The Imbiber's Report

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


May 16, 2015

BIG v2

ThankyouA huge thank you to all of those Imbiber’s Report subscribers who joined us this week at our annual Portfolio Tasting! We received some really positive feedback and managed to get more than 350 of you through the door for the afternoon. Second Harvest collected enough money to provide 952 healthy meals for Toronto’s hungry. Thank you for your contributions: we really hope that you enjoyed the event. Thanks also to the Ed Mirvish Theatre and their crew, who are great to work with, and Jill Macintosh from Brix Chocolate, who hosted a wonderful chocolate and wine matching station. Finally, thank you to all of the suppliers who attended and presented their wares and especially to Segura Viudas for providing the welcome Brut Cava that was enjoyed by everyone.

Another eight of our wines will be released through Vintages this weekend, so we are going with BIG, version two. This weekend’s Portfolio Tastingrelease also coincides with the Victoria Day long weekend and the beginning of asparagus season. We’ve been playing around with different asparagus cooking methods, one of which we shared with Brad Barker on JazzFM.91 this week. Find the recipe below in ON FOOD AND WINE.

In celebration of Queen Victoria’s passion for Gin and Tonic, why not mix yourself one (using Ungava of course) and raise a glass to the first long weekend of summer.  


As an Imbiber’s Report subscriber, here’s your chance to win a pair of tickets to the May 26 Vintages Australian First Family of Wines event. We’ll be giving away 2 pairs of tickets (each pair is worth $190).

This walk-around taste and buy event takes place at the Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street West, on Tuesday, May 26 from 6:30 to 9:00 pm.  We’ll have Chester Osborn from d’Arenberg Wines and Jeff and Amy Burch from Howard Park Wines in attendance.  

In order to enter the contest, you must be 19 years of age or older, send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and answer this skill testing question: What two areas of Australia are d’Arenberg and Howard Park from?

If you have a copy of the May 23 Vintages release catalogue and can tell us what the thing on Chester’s shoulder refers to in the group photo on page 2, you’ll get a second entry!

The contest closes at noon on Wednesday, May 20 at which time we will make our draw and advise the lucky winners.

Tickets for the event can also be purchased by clicking on this link:



In Store Discovery…

C.H.Wuerzgarten Auslese GKC.H. Berres
Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese 2012
 Prädikatwein, Mosel, Germany
408583 $33.95
25 (12 pack x 375ml) cases available

93 Points – Kim Marcus,
“Very honeyed, with notes of sage and spice to the creamy flavors of baked apple, white cherry and ripe gooseberry, balanced on a broad texture. The finish shows firm touches of ruby grapefruit. Drink now through 2035”.

4.5 Stars – Vic Harradine,
“The ‘Auslese’ designation indicates only specially sought, hand-picked, very ripe bunches of Riesling grapes were chosen for this wine and sugar may not be added. There’s a smoky, savoury nose before coating the palate with a gorgeously textured gusher of honey-soaked peach and pear flavour with wisps of ginger. It cleans up quite well on the finish with moderating mineral notes, passion fruit and citrus”.

Vintages released the Kabinett level of this wine earlier this month and this is what we wrote about the winery: 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 the 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).

Handling and vinifying grapes with Botrytis cinerea presents a special set of challenges, including transporting the grapes to the winery and pressing them. 100% of the Riesling for this Auslese is picked and sorted by hand. The fruit is cold-soaked for two days, then gently pressed and racked into stainless steel fermenters, where the must is inoculated with a special strain of yeast that can ferment higher sugar levels and enhance desirable characteristics in the wine. The wine is fermented at a very cool temperature to maintain freshness. Eventually the wine is racked off the lees and left to naturally settle. As with all C.H. Berres wines, this Auslese is bottled using a Stelvin+ bottle closure to ensure the wine is as clean as possible.


