The Imbiber's Report

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


May 2, 2015


wine-tastingEight new wines populate this week’s Vintages release. It’s big – so let’s get right to it.

Our Annual Portfolio Tasting…

Our annual Portfolio Tasting will be held on Monday, May 11th at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in downtown Toronto from 3:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.

As an Imbiber’s Report subscriber, you should have already received an invitation.  If you did not and you plan to attend, please let us know and we will send the invitation to you.  Note that due to the nature of or Special Occasion Permit, your name and your guest’s name MUST be on the RSVP list at the door or you will NOT be permitted inside.  You cannot simply show up.  The deadline for you to RSVP is Thursday, May 7.

Once again, our friends from Second Harvest will have a table at the Tasting with information on their food recovery programs and will have some fundraising chattels for sale. They will kindly accept donations as well.

We look forward to catching up and sharing some wine, coolers and cocktails with you.  The folks from Brix Chocolate For Wine will also be there with some interesting wine and chocolate pairings, and you’ll be able to buy some as well.

If you have friends, family or colleagues who you think would like to attend our Portfolio Tasting, just have them sign up for the Imbiber’s Report by clicking here and we will send them an invitation.



Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling KabinettC.H. Berres Ürziger Würzgarten
Riesling Kabinett 2012
Prädikatwein, Mosel, Germany
207274 $24.95
125 (12 pack) cases available

91 Points - David Lawrason,
“This shows good ripeness for a Kabinett, with classic peach, honey and stony aromas and flavours. Some lemon as well. It's light bodied, delicate and fresh with some sweetness that hangs in throughout. A bit effervescent as well. Very good to excellent length, with peach pit and lemon lingering. Delicious”.

Vintages Panel notes: “Floral and fruity, with mineral oil and wet stones on the nose. Lemon and orange citrus flavours, with more mineral emerging. Good weight and a lovely texture. Fresh, bright and lifted on the finish with a touch of spice at the close. Sharply defined and very well made, this will be a great choice for mildly spiced dishes”.

Winery notes: “The bouquet has notes of exotic fruits such as white peach, mirabelle plum and ripe pineapple. This luscious, complex wine has flavours of peach, apple and baked pear with some accents of ginger on the palate”.

C.H. Berres has been in the wine business for over 500 years and has worked on or owned the most famous vineyards in Mosel. Markus Berres is the 21st generation of the family and owns 10 acres of old, ungrafted Riesling vines in some of the best vineyards of Urzig, including a plot in the famous Würzgarten. Phylloxera has never been able to establish itself on the insanely steep slopes around the village of Urzig and they are one of the only villages allowed to plant ungrafted vines. The Würzgarten is famous for its red slate soil which imparts a distinct mineral note to its wines.

After Markus graduated from Geisenheim Institute, he spent time honing his winemaking skills in New Zealand and was one of earliest German adopters of Stelvin screw caps (which he saw used to good effect by the Kiwis).

Grapes for this wine were hand-picked, gently pressed and cold soaked before fermentation. A portion of the juice was inoculated with cultured yeast, while the majority of the must went through ‘wild’ yeast fermentation.

Drop by your favourite cheese monger and pick up a few different soft and semi-soft cheeses, a mild paté, a pear and some crackers or bread. Find a sheltered sunny spot to sit outside this weekend and share this little picnic with your favourite Riesling lover. If they don’t already worship at the altar of Riesling, this will surely convert any unbelievers.


Waimea Classic RieslingWaimea Estate Classic Riesling 2014
Nelson, New Zealand
408666 $18.95
168 (12 pack) cases available

90 Points – Beppi Crosariol, The Globe & Mail
“So floral, this could save you a trip to the FTD shop if you’re in the market for a Mother’s Day gift. Dry but with a sweet core offset by tangy acidity, it hints at peach and lime. Match it with pork, smoked trout pâté, cheeses or spicy Asian fare.”

