Top Values at the LCBO (May 2021)

Values keep getting better

by Steve Thurlow

Today, as I started to prepare this report, I was maybe a little blue. Understandable, I guess, given the continuing pandemic and the current health care crisis we are facing.

However while updating the Top50 List and then choosing 12 wines off the list to highlight, I became enthused by what I was finding and realized our good fortune in having such a great selection of wines in our stores.

Since I started writing about wine more than 20 years ago, I have focused on wines that are readily available and among those, the wines that offer the best value. In 2001, some of you will remember, the shelves held many cheap bad wines, so it was fairly easy to select the best, inexpensive wines.

In Aug 2010, I formalized the selection process by choosing my first WineAlign Top50 Best Values at LCBO, using mathematical techniques, so as to be consistent and to also have the ability to fairly compare the value of a 91 point wine with an 86 point one. I update that list every month to include new wines that I have tasted and to account for the LCBO discounts applicable for the upcoming period.

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These days there are thankfully very few bad wines in our stores, so the process of finding the best value ones is a little more difficult, but the techniques still work. Moreover, what you now get for the same money is so much better.

Today I can tell you about 12 lovely wines that are all less than $15. I assure you that you will drink great wine, and will save money, by reading on.

Nine of these wines joined the Top50 Best Values List this month, which includes some new vintages of long standing favourites.

Among the wines in today’s report are:

  • 7 wines less than $12
  • All 12 wines are less than $15.
  • Seven discounted wines; most by $2.
  • Two Vintages Essentials.
  • All wines (except one) scored 87 or more.

So mask up and venture out to visit an LCBO store and pick up some of the highlighted wines. Though I have only chosen below 6 whites and 6 reds, I do encourage you to consult my entire Top50 Best Values List which includes 6 great value Vintages Essentials.

The current promotional period runs until May 23rd 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.


Casal Thaulero Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Terre Di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy ($8.45 was $9.45)

The 2018 vintage is a step up from the 2017 vintage of this balanced, dry red. There is surely a lot going on for the money. It is mid-weight with a nose of red and black cherry fruit with some herbal and mild spice notes. The palate is smooth with the fruit well balanced by soft tannin and lively acidity. Good focus. It finishes fruity and dry so can be enjoyed on its own, but will be better with food like meaty pasta sauces or grilled meats or mature cheese. Good to very good length.

Fonseca Periquita 2019, Peninsula De Setubal, Portugal ($9.35)
New to Top50

2019 is another good vintage of this inexpensive, juicy red. They claim that it was the first red table wine ever to be bottled in Portugal in 1850. It comes from vineyards in the Setubal Peninsula near Lisbon as usual. It has been at the LCBO for ever and is made from the native grape castello frances. Expect aromas of black and red cherry fruit with dusty and mineral tones with a hint of tobacco. The flavour depth and complexity are good for the money, as is the balance. A lot going on for less than $10. Try with pizza, burgers or mature hard cheese.

Trapiche Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Mendoza, Argentina ($11.45 was $12.95)

This is an elegant cabernet with ripe, but not overripe, fruit that is finely balanced with complex aromas of blackcurrant and black cherry fruit with lemon, thyme and dark chocolate and a hint of black olive. The juicy mid-weight palate is vibrant with finely divided tannin and soft, lemony acidity. Very good to excellent length. Try with roast or BBQ meats or mature cheese. There is a lot going on here. Very classy. Best 2021 to 2025.

Root: 1 Carmenère 2018, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($12.20 was $14.20)

The Root: 1 wines are made by Ventisquero in Chile’s Colchagua Valley. Root 1 refers to the fact that most of Chile’s vineyards are planted on ungrafted rootstocks. Over the last ten years or so, Chilean wine growers and wine makers have worked out how to make good wines from this late ripening grape. This is a ripe, clean carmenere with aromas of red cherry and raspberry fruit with dill, thyme, pine cone and oak spice notes. It is smooth with fine chalky tannin on the finish. Well balanced and nicely vibrant. Very good length.