HERMANOS VERDEJO SMHermanos Lurton Verdejo 2014
DO Rueda, Spain
405571 $15.95
200 (12 pack) cases available

88 Points – David Lawrason,
“The verdejo grape has character of its own - grapefruit, passion fruit and green pepper/herbal notes. If you are looking for comparison the closest would be sauvignon blanc from a moderate to warm climate. This is very good example with a generous offering of the above-mentioned aromas. It's medium weight, fairly fleshy, fresh and warming. Some grapefruity bitterness here as well. Very good length; a touch of mint on the finish”.

Vintages panel: “If you're not already a fan of the aromatic Verdejo, here's your chance to become one. Exuberant aromas of fresh flowers, pear and citrus excite the senses. On the tongue its citrus character unfolds origami-style to show layers of grapefruit and tangerine heightened by bright acidity and a subtle mineral aspect. Give this a try with grilled chicken or fish, or simply sip and enjoy”.

This zippy Rueda contains 10% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Viuda which add a bit of zing to the nose and palate. Intensely fresh and vibrant, this white would be perfect as an apéritif, with salad, seafood and especially mussels with a bit of shaved fennel. Substitute this Spanish white for that ho-hum northern Italian Pinot Grigio that you’ve been drinking.  



Howard Park Flint Rock ChardonnayHoward Park
Flint Rock Chardonnay 2012
Mount Barker, Great Southern, Western Australia
410027 $22.95
128 (12 pack) cases available

91 Points – Lisa Perrotti-Brown, MW,
“The 2012 Flint Rock Chardonnay shows apple and white peaches on the nose with hints of honeysuckle and baker's yeast. Crisp and lively in the mouth with plenty of apple and stone fruit flavors, it has a suggestion of toastiness and some minerals coming through in the long finish”.

4.5 Stars – Julie Stock,
“Owned by the Burch family, they’re the only winery in the group (Australia’s First Families of Wine) from Western Australia. Aromas of tropical fruit fill the air carrying forth on the palate. There’s buttery mouth feel coupled with banana and other tropical flavours that waltz over the palate. It’s very smooth with a clean seam of acidity and long flinty finish. This is a great wine to accompany steamed mussels in white wine sauce with garlic scapes”.

For more information on the Burch family and Australia’s First Family of Wine, please visit their website here:

The Mount Barker sub-region of Western Australia’s Great Southern is one of the country’s true cool climate viticulture regions. Vineyards are still planted on a southern exposure (to avoid direct sunlight) and at an altitude of about 350m. Chardonnay grown here is ripe and full of natural acidity. This is one of the few places in Australia that encourages their Chardonnay to undergo malolactic fermentation. Portions of this wine are aged in a combination of new and old French oak and stainless steel for up to 10 months before the final blending begins. After bottling, the winery holds on to the wine for further bottle maturation before being released.


Pick up a few…

Chateau de Gourgazaud Cuvee Mathilde 2011 no backgroundChâteau de Gourgazaud
Cuvée Mathilde 2013
Minervois AC, France
958629 $14.95
500 (12 pack) cases available

90 Points – Sara d’Amato,
“An appealingly edgy syrah and mourvedre blend with all the spicy, peppery, sensual musky character that the best of the southern French appellation of Minervois can produce. Medium-bodied and nicely balanced. Both pretty and muscular and certainly well-priced”.

4 Stars - Vic Harradine,
“This value-packed, consumer-friendly red blend, Syrah/Mourvèdre, opens with a spice-driven nose of dark fruit—cherry, plum and currant—and mocha. There’s a truckload of rich, ripe, dark berry fruit—raspberry, currant and plum compote—interlaced with baking spice and dark bittersweet chocolate on the medium-weight palate persisting through the lengthy finish. It’s hedonistic and luscious along with structure and some balance from moderating tang. Good to go now with what you pull off your barbecue and on to 2018; pick up a few”.

