The Imbiber's Report

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


November 8, 2014


remembranceday1Here are the Ontario Government’s list of Remembrance Day Ceremonies taking place across the Province and the Government of Canada’s list of events. Please note that some communities have activities on November 8th and 9th as well. Many towns, legions and universities that are not on these lists also hold Remembrance Day Services and Ceremonies.

This weekend’s release brings eight new wines to Vintages. We have a bevy of big red wines from around the world, a zippy Loire Valley Savvy and an LBV Port from Dow’s. Earlier this week a 1995 Sauternes was released through the Classics Catalogue and is available now.

We’ve got a few good deals on at the LCBO which you can read about in the Promotions section, some more jazz concerts to tell you about, three great new reviews and a recipe for the ultimate comfort food - steak and mushroom pie.

How Sweet it is…



chateau-suduiraut-sauternes 1995Château Suduiraut
Sauternes AC Premier Cru Classé 1995
Bordeaux, France
387894 $79.00
10 (12 pack) cases available

90 Points – Wine Spectator

This is a classic Sauternes with a nose dominated by wood notes but also offering complex aromas of honey, spice, preserves and citrus fruit. It’s a medium to full-bodied, sweet and spicy Sauternes with a very ripe style featuring flavours of dried apricot and honey. Excellent length features mineral and spice.

If you have always wondered what to serve with Sauternes, Pierre Montégut, Suduiraut’s Technical Director, is passionate about matching fine wine with haute cuisine and suggests these pairings.  It’s much more versatile than most people think!
Starters: dry-cured ham, rillettes, pan-fried fresh foie gras (with figs or apricots…).
Poultry: roast turkey with morel mushrooms, duck with peaches or orange, roast poultry, curried chicken.
Shellfish: lobster with ginger, prawns in Thai sauce.
Cheeses: Roquefort, Fourme d’Ambert, Chaource, ripe pressed cooked cheeses (Comté, Beaufort, Ossau-Iraty, etc.).
Desserts: tarte Tatin, apricot tart, apple pie, walnut cake, almond financier, cannelés bordelais, fresh or caramelised pineapple, marinated oranges, stir-fried cherries in syrup.


VINTAGES RELEASE, November 8, 2014

Touraine no backgroundDomaine du Pré Baron
Touraine AC Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Loire Valley, France
107128 $17.95
245 (12 pack) cases available

Gold Medal winner at the 2014 Concours des Vins du Val de Loire

You will find bright citrus, gooseberry, green pepper and mineral-spice on the nose. Crisp, refreshing flavours of apple and lemon are focused and clean on the palate and give this Sauvignon Blanc verve. More gooseberry and green vegetables play in the background, but are not the focus of this charming Touraine wine which is delightful and very easy to drink. Try with pan-seared fish, asparagus and goat cheese quiche or chicken piccata.

Domaine du Pré Baron is a family owned independent Vigneron (grape grower and wine producer) located in the heart of the Touraine. The Domaine consists of 35 hectares of vineyards planted on a limestone-rich, gravelly plateau between the Cher and Loire rivers in the commune of Oisly. This is pretty much the geographic and spiritual centre of the Loire Valley where the French gentry built some of France’s most spectacular Chateaux.



A Bevy of Big Reds…

Chateau La Caminade Cahors Red No BackgroundChâteau La Caminade 2011
Cahors AC, France
102954 $17.95
300 (12 pack) cases available

Enticing aromas of jam, violets, tea and earth give hints of what’s to come on the palate.
Soft plum and ripe dark fruit flavours meld with violets, black tea and sandalwood spice. Fine tannins and a dollop of cherry-like acidity provide this medium to full-bodied red with excellent balance. If you are a fan of New World Malbec from South America, give this a try to see what the original version looks like. This is a really great wine for the money.  Try it now with full-flavoured cheese, game, grilled red meat or stew. A few more years of aging will help to develop tremendous complexity in this wine.

The wines of Cahors are well known for their dark colour and complex character. The appellation allows for up to 70% of Malbec in the blend which is augmented by Merlot and Tannat. Château la Caminade is cited by many critics as one of the top producers in the region and is highly recommended by Tom Stevenson in The New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopaedia.




