The Imbiber's Report

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


February 21, 2015


grand budapest Sadly, wine does not figure prominently in many of this year’s Oscar Nominations. Disney’s Feast features an animated dog eating copious amounts of junk food without a glass of wine in sight. The only film that really mentions wine is The Grand Budapest Hotel.  It gets our nod because, in addition to its wonderfully quirky visual style, there are equally quirky allusions to wine. “A split of the brut” is asked for and obscure and made-up wine names are mashed together to evoke a sense of connoisseurship: “bring a bottle of the Pouilly-Jouvet ’26 in an ice bucket with two glasses so we don’t have to drink the cat-piss they serve in the dining car”, and so on. Watch the film and see if you can catch some of eccentric ‘wine-speak’.

Two glorious Cabernet Sauvignons from opposite sides of the earth are featured in this weekend’s Vintages release along with a very different Scotch Whisky. We have a simple but tasty recipe, some info on upcoming Jazz concerts and links to a couple of podcasts we’d like you to listen to.

Heat a mug of red wine in the microwave for a minute and garnish it with a cinnamon stick and a slice of orange. It’s cold after all.


We are very pleased to announce the latest addition to our portfolio – Chic Choc (pronounced "shick-shock") Spiced Rum! From the Domaine Pinnacle Micro-Distillerie in Quebec comes a premium aged rum infused with wild Nordic spices from the Chic Choc mountains of the Gaspésie. Peppery Green Alder, Pine Forest Spikenard, Whiterod Berries, Lovage Root, Sweet Gale Seeds and Wild Angelica make up the spice blend.

CCL Domaine PinnacleThe Churchill Cellars team visited Domaine Pinnacle at the beginning of January to pick apples for their ice cider and to see the micro-distillerie. We sampled all of Domaine Pinnacle’s different apple-based products and ciders, Ungava Gin, and Chic Choc, along with some amazing local cheese.

We also did a comparative tasting with other leading spiced rum brands and were blown away at how good Chic Choc is. For wine-geeks, this is a very complex rum with familiar yet mysterious aromas and flavours. On the nose there are notes of spice, cinnamon, pepper, sandalwood and honeycomb. The palate is round, well-balanced with an amazing array of flavours. Things like spice, ginger, pepper, spruce and licorice made it into my tasting notes along with orange peel, and Dr. Pepper (all in a good way). A long warming, dry finish makes this perfect for sipping.

If you drink any other spiced rum (we're not naming names but some of the others were less than inspiring), you owe it to yourself to try Chic Choc.



Chic Choc largeChic Choc Spiced Rum
100% Quebec Spices
402867 $33.95

Dark ‘n’ Stormy
1 ½ oz Chic Choc Spiced Rum
½ oz fresh lime juice
2 oz Ginger Beer

Serve in an old-fashioned glass with ice and wedge of lime.







VINTAGES RELEASE, February 21, 2015

Great value…

Bleasdale Cab Bleasdale Mulberry Tree Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Langhorne Creek, Australia
661892 $17.95
768 (6 pack) cases available

93 Points  James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion 2014
“Has the colour of the ’12 vintage, and is indeed a most attractive medium-bodied wine with pure blackcurrant varietal fruit supported by cedary oak and fine tannin. Great value.

90 Points – David Lawrason,
“Okay, this may be power of suggestion given the name of this wine but the aromas here are very mulberry like - which is to me a wild black fruit/vaguely curranty scent. There is also a scent of moss, anise and warmed, wet earth. It's medium-full bodied, fairly dense yet lifted by sourish acidity and some heat. Youthful cabernet grit on the finish. Not overly heavy or soupy. This has a lot to recommend for $18”.

90 pts, Stephen Tanzer IWC 2014
Double Gold, CWSA 2014
Silver, International Wine Challenge 2014

Silver, Royal Adelaide Wine Show 2013
Silver, Royal Melbourne Wine Awards

3.5/4 Stars, Julie Stock
“A lovely, soft, garnet hue, it’s chockfull of red fruit and black currant aromas. The palate’s medium-bodied replaying fruit with a long cocoa/mint finish. The palate flavours and aftertaste are reminiscent of chocolate wafers with frosted mint in the middle—this is a very good thing”.

Get the idea?  This is a great value wine.  The largely undiscovered Langhorne Creek region of South Australia has been producing wine since the 1850s. With only eight Cellar Door (Australian for a winery that you can visit to sample and purchase wine) locations, the region is not as famous as the neighbouring McLaren Vale or Adelaide Hills. The region sits on a large alluvial floodplain with access to a good supply of fresh water.

Frank Potts planted the first vines in the region in 1850 and over the course of his lifetime built levees and floodgates to divert water to his vineyards. Langhorne Creek is moderated by cool breezes off nearby Lake Alexandrina and the Southern Ocean in summer. Red grapes do particularly well here and Bleasdale has long had a reputation for making exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon. Mulberry Tree is named after the ancient tree that grows in the middle of the winery’s block of Cabernet Sauvignon.

We recommend picking up a few bottles for the summertime grilling season. Put them somewhere dark, cool and away from vibration. Try with grilled red meat or sausage.


Kunde CabSauv largeKunde Estate Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Sonoma Valley, California
226977 $26.95
448 (12 pack) cases available

91+Points – Gord Stimmell, Toronto Star / Metroland
"Also gorgeous from California is Kunde Family Estate 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon with refined and piquant black cherry cola, raspberry, cinnamon and vanilla layers from the Sonoma Valley”.