Vintages panel: “Château de Gourgazaud's Cuvée Mathilde is a blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre that presents notes of cherry, plum, mulberry, spice and earth on the nose. Quite fruit forward in the mouth with smooth tannins, excellent replays and great length. An exciting and complex wine that offers amazing value and satisfaction on all counts. Enjoy with grilled or braised meats”.

This wine sells out quickly every time it is released so if you want it, buy it soon!  It’s a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Mourvèdre, this wine has a nice deep ruby colour and a complex nose with notes of morello cherry, liquorice and blond tobacco. On the palate, it is dry, medium bodied, and loaded with rich ripe fruit, spice, pepper and a hint of cocoa. It is nicely balanced with ripe tannins and fresh acidity which offers a lengthy deeply flavourful fruit-filled finish.

Annick Tiburce, who co-owns Château de Gourgazaud with her sister Chantale Piquet, explains that Mathilde, in fact, is the name of her niece and of her paternal Grandmother. “My dad (Roger Piquet) used to create a special ‘Cuvée’ at each birth of his Grandchildren. It was just for one year and for this special event. When Mathilde was born 40 years ago he made this Cuvée in honour of his mother and his new granddaughter. This Cuvée was particularly appreciated by his clients and they asked (him) to carry on with it”. Annick also explained that every year he chose a specific selection of Syrah and Mourvèdre from old vines. The different small lots were fermented and macerated separately and then finished. The wine was blended and aged in bottle before release. Annick and Chantale carry on their father’s tradition by producing Cuvée Mathilde every year from the same parcels of vineyard and follow his winemaking techniques as much as possible.


Howard Park Miamup Cab SauvHoward Park
Miamup Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Margaret River, Australia
410019 $19.95
384 (12 pack) cases available

92 Points – James Halliday,
“Sourced in part from Wilyabrup, and part from further north, matured in French oak for 12 months. While barely medium-bodied, it has the unfettered aristocratic stamp of varietal Cabernet, with savoury overtones to cassis fruit, and fine-grained, but persistent tannins. Drink by: 2027.”

4.5 Stars – Julie Stock,
“Deep brick-ish, ruby-red in colour, the wine spent 15 months in French oak barrique. There are oodles of blackberry and black plum flavours with savoury notes of rosemary and thyme on the palate. The tannins are soft and the finish fruit-forward. This double-gold medal winner is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and very approachable now; it’ll pair well with roasted meats and grilled veggies”.

If you’re wondering, it’s pronounced “My-a-mup”.  Look for aromas of crushed blackberries, black plums and fresh blackcurrants with underlying earth and dried herbs hints. Soft vanilla and luscious forest fruits give way to a savoury, meaty weight and a cocoa, coffee-like finish with lovely tannins coating the palate.

Try with bison burgers with gruyere cheese and mushrooms.


Charles Wetmore CabWente Vineyards
Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Livermore Valley, California
963397 $24.95
336 (12 pack) cases available

90 Points - Anthony Dias Blue,
“Smooth and ripe with juicy plum and showing notes of vanilla oak and spice; balanced, elegant and long”.

Rich aromas of black cherry, mocha and a subtle hint of vanilla from the oak join lush flavours of cherry, chocolate and oak on the palate. With balanced acidity and a full-bodied mouthfeel, this wine delivers a bold, long-lasting finish.  And now a note from the winemaker:

“Our Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon has a great expression of Livermore Valley, with fruit
sourced from our diverse soils such as our clay hillside vineyards and those planted on gravelly alluvial fans. These provide us with a Cabernet Sauvignon with bold tannins and ripe fruit characteristics, which coupled with the natural acidity from the long growing season, creates a beautiful wine”
- Karl D. Wente, Fifth Generation Winemaker

