Top Values at the LCBO (August 2021)

Argentina’s value wines

by Steve Thurlow

Four of the wines on this month’s Top50 Best Values at LCBO  list come from Argentina. All scored 89+ and two of those joined the list due to $2 discounts this month.

Malbec is the darling grape that has made this country’s wine name in recent decades. Though cultivated in France, mostly in the Cahors region just south of Bordeaux, it is the Argentine version that has become so sought after.

Though I have only chosen 12 wines, 2 whites and 10 reds to feature in this report, two  of which come from Argentina, I do encourage you to consult my entire Top50 Best Values List which includes more wines from that country.

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


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

So read on to find out why Argentine wines are so popular and to see highlights from the list in this report:

  • All wines (except one) are $14 or less.
  • Ten discounted wines, several by $3
  • All wines below scored 87 or more
  • Three Vintages Essentials
  • One delist with limited inventory 

Argentine wine marketing has focused so much on malbec that one might not realize that other varieties are grown in Argentina. For example, too little attention is paid to cabernet sauvignon from the Uco Valley, in my opinion. You can also find excellent wines from pinot grigio, chardonnay pinot noir, merlot and the white indigenous grape torrontes, among others.

Most grapes are grown in some of the highest attitude vineyards in the world, typically around 3000 ft above sea level, though there are some in the north of the country in Salta province that are over 10,000 ft!

Generally speaking, the vineyards are in the foothills of the Andes mountains in desert-like conditions with little rainfall and are dependent on irrigation from glaciers in the mountains. Water is still plentiful and is controllable.

The high altitude and desert conditions lead to extreme diurnal temperature shifts. It can be over 30°C during the day and fall to 15°C at night. The vine can thus spend the day creating sugars and flavours and then rest during the cool night when acidity, aromas and flavours will be locked-in.

Low rainfall means few clouds and so vines are baked and dosed in ultraviolet light on most days during the growing season.

So other than a persistent problem due to hail, grapes can be grown in ideal conditions and consequently many of Argentina’s vineyards are farmed sustainably and lots are certified organic.

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

The current promotional period runs until September 12th 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.


Grão Vasco 2019

Grão Vasco 2019, Dao, Portugal ($8.95)
New to Top50
The 2019 vintage is awesome value for a food friendly, midweight red with a fragrant nose, and a dry, fruity palate with a lingering, clean, dry finish. The nose shows red berry fruit with plum, mild spice and floral tones. It is well balanced with soft mouthwatering acidity and just enough tannin for some grip on the finish. Very good length.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2019

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2019, Central Valley, Chile ($9.95 was $11.95)
Top50 August
After a couple of less than outstanding vintages, the 2019 puts this back on track as one of the great pinot values again! Pinot authenticity, dare I suggest Burgundian style, as good as this is rare for less than $10! The nose shows fragrant cranberry and cherry fruit with nutmeg, smoke and mild oak spice with a fine earthy tone. There is some elegance and so much less confection than others that are this inexpensive, although there is a hint of sweetness on the palate. It’s mid-weight and very smooth with a soft, yet balanced, finish. Enjoy on its own or with a wide variety of meat, cheese and fish dishes. For example, it is excellent with baked salmon.

Jean Claude Mas Les Tannes En Occitanie Merlot 2018, Pays d’Oc, France ($10.50)
New to Top50
This ruby red merlot is lighter in body than recent vintages with delicate aromas of red berry fruit with some floral tones and a hint of spice. It is midweight and juicy with the raspberry cherry fruit well balanced by lemony acidity. Some soft tannin adds grip to the finish. Simple and very drinkable. Try with BBQ meats or flavourful cheese.

Domaine De Sérame Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Pays D’oc, France $10.95 was $13.80
Top50 August

This is a classy, dry, well balanced cabernet with appealing aromas of blackberry and cassis fruit with some herbal, spicy and earthy tones. It is midweight with a degree of elegance and good focus. It is well balanced by soft acidity and fine tannin. Very good length with some dark chocolate flavours mixed with the blackberry fruit on the finish. Nicely done. Try with grilled meats or rich cheese like brie. Over 700 bottles remain.

