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.

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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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