The Imbiber's Report

Our Bi-Weekly Newsletter with Product Reviews and Much More!


August 30, 2014


patio-seriesAccording to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, September will be a little sunnier and a little warmer than usual and it will be peppered with the odd thunderstorm. That means a little more outside time and the chance to have few more al fresco dining experiences.

We have the perfect wine in Vintages this weekend for easing into fall: an affordable, easy drinking Pinot Noir from Monterey California. We also have a pair of off-dry bubblies from Crimea and a super Merlot that was built in the heart of Tuscany.

We have some great promotions through the LCBO (remember the $5 off 7 Deadly Zins) and a few other deals to boot. We report on our JazzFM appearance with Brad where we slurped oysters and white wine and also include the story and recipe for the Potato Salad Canadiana that was in the news recently.

If it’s hot when you read this report, make yourself a refreshing G&T with Ungava Premium Gin, kick back and relax…  


VINTAGES RELEASE, August 30, 2014

Fog Head Pinot NoirFog Head Highlands
Pinot Noir Reserve 2012
Monterey, California

212944 $19.95
308 (12 pack) cases available

4 out of 5 Stars - Rod Phillips,
“This is a West Coast pinot in a fairly easy-drinking style. That's not to say that it doesn't show complexity and structure, but it wears these assets lightly and subtly. What comes through strong is good, clean, consistent fruit, a balancing seam of fresh acidity, supple tannins, and enough juiciness to make it versatile at the table”.

Fog Head Pinot Noir is a delicious, medium-bodied wine showing red cherry and fresh strawberry fruit as well as delicate hints of clove and sage. This refreshing wine delivers complex flavours of berry jam, licorice and slight hints of rhubarb and vanilla on the palate. Crisp acidity, soft tannins and juicy fruit lead to a clean, balanced finish.

Fog Head Pinot Noir exhibits plenty of Pinot Noir characteristics in an easy to drink style with good complexity and verve. Grapes are harvested from Delicato’s San Bernabe vineyard in the cool coastal region of Monterey. Pinot Noir San Bernabe Vineyard with CaptionFog engulfs the vineyard overnight and burns off during the day as things heat up. This wide swing in temperature helps to concentrate fruit flavours and maintain acidity in the grapes. Fruit is harvested very early in the morning and brought to the winery where it is cold soaked at 55F to increase colour and flavour extraction. Following a relatively cool fermentation meant to maintain the wine’s delicate fruit profile, the wine is drained and put into French oak barrels where it undergoes malolactic fermentation. The wine is then racked and aged for at least another 3 months before bottling.   

This is the perfect wine to open when you don’t know what you feel like. It’s light and bright enough to go with most food, including grilled fish and some seafood. Have a glass while surfing the web for supper ideas. “Pinot Noir food match” should do the trick. (Try with the potato salad recipe below along with some grilled sausage).


Rapid Release…

Both Krimsekt sparkling wines are part of a rapid release and will be on shelf in selected stores over the next two weeks. Keep an eye out for them!

Krimsekt WhiteKrimsekt White Semi-Sweet Sparkling Wine 2013

206441 $19.95
400 (6 pack) cases available

A semi-sweet sparkling wine made in the Champagne method with a light straw colour and rich flower and fruit flavours. It pairs well with mild cheeses, poultry, soups, spicy foods and Asian cuisine.









Krimsekt Red Semi-Sweet Sparkling Wine NV LCBO141655Krimsekt Red Semi-Sweet Sparkling Wine 2013

141655 $19.95
648 (6 pack) cases available

A truly unique bubbly blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 10% Saperavi. It is deep ruby red in colour, light weight with mild chocolate and dried plum notes and is created in the Champagne method which combines the yeastiness of the second fermentation with the sweetness from the first fermentation.

This surprisingly refreshing red bubbly would be fun to drink with some baby back ribs with barbecue sauce, gourmet burgers with blue cheese or Peking duck. You could also match it with chocolate-based desserts. This is authentic sparkling red wine that gets its bubbles from secondary fermentation in the bottle.






CLASSICS COLLECTION, September 4, 2014

Ordering for Vintages September Classics Collection begins Thursday, September 4 at 8:30 a.m. with a new ‘first-come, first-served’ format. For more information follow this link:   If you have a wine lover on your gift list over the next few months, you would be wise to jump all over this Tuscan beauty since there are only 120 bottles.

