAGES Essentials – Already huge value so even better at $1 off. This is a lively savoury red brimming with fruit yet balanced with some elegance. Try with smoked or grilled meats.

Cave Spring Cabernet Merlot 2013, VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario ($14.95 was $15.95) New to the Top 50 – This is an excellent vintage for this midweight well balanced red with some elegance. This comes from the fine acid balance not often found in such an inexpensive wine.

Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2014 Cave Spring Cabernet Merlot 2013 Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Port 2009 Firestone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2009, Douro Valley, Portugal ($16.95) New to the Top 50 – A beautiful fragrant quite fresh LBV that’s full-bodied, velvety smooth and finely balanced with the alcohol well tamed and integrated. Enjoy on its own or with dark chocolate and nuts.

Firestone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Santa Ynez Valley, California USA ($16.90 was $19.90) – Lots of depth, flavour and complexity for a wine at this price; a good deal normally it’s now stunning value at $3 off. Elegant and well balanced. Try with roast beef.

Are You Game? Chardonnay 2012 Victoria Australia ($8.75 was $14.95) Delisted – A soft, elegant, cool climate chardonnay with only a hint of oak. It’s midweight and finely balanced. Try with sautéed seafood. Stores are running out quickly.

Stoneleigh Chardonnay 2014 Marlborough, New Zealand ($9.95 was $15.45) New to the Top 50, Delisted – I am saddened to see this delisted since it is a very fine, well balanced, delicious chardonnay with just a touch of oak and lots of aroma and flavour. Under 1000 bottles left, so hurry before they are all gone.

Are You Game? Chardonnay 2012Stoneleigh Chardonnay 2014Chateau D' Eternes Saumur Brut Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava

Chateau d’Eternes Saumur Brut, Loire Valley France ($14.95) New to the Top 50 – This is a very classy sparkling wine at a great price that is made using the traditional method from chenin blanc and chardonnay. A great aperitif but also a wine for pairing with delicate seafood dishes.

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava Spain ($13.95 was $14.95) New to the Top 50 – This batch of this non-vintage classy sparkling wine is especially good with its fresh nose, elegant delicate soft mousse and long lingering finish. Lots of flavour and super creamy texture. A great aperitif.

How does a wine get selected for the Top Value Report:

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 Top50 Best Values this month. This is on an-on going WineAlign selection 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.

The Rest of Steve’s Top 50

Steve's Top Value WinesIn addition to the wines mentioned above, there are another 38 wines on the Top 50 list this month. So if you did not find all you need in this report, 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. 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 50 Value Wines
Wines on Limited Time Offer
Wines with Bonus Air Miles

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!


Gabbiano Chianti Classico 2013