90 Points – Gord Stimmell, The Toronto Star
“Waimea Classic 2014 Riesling (#408666, $18.95,) dishes up jasmine, cling peach, tangerine peel and lemon drop, with a flawless sugar/acid balance. Delicious!”

93 Points – Sam Kim,
“It's beautifully ripe and pristine on the nose displaying nectarine, ripe citrus and floral characters. The palate is concentrated and focused with delicate fruit intensity, leading to a refreshing finish that's linear and lingering. There's a hint of sweetness which is perfectly balanced by the acidity, making the wine harmonious and balanced. A gorgeous young Riesling”.


89 Points - John Szabo MW,
“Open, fragrant, floral riesling, with very attractive aromatics off the top, with lush, ripe citrus and orchard fruit flavours. Crisp acids balance a tiny pinch of residual sugar, keeping the balance intact. A highly enjoyable example”.

3.5 Stars – Julie Stock,
“Tangerine and honey aromas introduce a slightly off dry Riesling with flavours of ripe stone fruit. It’s light-medium weight with decent mouth feel and a lingering clean finish. There’s a slightly floral note with an under seam of acidity that makes it a delectable sipper or a real winner served with soft cheese”.

Winemaker’s Note: “The 2014 Classic Riesling has aromas of jasmine intertwined with citrus peel. This citrus character runs through the palate and has a white honey flavour tempering a crisp acidity and the stony minerality typical of Waimea. It is an ideal lunchtime wine, stimulating apéritif, or lively dinner companion”.

Fruit for the 2014 Classic Riesling was sourced from two of Waimea’s Estate Vineyards, Hunter and Annabrook, both located on the stony Waimea Plains. Interestingly, when pressing the grapes, Waimea separates different parts of the cycle and ferments them differently using a special German strain of yeast. The free run juice is culled and fermented at a cool temperature to maintain fruitiness. The ‘hard press’ is fermented separately and some of it is added later to enhance the wine’s flavour. After the wine spends a short time on its fine lees, it is blended and bottled.


Waimea Pinot GrisWaimea Estate Pinot Gris 2014
Nelson, New Zealand
408682 $18.95
168 (12 pack) cases available

91+ Points – Gord Stimmell, The Toronto Star
“Waimea 2014 Pinot Gris $18.95 (#408682, $18.95,) is downright gorgeous. Pert pear, yellow apple, white flower and quince bouquet, fronting very rich pear blossom, peach, tangerine and apricot flavours.”

93 Points – Sam Kim,
This is irresistible on the nose - beautifully fragrant with mango, yellow peach and floral with a hint of spice. The palate is concentrated and silky, and shows loads of appealing flavours within a generous frame. Excellent varietal purity and definition.

89 Points, Excellent Value – John Szabo,
“A clean, off-dry, fruity, tropical fruit-flavoured wine, fragrant and aromatic, with plenty of pineapple and peaches-in-syrup flavours. Acids are crisp and balanced, and length is good to very good. Solid. Nelson is a fine region for aromatic whites”.

The aroma of this wine is a medley of quince, persimmon and rich florals. The concentrated fruit is weighty on the palate but has a freshness and structure thanks to the typical stony minerality. Enjoy as an apéritif or with white meats and lightly spiced foods.

The 2014 harvest was one of Nelson’s most notable, as dry, warm weather helped fruit to ripen several weeks earlier than usual. This anomaly in the harvest time was a very good thing as more than 200 mm of rain hit the North Island shortly after the fruit was picked.



Staff-Baco-NoirSue-Ann Staff Estate Winery Merlot 2012
Niagara VQA, Canada
358416 19.95
168 (12 pack) cases available

Vintages Panel notes: “Red fruit and cherry on the nose accented by cedar spice. Fresh and appealing, with more fruit and a sour edge to the cherry. Vibrant acidity brings balance and lift. Perfect for a slow-cooked lamb stew”.