Wente’s Vineyard Notes: “For five generations, our family has been dedicated to the art of winemaking and to the philosophy that the quality of a wine originates in the vineyard. Our estate grown Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon is named after one of the Livermore Valley’s most prominent pioneers, California’s first agricultural commissioner renowned for planting vine cuttings from many of Bordeaux’s top Châteaux in the temperate Livermore Valley in the 1880s. The descendants of vines Wetmore brought from France thrive today in the gravelly loam soils of our certified sustainable estate vineyards between the Arroyo del Valle and the Arroyo Mocho, streams flowing from the southern hills of the Livermore Valley. From their origins in Margaux in the 19th century to the present, only the best of these Cabernet Sauvignon vines have been selected for each new generation planted. And they are prized for making wines with intensity, depth of flavour, and rich, lush body”.


dArenberg Lovegrassd’Arenberg
The Love Grass Shiraz 2011
McLaren Vale, Australia
48785 $25.95
(12 pack) cases available

92 Points - James Halliday,
“Crushed and foot-stamped in open fermenters, then basket-pressed and taken to French oak two-thirds of the way through fermentation, thereafter spending 18 months in that oak. It is a lively medium-bodied wine, its excellent colour a testament to the fresh fruit flavours girdled with a sheen of dark chocolate and spice”.

4 Stars – Julie Stock,
“You have to love the name—love grass is wild grass that surrounds the vineyard. The wine’s heavy-duty, hedonistic, fruit-forward with dark ripe red berries and firm tannin. It remains juicy to the bone-dry finish. It’s a winner with rack of lamb and baby potatoes. Here’s what winemaker Chester Osborn had to say – ‘Small batches of grapes are gently crushed and then transferred to open fermenters. Foot treading is undertaken two thirds of the way through fermentation, the wine is basket pressed and then aged in French oak for up to 18 months’”.

Lovegrass is a weed that grows in the vineyards and its sticky flowers affectionately attach themselves to vineyard workers’ socks. This Shiraz will linger with you in the same way that the flowers do! This wine is fresh and lively with notes of black and red fruits, pepper, clove and cinnamon. The palate, whilst showing the poise and focus common amongst the 2011s, develops its richness in the glass.


dArenberg Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon Bottled’Arenberg
The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, McLaren Vale (Australia)
943399 $49.95
156 (12 pack) cases available

92 Points - Josh Raynolds,
"Vivid ruby. Heady aromas of dried cherry, red- and blackcurrant, cigar box and lavender, with a hint of vanilla emerging with aeration. Shows very good depth and energy to the flavors of bitter cherry, floral pastille and peppery spices. Firms up on the finish, which clings with excellent tenacity and focus and building sweetness”.

4 Stars – Julie Stock,
“In case you’re wondering, Coppermine Road runs parallel to the vineyard. The wine’s quite deep in colour with lots of red berry and violet aromas. Look for blackberry and currant notes on the palate along with chocolate notes. They accompany chalk-like tannin and a minty, earthy aftertaste. It’s quite stylish and offers sprigs of herbs on the finish—grilled ribs would be a lovely match. Aerate/decant a couple of hours before serving”.

Enchanting, aromatic highlights of violets and blackcurrant meld deliciously with more savoury notes of saddle leather and a faint whiff of fresh mint leaves. The palate is completely seamless, displaying a refined concentration that only Cabernet can. Long chalky tannins ensure the focus of this wine is not lost as they flank the whole gamut of flavours drawing them effortlessly to an unfaltering and persistent finish.




We have a few really great reviews from this country’s leading wine scribes and some terrific results for Sue-Ann Estate Winery at this year’s Ontario Wine Awards.

2015 Ontario Wine Awards

staffVidal IceW smallVidal Icewine Award
Gold: Sue-Ann Staff Estate 2012 Vidal Icewine

Best Label Design Award
Gold: Sue-Ann Staff Estate 2013 Fancy Farm Girl Foxy Pink





San Leonino Governo Sangiovese 201390 Points – Beppi Crosariol, The Globe and Mail
San Leonino Governo all’Uso 2013
Sangiovese Toscano IGT
Tuscany, Italy
409144 $19.95
“This Tuscan red derives its name from governare, an Italian term for the addition of slightly raisined grapes to the first wine of the harvest. That technique triggers a second fermentation that boosts body and softens texture. Made from Tuscany’s signature Sangiovese grape, San Leonino’s fine 2013 is medium-bodied, with a gently chalky texture and nuances of cherry liqueur and smoky cedar. Versatile at the table, it would be particularly lovely with a saucy veal sandwich or eggplant parmesan”.


