Top Values at the LCBO (December 2021)

Holiday Dining, Drinking and Gift Giving with Great New Values

by Steve Thurlow

In the run up to the Holidays, there are many wines discounted right now at LCBO, with some as much as $3 off, creating many additions to the Top50.  See my selections below to help you plan your dining, drinking and gift giving.

As I prepared this report, by first updating the Top 50 List and then choosing 12 wines from the list to highlight, I found seven wines discounted. To those, I added an additional five less expensive wines that would be great for parties and for everyday drinking over the Holidays.

The LCBO has warned that its inventory will be challenged due to shipment delays from overseas. Wine, like many products, is caught up in this crisis caused by the shortage of truck drivers, containers, the logjams in the ports and the pandemic. This has all been compounded by the floods in BC that have disrupted shipments from west coast ports.

Evidence can already be seen with more spaces than usual on LCBO shelves. It seems the inventory of wines from faraway places like Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa is particularly badly hit. Fortunately, we will have ample supplies from Ontario wineries.

The current promotional period runs until January 2nd. Thanks to WineAlign’s inventory tracking, I can assure you that there were stocks available, when we published,  of every wine that I highlight but I suggest shopping sooner rather than later this month or you may find the spot on the shelf empty.

So, venture out soon to visit an LCBO store and pick up some of the twelve wines below that are on my current Top50 Best Value List  while they remain in stock.

Though I have only chosen below 12 wines, 10 reds and 2 whites, both of which would be good with festive turkey, 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:

  • Four reds less than $12.
  • Six are discounted; some by $3 or more.
  • One VINTAGES Essential.
  • All wines scored 87 or more.

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, Dão, Portugal ($9.25)
New to Top50
Consistently great value every year, this vintage is especially good value for a food friendly, midweight red with a fragrant nose, dry fruity palate and 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.

Aliança Bairrada Reserva 2018

Aliança Bairrada Reserva 2018, Bairrada, Portugal ($9.25)
New to Top50
This Portuguese red is very consistent vintage to vintage and is always amazing value for a clean well balanced wine. It is midweight and juicy with good depth of flavour and very good length. The nose shows red and black berry fruit with herbal and mild spice tones. It is soft but there is enough tannin and acidity for balance. It finishes dry with fine tannin. Try with roast meats or creamy cheese like brie or enjoy on its own.

Farnese Fantini Negroamaro 2020

Farnese Fantini Negroamaro 2020,  Puglia, Italy ($9.30)
New to Top50
There is a fine fragrant nose of cassis and blueberry fruit with basil to welcome you to this soft juicy southern Italian red. It is lighter in weight than usual with red berry fruit toned by lemon and dried herbal flavours. It is dry, midweight and well balanced. Good to very good length. Enjoy with burgers or juicy sausages.

Argento Seleccion Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, Mendoza, Argentina ($11.70)
New to Top50
2019 is the best vintage I can recall of this juicy cabernet from Mendoza. The region is famous for its malbecs but with cabernets this good at this price, it is time for cab lovers to start looking here since this is quite amazing for a wine at less than $12. The nose is fragrant with blackberry and blueberry fruit nicely toned by lemon with some herbal notes and lovely, well-integrated oak spice. The palate is dry and midweight with some elegance and very good length. The finish has grip with mild tannin to give some firmness. Enjoy with roast or grilled meats.

Viña Tarapaca Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, Maipo Valley, Chile ($11.95 was $13.95)
Top50 December
You get a lot for the money here from this fairly typical Maipo Valley cabernet which shows some elegance. It has a perfumed nose of cassis fruit with blackberry, mint, menthol and mild oak spice. It midweight to fullbodied and is very smooth and finely balanced with very good length. It is plush and is drinking well now. Enjoy with grilled or roast meats, cheese or maybe a steak.

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Langhorne Creek Mclaren Vale, South Australia ($13.95 was $16.95)
New to Top50 December
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. This vintage is drier and better structured than it 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 plus 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 now to 2025. Decant for an hour or so and try with a steak.

19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Limestone Coast, South Australia ($16.95 was $18.95)
New to Top50
This is a little softer and therefore more approachable than recent vintages. It is still well structured and dry but a little juicier with softer tannins and there is some elegance; unlike the fierce looking bloke on the label. The nose shows black cherry and cassis fruit with black olive, mild oak spice with a dusty tone plus some floral notes. It is full-bodied with the fruit well balanced by lively acidity and firm dry tannin. The focus is good with a long lingering finish. Very good length

Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port 2015, Douro Valley, Portugal ($16.95 was $19.95)
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.

Santa Carolina Reserva De Familia Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Maipo Valley, Chile ($16.95 was $19.95)
New to Top50
This is a complex, structured cabernet with a nose of blackcurrant and plum fruit with lemon, 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. It will benefit from some ageing in the cellar. Best now to 2028. For fine dining with meats or mature cheese.

Cesari Mara Valpolicella Ripasso 2018, Veneto, Italy ($17.05 was $20.05)
New to Top50
This is an elegant, well balanced ripasso that is lighter than most with a fine balance and great focus. The nose shows red and black berry fruit with hints of lemon plus some spice and floral notes. It is full-bodied but feels lighter. Very good length. Mild tannin and soft balancing acidity make it very drinkable. Pure and clean. Chill a little and enjoy on its own or with charcuterie and creamy cheese.


Bacalhoa J P Azeitao Branco 2019, Peninsula De Setubal, Portugal ($9.25)
New to Top50
There is a lot going on here for the money This fruity white has a good depth of flavour and lovely zesty melon apple aromas with lemon sherbet. It is midweight and well balanced with good length. A versatile white for sipping or enjoying with seafood or roast chicken/turkey.

Chapoutier Belleruche White 2019, Cotes Du Rhone, France ($14.15 was $17.15)
New to Top50
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. Would be excellent with festive Christmas turkey.

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.

My best wishes to you, family and friends for the Holiday season.


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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