Top Values at the LCBO (November 2021)

Recent Harvests Bring Some Great New Values to Top50 List

by Steve Thurlow

As you know, most non-sparkling wines are bottled from the harvest of a single year, or vintage. And, that date can be found somewhere on the bottle. Knowing the vintage does matter since in some years the climate is generous to the grape grower and in other years, less so. Accordingly, the wines made from those grapes can be better, or worse than last year’s production.

Since I last wrote to you, I have tasted the most recent vintage of several wines. Some of which were better than the previous vintage. In fact, so much so that they made it onto the Top50 list. Moreover, a couple were less good and so, fell off the list making way for some just off the bottom of the list last month to move up onto the list.

However, it is tough for me to know when the vintage on the shelf at the LCBO has changed, since I have to look at every bottle. The LCBO quality department does track the current vintage, as they unload shipments arriving at their warehouse, but they choose not to share that data with anyone for the over 2000 wines on the General List. And, also for the 211 today in Vintages Essential Collection.  So, you will often find the same wine from 2 different vintages on the shelf at the same time during the period that the vintage rolls over.

So, I need to visit stores frequently to keep track of which is the current vintage on the shelf, so as to request samples from agents to taste and review.  It is a lot of work, but it’s worth it, since it keeps the Top50 current.

As I prepared this report, by first updating the Top 50 List, and then choosing 12 wines off the list to highlight, I found 9 wines discounted. Three due to delists, with the rest being on LTO (Limited Time Offer).

However, I also added three more, recently tasted by me, that were new and improved wines, such that they had all jumped on to the Top50 list. This reminded me of the importance of vintage. This was now a wine to buy, when previously it was not.

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

All but 3 of the 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 below 12 wines, 7 whites and 5 reds, I do encourage you to consult my entire Top50 Best Values List since there are some more wines new to the list this month not highlighted below.

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

  • Ten wines less than $12.50.
  • Eleven are discounted; some by $3 or more.
  • Three great new vintages.
  • Three delisted wines.
  • All wines below scored 87 or more.

The current promotional period runs until November 28th. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you that there were stocks available, when we published, of every wine that I highlight. However, the delists will soon be gone, so don’t hesitate if you have these in your sights!

Editors Note: You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine names, bottle images or links highlighted.


Luccarelli Negroamaro 2020

Luccarelli Negroamaro 2020, Puglia, Italy ($8.95)
New to Top50
The 2020 vintage of this popular and very inexpensive Southern Italian red is a little lighter and fruitier than recent vintages. It is ruby red with aromas of red cherry and raspberry fruit with some sweet herbal and mild spice tones. It is light to midweight with the ripe red berry fruit nicely toned by lemony acidity giving it freshness. A little mild tannin shows up on the finish to add some balance. Very good length. Try with grilled meats or strongly flavoured cheese..

Vila Regia 2019

Vila Regia 2019, Douro Valley. Portugal ($9.95)
New to Top50
2019 is a good vintage for this popular and inexpensive red blend from Portugal’s Douro Valley. It is well balanced and dry with a good depth of flavour. You get a lot for the money. Expect aromas and flavours of red and black cherry fruit with mild spice tones and some dried herbal notes. It is clean with a supple midweight palate and very good length. A versatile wine for mildly flavoured meats and cheese.

Vicente Faria Animus 2019

Vicente Faria Animus 2019, Douro Valley, Portugal ($10.95 was $12.95)
New to Top50
There is a degree of elegance to the 2019 vintage with its smooth vibrant palate with soft well integrated tannin. The nose shows aromas of black cherry and blackberry fruit with floral and lemon citrus notes. The midweight palate is juicy and dry with very good length. Lingering fruity finish. Quite classy for such an inexpensive wine. Versatile red for a wide variety of occasions.

Chapoutier Marius Syrah Grenache 2019

Chapoutier Marius Syrah Grenache 2019, Pays d’Oc, France ($11.20 was $12.95)
New to Top50
2019 is probably the best vintage yet of this popular, bright, lively, clean red blend of several indigenous Portuguese red grapes. The nose shows perfumed blackberry and blueberry fruit with cherry jam and mild spice. It is midweight, creamy smooth and well balanced with the fruit lasting well on the finish. Pleasant and easy drinking with very good length. Chill a little and enjoy with a wide variety of meats and cheese, or sip on its own. Quite classy for such an inexpensive wine.

Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Port 2015

Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2015, Douro Valley, Portugal ($16.25 was $18.75)
New to Top50
This is a well priced LBV with an expressive perfumed nose of blueberry jam, licorice and dark chocolate with violets. It’s full-bodied, smooth, with a soft, creamy texture yet it feels lighter on the palate. Very good to excellent length. Finely balanced yet powerful with some heat from alcohol on the finish.


Bolgare Sauvignon Blanc 2018

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

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 700 bottles remain.

Periquita White 2018

Periquita White 2018, Peninsula De Setubal, Portugal ($8.30 was $9.45)
New to Top50

Sauvignon blanc has been added to this blend of viognier, verdelho and viosinho (an indigenous grape) in this vintage. The nose is fragrant with aromas of melon and green plum fruit with floral and sweet herbal tones and a hint 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. Around 900 bottles remain.

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 supervalue brand that is quite classy for such an inexpensive wine. It is almost dry with a lively juicy palate, 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.

Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2020

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 midweight 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.

Jacob's Creek Reserve Chardonnay 2019

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay 2019, South Australia ($11.95 was $14.95)
New to Top50
This chardonnay, sourced from cool South Australia wine regions including Adelaide Hills, is a very classy wine for the price with some complexity. Oak has been dialed back such that it is almost undetectable as is the trend these days with modern Aussie chards. The nose shows apple and melon fruit with hints of spice and dried herbs all with a mineral tone. The palate is midweight and nervy with the fruit finely balanced. Try with seafood, chicken or cheese.

Novas Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc Organic 2019

Novas Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc Organic 2019, San Antonio Valley, Chile ($12.45 was $15.95)
New to Top50

This wine is grown organically in the cool coastal San Antonio Valley. Expect aromas of green plum, lavender, lemon, asparagus and nettles with some herbal tones. The palate is dry and firm with soft acidity and there is a green herbal tone. Good focus and very good length. Needs food. Try with mahi mahi with a lemon garlic sauce or BBQ pork cutlets. About 1200 bottles remain.

Yalumba The Y Series Viognier 2021

Yalumba The Y Series Viognier 2021, South Australia ($14.95)
New to Top50
2021 is a great new vintage of this viognier from Yalumba, Australia’s expert with this aromatic variety. Expect complex fragrant aromas of ripe peach with floral orange, fresh pea, fennel and lemon marmalade. It is quite full on the palate with the richness nicely balanced by firm acidity and some toning ripe vegetal flavours, probably from extended skin contact. Excellent length. So nicely done and at a great price. Try with sushi or mildly spicy Asian cuisine.

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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