The Imbiber's Report

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


February 7, 2015



Winter-Love-Wallpapers-Background-HD-WallpaperThis year, Valentine’s Day and Family Day share the same weekend. For those who are so inclined to celebrate both, there are plenty of things to do. Most museums, art galleries, conservation areas and historical sites have something planned for Family Day so surf around the official Ontario tourism website for events near you.

Here’s another resource that will make your weekends even more fun, a guide to the best tobogganing hills in Canada. It’s interactive, so you can add your favourite run.

We have a solid collection of wine released through Vintages this weekend including a couple of newbies from Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery, a red and white from California and a classic Cab from Down Under. We also have a red Bordeaux available on-line through the Classics Collection that you should know about. There are a number of products on sale this month at the LCBO, including Segura Viudas Brut Reserva (in case you need some for Valentine’s Day). One more thing before we begin: Gord Stimmell gave our new Les Dauphins an 89+ Point score and calls it “excellent value”.

Pour a glass of bubby and relax…



Citran 2005Château Citran 2005
Haut-Médoc AC, Bordeaux, France
65371 $48.00
20 (12 pack) cases available

93 Points – Wine Enthusiast, Roger Voss
“This is full of intensely ripe fruit, but seductively balanced with the fresh acidity. The wine is solid, but also lively, with dusty tannins layered with some new wood flavors”.

Citran is available online now through Vintages:






VINTAGES RELEASE, February 7, 2015

Fancy Farm Girl White largeFancy Farm Girl Frivolous White 2012
VQA Niagara Peninsula
394072 $14.95
128 (12 pack) cases available

There's nothing frivolous about this Fancy Farm Girl. Sue-Ann Staff is a fifth-generation grape-grower and one of Ontario's leading winemakers. This is a bright and crisp white, with impressive grapefruit, white peach and green apple throughout.

It’s aromatic with nuances of citrus fruit such as lemon juice and lime leaf with subtle mineral and steely tones. The semi-dry, refreshing palate is clean and fruit driven. Citrus and minerality reappear on the palate joined by Granny Smith apple, white peach and honey. It’s zippy and mouth-watering. Try with spicy Asian food or grilled pork chops. Swiss Cheese fondue (recipe below).

Frivolous White is available only until June 21, 2015.  Check for the list of 65 select stores that carry this wine.





Girard Chardonnay largeGirard
Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2012
Sonoma, California
276675 $26.95
112 (12 pack) cases available

Vintages Tasting Panel Notes:
“Winemaker Glenn Hugo places great emphasis on creating terroir-driven wines with minimal intervention. His extensive experience in the restaurant business, prior to becoming a winemaker in 2003, informs his desire to make wines designed specifically to be a part of a culinary experience. This food-friendly Russian River Valley Chard has aromas and flavours of toast, with vanilla and nutty notes along with oodles of ripe fruit. It's the perfect companion for grilled tuna steaks or roast chicken”.

Girard sources Chardonnay for this wine from the famous Dutton Ranch in Russian River. Brothers Steve and Joe grow some of the very best fruit in Sonoma County and it is used by many of the top wineries in the area. 2012 was an almost perfect vintage with cool, constant temperatures and just the right amount of rain. Girard ages this Chardonnay for 11 months in French oak, of which 35% is new.

This very food friendly wine will play well with all sorts of grilled food like chicken, pork, veal, salmon or tuna. It will also match a wide variety of seafood and shellfish.



Fancy Farm Girl Red largeFancy Farm Girl Frivolous Red 2012
VQA Niagara Peninsula
394080 $14.95
120 (12 pack) cases available

This is the red mate from Sue-Ann Staff, the fancy farm girl behind the wine.  

The elegant red colour alludes to the overall structure of the wine. Kirsch cherry interlaced with mint, fresh raspberries and subtle cedar drift through the aromatics. Very approachable tannins with black pepper, roasted nuts, mint, cherry and other red fruits keep the wine elegant and drinking very well. A pleasant round finish persists.  It’s very easy to enjoy.

Try with gourmet hamburgers, grilled pork baby back ribs, meaty pizza or grilled steak.

Like the white, it is available only until June 21, 2015. Check for the list of 65 select stores that carry this wine.






cigar zin largeCigar Zin Old Vine Zinfandel 2012
269340 $21.95
560 (12 pack) cases available

93 Points - Natalie MacLean,
“Surprisingly low in alcohol for such a full-bodied, full-flavoured Californian zinfandel. Pure delicious! Smoky with fleshy black fruit. Complex zinfandel in all its glory. Yahoo! Old vines truly do make a difference to the complexity and concentration of flavour, especially in zinfandel. Finishes with dark spice, smoke and pepper. Pair with spaghetti and meat balls. Pair with: steaks, ribs, grilled meats, pasta sauces, pizza, cheese, hearty stews, blackened seafood”.






