Top Values at the LCBO (May 2020)

May Top Values + Getting Wines on your Doorstep

by Steve Thurlow

I continue my home isolation and am grateful to those agents who have brought wine samples to my house for me to taste. As a consequence, I have been able to be quite productive in finding new wines for the Top50 list since I last wrote to you.

There are several ways that you too can get wine delivered to your door. Winery tasting rooms are closed but they are still shipping and most are shipping for free. Restaurants are now allowed to include wine with their takeout meal service. So, if you are ordering food for takeout, you can now add wine to your order.

LCBO Shop Online is open and Canada Post is delivering on their behalf, but you now have to collect from the nearest Post Office, since they will no longer bring wine to your door.

However many WineAlign Exchange members have recently been receiving mixed cases of both restaurant-only wines (without restaurant markups) and Canadian wines on their doorsteps.


Exchange Summer BBQ Case

As you maybe know, wine importing agencies sell wine to restaurants by the case using the LCBO’s “Consignment program”. Such wines are not in LCBO stores nor can you buy them at LCBO Shop Online.

With dine-in meals at restaurants eliminated for the time being, some of these wines are now available by the bottle. At WineAlign we are helping out our agency colleagues by offering mixed cases from their consignment portfolios using the technology and logistics developed for the WineAlign Exchange program. Discover great wines (like this Summer BBQ Case), support local businesses, never leave the house!

However if you are still willing to venture out to visit an LCBO store, I have selected twelve wines below that are on my current Top50 Best Value List and most are on offer for the next month.

I have chosen four whites plus eight reds, so below there are 12 to read about. Of those, 10 joined the list and one delist was also on last month’s list.

However I do encourage you to consult my entire Top50 Best Values List given all the discounts (LTOs) and BAMs for the next 4 weeks.

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

  • Ten wines that joined the Top50 this month
  • Nine for less than $12
  • Some big discounts; one is $3.00 off
  • All wines below scored 87 or more

The current promotional period runs until May 24th 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.

Realize that today we are one day closer to the end.

Stay safe and healthy… 

Top Value Reds

Vicente Faria 2018 Animus, Douro, Portugal $11.95 will be $8.95 (from May 14 -20 only) – New to Top50 – This is a pleasant very drinkable Douro Valley red with a fragrant nose of cherry and plum fruit with some spicy hints. It is well balanced and midweight with mild tannin and lively acidity which turns a little tart on the finish. Decent length. Try with BBQ meats or tomato pasta sauces.

Mezzomondo 2018 Negroamaro, Salento, Puglia, Italy ($8.20 was $10.05) – New to Top50 – This is a flavourful, very drinkable red from Puglia made from the indigenous negroamaro grape. Red and black cherry fruit with some plummy tones are complemented by sweet herbal and warm spice notes. It is midweight with the fruit well supported by some delicate mature tannin. Good to very good length.

Vincente Faria 2018 Animus Mezzomondo 2018 Negroamaro Farnese Fantini 2017 Negroamaro Bodegas Bianchi 2018 Finca Los Primos Malbec

Farnese Fantini 2017 Negroamaro, Puglia, Italy ($8.45 was $9.45) – Top50 May – This is a classy red for a very modest price. It shows good varietal character with a fairly complex nose of spicy black cherry, with floral and citrus and hints of toffee and tobacco. Full bodied, juicy and tasty. It is well balanced with good to very good length. Enjoy on its own or mildly spicy sausages dishes.

Bodegas Bianchi 2018 Finca Los Primos Malbec Mendoza, Argentina ($9.85 was $12.35) – Top50 May – Delisted – This is a lovely rich finely balanced dry malbec with a fragrant nose of blueberry and blackberry fruit with floral and sweet herbal tones. The midweight palate is quite refined with just enough tannin for structure and soft lemony acidity. Very good length. There is a degree of elegance for such an inexpensive wine. Try with grilled meats. Over 1000 bottles remain.

Beronia 2018 Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain ($11.95 was $13.95) – New to Top50 – The 2018 vintage of this classic Spanish red from Rioja is the best I can recall for its pureness and balance. Expect typical lifted aromas of red cherry, plum and raspberry fruit with cigar box, vanilla and tobacco. The midweight palate is juicy and well balanced with a long lingering finish. It is a versatile food wine for a wide range of meat and cheese dishes. Good focus and very good length.