Alace Willm Gewurztraminer smallRecommended – Rod Phillips, Ottawa Citizen
Willm Réserve Gewürztraminer 2013
Alsace, France
269852 $15.95
“A rich, more-than-off-dry style of Gewurztraminer from Alsace that delivers luscious and intense flavours, along with a good burst of well-balanced acidity that makes it very drinkable and food-friendly. This is an excellent choice for many spicy dishes in the Asian tradition, like pad Thai and mild curries”.




Earthquake Zin 2012 no background92 Points – Gord Stimmell, Toronto Star, Kitchener Waterloo Record
Michael David Earthquake Zinfandel
Lodi, California
59717 $39.95
“Any zinners among you saints out there? Michael David 2012 Earthquake Zinfandel from Lodi, Calif. is hugely extracted, with effusive plum, dried figs, briar, kirsch and monster mocha layers. Think rack of ribs slathered in a molasses based marinade”




GRAN-LURTON Cab Sauv 200988 Points – Beppi Crosariol, The Globe and Mail
Bodega Lurton Gran Lurton Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Mendoza, Argentina
980334 $24.95
“Chunky and exceedingly ripe (some might say too ripe), this full-bodied cabernet will please those who enjoy a hint of sweetness in their reds. Flavours suggesting raisin, currant and dark chocolate find balance in dry, sticky tannins. Match it with char-grilled beef”.







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








“Notes” on Jazz.FM91

Chris, Mark and Brad noshed on some fresh Ontario asparagus at Jazz.FM91 this past Wednesday and tasted (in order) Waimea Pinot Gris, San Leonino Governo all’Uso Sangiovese Toscano IGT, La Merika Cabernet Sauvignon and a fine Bordeaux from Château Tour Saint Vincent. Brad commented on the high quality of the wine we tasted and said he was in love with the Bordeaux.  
We also shared a recipe with Jazz.FM91 listeners, which you can see below.

You can listen to the podcast here.









Churchill Cellars is on the air with Humble and Fred!

#Wineforbreakfast with the boyz on May 6th featured San Leonino Governo all’Uso Sangiovese Toscano IGT and La Merika Cabernet Sauvignon from Cali’s Central Coast. We talked about corked wines, Ravioli and where to listen to new music. Chris’ music choice features a band called Lake Street Dive and kicks in at the 1:03:00 mark of the show.

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!




Grilled Asparagus with Prosciutto and Blue Cheese

This dish is best served at room temperature as an appetizer or passed around as hors d'œuvre.

Grilled Asparagus w ProscuittoIngredients :

1 bunch of fresh Ontario asparagus (about 24 shoots)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp blue cheese
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
24 slices of Prosciutto


Rinse asparagus thoroughly in cold water. Cut 2-3 cm off the stem and discard the small bits. With a vegetable peeler, lightly peel the bottom half of each shoot. Pat the asparagus dry with a tea towel.
Meanwhile, heat a gas grill to medium.

Place the asparagus diagonally on the grill. Dry and gently roast the shoots moving them often so they don’t burn. After 2-3 minutes, brush the shoots with olive oil, rolling the asparagus on the grill until they are just cooked through. Remove and cool asparagus on a board or plate and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Mix blue cheese and mayonnaise together using the tines of a fork to break down the mixture into a fine paste.

Spread a small amount of the cheese paste along the length of the Prosciutto. Place the asparagus on top at a slight angle and roll the shoot so that ¾ of the bottom is covered with Prosciutto (it should make a ‘handle’).

Serve with Pinot Gris(gio), Sauvignon Blanc, Rueda or any other zippy un-oaked white or rosé.







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