3.5 Stars – Vic Harradine,
“This is a lighter-styled Merlot with sharp spice, racy acidity and red fruit galore. Cranberry, sour cherry and notions of passion fruit streak over the palate with racy acidity and piquant spice firmly in tow. These replay on the tangy, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside Swiss steak or pasta in tomato sauce”.






San Leonino Governo Sangiovese 2013San Leonino
Governo all’Uso Toscano 2013
Sangiovese-Toscana IGT, Tuscany, Italy
409144 $19.95
700 (6 pack) cases available

Vintages Panel notes: “Intense notes of ripe cassis, cherry, licorice, cedar and spiced oak dominate on both the nose and palate. This is an elegant and classy wine that reaches levels well above its price point. Impressive”.

89 Points – David Lawrason,
“You may be familiar with the Ripassos of Valpolicella, this is the same technique but with Sangiovese in Tuscany. It’s a smooth, gentle, warm red with engaging sour plum-cherry, some minerality and fine tannin. Very good length. An interesting wine”.

In Tuscany, the technique of adding semi-dried grapes to new wine is called ‘governare’ and has been used traditionally to add body and intensity to Chianti. San Leonino’s wine is made with 100% Sangiovese grapes, including a portion of dried fruit. In early fall, the majority of grapes are harvested and made into a finished ‘new’ wine. A portion of the grapes is slowly dried until November, when they are added to the finished wine. A second fermentation takes place in 90 HL oak barrels and slowly continues until early spring. The final wine has higher levels of extract and glycerine, which helps make it intense and smooth.

A good dollop of dark fruit acidity makes this a great candidate to match with tomato based braises and sauces, grilled meat, lamb or game. Try serving it with a side of wild mushrooms sautéed with a sprig of rosemary.



Tour Saint Vincent 2010 Silver Medal MedocChâteau Tour Saint-Vincent 2010,
Médoc AC Cru Bourgeois, Bordeaux, France
295816 $23.95
300 (12 pack) cases available

Silver, Vignerons Indépendants 2012

90 Points Editor’s Choice – Wine Enthusiast, Roger Voss
“A rich and smooth wine, this is packed with black fruits that are touched with smoky tannins from the wood aging. It's full, fruity and structured on the palate. It will age over at least 5-6 years, but, with its rich texture, it will be drinkable soon”.

90 Points - David Lawrason,
“Here is a very impressive, ripe and intense young 2010. Far more extraction and flavour depth than expected from a basic Medoc. It is loaded with flavour - spice, cedar, a certain meatiness, clove and evergreen. Medium weight, with firm acid, fine tannin and length”.

4.5 Stars – Vic Harradine,
“Aromas of campfire smoke, dark cherry and sprigs of herbs infuse this value-packed, fully flavoured, full-bodied gem. A persistent flow of red berry/cherry and cassis flow over the palate coupled with notions of fennel, baking spice and dry tannin. All in all, it’s balanced on a pin with purity and persistence of fruit, a delectable, lengthy finish and offers very good value”.

The Lacombe family acquired Château Tour Saint-Vincent in 1995 and has devoted themselves to improving the physical plant and the vineyards. Colossal investment over the last few years has made Château Tour Saint-Vincent one of the pre-eminent estates in the Médoc. This increase in quality and consistency has garnered the attention of the likes of Decanter, Wine Enthusiast and other critics who have scored this wine well above average for its price. This would be a great wine to have in 3, 6 or 12 bottles, so you can watch it evolve over the next 5 – 10 years.

Serve at 17-18C with grilled lamb, braised beef cheeks or any game.



GRAN-LURTON Cab Sauv 2009Gran Lurton Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Mendoza, Argentina
980334 $24.95
150 (12 pack) cases available

91 Points – James Suckling,
“This is very savory and delicious with currants, blackberries and spice character. Full body, with round tannins and a soft finish. Drink now”.

4.5 Stars Julie Stock,
“There are concentrated flavours of black currant and dark berries galore with a smooth ripeness at the core of the flavour profile. Structured, well-balanced and full bodied, look for delightful layers of fruit flavours with firm noticeable tannin and a luscious, long, cedar and berry finish—aerate/decant for a couple of hours before serving. This will be magnificent with grilled, pork, loin chops”.

