The Imbiber's Report

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


September 13, 2014


NWFeventimageThe Niagara Wine Festival is a big deal. For two weeks in September, the entire region rolls out the welcome mat and hosts a pretty serious party. If you’ve never been to the festival, it is absolutely worth the effort. We can guarantee an epiphany –“I can’t believe I’ve been missing this” you’ll think. Buy a Discovery Pass and tour wine country, take in a concert at Montebello Park, eat, drink and be merry. There is something for everyone, including families with kids. We’ve included a link to the festival below in events.

This weekend’s Vintages release features Ontario: State of the Art. Do yourself a favour and pick up a copy or have a look at it on-line. There’s a great ‘lay of the land’ overview and some solid info on most of the wine regions.  Use it as a primer before you head out to explore this fall.

We have two wines in this weekend’s release that we are very excited to tell you about. First off, a brilliant Chardonnay from Sonoma County’s Kunde Family, followed by a new addition to our portfolio and a new wine to Vintages called Cederberg from South Africa. Both wines offer extraordinary value and are well worth picking up.

Pull up a chair and grab a glass of Gran Feudo Rosado as we try to figure out if we have seen the last of summer.


VINTAGES RELEASE, August 30, 2014

kunde-chardonnay-sonoma-valley-family-estate-mainLgKunde Estate Chardonnay 2012
Sonoma Valley, California
745406 $21.95
336 (12 pack) cases available – Vic Harradine
“Ripe apple, peach and wisps of citrus on the nose, this dishes up a crisp refreshing river of lemon-lime, Granny Smith apple and white grapefruit on the palate with replays on the mid-length finish. It’s medium weight and nicely textured with grapefruit pith on the aftertaste”.

Intriguing aromatics of tangerine, vanilla custard and shortbread cookies lead to flavours of ripe cantaloupe and lemon meringue. This medium-bodied estate grown wine is well-structured with crisp acidity rounded out by vanilla cream richness from barrel fermentation and malolactic fermentation. Try with grilled salmon, seafood risotto or Seafood Cioppino (see Marcia Kunde’s recipe below).

Kunde SignKunde is one of the largest family-owned single properties in Sonoma County. 70 years after Louis Kunde purchased the 1,000 acre Wildwood Vineyard in 1904, the family expanded the estate by purchasing the neighbouring 850 acre Kinnybrook Ranch. Winemaker Zach Long says “the Kunde Estate is a remarkable and diverse 1,850-acre property with dramatic shifts View from Kundes Mountaintop Tasting Areain topography. It stretches along 2 miles of the scenic Sonoma Highway, rises 1,400 feet above the valley floor, and spans across rolling hills into the bordering Mayacamas Mountain range. Vineyard locations, featuring 20 different varietals, vary from valley floor to hillside and mountain sites. Although there is a variety of soil types throughout the estate, the majority of the property sits on a volcanic band of “Red Hill” soil derived from lava flows formed 5 million years ago. The rust red soil is renowned for producing complex, intriguing wines.

Snake Sign at KundeWith less than 40% of the estate planted to vineyards, the remaining native habitat is integral to the health and vitality of the entire property. Our sustainable winegrowing practices work in concert with five distinct ecosystems within the estate: riparian, aquatic, oak woodlands, native grasslands and chaparral.”





New to Vintages…

CED Shiraz 10Cederberg Shiraz 2010
Wine of Origin Cederberg
Western Cape, South Africa
374199 $24.95
140 (12 pack) cases available

91 Points – Wine Spectator, James Molesworth
“A whiff of white pepper quickly gives way to dense but sleek notes of raspberry, cherry compote and currant preserves. Violet and iron elements stitch the finish. Shows weight, but relies more on cut and drive. Drink now through 2015”.

A multi-dimensional wine filled with intense red fruit, mulberry and cherries on the nose. Well balanced with elegant oak notes expressing hints of sweet vanilla and mocha in the background. On the palate, intense fruit flavours follow through leaving a silky smooth sensation on the palate.

This is pretty serious Shiraz. Mountain grown fruit is hand harvested over two weeks in early April. Each lot is separately soaked, fermented and macerated. Free run wine is matured in a mix of new and used French oak barrels for 15 months. Interestingly, Cederberg ‘bleeds-off’ 15% of the juice prior to soaking to increase the intensity of aromas and flavours.

