Top Values at the LCBO (September 2021)

Values Keep Getting Better

by Steve Thurlow

Today, as I prepared this report, by first updating the Top 50 List and then choosing 12 wines from the list to highlight. I was enthused by the wines that I was finding and realized our good fortune in having such a great selection 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.

These days, there are thankfully very few bad wines in our stores, so the process of finding the best value ones is 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 come from all over the world. I am delighted that three of these come from Ontario.

Our wine industry is relatively small and the higher cost of many Ontario wines is due to expensive land and high labour and material costs when compared to places like Chile, Argentina, Portugal and South Africa. Freight these days is a very small part of the cost of anything, wine included, so being close does not save much. However, when Ontario wineries can take $2 off the regular price for a limited period, then their high quality wines become great value.

So, I assure you that you will drink great wine and will save money by reading on.

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Eleven of these wines joined the  Top50 Best Values List  this month. So, venture out to visit an LCBO store and pick up some of the twelve wines below that are on my current Top50 Best Value List. Though I have only chosen 12 wines, 4 whites, 7 reds and a rose to feature in this article, I do encourage you to consult my entire Top50 Best Values List

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

  • Nine wines less than $14.
  • All twelve are discounted; some by $3.
  • Three VQA Ontario wines
  • One delisted wine.
  • Two Vintages Essentials.
  • All wines below scored 87 or more 

The current promotional period runs until October 10th, 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.


Borsao Garnacha Seleccion 2019

Borsao Garnacha Seleccion 2019, Aragon, Spain ($9.95 was $11.95)
New to Top50
Fabulous value for a soft and round Spanish red with lovely, fragrant oak spice integrated with the red cherry and plum fruit. It is midweight to full and dry with a lively palate, a good depth of flavour and soft tannin. It is nicely structured and very drinkable. Try with burgers, meaty pasta sauces or with pizza.

Zaphy Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Zaphy Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, Mendoza, Argentina ($10.00 was $12.00)
New to Top50
Excellent value for a bright, pure cabernet with good varietal character. The nose shows aromas of cassis and blackberry fruit with mild herbal and spice tones plus a hint of blueberry jam. It’s full bodied and well balanced with vibrant acidity and soft tannin. Good to very good length. A touch of elegance rarely seen in such an inexpensive wine. Enjoy with bbq or grilled meats or strongly flavoured cheese.

Masi Tupungato Passo Doble Malbec Corvina 2018

Masi Tupungato Passo Doble Malbec Corvina 2018, Mendoza, Argentina ($13.10 was $15.10)
New to Top50
This red blend is an Italian take on Argentine malbec. The addition of the corvina grape, originally from the Veneto, to the blend and the winemaking style from the Masi team have crafted a more savoury acid driven style of wine that is eminently food friendly. The nose shows red cherry and plum fruit with sweet herbal, leathery and floral tones. The palate is midweight and juicy with red cherry and plum fruit and is very smooth with forest floor flavours appearing on the finish. Very good to excellent length with nice tannic grip and a lot of complexity and some elegance. Try with fine cuisine, roast meats and root vegetables, or rich soft creamy cheese.

Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc 2017

Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc 2017, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($13.95 was $14.95)
New to Top50
This is a delicately flavoured cabernet franc which shows good varietal character and reminded me much of Saumur in France’s Loire Valley. Expect aromas of raspberry fruit with tea and other herbal tones. It is midweight and juicy with a fine balance and very good length with a nice vibrant acidic structure and fine tannin. Decant for an hour or so and try with roast meats.

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($16.95 was $19.95)
New to Top50
Vintages Essential

The 2018 vintage is a remarkably smooth, soft and fruity cassis fragrant cabernet that has a lot of charm and good varietal character. Expect aromas of black currant and blackberry fruit with pencil shavings and some smoke, jam and herbal tones. Though full bodied with velvety tannins it seems lighter due to the fine balancing acidity. There is some elegance with a dry soft tannic finish. Very good to excellent length. For fine dining with roast meats, sautéed duck breast, or strongly flavoured cheese.

Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port 2015, Douro Valley, Portugal ($16.80 was $18.80)
New to Top50
This port is so welcoming with its perfumed nose of ripe blackberry and blueberry fruit with vanilla, violets and lemon marmalade. It is great value for such a rich port that is so graceful. The acidity tames the alcohol and keeps the sweetness from being cloying. It is full bodied but seems lighter and there is no heat from the considerable alcohol (20%). The finish is so finely balanced. Very good length. Try with hard mature cheese, dried fruits or dark chocolate

Tenuta Frescobaldi Castiglioni 2018

Tenuta Frescobaldi Castiglioni 2018, Tuscany, Italy ($18.95 was $21.95)
New to Top50
Vintages Essential

This is an impressive, stylish, modern Tuscan red with bright red and black currant fruit, warm spice, lemon and vanilla, all nicely integrated. It is finely balanced and dense with firm ripe tannin that makes it a good cellar candidate. Very good length, with a hint on minerality on the finish. Another 2-3 years of bottle age will help complexity develop and improve integration and give it an even smoother texture. Decant for an hour or so and try with a steak. Best 2022 to 2026.


Cave Spring Rose Dry 2020

Cave Spring Rosé Dry 2020, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($13.95 was $15.95)
New to Top50
2020 is the best vintage that I can recall of this classy fragrant cabernet franc rosé which has some structure for food pairing. It is a pale salmon pink and is quite dense with more flavour than you might expect. The nose shows red cherry with strawberry fruit plus some floral, sweet herbal and mineral tones. The juicy palate is light to midweight and dry with a little fruit sweetness and is well balanced by soft acidity. The finish is nicely firm with some hints of tannin. Very good length. Try with baked ham or grilled salmon. Chill only slightly otherwise you might miss the good stuff.


Bolgare Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Bolgare Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Bulgaria ($8.30 was $9.85)
New to Top50

This is a simple, clean, fruity sauvignon with good varietal character which is well balanced. The nose shows green apple and lemon fruit with a mineral tone. The midweight palate shows lots of flavour and the palate length is good. It is dry and juicy. Enjoy on its own or with mildly flavoured seafood or cheese. Around 500 bottles remain.

Cavallina Grillo Pinot Grigio 2019

Cavallina Grillo Pinot Grigio 2019, Sicily, Italy ($8.75 was $10.25)
New to Top50
This is a very flavourful white blend of grillo, one of my favourite Sicilian native grapes, with pinot grigio. It is well balanced and is very inexpensive. The nose shows ripe pear and white peach fruit with some floral and mineral notes. It is smooth and lively with good length. Chill lightly and enjoy with bbq or sauteed seafood.

Yalumba The Y Series Viognier 2020

Yalumba The Y Series Viognier 2020, South Australia ($12.65 was $14.65)
New to Top50
2020 is another good vintage of this popular aromatic white from Yalumba, Australia’s viognier experts. The nose shows fragrant aromas of apricot and white peach fruit with orange citrus notes plus lovely floral tones. The palate is midweight, creamy and well balanced with just enough fruit sweetness. It finishes dry with good length. Enjoy on its own as an aperitif or with mildly flavoured Asian cuisine. It goes well with chicken pot pie.

Cave Spring Riesling Dry 2019

Cave Spring Riesling Dry 2019, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario ($13.95 was $15.95)
New to Top50
I love the balance of this dry riesling which has just enough residual sugar to tame the vibrant acidity. It is classy and gentle with slatey mineral tones to the lemon and green apple fruit with some floral hints. The palate is very smooth and round with good to very good length.

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.


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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