Happy Anniversary…

Katnook Estate Cab largeKatnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Coonawarra, Australia 30th Vintage Anniversary Release
590471 $29.95
448 (6 pack) cases available

94 Points – James Halliday,
“Bright hue, especially for '11; matured for 22 months in 60% French and 40% American oak, which has in no way diminished its varietal expression of cassis, mint and Coonawarra earth; has good length, bolstered by the integrated oak and fine tannins”.

91 Points – David Lawrason,
“This dazzles- with the great lift of Coonawarra cabernet - a riot of blackcurrant, mint/menthol, graphite, white pepper and oak. Some cabernet lead pencil and rubber eraser as well. It's medium-full bodied, tense, fairly dense and juicy with all kinds of juicy fruit/ Excellent focus, length and exuberance - of the kind Australia can do so well”.

On the nose there are notes of bright berry fruits such as blueberry, light mulberry and cassis that combine with elegant floral and savoury notes of pepper and tomato leaf. The palate is well layered with blackcurrant and plum and subtle oak maturation flavours of vanilla, nougat and spice. The refined palate leads to lingering tannins with a savoury and rewarding finish.

The Coonawarra produces a distinctive style of Cabernet Sauvignon that is really unique to this region. These wines have garnered an international reputation for their ability to express Cabernet Sauvignon’s hallmark characteristics with focus and depth.  

Try with grilled red meat or strong flavoured cheese.




Gord Stimmell featured Les Dauphins Réserve in his top value article in the Toronto Star and other newspapers this week. He prefaced the review with this commentary:

Three value wines from three continents “Today three wines step forward into our winner’s circle for value. The Rhône red is brand new to all shelves, a blend of mainly Grenache along with Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes. It is excellent value”.

Les Dauphins CdR Reserve Red large89+ Points – Gord Stimmell, Toronto Star
Les Dauphins 2013
Côtes du Rhône Réserve, France
385385 $12.95

“Smoky and very hearty flavours and aromas of black cherry, licorice, vanilla bean and herbs with a whiff of violets and cedar”.






Los Clop Reserva Malbec med90 Points – Gord Stimmell, Toronto Star
Los Clop Reserva Malbec 2009
186650 $17.95
“In the South America feature of this release, solid value lies in Los Clop Reserva 2009 Malbec with violets, plum, cherry, raspberry and mocha notes”.








MD Chardonnay large91 Points – Gord Stimmell, Toronto Star
Michael David Chardonnay 2013
396283 $22.95
“A powerhouse white, with big tar, smoke and yellow apple aromas swirling in the glass and coconut, yellow apple and buttery richness on the palate. LCBO #396283. Food suggestion: Lobster with drawn butter”.







Domaine Pinnacle Large92 Points – Beppi Crosariol, The Globe and Mail
Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider 2012 (Quebec)
94094 $24.95/375 ml
“Better than the best apple pie you’ve tasted (except your mother’s). Better because one modest glass carries only about half the calories of a pie slice. Plus, no baking required. Sweet and rich and long in the crisp finish, this golden, honeyed nectar, with well-tuned acidity, was pressed from frozen apples, riffing on the technique used to produce Canada’s famed icewine.”








We are super proud of our northern sales rep, Karen Yawney, who is featured in this Northern Life article. Karen shaved her head to raise money for the Northeast Cancer Centre's pediatric oncology department. Please have a look at the article and donate generously if you can. Congratulations to Karen on already reaching her goal of $10,000 dollars. Someone get that lady a toque!


Slava Vodka and Cheese
Drop by the Cheese Boutique this Saturday from 1:00 to 5:00 for a Slava Vodka and Cheese tasting. You won’t believe how well it works.











Churchill Cellars is on the air with Humble and Fred!

Chris and Mark joined Humble & Fred this week for #wineforbreakfast and sampled some Los Clop Malbec Reserve from Argentina and some tasty Shiraz from Chapel Hill Winery called The Parson’s Nose. Our relatively clean segment has some good wine banter and Phil was awarded Employee of the Month. Tune in to the 50:14 minute mark here to hear Chris’ musical selection, I Am the Fool by the Bros. Landreth from Winnipeg. 

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





“Notes” on Jazz.FM91

Chris and Mark joined Brad at Jazz.FM91 on the January 27. They tasted through four different wines and nibbled on Bresaola Rolls Domaine du Bois Malinge 2013 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie AC, Grove Street Pinot Noir, Incognito Red and Casal Thaulero Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon were sampled on air. You can listen to the podcast here.