Monte Antico 2015, Toscana, Italy ($13.95 was $15.95)
New to Top50

Cabernet sauvignon and merlot represent just 15% in this modern styled red blend with sangiovese from Tuscany. It is soft and approachable but has enough structure for mildly flavoured meats and cheese. Expect aromas of raspberry, strawberry and cherry fruit with mild oak spice plus some floral and leather hints. It is mid-weight and juicy with ripe fruit and is lively, yet there is just enough tannic grip on the finish to keep it balanced. An easy drinking red that would be good on its own.

Château de Gourgazaud Minervois Cuvée Morgane 2018, Minervois, Languedoc, France ($14.10)
New to Top50

This is a dark, ruby red from the south of France that has been delivering quality and value for a couple of decades. Recently it has become more elegant less rustic and more fragrant like the 2018. The nose shows blackberry and pomegranate fruit with red grapefruit plus sweet dried herbs and floral tones. It is velvety smooth with soft acidity and mild tannin. Perfectly balanced with a lingering dry fruity finish. Very good length.


Pasqua Soave 2019 (1500ml), Veneto, Italy ($15.15 was $16.65- i.e $7.60 per 750ml)
New to Top50

Soave is such a food friendly white wine and this is so inexpensive. (Since it comes in a 1500ml bottle you may need some friends to help consume it.) Expect delicate aromas of apple/pear fruit with some mineral and floral tones. The palate is pure, fresh and lively with some vibrant acidity for balance. It is dry with a clean, fresh finish. Very good length. Amazing value. Serve with creamy pasta sauces, seafood or chicken dishes.

Periquita White 2018, Peninsula De Setubal, Portugal ($9.35)
New to Top50

Sauvignon blanc has been added to this blend of viognier, verdelho and viosinho (an indigenous grape) in the 2018 vintage. The nose is fragrant with aromas of melon and green plum fruit with floral and sweet herbal tones and a hint of lemon marmalade. The well balanced palate has lots of flavour and is creamy smooth with some fruit sweetness, yet it finishes dry with very good length. Super value. Enjoy with mildly flavoured seafood. Don’t over-chill.

Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2020, Leyda Valley, Chile ($10.95 was $12.95)
New to Top50

This is a classy, well balanced and varietally correct sauvignon from Chile’s Leyda Valley, a cool coastal region that is now recognized as one of the best places in Chile for fresh and lively sauvignons. The nose shows fragrant aromas of white peach, grapefruit and passion fruit with peppermint and white pepper notes. It is mid-weight and very smooth with a good depth of flavour and just enough sweetness to balance the acidity. Very good length. Try with seafood, creamy cheese or mildly flavoured chicken dishes.

Trapiche Reserve Pinot Grigio 2019, Argentina ($11.45 was $12.95)
New to Top50

This pure and very drinkable grigio is well-priced with an aromatic floral nose of white peach with baked lemon, mango and sweet basil, or so appealing. There is a mineral tone to the dry light to mid-weight palate which is well balanced with vibrant acidity and very good length. There is a lot going on here. Try with creamy pasta sauces or mildly spicy Asian cuisine.

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava, Spain ($13.95 was $15.95)
New to Top50

This bubbly is great for receptions as an aperitif. Expect a fresh nose of grapefruit, mineral and pear with an elegant delicate soft mousse and a long, lingering finish of apple pear fruit. Lots of flavour and super creamy texture. Well balanced with very good length.

Casas Del Bosque Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Casablanca Valley, Chile ($14.95)
New to Top50

The new 2020 vintage is a little softer with more elegance than recent vintages. I love the creamy texture to the palate, maybe due to extended lees contact, with a good depth of flavour and mouthwatering acidity. The nose shows varietally correct delicate aromas of green melon and lime fruit with peapod, nettles plus hints of tropical fruit. The palate is well balanced with just enough fruit sweetness to balance the acidity. Very good length. Don’t over-chill and enjoy with seafood or mildly flavoured chicken or cheese dishes.

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

Today’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 two 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 wines under the Wine tab on WineAlign.)

  • On Sale (LTO’s or Limited Time Offers): Every four weeks the LCBO discounts around 130 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.
  • Steve’s Top 50: Wines that have moved onto my Top 50 Best Values this month. This is an on-going WineAlign selection that mathematically calculates value by comparing the price and rating of all the wines. 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.

Stay safe and healthy and self-isolated for just a little while longer.

Steve Thurlow

Top 50 Value Wines
Top 20 Under $20
Wines on Limited Time Offer

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