Cederberg is unique. It is the highest farm winery in South Africa’s Western Cape. The remote winery has its own small community of over 120 people who work on the Nieuwoudt’s family farm, in the winery, the vineyards, the resort and camping facility there. While they have only been making wine for export and commercial sales since 1997, the winery has been given an astounding number of awards, medals and accolades. Cederberg is the only winery in the Cederberg Wine of Origin appellation. South Africans divide their grape growing areas into Regions, Districts and Wards. Many of these overlap or fall within larger appellations. Cederberg is its own Ward and one of a few wineries that do not fall under the jurisdiction of a larger Region or District. Cederberg is also a member of the Premium Independent Wineries of South Africa.

Should you be lucky enough to find yourself staying at Sanddrif, Cederberg Private Cellar’s holiday resort, you’ll have a raft of activities to choose from including stargazing at the Cederberg Observatory, rock climbing, hiking, bushman cave art viewing, mountain biking or taking a plunge in the huge local swimming hole. Oh, and there is some wine to taste as well.


ACCOLADES Lifestyle - Christopher Waters
Top 10 Wine Values***
Casal Thaulero 2012 Sangiovese
Abruzzo, Italy
$7.75 (588996)
“Spend some time lingering in the Italian section of your wine shop and you’re sure to turn up a host of inexpensive wines that are worthy of your attention like this one is. The bright acidity of this dry red makes it more of a food wine for most people, who would enjoy it much more served with pizza or pastas with a tomato-based sauce or grilled chicken”.







Niagara Wine Festival - September 19th to 28th

In its 63rd year, this festival keeps getting bigger and better. There is way more to see and do than you imagine. The main stage at Montebello Park in St. Catharines has a fantastic lineup of entertainment and all sorts of events in and around the park. Grab yourself a Discovery Pass and tour wine country to sample wine and food matches at most wineries.

Our own Sue-Ann Staff is serving up (what else?)…Bacon!

Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery
3210 Staff Avenue, Jordan (GPS enter Lincoln)
1-877-566-1719 |
September 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 & 28 | 11am-5pm


Bacon Nation
We LOVE bacon! Imagine an AAA ground sirloin beef slider. Stuff it with bacon. Top it with bacon jam (yup, bacon jam). Sprinkle on bacon salt. Enjoy with an amazing Cabernet Merlot and bacon heaven. Vegetarian option available (no, it’s not just a bun…). $10 without a Discovery Pass.

Visit the Festival’s website for full details


Toronto Ukrainian Festival
Bloor West Village
September 12, 13 and 14, various times and venues

Numerous bars and restaurants along the strip will be serving Lvivske 1715 Premium Lager.  Look for the branded tents and signs in the area. Stop and enjoy a cold one!

Ukrainian immigrants and their descendants have been an important part of Canada’s multicultural makeup ever since the 1880s when they began coming over to start new lives. The Toronto Ukrainian Festival celebrates Ukrainian-Canadian heritage, and it’s back for its 18th year.

The Toronto Ukrainian Festival was founded in the 1990s by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, shortly after Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, was officially designated as Toronto’s twin city. The festival showcases both professional and amateur performers and artists from both Toronto and Ukraine, featuring musicians, dancers, cuisine and the visual arts.

Visit for full details.




Chris Churchill is on the air with Humble and Fred!

Wineforbreakfast with Humble and Fred on September 3rd sampled some First Press Napa Valley Chardonnay and Château de Gourgazaud Cuvée Mathilde with smoked salmon and kolbasa. They talked about hiking, truffle oil and a ‘spaghetti sauce off’ – you’ll get the drift.

Listen to the podcast here. The segment begins just after 58 minute mark.

You can listen to Humble & Fred on SiriusXM on Canada Laughs, Channel 168 from 7:00 to 9:00 am and 10:00 am to noon every weekday as well as rebroadcasts on Newstalk 1010 at midnight.


Sound of Jazz Concert Series 2014

This year the JAZZ.FM91 Sound of Jazz Concert Series presents 5 incredible performances by international and local jazz artists at the Old Mill in Toronto.  Ranee Lee kicks off the season September 22nd.

The Sound of Jazz is the first concert series to be announced as part of JAZZ.FM91’s On Stage Season.

