Best sub-$15 wines at LCBO?
I was hoping to appeal to the wisdom of the Chowhounds for recommendations regarding the best <$15 wines at the LCBO...
Thanks in advance!
Yesterday evening at the Gourmet Food & Wine Show I tasted some absolutely wonderful, and inexpensive ($10-15) Chilean wines, Casillero del Diablo (the Devil's Cellar). The white was my personal favourite- dry, with sweet fruity undertones, perfect for fruit, cheeses, and white fish.
Wine Access, while a great suggestion, can be quite daunting for someone just starting out. There's a multitude of free, or close to free, resources to be had as well. I'll update once I'm home with my shortcuts.
The Vintages magazine distributed by the LCBO can be useful if you follow a few key things:
Check the price first as this will allow for skimming until you hit your range;
Look to see if there's an independent review, not the LCBO'S or from the wine's country of origin;
Make certain the review is current (old and thereby useless reviews get sneaked in);
Be certain the reviewer is reputable;
See if the description matches your taste buds.
It ain't flawless, but it does cut down on errors and it's free.
The LCBO offers many decent bottles under $15. Do you have any preferences in style or colour?
As promised, these were the wines at the tasting last night, all very good choices:
VINELAND ESTATES RIESLING DRY V.Q.A.
LCBO 167551 | 750 mL bottle
Price: $ 13.85
LCBO 489278 | 750 mL bottle
Price: $ 13.40
LCBO 591693 | 750 mL bottle
Price: $ 10.20
TRIO SAUVIGNON BLANC*
LCBO 678656 | 750 mL bottle
Price: $ 12.95
JABOULET COTES DU RHONE PARALLELE 45
LCBO 332304 | 750 mL bottle
Price: $ 15.15
PINOT GRIGIO TRENTINO DOC SANTI SORTESEL
LCBO 637603 | 750 mL bottle
Price: $ 12.95
MCWILLIAMS HANWOOD ESTATE SHIRAZ
LCBO 610683 | 750 mL bottle
Price: $ 12.45
LINDEMANS BIN 65 CHARDONNAY
LCBO 142117 | 750 mL bottle
Price: $ 11.15
I'm particularly fond of the Argento Malbec...it has a surprising amount of character for something so inexpensive. It's become our red of choice for braising, and if it's a small cut of meat that doesn't require too deep a bath I will happily polish off the rest of the bottle myself. I'm not nearly as crazy about their cab sauv or the white (maybe a pinot grigio?), but I think the malbec is a good, sturdy, drinkable wine.
Go with Trapiche Reserve Malbec next time; TRAPICHE RESERVE MALBEC
LCBO 614651 | 750 mL bottle Price: $ 12.15 will knock your socks off. NEGROAMARO MEZZOMONDO; LCBO 588962 | 750 mL bottle Price: $ 8.50. I still can't believe this wine is so cheap. It remains quietly one of my best all around reds, every time I serve it people think I'm pulling all the stops out!
Years ago, my first trip to Europe, I asked an Italian sommelier to recommend me his best bottle of wine. His answer, which has stayed with me forever, was "Do you want the most expensive, or the best?". Go nutz.
re: The Goddess
ha! that negroamaro might be the one i was rather impressed with at foxley and another locale.
on a lark i decided to try the chat-en-oeuf and have been plenty surprised by it. really lovely full body to it but i'm still struggling to find a single wine that compliments a whole cheese plate.
LCBO 21113 | 750 mL bottle
Price: $ 12.85
Wine, Still Table Wine, Red Still Table Wine
In the last year and a half, the bottle I keep going back to is Chateau Puyfromage, which is a Bordeaux. It is juuust under $15, at $14.95; I believe they've raised the price recently.
Some notes from the LCBO website...
Ruby red colour; raspberry, cassis fruit with, plum, lightly oaked character and spice; dry and medium-bodied, well balance with ripe fruit on the medium finish.
Roast beef, grilled steak, strong cheese or lamb chops
Another irreverent wine fan is Alan Kerr of the Gang Of Pour.
Toronto Star wine critic rocks. Toronto Life reviews are too late by the time they hit the shelf.
I'd like to partially disagree with juno's assessment of Beppi, the wine columnist for the Globe. While, yes, many reviews cater to the Globe crowd he almost always includes a couple of good bargains in there too. Semi-regularly he'll also do a round-up of well priced wines or say wines that go with Superbowl. I enjoy his writing style as he tends not to take wine that seriously. It is, after all, a matter of personal taste not meant to be held up against the tastes of others. Foremost for me is that it's meant to be enjoyed, not revered.
As for your question about my tastes, they tend to change seasonally but I'm always bargain hunting. If I can lay a bottle down for a few years until it reaches its peak I feel I've done well. It helps to keep a lot of plonk around, though, if you don't want to break into your stash too soon.
(This list is skewed by the unnaturally low number of affordable Canadian wines offered in Ontario. Mission Hill where art thou?) Reasonable reds available at the LCBO from winemakers that tend not to let me down are:
Argentian - Flichman
Australia - D'Arenberg, Waterwheel
Canada - Jackson Triggs (proprietors series
)Chile - Echeverria, Errazuriz
France - Christian Moueix, Perrin & Fils
Italy - I tend to spend too much money on Italian reds, Citra Sangiovese aside
Portugal - Sogrape
Spain - Miguel Torres, Muga
USA - ROTFL!!! Now that's funny
Vinters Without Borders - Jacques & Francois Lurton
re: Food Tourist
If it was the Miguel Torres Gran Coronas, it is a wonderful cab sav, and worth the 18.75 they charge for it. We were introduced to it by a sommelier last year. I haven't seen the one you mention, but I'll look for it. I recently splurged on another of their cabs that was near the $50 mark and it was also good, but not $20+ better than the Gran Coronas.
Like one of the other posters mentioned, I find many drinkable whites in the $10-12 range, but I tend to splurge a little more on the reds.
The TO Star critic (is it Stimmel?) does, emphatically, not rock. He does hone in one some good buys, granted. He has some astounding blind spots. I remember his comments on South African wines (the area about which I know most) that were so off the mark that it was risible. His only excuse might be the restrictive price point, but even then, it was a very bad call. On this I might be wrong, but he strikes me as a bit of a Parker acolyte.
As you probably already know, ratings are relevant to the price of the wine. An 89 10 buck bottle doesn't drink the same as an 89 60 dollar bottle.
Now mag for wine reviews??? Really??? It never would have occured to me. No offense meant. Just never would do it myself.
All that aside, if critics did review the stinkers there would be no space left for the good ones. Stinker is, of course, relevant too. If my friend likes Partager, I'm not going to tell them they're wrong. It's what works for them. I'll always bring my own wine to their place though. No need to make them feel bad about their choice.
Let me second millygirl's suggestion. The website billysbestbottles.com is an ideal starting point for those just getting into wine appreciation. Billy Munnelly zeros in on mainly lower-priced wines available at the LCBO stores in Ontario. He writes clearly, wittily and without pretension, and has pointed me over the years to lots of finds (as well as a few duds, but then, his batting average is still pretty high). You'll do well to tap into his website every now and then. You can also get some good tips from the wine columns in the National Post (on Saturdays) and the Toronto Star (on Wednesdays, if I recall correctly). The wine columnist in the Globe and Mail, while authoritative, seems to write mainly about wines above your price preference.