Wines for Gifting and Drinking at the LCBO (December 2016)

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

Steve Thurlow

Steve Thurlow

The LCBO stores will be very busy over the next couple of weeks. So here’s some help for buying wine for gifts and for drinking over the holidays. There are many great deals this month with six wines joining my Top50 Best Values List with discounts (LTOs) of up to $3. Another thirteen wines on the list have Bonus Air Miles (BAMs) and there are a couple of delisted wines at almost half price.

I have updated my Top50 list and have selected eleven wines to highlight for you off the new list, most of which joined the list this month.

Also I recently tasted all of the wines in holiday gift packs at the LCBO. Unfortunately there was little to excite me since I am a value shopper, not the best approach to evaluate bling, since it is the contents of the bottles that interests me. However two gift packs did attract my attention and I start my report below with these plus another three wines that would make great gifts.

Among the thirteen wines in today’s report there are:
• Eight wines heavily discounted; some by more than 40%
• Two 91 point and four 90 point wines
• Two great holiday gift-packs
• Three wines for less than $10
• Many Top50 wines with BAMs

The current promotional period runs until January 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.

If you are still looking for the perfect gift for the wine lover on your list we can help you. Many people regard Zalto as the world’s finest stemware.  We use Zalto glasses in the WineAlign offices and we absolutely love them.  We’ve negotiated a deal that will allow you to save the equivalent of the HST until December 15th. That’s a saving of almost $50 on a Universal six pack. This offer includes FREE shipping within Canada for delivery in time for Christmas. You need to act now to take advantage of this special offer.


Holiday Gifts

Taittinger Champagne Nocturne, France ($65.95) GiftPack: Champagne is always a nice gift to receive and this is a very drinkable one in a stunning razzle dazzle gift pack. It is classy and elegant and very approachable. It is off-dry, so some Champagne aficionados will say that it is too sweet. I agree the dosage is high but this is a party wine to be enjoyed on its own and a little sweetness helps.

Veuve Clicquot Brut, Champagne, France ($70.60) or Veuve Clicquot Brut with Ice Jacket ($70.60) GiftPack: A light soft Champagne with an elegant mousse. It is very soft and quite dry so chill well and enjoy as an aperitif with pastry nibbles. Very good length. Since the beautiful ice jacket version is the same price, buy it this way while you can and get a nice reusable ice jacket for your next bottle of bubbly.

Taittinger Champagne NocturneVeuve Clicquot BrutVeuve Clicquot Icejacket

Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage 2011, Douro Superior, Portugal ($15.85 was $18.10) NewtoTop50: This rich powerful port would make a nice gift to a chocolate lover. From the superb 2011 vintage it is great value for less than $16 and who cannot love the full bodied  rich sweet blackberry fruit that is so finely balanced by soft acidity.

Malivoire Chardonnay 2014, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($15.95 was $17.95) NewtoTop50, Vintages Essential: Chardonnay lovers will be so pleased to get this as a gift and it comes from Ontario, where some really great chardonnay is being made these days. I love the beautiful soft creamy texture with its zesty acidity. It is finely balanced and midweight with the fruit toned by minerality on the finish. Very good length.

Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage 2011Malivoire Chardonnay 2014Brancott Estate Letter Series B Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Brancott Estate Letter Series B Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Marlborough, New Zealand ($16.95 was $19.95) NewtoTop50: This is an elegant fresh creamy sauvignon perfect for cheese and seafood dishes. The mouthwatering grapefruit acidity is finely balanced by just enough fruit sweetness making it so appealing. I would be delighted to get this as a gift this Christmas.


K W V Paarl Cape Ruby, South Africa ($7.65 was $9.85) Top50December, Delisted: An everyday sipping ruby “port style” wine. The nose shows prune and raisin fruit with some floral and mocha hints. It is medium sweet well balanced with decent length. Try with blue cheese, semi-sweet dark chocolate or dried fruit and nuts. Over 600 bottles left.

Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Rapel Valley, Chile ($8.95 + 5BAMs) Top50December: This is a pure youthful cabernet that is fresh and clean with a good depth of flavour, decent structure and very good length. It is not that complex but it is very drinkable with mild aromas of black cherry fruit with spicy and earthy tones. Try with grilled meats.

K W V Paarl Cape RubySanta Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon 2015Anciano Gran Reserva Tempranillo 2007Trapiche Malbec Reserve 2015Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Port 2011

Anciano Gran Reserva Tempranillo 2007, Valdepenas, Spain ($10.95 was $12.95) NewtoTop50: This is a lovely mature well balanced red with some elegance and a fine structure for an amazingly low price. The palate is balanced with soft acidity and fine mature tannin. This is for fine dining. Try with roast lamb.

Trapiche Malbec Reserve 2015, Mendoza, Argentina ($11.45 was $12.45) NewtoTop50: A fruity structured malbec with aromas of blackberry, mild oak spice and plum with some herbal notes for freshness. Medium bodied with a smooth dry mature palate with mild tannin. Very good length. Try  a meaty casserole.

Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2011, Douro Valley, Portugal ($17.25) NewtoTop50: The 2011 is great vintage with a delicacy to the ripe fruit on nose and palate. It shows a beautiful fragrant nose. It’s full-bodied velvety smooth, with a soft, creamy texture yet light on the palate. Very good to excellent length. Finely balanced with a soft elegant finish despite the 20% alcohol.


Trapiche Extravaganza White Blend 2015 Mendoza, Argentina ($8.95 was $14.95) Top50December, Delisted: This blend of the native torrontes grape with chardonnay is very appealing with lifted tropical fruit aromas and a rich creamy palate. Chill just a little and try with roast pork or veal with a fruity sauce. Over 3000 bottles remain.

Trapiche Extravaganza White Blend 2015Yalumba The Y Series Viognier 2015Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los Arcos

Yalumba The Y Series Viognier 2015, South Australia ($13.95 + 6BAMs) NewtoTop50: Expect complex aromas of ginger, anise and lemon marmalade mixed in with the apricot and peach fruit. It is quite full on the palate with the richness nicely balanced by firm acidity. Excellent length. Try with sushi or mildly spicy Asian cuisine.

Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los Arcos, Spain ($15.60 + 6BAMs) Top50December: This complex mature white is a classic amontillado with its nutty almond, lemon, bread, and salty ham aromas. The 18.5% alcohol is superbly balanced with barely a hint of alcohol heat on the finish. It is very smooth with the dry, rich intensely flavoured palate lingering for ever. Excellent length. Roast turkey with a rich brown gravy or sautéed veal with mushrooms would both work well.


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

Steve's Top Value WinesToday’s report pulls best buys from Steve’s Top 50 which is a standing WineAlign list based on quality/price ratio of the 1600 or so wines in LCBO Wines and the VINTAGES Essentials Collection. 

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. (You can access these lists under the Wine tab on WineAlign.)

• 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 that mathematically calculates value by comparing the price and rating of all the wines on the LCBO General List. 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 30 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!


Foss Marai Prosecco