The Lurton family has been making wine in Argentina since 1992, first as consultants and then as vineyard and winery owners. Recognizing the potential to make great wine in the Uco Valley they began making ‘Gran Cru’ Cabernet Sauvignon in the late 90’s winning a Gold Medal at the International Wine Challenge in London. Since then Lurton has gone on to win numerous awards and accolades from around the world.

Today’s blend still relies heavily on Cabernet Sauvignon but adds 15% Malbec, which gives the wine a little Argentine flair. The estate sourced fruit is grown at an altitude of 1,100 m on well-drained pebbly soil at the foot of the Andes. The climate here is semi-desert continental, which is very dry and very hot during the day. Irrigation is imperative and keeps the vines in perfect condition.



Earthquake Zin 2012 no backgroundMichael David Earthquake Zinfandel 2012
Lodi, California
59717 $39.95
150 (12 pack) cases available

90 Points – Robert Parker, Wine Advocate

93 Points – Jim Gordon, Wine Enthusiast
“This is Zinfandel at its richest. Boysenberry, vanilla and maple syrup aromas meet up with jammy fruit flavors that coat the mouth and linger on the finish. For all its fullness, it stays balanced and dry. It does not feel heavy in texture nor heavily oaked”.

Winery Notes: “This wine comes from an old Lodi vineyard planted around the same time as San Francisco’s great Earthquake of 1906. Peppery and spicy with plenty of berry fruits such as cherries and raspberries, intertwined with dusty, loamy soil, and incense jump from the glass of this impressive wine. With over 15% alcohol and bold tannins, this dark and voluminous wine will definitely leave your senses quivering”.

The 2012 vintage was an exceptional year for Lodi and all grape varietals did exceedingly well. Ideal weather conditions featured warm dry days and cool nights with little if any rain during harvest. This is one of the most reliable vintages in years.

Earthquake Zinfandel qualifies as its own food-group so it really doesn’t need much except a good glass and some company. It will match authentic barbecue or faux BBQ (on a gas grill with sauce). You could also give it a shot with grilled pepper steak, bison burgers or something wacky like chili-laden nachos. Have fun and enjoy this wine friends.


Ceramics BottledConfucius Family Liquor
Ceramic Bottle
Shandong, China
410746 $31.95
150 (500ml x 6 pack) cases available

Full disclosure: we have not had the opportunity to sample this liquor and cannot provide you with a first-hand tasting note. We can tell you that it is made from wheat, high quality sorghum and water. It is 50% alcohol and is a well-known and highly desired product in China.

Supplier notes: “The Confucius Family Liquor has been around for over 2000 years and was considered so precious that it was only served to Emperors. The Ceramic Bottled series is a classic of the Confucius Family Liquor with the traditional cultural background packaging and dense, sweet flavour and long aftertaste”.




Brolio large89 Points – The Globe and Mail, Beppi Crosariol
Barone Ricasoli Brolio
Chianti Classico 2012
Tuscany, Italy
3962 $23.95

“A blend of mostly Sangiovese with 15-per-cent Merlot and 5-per-cent Cabernet Sauvignon, Ricasoli’s 2012 Brolio shows considerable savoury edge. There’s classic Chianti cherry holding down the middle, with notes of tobacco, smoky matchstick and licorice supplying intriguing complexity. Fresh yet rustic, it transports you to a Tuscan trattoria and would pair well with food you’d find there, including a plate of cured meats”.


Marques-Riscal-WhiteFood & Drink – Toronto Life
Spring Fling – Now’s the time to experiment with fragrant, refreshing, lesser-known whites
88 Points – Toronto Life, David Lawrason
Marqués de Riscal Rueda 2014
36822 $12.20

“The limestone-soiled Rueda region northwest of Madrid produces this sprightly white made with Verdejo grapes. The nose shows grapefruit, lime, white pepper and passion fruit. It’s light-bodied and a natural pairing for ceviche, but drinks just as well on its own”.






