The Imbiber's Report

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


March 7, 2015


Maple Syrup CansThe gorgeous full moon we saw this week was the last full moon of winter. First Nations people of the Great Lakes basin had many different names for that moon. One is Big Worm Moon, because this is the moon when the earth warms and worms begin to appear again (much to the delight of birds). The Aninshnaabe (Great Lakes Chippewah and Ojibwe) call it the bebookwaadaagame-giizis(oog) or The Snow Crust Moon because the thaw-freeze cycle forms a crust on top of the snow. Where Maple trees grow, the Moon is also called the Sap Moon and is the harbinger for Maple Syrup season.

Across Ontario you’ll find dozens of small community Maple Syrup Festivals, pancake weekends and all sorts of celebrations. Some Provincial Parks and Conservation Authorities host interpretative hikes and make syrup in huge cast iron caldrons over outdoor fires. The Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association’s website has info for events across the province GTA Conservation Areas, Kortright, Terra Cotta and Bruce’s Mills have joined together for the Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival and depending on when you want to visit, you may need to get tickets

Dress warmly and take lots of cash since some of the smaller outfits aren’t set up to take debit or credit cards. Remember: you can buy a year’s supply of Maple Syrup and freeze it for use all year long.

Our eagerly anticipated special Vintages release of Bertani Ripasso has been delayed for a while – read about it below. We have a classic Rheingau Riesling available through the Classics Collection, a word on Chic Choc Spiced Rum, some great reviews, a new podcast on Humble and Fred Radio, some fantastic savings you should know about and a terrific recipe that features maple syrup as a main ingredient. Deep breath…

Pour yourself a neat drop of Chic Choc and read on…



Worth the Climb

Chic Choc large“According to legend, a daring explorer once scaled Quebec’s picturesque Chic Choc Mountains and returned with a mystical blend of aromatics stored in a bottle of rum. A micro-distillery now gathers those same plants on the Gaspé Peninsula – green alder, spikenard, whiterod, lovage, sweet gale and angelica – to flavour its unique premium spiced rum. Serve on its own or with cola, ginger ale, apple juice or cider”.

Chic Choc Spiced Rum
100% Quebec Spices
402867 $33.95

Chic Choc is on sale until March 28, 2015 – save $2!









The March Classics Collection is available online now and we have a stunning wine from Germany in it.  Follow this link for full ordering details.

BR Hattenheim Engelmannsberg Rheingau largeBalthasar Ress
Hattenheim Engelmannsberg Trocken Riesling 2012 Pradikätswein
Rheingau, Germany
401976 $48.00
5 (12 pack) cases available

94 Points –, Kim Marcus
“This powerful, dry-style Riesling from Germany offers rapier-like acidity. The well-focused, crunchy flavours of pippin apple, Bosc pear and lemon-lime extend on the zesty texture. It is pure and minerally on the finish, with hints of salt and white pepper”.

TASTING NOTE: This powerful, dry-style Riesling from Germany offers rapierlike acidity. The well-focused, crunchy flavors of pippin apple, Bosc pear and lemon-lime extend on the zesty texture. Pure and minerally on the finish, with hints of salt and white pepper. Drink now through 2020. Score: 94 (Kim Marcus,, March 31, 2014
See more at:





Due to circumstances beyond our control, Bertani’s Valpolicella Ripasso 2011 will not be released through Vintages this weekend. It is listed in the Vintages Catalogue and on their website, where it is scheduled for release on Saturday, but the release has been delayed by about a week.

Bertani Valpolicella Ripasso will start shipping to stores on Monday and populate Vintages shelves throughout the week. Look for it on a special $17 solution display at most Vintages locations. It is also featured on pages 12-13 in the Spring 2015 issue of Food & Drink Spring 2015 which is in LCBO stores now.

The $17 Solution
“The resourceful buyers at Vintages remove the guesswork form your entertaining equation with two food-friendly reds whose provenance, quality and character make them superb values at this price".

Veneto Visionary
“In 1857, believing quality winemaking was the key to Veneto’s future, brothers Giovan Battista and Gaetano Bertani bought some of the finest vineyards in the region. This delicious wine is a testament to their vision".

VINTAGES – uncork something great

Bertani Ripasso 2011 largeBertani Valpolicella Ripasso DOC 2011
Verona, Italy
395087 $17.00
2700 (12 pack) cases available

17 out of 20 - Walter Speller,
“Not too dark, just mid crimson, with the narrow rim lightening up. Perfumed, almost balsamic dark fruit with a hint of cardamom and vanilla. Supple and not thick or stitched up at all. Elegant and with animating freshness and with a fine spur of grainy tannins”.

The blend is 85% Corvina Veronese, 5% Rondinella and 10% Merlot. On the nose there are notes of black fruits, such as blackberry, blackcurrant and ripe cherry, which are backed by vanilla and a hint of cinnamon and cardamom. The palate is medium-full bodied with round tannins and an elegant structure.

The reason this Ripasso works so well with a wide variety of food is that it is medium-bodied, bright and intense at the same time. Red wines with the same aroma and flavour intensity as Ripasso are usually more full-bodied and can get tiresome with food because of their weight. Bertani’s Ripasso helps the food along and never competes with it. Try it with any Mediterranean dish. It plays very nicely with tomato based pasta dishes, grilled meat and veggies, cured meat and cheese.   