Vintages Tasting Panel“Kunde Family Estate received the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for their sustainable practices and facilities. This wine is produced from Kunde's sustainably grown estate vineyards. Opaque ruby in the glass, with larger-than-life blackberry, cassis, smoked meat and cinnamon toast notes. Dry, medium-full bodied, with a resounding core of dark fruit and smoky spice, and big ripe still-youthful tannins providing structure. Good length. Cellar for 2-3 years, or enjoy it tonight with steak grilled rare”.

Sonoma Valley, like Russian River Valley and Dry Creek Valley, is a separate AVA within Sonoma County with its own personality. The region produces some of the state’s best Cabernet Sauvignon and is also well-known for its Zinfandel.

Winemaker Zachary Long states, "The red loam soils on the hills of the Kunde Estate provide a great foundation for growing stellar Cabernet. When we pick our vineyards at the end of October, we know that we maximize the hang time the fruit is given to express the terroir of the Sonoma Valley. This Estate Cabernet Sauvignon may be considered our house wine, but if this tastes like a house wine, I’d stay home any time! Best enjoyed with the family around your favorite summer barbeque grills; burgers to spare ribs, this one is versatile."

You could also enjoy it with a hearty winter beef stew, braised lamb shank or roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding.


Syndicate 58 6 largeSyndicate 58/6
12 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky
Leith, Scotland
403337 $99.95
30 (6 pack) cases available

In 1958 10 oak casks of rare Malt and Grain Whiskies were discovered in the bonded warehouse of William Muir, of Leith (Edinburgh). After aging the whisky for 12 years, a small amount was bottled for private use by 6 people, Directors of William Muir Bond 9 Ltd and some friends. The Syndicate 58/6 was born.

Today the Syndicate 58/6 contains 18 Single Malt Whiskies and 4 Single Grain Whiskies which are kept in a ‘Solera’ system, whereby when additional 12 year Old Whiskies are added, they are then re-blended with older stock. The whisky drawn from the Solera is matured and finished in Oloroso Sherry Casks, producing a whisky that is exceptionally smooth and distinctive.

Rapid Release
Syndicate 58/6 is available at a dozen Vintages locations across the province.

On the nose there are notes of honeyed pear, fleshy mangos, ginger spice, jasmine and crushed almonds with hints of liquorice. Rich and intense flavours of Old English marmalade, glazed apple, creamy caramel and marzipan drift lovingly over the tongue. The aftertaste of figs, forest fruits, treacle and apricots completes this overture of pleasure.



Wente Southern Hills LargeRecommended – Rod Phillips, Ottawa Citizen
Wente ‘Southern Hills’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Livermore Valley, California
301507 $17.95
“From the Livermore Valley region of California (near San Francisco), this delivers nicely concentrated flavours but doesn’t go over the top. There’s good structure and focus, and the fruit is well balanced with clean acidity. With moderate tannins, it’s a good choice for grilled or roasted red meats”.





GuySaget Sancerre largeRecommended – Rod Phillips, Ottawa Citizen
Guy Saget Sancerre 2013
Loire Valley, France
319657 $21.95
“This is a lovely Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc) that goes well with many poultry, white fish and seafood dishes. Look for focused and well-defined flavours that are complex and consistent from start to finish, underpinned by fresh, crisp acidity”.





“Staggeringly elegant”.

Katnook Estate Cab med93 Points – Gord Stimmell, Waterloo Record / Metroland Media
Katnook Estate 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon
30th Vintage Anniversary Release
Coonawarra, Australia
#590471, $29.95
“Staggeringly elegant, with gorgeous cassis, vanilla, cherry cola, violets and mint layers from South Australia”.















Churchill Cellars is on the air with Humble and Fred!

Chris and Mark joined Humble & Fred this week for #wineforbreakfast and introduced the boyz to Girard Russian River Chardonnay and Cigar Zin Old Vine Zinfandel. Humble Howard was very impressed with Girard Chardonnay and may have turned to the white wine side. Tune in to the 42:00 minute mark to hear Chris’ musical selection New Kids by The Vespers, from Nashville.

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.  You may listen to the podcast anytime you please.




Jazz fm





“Notes” on Jazz.FM91

Chris and Mark joined Brad at Jazz.FM91 this past Wednesday and tasted First Press Napa Chardonnay, Los Clop Malbec, Cigar Zin Old Vine Zinfandel and Katnook Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon. All four wines showed very well and Brad fell for the Katnook Cab. We had a small disaster with some stale crackers which made for some entertaining radio. 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 month 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

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




Fagioli all ‘Uccelletto (Tuscan beans cooked like small birds)

I once took a course with the famed Italian cooking instructor Giuliano Bugialli. In a pleasing Italian accent the first thing he said to the class was “the mora you toucha the food – the mora you make a the mess”. With that in mind, here is a recipe with just five ingredients, not including salt and pepper, which is simple to prepare.

For simplicity, this recipe calls for tinned beans. If using dried beans you will need to soak them overnight in water and cook them for 40 minutes in lightly salted water.

fagioliuccelletto1 540 mL tin of White Kidney Beans (drained and rinsed)
1 796 mL tin of Whole Plum Tomatoes – San Marzano (drained and chopped)
2-3 cloves garlic crushed and finely chopped
5 fresh sage leaves chopped
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Pour enough olive in a medium sized pot or casserole to completely cover the bottom. Sauté the garlic, sage and pepper over medium heat until fragrant (do not let the garlic brown). Add the beans and stir for a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes and salt, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes over medium-low heat.

Serve with crusty bread and a drizzle of olive oil.

We usually serve this bean dish with grilled sweet Italian sausage. If your grill is snowed in, sauté the sausage in a frying pan and finish it off with a splash of red wine. Add it to the beans when you add the tomatoes and salt. Cover and cook for 20 minutes over medium-low heat.


- Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum





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