Casalferro Rosso Toscana IGT 2010Barone Ricasoli
Casalferro Rosso IGT 2010
Tuscany, Italy

122598 $50.00
20 (6 pack) cases available

94 Points – James Suckling,
“A wine with aromatic beauty: perfumed and sexy. Full body, super velvety tannins and long and delicious finish. Wonderful intensity and decadence to this. 100% Merlot. Drink or hold. But too good now”.

92 Points –

91 Points – Wine Spectator

From Barone Ricasoli’s website: “Casalferro is the result of developments initiated in the 1990s, when Francesco Ricasoli took over the firm and inspired him to begin his research into modern methods. This wine justifies those who believe that the best expression of a terroir is when the typicality of a grape variety takes on completely new properties that are impossible to replicate in other places with the same characteristics. Today, Casalferro is a single varietal Merlot from a single plot of land which has reached the very pinnacle of grace and intensity”.



Alpine-Valley-2010-no-vintage89 Points – David Lawrason,
Alpine Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
241810 $14.95

“This is an NZ classic, with intense aromas of grapefruit, fresh dill, green and black pepper and just a hint of passion fruit. It's medium weight, intense, taut and super fresh, with excellent length. Some heat on the finish. It's certainly among the more herbal/peppery versions. Chill well”.
















JazzFM.91 Notes with Brad Barker

Chris and Mark visited JazzFM.91 this past Wednesday for the latest edition of Notes. Armed with a dozen freshly shucked oysters from Rodney’s and three seafood-friendly whites (and a red), we sipped and slurped our way through Notes with Brad Barker. We began with the classic Château Salmonière Vieilles Vignes Muscadet Sèvre & Maine 2012, followed by Spinyback Sauvignon Blanc 2013 from New Zealand and Moillard Tradition Bourgogne Chardonnay 2012 (all available through Vintages). We ended with Bertani’s beautiful Villa Arvedi Amarone della Valpolicella 2010. Listen to the show here.




The following promotions are available now to September 13 at the LCBO:

Save $0.50 on Dos Locos Lime Tequila Margarita (370668)

Save $1.50 on Chocolate Vodka Mudshakes (5280)

Save $2.00 on Gran Feudo Reserva (479014)

Save $5.00 on Seven Deadly Zins (59311)

Earn 3 Bonus Air Miles on Casal Thaulero Merlot / Cabernet Sauvignon (621953)

Earn 4 Bonus Air Miles on Caliterra Cabernet Sauvignon (257329)




You may have heard or read about the Kickstarter Potato Salad guy ‘Zack (Danger) Brown’ and his remarkable journey to Potato Salad stardom. Here’s the story as reported in The Star.

Turns out the salad is actually quite tasty and because it has a good amount of smoky bacon flavour, it will go well with an oaky Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.


Zack’s and Jack’s Potato Salad Canadiana

Potato saladSalad:

2 lb (900 g) mini Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed

1 red bell pepper, seeded, halved

1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

Sea salt + freshly ground black pepper

8-oz (225-g) piece double-smoked bacon, cut in matchsticks

1 medium yellow, red or sweet onion, halved, thinly sliced crosswise

1 tbsp (15 mL) canola oil

1/4 cup (60 mL) finely chopped curly parsley, or more to taste



1/2 cup (125 mL) mayonnaise

2 tbsp (30 mL) each: reserved bacon fat, Dijon mustard, pure maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, sweetened condensed milk (optional)


For salad, put potatoes in medium saucepan of salted water. Bring to boil over high heat. Boil under just cooked through, about 15 minutes. Drain; place potatoes in ice bath to cool. Drain; cut potatoes in halves or quarters depending on size. (You want 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch/1- to 2-cm pieces.)

Meanwhile, toss red pepper with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet. Roast in preheated 400F (200C) oven until skins begin to blacken, about 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, discard blackened skins. Cut flesh into matchsticks.

Spread bacon on same baking sheet. Bake in preheated 400F (200C) oven until fat is rendered and bacon is slightly crisp, about 30 minutes. Remove bacon to bowl. Reserve 2 tbsp (30 mL) rendered fat for dressing.

In medium skillet, heat canola oil over medium-low. Add onions. Cook, stirring, 12 minutes to soften and lightly brown.

In large mixing bowl, combine potatoes, red peppers, bacon, onions and parsley. Toss well.

For dressing, in medium bowl, whisk mayo, reserved bacon fat, mustard, maple syrup, vinegar and condensed milk if using until smooth. (Makes about 1 cup/250 mL.)

Add 1/2 cup (125 mL) dressing to potato mixture. Toss well. If desired, add more dressing as needed. Taste; season with salt and pepper. Toss again.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until chilled.

Makes 6 side servings.



- Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum




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