Morning Fog  Chard Best of Class Award for Chardonnay - San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Gold Medal - Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Competition

Wente ‘Morning Fog’ Chardonnay 2013
Livermore Valley, California
175430 $17.95





SV Brut Reserva New Bottle “Segura Viudas should be everyone’s old faithful”

NOW Toronto, Sarah Parniak
NNN – Palate Pleaser
Why: When it comes to sparkling wine, Cava is a steal (a statement that can be extended to Spanish wine in general). Dry, thirst-quenching and approachable without being basic, Segura Viudas should be everyone's old faithful”.

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva
DO Cava, Spain
216960 $14.45



HERMANOS TEMPRANILLO BigRecommended – Ottawa Citizen, Rod Phillips
Hermanos Lurton Tempranillo 2012
372342 $16.90
“Toro, the Spanish region this is from, is highly regarded for its wines. This dry Tempranillo delivers across the board, with focused, well-defined and high-toned flavours, and balanced acidity. The alcohol is high but well integrated. Drink it with poultry, pork and red meats”.







Fancy Farm Girl White large3.5/4 Stars,, Susan Desjardins
Sue-Ann Staff Fancy Farm Girl - Frivolous White 2012
VQA Niagara Peninsula
394072 $14.95

“Floral notes combine enticingly with citrus and a basket of ripe Niagara stone fruit on the nose of this proprietary blend. It’s off-dry and nicely balanced with a touch of mineral combining with fresh acidity to lift the tasty fruit flavours. It’s easy-going and appealing with clean, silky texture. It’s a down-to-earth wine to be enjoyed well-chilled”.





Fancy Farm Girl Red large4/4 Stars, Susan Desjardins
Sue-Ann Staff Fancy Farm Girl Flamboyant Red 2013
VQA Niagara Peninsula
394080 $14.95

“Grilled herb and red pepper aromas mingle with berry fruit on the nose. The palate offers tasty flavours of ripe berry, cherry and plum, the roasted red pepper replaying with a dash of black pepper. This is a flavourful, approachable red, dry, medium bodied with a pleasing round texture, good balance and tasty finish—stock up. Bring on the crowd and serve with BBQ back ribs”.














Churchill Cellars is on the air with Humble and Fred!


#winewednesday coincided with #wineforbreakfast this week and we served the boyz a couple of Cabs: Bleasdale Mulberry Tree Cabernet Sauvignon from Langhorne Creek in South Australia and the Kunde Cabernet Sauvignon from the Sonoma Valley. We also chatted about retirement plans, poetry and hanging meat. Find our feature at about the 41 mark. Click here. There is some off-colour language right off the bat (not from us…), so mind your company.


Chris’ musical choice for the segment was from the new Alcoves and Alleyways recording by Science! Check it out!


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.









Thanks to everyone for supporting the JAZZ.FM91 Piano Series.  Both of the final shows have sold out.  Here’s a little background info for those who are attending. Stay tuned for more Jazz announcements.


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 March 28, 2015 at the LCBO:


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

Save $1.00 on Patriarche Pinot Noir (522649)

Save $1.00 on Pisse-Dru Beaujolais (2881)

Save $1.00 on Willm Riesling Reserve (11452)

Save $1.00 on Vodka Caramel Mudshake (319467)

Save $1.50 on Crazy Uncle Uber Caesar (370650)

Save $2.00 on Chic Choc Spiced Rum (402867)

Save $3.00 on Chapel Hill Chardonnay (34397)

Earn 4 Bonus Air Miles on Marques de Riscal Rueda (36822)

Earn 12 Bonus Air Miles on Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider (94094)




Once again we dip into the fantastic recipe collection that is available from Taunton’s Fine Cooking. This is one of our favourites and is perfect to serve for a dinner party.

Roasted Pork Loin with Maple-Mustard Crust

Leave some fat on the outside of the pork because it browns beautifully and bastes the roast. For the juciest results, let the pork sit in the brine for at least 8 hours but preferably 16 to 18 hours. You can scatter wedges of fennel and apple in the pan to absorb the wonderful drippings during cooking. They also prevent the glaze from scorching on the bottom of the pan.

Maple mustard crusted porkFor the Brine:
8 cups cold apple cider or juice
3/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, smashed
3 sprigs fresh thyme
One 4-lb. boneless pork loin roast (or two 2-lb. loins), trimmed only if it has a thick layer of fat

For The Roast:
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 Tbs. whole-grain Dijon mustard
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper; more to taste
1 large fennel bulb or 2 small bulbs, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Brine the pork:

Combine 2 cups of the apple cider or juice with the salt, brown sugar, garlic, and thyme in a 3 to 4 quart saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring so the salt and sugar dissolve, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining apple cider or juice and cool to room temperature. Transfer to a large container, add the pork, cover, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 18 hours.

Roast the pork:

Position a rack in the centre of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F. In a small bowl, mix the maple syrup, mustard, thyme, and pepper. Drain the pork and pat dry with paper towels. Brush the pork all over with the mustard mixture.

In a medium bowl, toss the fennel and apple with the oil, salt, and a few generous grinds of pepper. Scatter the mixture in the bottom of a large roasting pan (large enough to hold the pork with a couple of inches of space around the perimeter). Put the pork, fat side up, on top of the fennel and apples. Roast the pork until the crust just starts to brown, about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue cooking until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the loin registers 145°F, 30 to 50 minutes more.

Let rest for 10 minutes and then thinly slice a quarter to a third of the pork. Serve, topped with the fennel, apple, and juices.

Use leftovers to make zesty weekday meals like Grilled Roast Pork Cubano Sandwiches or Chinese Pork and Mushroom Wraps.

Serve with a full-bodied Chardonnay like Wente Morning Fog, an off dry aromatic white like Alsace Willm Reserve Riesling or Sue-Ann Staff’s Fancy Farm Girl Frivolous White.


- Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum






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