This year is the 39th Annual Sound of Jazz, including performances by:

Monday, September 22nd, 2014
Kicking off JAZZ.FM91’s 2014 Sound of Jazz Concert Series is Juno Award-winning Ranee Lee, bringing her new album ‘What’s Going On?’ to life on stage. Discover one of the most distinctive and recognizable voices in Canada, who is also a named member to the Order of Canada!

Monday, October 20th, 2014
Often called ‘one of the greatest guitarists on the planet’, JAZZ.FM91 invites you to experience an evening of storytelling and outstanding music with Larry Coryell together with George Koller and Mark Kelso.

Monday, November 3rd, 2014
Experience ‘Mangione Music’ from different eras as Gap Mangione performs music from he and his brother Chuck Mangione's vast career spanning from 1960 to today in this special concert.

Monday, November 24th, 2014
On this special evening in the Sound of Jazz Concert Series, Juno Award-winning jazz saxophonist, P.J. Perry will share the stage with some of the most talented up and coming musicians today, the JAZZ.FM91 Youth Big Band!

Featuring Ernesto Cervini & Chris Donnelly
Monday, December 8th, 2014
In this special holiday edition to the JAZZ.FM91 Sound of Jazz Concert Series, drummer extraordinaire Ernesto Cervini and Juno-nominated pianist Chris Donnelly team together to present Christmas, All Jazzed Up. With a full jazz band, featuring everyone’s favourite holiday melodies, this energy filled performance is an evening for the whole family.

To purchase concert tickets, visit CLICK HERE or call 416-595-0404.

Ticket Prices:
$39 per Ticket
$175 Series Subscription
Special discounts are available for students & JAZZ.FM91 Members

The Old Mill Toronto
21 Old Mill Road
Toronto, Ontario
M8X 1G5
Local - 416-236-2641
Toll Free – 1-866-653-6455

Please note that all Sound of Jazz Concert Series tickets are general admission. Seating is on a first come first seated basis. JAZZ.FM91 will not be responsible for, or process refunds for poor sightlines and seating obstructions.
Doors open at 5:30 pm with all concerts beginning at 8:00 pm.
General admission tickets do not include dinner.  If you would like to make a dinner reservation at the Old Mill Inn, please call 416-236-2641.

Fall Fairs – various around Ontario
’Tis the season so have a look around this website for weekend fair ideas.




The following promotions are available from September 13 to October 11 at the LCBO:

Save $1.00 on Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava (216960)

Save $1.50 on Cellier des Dauphins Carte Noire Côtes du Rhône (110197)

Save $1.50 on Veramonte Chardonnay (320788)

Save $3.00 on Slava Ultra Premium Vodka (600585)

Earn 5 Bonus Air Miles on Deakin Estate Shiraz (560821)

Earn 10 Bonus Air Miles on Alpine Valley Sauvignon Blanc (241810)





Cioppino is a seafood stew dish native to the San Francisco Bay area that uses a variety of different fish and seafood, depending on the day’s catch. Italian fisherman would make the stew on board their boats to feed the crew. The dish was eventually adopted by a number of San Francisco restaurants and is now considered to be one of the city’s signature dishes.

We don’t usually pair Chardonnay with tomato based dishes, but this recipe has a lot of other flavours going on and a little heat, which is perfect with Chardonnay. Try to find some sourdough bread to sop up the juices.

Marcia's Seafood Cioppino

This recipe was shared by Marcia Kunde Mickelson, 4th Generation Winegrower.

cioppino1 teaspoon fennel seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
28 oz. can tomatoes, cut up or crushed
16 oz. can stewed tomatoes
8 oz. tomato passata  
1 bottle clam juice
1 1/2 cups Kunde Chardonnay
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 lb. fresh halibut or cod, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
1 lb. mussels or small clams
1 lb. fresh medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 fresh crab, cracked and cleaned

Toast fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, bay leaves, oregano and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft. Stir in fennel seeds, tomatoes with juices, tomato passata, wine, clam juice, parsley, and 1 cup water. Cover, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low and cook, stirring often, until flavours meld, about 15 minutes. Stir in fish, mussels, and shrimp to bring to a simmer. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add crab, cover, and cook until mussels open and seafood is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Serve with Kunde Estate Chardonnay and sourdough bread.


- Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum





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