Top Values at the LCBO (July 2021)

Amazing Wine Values From Chile

by Steve Thurlow

Thirteen of the wines on this month’s Top50 values at the LCBO list come from Chile. Moreover of those 13, ten scored 89+.

Wines from Chile have always been cheap ever since they first arrived at the LCBO in quantity in the late 80s. They have largely remained inexpensive but the quality has been steadily improving as they developed the most suitable vineyard sites for each variety throughout the country.

The Maipo Valley, close to Santiago, is still the source for many of the best cabernet sauvignons as it has been for a century or so. However, the cool-loving grape varieties now come from coastal regions and other varieties are grown on the most favourable soils in the most suitable climates.

Most of Chile’s vineyards are farmed sustainably and many are certified organic. Rigorous bio-security and its geographical isolation have kept out the dreaded phylloxera pest that destroyed Europe’s vineyards in the late 19th century, so that many vines are ungrafted, growing on their own roots.

Some of the world’s most space-age wineries can be found here and Chile’s winemakers are well trained and have managed to work out how to make fantastic wines from difficult varieties like carmenere, which was abandoned by French winemakers.

All this has contributed to its enviable position, for wine lovers at least, as a wine producer of choice for value.

I have chosen 12 wines from the Top50 Best Values at LCBO list to highlight this month. All 12 joined the list this month which has been updated to include new wines that I have tasted and to account for the LCBO discounts applicable for the upcoming period.


So I assure you that you will drink great wine and will save money by reading on and by paying special attention to the four wines that are from Chile.

Though I have only chosen below 12 wines, 2 whites plus 10 reds, four of which come from Chile, I do encourage you to consult my entire Top50 Best Values List which includes 10 more wines from there.

Among the wines in today’s report about the Top50 :

  • 11 wines for less than $14.
  • Four discounted wines.
  • All wines below except one, scored 87 or more.

The current promotional period runs until July 18th, 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.


Pasqua Merlot 2019

Pasqua Merlot 2019 (1500 ml), Veneto, Italy ($15.10)
New to Top50
You get a lot for your money with this easy going midweight merlot provided you can handle the large bottle. It is a clean, lively light to midweight red with aromas of plum and cherry fruit with some herbal notes. It is dry and well balanced with a lingering dry finish. A versatile food wine. Try with pizza or meaty/cheesy pasta dishes. Good length.

Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2019

Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2019, Central Valley, Chile ($8.95)
New to Top50
This is like a typical Bordeaux blend with good balance and decent length with even some complexity. The nose shows red cherry and plum fruit with some spice and warm herbal tones, maybe oregano, plus a hint of beets. It is midweight, dry with soft acidity and fine, ripe tannin. Try with pizza or burgers.

Fish Hoek Shiraz 2017

Fish Hoek Shiraz 2017, Western Cape, South Africa ($9.00 was $10.00)
New to Top50
This is a very drinkable, well priced red from the Cape with aromas of blackberry and blueberry fruit, with some mild spice tones. It is clean, pure and fresh with a round, midweight palate and soft tannin and lemony acidity. Decent length. Great for the BBQ and for everyday sipping.

Callia Alta Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Callia Alta Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, San Juan, Argentina ($9.05 was $10.05)
New to Top50
This lovely, fruity, well balanced cabernet comes from San Juan, about 2 hours drive north of Mendoza City. Grown at high altitude, it is ripe but fresh with its midweight palate balanced by soft acidity and mild tannin. Expect aromas of raspberry and blackberry fruit with sweet herbal and jam notes. Good to very good length. Try with burgers or pizza.

Castaño Monastrell Organic 2020

Castaño Monastrell Organic 2020, Yecla, Spain ($10.80)
New to Top50
This wine from southeastern Spain is made from monastrell aka mourvèdre. It has a fine aromatic yet gentle nose of blueberry yoghurt with mild oak spice and hints of black pepper and tobacco. It is midweight and well balanced with soft acidity and mild tannin. For such an inexpensive wine, it has a lot of complexity and depth of flavour with a graceful lingering finish. Very good length. Chill lightly and enjoy on its own or with a wide range of meats and cheese. Very versatile.

Cono Sur Organic Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere Syrah 2019

Cono Sur Organic Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere Syrah 2019, Chile ($13.90)
New to Top50
Cono Sur has been gradually converting its vineyards in Chile to be organic for the last decade, so more of its wines are now organic, like this elegant and complex blend of cabernet sauvignon (43%) with carmenere (35%) and syrah (22%). The nose shows cassis and black cherry fruit with mint, cedar meaty syrah notes with mild oak spice. More European than New World stylistically. It is medium to full bodied with fine tannin and soft acidity for balance. Very good length. Classy and so inexpensive. Will benefit form medium term cellaring. Best 2021 to 2026. Enjoy with a steak.

Santa Carolina Merlot Reserva 2018

Santa Carolina Merlot Reserva 2018, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($13.95)
New to Top50
The 2018 is another good vintage of this very expressive merlot which nicely captures the smoothness, softness and fruit purity of the grape. Expect ripe and floral red cherry and plum notes with juniper and menthol hints plus some vanilla and oak spice notes. It is midweight, velvety smooth and round. Chill lightly and enjoy with roast meats or strongly flavoured cheese.

La Linda Private Selection Old Vines Malbec 2018

La Linda Private Selection Old Vines Malbec 2018, Mendoza, Argentina ($14.00 was $16.00)
New to Top50
This is a lovely, fragrant, deep ruby red wine with aromas of black and red cherry fruit with forest floor accents, violets and a hint of tobacco. The palate is smooth and dry with soft acidity and gentle tannin. Very good length and it finishes dry. Chill a little and enjoy with bbq meats or a steak.

Château De Gourgazaud Minervois Cuvée Morgane 2018

Château De Gourgazaud Minervois Cuvée Morgane 2018, Languedoc, France ($14.10)
New to Top50
Super value for 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, 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.

Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2019

Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2019, Mendoza, Argentina ($15.00)
New to Top50  
This is an elegant, fairly complex malbec that is very inexpensive. Expect black and red berry fruit aromas with floral and sweet herbal notes with dark chocolate and mild oak spice. It is full bodied, fairly dense and smooth with a lingering, dry, lemony finish. Very good focus and excellent length. Try with a steak or roast meats or strong mature cheese.


Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Western Cape, South Africa ($8.95 was $10.95)
New to Top50
2020 is the best vintage I can recall of this super-value brand that is quite classy for such an inexpensive wine. It is almost dry with a lively, juicy palate and just enough sweetness to balance the lemony acidity. The nose is fragrant with lemon, green apple and melon fruit with passionfruit and floral notes. The palate is vibrant and smooth with some richness and very good length. Very drinkable and so well priced.

Alvear Medium Dry

Alvear Medium Dry, Montilla Moriles, Spain ($13.80)
New to Top50
This wine is a beautiful golden brown with orange highlights. It is just off dry with the sweetness very well counter-balanced by the acidity that runs throughout the palate. The nose shows fruit cake aromas with baked orange and nutty tones which are reflected on the palate. It is complex, well balanced and has a fairly tight structure. Try with seared foie gras or sip it with mixed dried fruit and nuts. It is especially good with blue cheese when the sweetness nicely balances the bitterness from the blue parts.

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

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.

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

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