Top Values at the LCBO (January 2022)

Values for an Economic Month

by Steve Thurlow

For those not participating in “Dry January“, I am guessing that some economy is, nevertheless, called for, so I have chosen 12 lovely wines, all but 2 are less than $14.

Nine of these wines joined the  Top50 Best Values List  this month, including a favourite that has been delisted. Four of those below are discounted, which goes to help relieve the January budget.

I have tasted many wines since I last wrote and found some great values. Plus, I re-tasted a few wines and have updated my tasting notes and scores.

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, 5 whites and 7 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:

  • Four wines less than $10.
  • Four are discounted; one by $3.50!
  • 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. 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!


Pasqua Merlot 2019

Pasqua Merlot 2019, Veneto, Italy (1500ml) ($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.

Robertson Winery Chapel Red 2019

Robertson Winery Chapel Red 2019, Robertson, South Africa ($8.45 was $9.95)
New to Top50
This is a lovely, inexpensive red blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and pinotage from the Cape.  It is finely balanced and very pure with vibrant acidity, good focus and very good length. Quite complex for such an inexpensive wine with aromas and flavours of red cherry, raspberry and strawberry fruit with mild spice and soft, sweet, herbal tones. Enjoy on its own, or with a wide variety of meat and cheese dishes.

Bodega Toro Centenario Malbec 2020

Bodega Toro Centenario Malbec 2020, Mendoza, Argentina ($8.95 was $9.95)
New to Top50
This is a lovely, structured, well balanced red that is very drinkable, but which also pairs well with a wide variety of foods. The nose shows red berry fruit aromas with some mild floral and spice notes. It is light to midweight and very smooth with soft lemony acidity and mild tannin giving some grip to the finish. Good to very good length. Maybe chill lightly and try with pizza, burgers, cheese or seared tuna.

Casal Thaulero Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 201

Casal Thaulero Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Terre Di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy ($9.45)
New to Top50
This is a balanced, dry red with a lot going on for the money. It is midweight with a nose of red and black cherry fruit with some herbal and mild spice notes. The palate is smooth with the fruit well balanced by soft tannin and lively acidity. Good focus. It finishes fruity and dry, so can be enjoyed on its own, but will be better with food like meaty pasta sauces, grilled meats, or mature cheese. Good to very good length.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2020, Central Valley, Chile ($11.95)
New to Top50
This wine, from Chile’s pinot specialists, seems to get better with every vintage. It is rare to get such good pinot for less than $12; in fact I have never had any this good before, for the money. Expect fragrant cherry, plum and cranberry fruit with woodsmoke and mild oak spice, plus hints of sweet, dried herbs. There is elegance and some structure not often seen in pinots this inexpensive. The midweight palate is dry with some fruit sweetness and it is very smooth with a finely balanced finish. Enjoy on its own, or, with a wide variety of meats, cheese and fish dishes. For example, it is excellent with baked ham. Very good length.

Root: 1 Carmenère 2018

Root: 1 Carmenère 2018, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($14.20)
New to Top50
The Root: 1 wines are made by Ventisquero in Chile’s Colchagua Valley. Root 1 refers to the fact that most of Chile’s vineyards are planted on ungrafted rootstocks. Over the last ten years, or so, Chilean wine growers and wine makers have worked out how to make good wines from this late ripening grape. The 2018 vintage is a ripe, clean carmenere with aromas of red cherry and raspberry fruit with dill, thyme, pine cone and oak spice notes. It is smooth with fine chalky tannin on the finish. Well balanced and nicely vibrant. Very good length.

Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port 2015

Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port 2015, Douro Valley, Portugal ($19.95)
Top50 January
I have just retasted this port and upped my score. It is superb, 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 Chardonnay 2020

Santa Carolina Chardonnay 2020, Rapel Valley, Chile ($9.45)
New to Top50
A rich, fruity midweight chardonnay that has a creamy texture with mild oak spice. The nose shows pineapple and ripe apple fruit with custard, oak spice and hazelnut. Very appealing. There is a lot of flavour for the money, though it could be a little more vibrant. Good length and balance. Chill and enjoy with sauteed fish, creamy pasta sauces, or bbq chicken.

Fuzion Alta Torrontes Pinot Grigio 2019

Fuzion Alta Torrontes Pinot Grigio 2019, Mendoza, Argentina ($9.95 was $11.95)
New to Top50
This white blend of pinot grigio with the indigenous Argentine grape torrontes, is very concentrated with abundant aromas. The nose shows ripe melon fruit with lemon marmalade, evergreen pine and honeysuckle. The palate is very full with the rich fruit flavours, well balanced by vibrant acidity. Try as an aperitif, or with mildly spicy dishes or roast chicken.

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. Best with food. Try with mahi mahi with a lemon garlic sauce, or BBQ pork cutlets. Over 500 bottles remain.

Alvear Medium Dry, Montilla Moriles, Spain ($13.95)
Top50 January
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.

Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los Arcos, Jerez, Spain ($17.95)
Top50 January
Fantastic value. This lovely wine that has lots of complexity. It is a classic amontillado with its nutty almond, lemon, bread, and salty ham aromas. The 18.5% alcohol is superbly balanced with barely a hint of alcohol heat on the finish. It is very smooth with the dry, rich, intensely flavoured palate lingering forever. Excellent length. Try with rich white meat dishes. Sauteed veal with mushrooms, would work well.

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.

This is the last report in this format on the “always available wines” at the LCBO.

Stay tuned for new monthly reports from the WineAlign team on these 1500 wines.


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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