Domaine De Sérame 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Pays d’Oc, France ($14.05 was $13.95) – New to Top50 – 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.

Beronia 2018 Tempranillo Domaine De Sérame 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Chateau d'Aigueville 2016 Côte du Rhône Villages Stoneleigh 2018 Pinot Noir

Chateau d’Aigueville 2016 Côte du Rhône Villages, Rhone Valley, France ($14.95 was $16.95) – New to Top50 – This is an opaque purple red with aromas of blackberry and blueberry fruit with black pepper and mild oak spice. It has matured well since I last tasted 2 years ago with tannins folding nicely into the wine. The palate is very smooth and quite fruity with good focus and very good length. Best 2020 to 2023. Try with BBQ meats.

Stoneleigh 2018 Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand ($17.95 was $19.95) – New to Top50 – I love the lifted fragrant nose; both aromas and flavours indicate the ripeness of the fruit with the  balance and aroma freshness well maintained nevertheless. Expect aromas of raspberry and red cherry fruit with mild oak spice plus some forest floor and sweet herbal accents. The palate is very smooth and lively with the fruit well supported by some soft acidity and mild tannin. Very good to excellent length. Best 2020 to 2025. Try with lamb cutlets or mildly spicy sausages.

Top Value Whites

Black Tower 2018 Qualitatswein Rivaner, Rheinhessen, Germany ($8.95 was $9.95) – New to Top50 – This budget priced white has been around for ever but recent vintages have been quite solid. It is still the juicy sweet fairly simple fruity wine that many tried in their youth. However the 2018 shows some class with its pureness and lively lemony acidity for structure. Expect aromas and flavours of melon and ripe pear fruit with a lemonade tone. it is flavourful with just enough acid to balance the sweetness. Good length with lingering lemon sherbet finish.

KWV 2018 The Vinecrafter Chenin Blanc, Western Cape, South Africa ($9.80) – New to Top50 – In South Africa they can get high yields from their chenin blanc grapes and so can can make good inexpensive chenins like this with a good depth of flavour that is well structured for a great price. Expect aromas of mineral toned apple pear fruit with lemon and honey notes. The palate is midweight with ripe fruit balanced by lemony acidity. Good to very good length. Try with seafood or white meats.

Black Tower 2018 Qualitatswein Rivaner KWV 2018 The Vinecrafter Chenin Blanc Hardys Stamp Series 2018 Chardonnay Semillon Mascota Vineyards 2019 OPI Chardonnay

Hardys Stamp Series 2018 Chardonnay Semillon, Southeastern Australia ($10.00 + 6 BAMs) – New to Top50 – This fresh white, with no oak, has a pure lively nose of pear melon fruit with a mineral tone and subtle spice. The palate is midweight rich and smooth with lemony acidity keeping it juicy. Well balanced with good to very good length. Very drinkable on its own or with chicken, veal or pork dishes.

Mascota Vineyards 2019 OPI Chardonnay, Mendoza, Argentina ($12.00) – New to Top50 – The 2019 is lighter than recent vintages. It is lightly oaked which gives it some added complexity and structure. The nose shows gentle aromas of ripe apple fruit with some tropical fruit plus lemon and mineral tones. The midweight palate is smooth with a chalky mineral tone. Very good length with a dry finish. Try with mildly flavoured seafood.

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 1,600 or so wines in LCBO Wines and the VINTAGES Essentials Collection. 

There are three 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 lists under the Wine tab on WineAlign.)

• On Sale (LTO’s or Limited Time Offers): Every four weeks the LCBO discounts around 200 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.

Bonus Air Miles (BAM’s): If you collect Air Miles then you will be getting Bonus Air Miles on another 150 or so wines…a few of these have a special appeal for a while.

• Steve’s Top 50: Wines that have moved onto my Top 50 Best Values this month. This is on an-on going WineAlign selection that mathematically calculates value by comparing the price and rating of all the wines on the LCBO General List. 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.



Top 50 Value Wines
Wines on Limited Time Offer
Wines with Bonus Air Miles

Editor’s Note: You can find our complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the wine images or links highlighted. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critic reviews immediately. Non-paid users wait 30 days to see new reviews. Membership has its privileges; like first access to great value wines!