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Langhorne Creek Mclaren Vale, South Australia $13.70 was $16.70
New to Top50
This wine is made in enormous quantities and has been popular for decades. However it is a wine that has been gradually changing stylistically for some time now with each new vintage. The 2018 is drier and better structured than this wine was ten vintages ago, and also it has more complexity and less oak influence. The nose shows dusty black cherry and cassis fruit with subtle, well integrated oak spice, and some delicate beetroot and floral tones. It is full-bodied and juicy, with fine, balancing acidity and firm tannin. Very good length. It will improve with some more time in bottle. Best 2022 to 2025. Decant for an hour or so and try with a steak.

La Mascota Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

La Mascota Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Cruz De Piedra, Mendoza, Argentina ($13.95 was $15.95)
New to Top50
The 2017 vintage is very good with lifted berry aromas mixed with mild oak spice with graphite and tobacco tones and hints of licorice and violets. It is full bodied and well balanced with fine tannin and vibrant acidity. Ripe, fresh, and clean with good to very good length and velvety smooth. Some elegance here. Try with a steak.

Rocca Delle Macìe Chianti Riserva 2017

Rocca Delle Macìe Chianti Riserva 2017, Tuscany, Italy ($13.95 was $15.95)
Top50 August
Vintages Essential

This is a good choice for an everyday, very typical Chianti that is very drinkable, food friendly and is just what Chianti should be. The nose shows raspberry and red cherry fruit with some herbal and spice notes with an earthy Tuscan rustic charm. The midweight palate has very good length, is dry and is well balanced. Best 2021 to 2024. Will work with a wide variety of cheese and meat dishes.

Monte Antico Toscana 2015

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

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.

Alamos Malbec 2019

Alamos Malbec 2019, Mendoza, Argentina ($14.00 was $16.00)
New to Top50
The 2019 vintage is better balanced than recent vintages with some nice herbal and savoury tones to the nose. It is also not as sweet with less evident oak spice. Expect aromas of black and red cherry fruit with dried sweet herbal tones and a hint of wood smoke. The palate is dry and midweight with soft acidity and some firm tannin poking through on the finish. Some degree of elegance and good to very good length.

Santa Carolina Reserva De Familia Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Santa Carolina Reserva De Familia Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Maipo Valley, Chile ($16.95 was $19.95)
New to Top50
Vintages Essential

This is a complex, structured cabernet with a nose of blackcurrant and plum fruit with lemon, and greenish pine sap with some meaty, menthol and oak spice notes. It is full bodied, dense, vibrant, juicy and quite tannic at present. In fact it is a little coarse and sinewy at the moment with very good to excellent length. Will benefit from some ageing in the cellar. Best 2022 to 2028.


The Ned Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Waihopai Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand ($13.70 was $16.70)
Top50 August
2020 is another good vintage for this well balanced, midweight, elegantly styled Marlborough sauvignon with its juicy mouthwatering palate. The nose is bright with guava, lemon, fresh herbs and grapefruit with a subtle minty tone. The juicy palate is vibrant and firm with a creamy texture and just enough acidity to balance the fruit sweetness. It is even and nicely focused with very good length and it finishes dry.

Chapoutier Belleruche White 2019

Chapoutier Belleruche White 2019, Cotes Du Rhone, Rhone Valley, France ($13.80 was $16.80)
Top50 August
The 2019 vintage of this flavourful unoaked white has an appealing nose of ripe pear and yellow plum fruit with lemon and honey with a chalky mineral tone. It is made from a blend of Rhone white grapes and has a firm, rich, dry palate and is a pale onion skin in colour, maybe indicating extended skin contact. It is midweight and very flavourful with the fruit well balanced. Elegant with a long and focused finish. Lovely soft acidity and very good length. Try with sauteed pork or veal or a rich chicken dish.

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.


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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