GROVE STREET CABERNETGrove Street Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Sonoma County, California
161190 $19.95
823 (12 pack) cases available

This very pretty Sonoma Cab is an absolute joy to drink and a great bargain to boot! Cassis, mixed berry fruit and toasty oak welcome you on the nose. Excellent fruit intensity echo berry and cassis on the palate, joined by tobacco, earth, chocolate-cherry and vanilla flavours. It is smooth and long on the finish with notable cocoa-like silky tannins and cherry tinged acidity.

Fruit for Grove Street Cab is sourced from around Sonoma County with a good portion of it from the Russian River. This allows Grove Street to craft a wine that consistently showcases Sonoma’s bright, fruity character year after year. Russian River fruit adds depth and complexity and gives Grove Street Cab excellent aromatic and flavour intensity.

Amazing with all types of red meat dishes, it will also work well with grilled ‘meaty’ fish or Mediterranean inspired dishes.  





NV First Press Napa Cab Sauv Btl Shot First Press Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Napa Valley, California
188110 $22.95
1600 (12 pack) cases available

90 Points –
“Full-bodied with classic aromas of cassis and blackcurrant. Nicely balanced oak. Although it's robust, it's not heavy. Attractive whisps (sic) of hickory smoke on the finish along with cassis and blackcurrant. This is a good value for Napa Valley Cabernet. Try it with a rare steak”.

4 Stars,, Susan Desjardins
“Deep ruby, this dry, full-bodied Cabernet offers classic aromas of cassis, cedar, spice and herbs. The structure is subtle, balancing the ripe black fruit, while a touch of dark chocolate and hints of smoke and toast add complexity. Very tasty and flavourful, this is an appealing, approachable wine”.

Best Buy, Wine & Spirits Magazine
"You can feel the coolness of the vintage in this wine's cranberry scents and floral, grape-skin notes. It's a soft, simple cabernet with enough freshness to handle the weight of its black tannins.

Fan-favourite First Press Cabernet Sauvignon returns to Vintages this weekend and will have excellent stock distribution throughout the province. First Press Cab delivers tremendous value from Napa Valley and offers consumers an affordable introduction to California’s most iconic and expensive wine growing region.

Pick up half a case to have on hand for the next couple of months. It makes a great gift and you can drink or save what you don’t give away.



Petite.petit no backgroundMichael David Winery Petite Petit 2012
Lodi, California
213017 $24.95
392 (12 pack) cases available

4 Stars,, Vic Harradine
“From the aromatic nose to the persistent, balanced flavours and aftertaste, this delivers a steady stream of rock-solid, 4-star, red blend - 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot - ‘Petite Petit’, get it? Aromas of dark berry fruit and pipe tobacco open up a gusher of black currant, ripe mulberry and sweet vanilla mingling with toasty oak and mushroom notes. It’s medium-full bodied with creamy mouth feel and a lengthy aftertaste”.

One of the most colourful labels in our portfolio, Petite Petit features a couple of wine-imbibing pachyderms in the Green Room of a circus, chilling with some of their mice buddies before the show. The exuberant label offers a good clue to what’s in the bottle. Big, bold and fun, this imposing red is made for people who like their red wine on the full-bodied side of things. While Petite Petit is packed with flavour, it does have a softer side to it which makes it incredibly easy to drink. Try with beef teriyaki, barbecue ribs, pulled pork salad or Tex-Mex dishes.  




6TH-SENSE-SYRAH no backgroundMichael David Winery 6th Sense Syrah 2012
Lodi, California
394395 $24.95
336 (12 pack) cases available

Vintages Tasting Panel Note: “Huge, blockbuster Syrah brimming with plum, blackberry, and mulberry aromas and flavours with a weighty, generous mouthfeel. You'll want flavourful foods with this one - think dry-rub beef ribs, or marinated steaks with peppercorn gravy”.

Brothers Michael and David Phillips planted one of the first Syrah vineyards in California in 1982. Michael’s son Kevin is continuing the Phillips grape growing tradition into the 6th generation and this Syrah vineyard was one of the first he tended to as the winery’s Vineyard Manager. If you turn the bottle around you will see Kevin’s eye looking out from the inside of the bottle, making sure the wine is being enjoyed!