JAZZ.FM91 presents their inaugural Piano Series - featuring some of the world's greatest pianists.  The first show this past Tuesday was amazing.  The early shows are all sold out but a few tickets remain for the later shows.



Date: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 - Jazz Bistro
1st Show - 7:00 p.m.                     2nd Show - 9:30 p.m.
Hailed as perhaps the most exciting hard-swinging, hard-bop pianist to ever emerge from Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Beginning his touring life with Betty Carter, to being chosen as the first recipient of the City of Toronto's Glen Gould International Protégé Prize in Music by Oscar Peterson, Green has appeared on well over 100 recordings with legacy artists, in addition to performing previously at JAZZ.FM91's JAZZ LIVES.   
Members Pre-Sale: $25
Regular Price: $27.50


Date: Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - Jazz Bistro
1st Show - 7:00 p.m.                     2nd Show - 9:30 p.m.
JAZZ.FM91 features Cyrus Chestnut, who the New York Times described as a 'highly intelligent improviser with one of the surest senses of swing in jazz'.  Chestnut has earned a reputation for his skillful versatility, ability for blending sounds and for unabashedly bringing gospel into the club performance he gives.  Throughout his career, he has worked with an array of artists including jazz legend Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea and trumpeter Roy Hargrove. Recently Chestnut has collaborated with vocalists Anita Baker, Bette Midler and Brian McKnight
Members Pre-Sale: $25
Regular Price: $27.50


Date: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - Jazz Bistro
1st Show - 7:00 p.m.                     2nd Show - 9:30 p.m.
From a pianist, organist, arranger, music director and composer, Hyman has had a long career involving film scores, orchestral compositions, concert appearances and has recorded well over 100 albums under his own name!  Performing with the likes of George Gershwin and Duke Ellington, Dick Hyman was one of the first to record on the Moog synthesizer.  This Emmy award-winner has also created the scores for Woody Allen Films; is a member of the Jazz Hall of Fame of the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies; and an alumni performer of JAZZ.FM91's Sound of Jazz Series.    
Members Pre-Sale: $25
Regular Price: $27.50


Regular Pricing:
General Admission: $27.50
General Series Subscription: $95
For tickets and more details click HERE.






The following promotions are available from now until February 28, 2015 at the LCBO:


Save $0.20 on Big Rig Brewery Gold (398255)

Save $1.00 on Segura Viudas Brut Reserva (216960)

Save $1.00 on Vodka Mudshake Chocolate (5280)

Save $1.00 on Alpine Valley Sauvignon Blanc (241810)

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

Save $3.00 on Slava Ultra Premium Vodka (600585)

Earn 8 Bonus Air Miles on Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc (367748)

Earn 3 Bonus Air Miles when you buy one Caliterra Cabernet Sauvignon (257329) or one Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva (275909). Buy one of each and earn 9 Bonus Air Miles.

Receive free gift wrap paper with the purchase of Fresita Sparkling Wine (383901) where applied




Swiss Cheese Fondue

We really love cheese. We love cheese so much that we have sets for service, special knives, slicers and graters. We are the proud owners of a Girolle for shaving Tête de Moine, a Swissmar 8 Person Classic Raclette Party Grill and a La Creuset cast-iron fondue pot. They all get used, especially during the winter months. You don’t need to have a fondue pot to enjoy this dish. Use a medium-sized sauce pan and re-heat the mixture on the stove when it gets too cool.

One of the best after-tobogganing or skiing eating activities is classic Swiss Cheese Fondue. The Cheese Boutique sells a premixed cheese blend, featured in this recipe, or you can mix your own combo, providing you end up with between 800 and 900 grams of cheese. We occasionally throw a little sharp Canadian Cheddar in for good measure.


Fondue800g of Cheese Boutique fondue cheese blend:
Appenzeller, Swiss Gruyere, Swiss Emmenthal

1 garlic clove

350 ml of wine or cider

2 teaspoons of cornstarch, dissolved in a bit of water

Ground pepper and nutmeg, to taste

Serves 4


Cut and rub the garlic clove around the fondue pot

Bring the wine or cider to a boil and add the grated cheese, a handful at a time, at medium heat while stirring constantly

Once all the cheese is added, cook for approximately 10 minutes until a smooth cream is formed

To thicken, add the cornstarch and water mixture

Simmer the fondue for another 10 minutes while stirring continuously

Season with black pepper and nutmeg

Transfer to fondue pot and enjoy


- Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum




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Download PDF of our most recent General List Price List

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