TO taste second harvest







Toronto Taste

The Granddaddy of culinary events in Toronto is turning 25! Toronto Taste, the Second Harvest fundraiser presented by The Daniels Corporation, features 50 chefs and an astounding variety of wine and beer. This culinary extravaganza  takes place lakeside at Corus Quay on Sunday, June 7 from 6pm. If you choose only one wine and food event this year – this is it. We will be there pouring Segura Viudas Cava and a few of our new wines as well. To find out more about Second Harvest’s remarkable food recovery program visit


Vintages Australia’s First Families of Wine – Taste and Buy
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Art Gallery of Ontario, Baillie Court
Follow this link for details  We will be pouring wines with the inimitable Chester Osborn from d’Arenberg and Jeff and Amy Burch from Howard Park. Please drop by and say g’day.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015
6:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Daniels Spectrum
The 17th African Marketplace Gala, featuring Dr. Makaziwe Mandela as keynote speaker.
For details check here








Churchill Cellars is on the air with Humble and Fred!

Ryan Patrick Vineyards Rock Island Red, from Washington State and Casa Silva Los Lingues Gran Terroir Carmenère from Chile were poured for the boyz on April 22 when Chris and Mark dropped by for #wineforbreakfast. We talked music, flatbreads and (of course) wine. The mostly well-behaved segment begins at the 52 minute mark <click here>
Chris described this week’s music choice as “loud and in your face”.  SATE is Saida Baba Talibah’s new moniker. Her mother is Salome Bey and her uncle is jazz vocalist Andy Bey. She is one of the most intense live performers you’ll ever see.

This song, Warrior, is from the first of the three EPs she is releasing.

Most people have heard her song Revolution although they don’t know it.  It was used in a TV ad for the Chevy Volt:

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.

NOTE: Broadcast contains mature language.







The following promotions are available now to May 23, 2015 at the LCBO:


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

Save $1.00 on Chivite Gran Feudo Rosé (165845)

Save $1.00 on Vodka Mudshake French Vanilla (4606)

Earn 3 Bonus Air Miles on Casal Thaulero Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon (621953)

Earn 3 Bonus Air Miles on Fresita Sparkling Wine 200ml (400531)

Earn 4 Bonus Air Miles on Patriarche Pinot Noir (522649)

Earn 4 Bonus Air Miles on Pisse-Dru Beaujolais (2881)

Earn 5 Bonus Air Miles on Alsace Willm Gewurztraminer Réserve (269852)

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

Earn 6 Bonus Air Miles on Francois Lurton Pinot Grigio (556746)

Earn 15 Bonus Air Miles on Ungava Premium Canadian Gin (374231)

Buy 1 Château Bel Air Bordeaux AC (665430) earn 4 Bonus Air Miles, Buy 2 get 12 Bonus Air Miles

Buy 1 Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc (275909) earn 4 Bonus Air Miles, Buy 3 get 15 Bonus Air Miles

Receive a free Coolie Sleeve (where applied) with the purchase of Vodka Mudshake Caramel (319467) Collect all four fun colours!




Djej Mechoui (Grilled Chicken with Moroccan Spices)

3 scallions, white ends only, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1½ tsp. sweet paprika
1 pinch hot paprika
1½ tsp. ground cumin
¼ cup butter, soft
4 poussins or 2 small chickens

1. Crush the scallions, garlic, cilantro, parsley, salt, sweet paprika, hot paprika, and cumin with a mortar and pestle. Blend in butter.
2. Wash poussins or chickens; split them down the back and flatten; dry well; and rub inside and out with butter paste. Let stand at least 1 hour.
3. Preheat grill, then cook chicken skin side up. Turn after 2 minutes and baste with any extra paste. Continue to turn and baste until skin is crisp and flesh is firm.
Serve this with full-bodied white wine, like Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay or fruity reds like Pisse-Dru Beaujolais







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