We’ve poured this impressive wine at the California Wine Fair for the past few years where it earned legions of fans. Good news! It’s now finally available through Vintages. Even better news is that the 2012 vintage was one of the best in years for Lodi.

You might open this up after dinner and serve it with a cheese course.




2010Cab SauvChapel Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2012,
McLaren Vale, Australia
965830 $26.95
416 (12 pack) cases available

Winemaker Michael Fragos’ Tasting Note: “This wine exudes an evocative array of flavours. Brooding mulberry, aniseed and beetroot flavours all mingle harmoniously in the wine. The layered flavour profile is underpinned by the poised and seamless integration with the trademark Cabernet Sauvignon “dusty” fine grained tannin structure”.

While many South Australian wineries are justifiably famous for producing an outstanding, world-class Shiraz/Syrah, a handful of wineries, like Chapel Hill, produce Cabernet Sauvignon that is as good as or better than their Shiraz.  McLaren Vale, with its Mediterranean climate and cooling influence from the Gulf St. Vincent can grow ripe Cab that still has healthy natural acidity levels. Chapel Hill’s Cab maintains its hallmark savoury characteristics and is imbued with eucalypt, dark fruit, coffee and spice. Even at this price, it’s excellent value.





Dows LBV 2009Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2009
Douro Portugal
613927 $17.95
200 (12 pack) cases available

90 Points –, David Lawrason

“This is a quite fine, fruit driven, plummy, licorice and vanilla scented port. Not a lot of complexity, but there is generous fruit. Elegance and smoothness reign, with a chalky dusty finish. Very good length with a touch of flinty minerality”.

Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port is perhaps one of the most undervalued wines on the planet. The sheer amount of time and effort that goes into producing this style of wine is unbelievable. Historically, fortified wines were highly prized because they could survive long voyages at sea and could withstand storage in less than ideal conditions. Port is made in a wide variety of styles, some of which require extended bottle aging. LBV is worth trying out because it is one of the styles that is drinkable upon release and absolutely delicious.  

Keep Port cool, but not cold and serve it as apéritif or with chocolate desserts. It’s also fantastic with blue cheese, especially Stilton.






2010Shiraz92+ Points – Gord Stimmell, Toronto Star
Chapel Hill Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia
743989 $26.95

“As we roll towards the gift-giving season, the LCBO has brought out the big guns.
This is as inevitable as the onslaught of Canadian winter. As promised, here (is) the ultimate worthy red in the latest huge Vintages release…Chapel Hill 2012 Shiraz seduces with a lush velvet gush of cassis, plum, blackberry, garam masala and anise”.





dArrys Original New Packaging91 Points –
d’Arenberg d’Arry’s Original Shiraz Grenache 2010

“This big Australian red wine is savoury, dark and delicious with chary, toasty oak and black fruit. Full-bodied and smooth with loads of satisfaction. Lip-smacking delicious from one of Australia's most respected producers! Try this with hamburgers and all the fixins’.






Beppi Crosariol - Globe and Mail
It’s not too early to stock up for the holidays with these value wines
“It’s a while yet before the revelry begins in earnest, I know, but perhaps not too early to start thinking about stocking up on good-value drink for the gatherings you may host.
With that in mind, I propose something of a house-wine cage match: a list of bargains worthy of your scrutiny. The reviews that follow are by no means the final word on well-priced reds and whites. I, in fact, welcome reader suggestions for potential future columns on the subject. (But, please, no white zinfandel or liebfraumilch!) They simply represent some of the standouts among the new-vintage bargains I’ve sampled in recent weeks. No surprise: Chile figures prominently. I hope you’ll find one or two to spare you the fiscal hangover of party-planning debt”.

Caliterra Rva Cab Sauv 2013 no background88 Points – Beppi Crosariol, Globe and Mail
Caliterra Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Chile
257329 $9.95

“There’s an almost liqueur-like depth to Caliterra’s ripe red. It calls to mind an Italian ripasso, infused with a leathery, woodsy aromatic quality as well as more typical cabernet nuances of mint and black olive. It would do well with earthy dishes such as roast pork tenderloin wrapped in pancetta or bacon”.















JazzFM.91 Notes with Brad Barker

Chris and Mark joined Brad at JazzFM.91 on Wednesday, October 29. They tasted through four different wines and nibbled on beef back ribs (recipe link here). Kunde Sonoma Valley Chardonnay, Hermanos Lurton Tempranillo, Animus and Château de Panigon were sampled on air. You can listen to the podcast here (warning - you may want to have some snacks close by)









Chris and Boyz from Crazy Uncle were on the air with Humble and Fred!

It was Caesarsforbreakfast last week with Humble and Fred as Bruno and Davide Codispoti, makers of Crazy Uncle Über Caesar, dropped by with Chris. Much fun was had by all and the H&F listener response has been amazing! Listen to the podcast here. You’ll find us around the 54:00 minute mark.

 Codispoti brothers HF









NOTE: Broadcast contains mature language.

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.





Jazz fm



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 kicked 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, 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.





The following promotions are available from November 9 to 29, 2014 at the LCBO:

Save $0.25 on Dos Locos Lime Tequila Margarita (370668)

Save $1.00 on Caramel Vodka Mudshakes (319467)

Earn 4 Bonus Air Miles on Château de Gourgazaud Minervois AC (22384)







Beef and Mushroom Pie

There are few things as comforting as the smell of savoury pie cooking in the oven. This version, from Canadian Living, is straightforward and relatively simple. It’s easy enough to double or triple the ingredients and make multiple pies which you can freeze. If you are not into making your own pastry, you can buy a decent frozen version at most grocery stores. You could also top the beef and mushroom filling with mashed potatoes instead of pastry.

Beef and Mushroom PieIngredients:
675 g stewing beef cubes
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt and pepper
5 tsp (24 mL) vegetable oil
3 slices bacon, chopped
225 g cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp (10 mL) chopped fresh thyme
1 cup (250 mL) sodium-reduced beef broth
1 cup (250 mL) Brown ale
1/4 cup (60 mL) tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp (15 mL) all-purpose flour
1 Easy-roll Pie Pastry (see below)
1 egg yolk

Sprinkle beef with half each of the salt and pepper. In Dutch oven, heat 2 tsp of the oil over medium-high heat; brown beef, in batches and adding another 2 tsp of the oil as needed. Transfer to plate; drain any fat from pan.

Add bacon to pan; cook for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook until no liquid remains, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate; cover and refrigerate until needed. Add remaining oil to pan; cook onion, garlic, thyme, and remaining salt and pepper until onion is softened and light golden, about 5 minutes.

Add broth, ale, tomato paste and bay leaves; bring to boil, stirring and scraping up browned bits. Return beef and any accumulated juices to pan.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until beef is tender, about 2 hours. Discard bay leaves.

Whisk flour with 1 tbsp water; whisk into stew and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Make-ahead: Let cool for 30 minutes; refrigerate in airtight container for up to 2 days.

Stir in reserved bacon mixture; set aside. On lightly floured surface, roll out half of the pastry to generous 1/8-inch (3 mm) thickness; fit into 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate. Trim to leave 3/4-inch (2 cm) overhang. Scrape filling into pie shell.

Roll out remaining pastry to generous 1/8-inch (3 mm) thickness. Whisk egg yolk with 2 tsp water; brush some over pastry rim in pie plate. Fit pastry over filling; trim to leave 3/4-inch (2 cm) overhang. Fold overhang under bottom pastry rim and flute edge. Brush top with remaining egg mixture; cut steam vents in top.

Bake on rimmed baking sheet on bottom rack in 425 F (220 C) oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F (180 C); bake until bottom is golden and filling is bubbly, 60 to 65 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.

Easy-roll Pie Pastry


2-1/2 cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup (125 mL) lard, or vegetable shortening, cubed
1/4 cup (60 mL) cold water, (approx)
3 tbsp (45 mL) sour cream
1 egg


In bowl, whisk flour with salt. Using pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter and lard until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces.

Whisk together cold water, sour cream and egg; drizzle over flour mixture, tossing with fork and adding up to 1 tsp more cold water if necessary until ragged dough forms. Divide in half; shape into discs. Wrap each and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.)

Serve with your favourite red wine or a big oaky Chardonnay.


- Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum





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