The Imbiber's Report

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


May 30, 2015


“It always seems impossible until it’s done”.
Nelson Mandela

Tukwini and Dr Maki MandelaThis week, with the help of Dr. Maki Mandela and Tukwini Mandela, daughter and grand-daughter of Nelson Mandela respectively, we launched House of Mandela Sauvignon Blanc into the LCBO. The Mandelas’ busy schedule included attending The 17th African Marketplace Gala, television appearances on CBC, Global, and Breakfast Television as well as radio interviews on 680 News, Sun Media and Sirius. They also gave a personal presentation to a group of wine and food lifestyle bloggers in the iYellow Wine Cave, met with Beppi Crosariol and presented to the LCBO. On top of that, they hosted a number of tastings at different LCBO stores, where they met with the public, signed bottles and graciously posed for pictures. We would like to thank Dr. Maki and Tukwini for visiting us and for all of their hard work.

House of Mandel Sauvignon Blanc largeHouse of Mandela
The Thembu Collection
Sauvignon Blanc 2014
407882 $12.85

This is an open and very accessible style of Sauvignon Blanc that highlights the Western Cape’s unique growing conditions. The nose is fresh and fruity with aromas of tropical fruit, citrus and flint. The palate is dry but juicy with very nice interplay between tropical fruitiness and lemon-lime acidity. This Sauvignon Blanc finishes on a pretty grapefruit note with a lick of minerality. It would make an excellent apéritif. Try it with grilled shrimp, chicken, spring veggie risotto, Caesar salad or sushi. There is a tiny bit of residual sugar here, which would help it play nicely with spicy food as well. See our Grilled Lime and Chili Chicken Breast recipe below.

Grapes for this wine are certified for Integrity and Sustainability by the Wine and Spirit Board of South Africa. All House of Mandela Thembu wines are certified Fairtrade. The Mandela family is committed to helping workers in the South African wine industry by paying a premium price for Fairtrade grown fruit.



Chester OsbornThanks to everyone who entered our contest for tickets to the Australian First Family of Wines tasting on May 26.  Our winners were Sari Simkins and John Bishop who correctly answered that Howard Park is based in Western Australia (we also accepted Margaret River and Great Southern) and d’Arenberg is based in McLaren Vale.  For anyone who was wondering about the bonus question, d’Arenberg’s Chester Osborn usually travels with a suitcase full of props including a hand and arm which is a reference to their iconic Dead Arm wine.  The arm appeared on Chester’s shoulder in the publicity photo for the event.   

A huge thank you to Amy and Jeff Burch from Howard Park and to Chester, Kath and Alicia from d’Arenberg for joining us at the AFFW events, tastings and presentations.  See the photo at right for the answer to the question “how much fun can you have at wine tasting”?

The end of May Vintages release brings two wonderful wines back to the fold, a very drinkable style of Port and one of our very favourite Italian reds from Tuscany. We have a few great reviews to share with you, some great deals on our Vintages Essentials wines and a terrific recipe to try with the bottle of House of Mandela Sauvignon Blanc that you will pick up the next time you are at the LCBO. Grab a glass of whatever light, crisp white wine you have open in the fridge and let’s go… 



This Dow’s LBV was by also released by Vintages in November of last year and this is what we wrote about it then:

Dows LBV 2009Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2009
Douro, Portugal
613927 $18.95
140 (12 pack) cases available

90 Points –, David Lawrason
“This is a quite fine, fruit driven, plummy, licorice and vanilla scented port. Not a lot of complexity, but there is generous fruit. Elegance and smoothness reign, with a chalky dusty finish. Very good length with a touch of flinty minerality”.

Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port is perhaps one of the most undervalued wines on the planet. The sheer amount of time and effort that goes into producing this style of wine is unbelievable. Historically, fortified wines were highly prized because they could survive long voyages at sea and could withstand storage in less than ideal conditions. Port is made in a wide variety of styles, some of which require extended bottle aging. LBV is worth trying out because it is one of the styles that is drinkable upon release and absolutely delicious. Keep Port cool, but not cold, and serve it as apéritif or with chocolate desserts. It’s also fantastic with blue cheese, especially Stilton.

In February, the Wine Advocate reviewed the wine, adding some interesting observations regarding how the Port evolves after the bottle has been opened. So, if you’ve ever wondered how long you can keep an LBV after you opened it, this is a good read. Hint: you can’t open it at Christmas and leave it in the fridge for a year.   

89 Points – Wine Advocate,

“The 2009 Late Bottled Vintage Port is a filtered blend bottled with a bar top cork in 2014. It was just released in January 2015. It comes in with 98 grams per litre of residual sugar. Wonderfully fresh, sweet and charming on opening, this becomes a surprisingly focused LBV, even though it is easy to drink and does well as a pop ’n’ pour. It has rather nice, underlying structure. The tannins are ripe, but there are some, and it has the grip and concentration of flavors on the finish to be interesting as well as tasty. It becomes more brooding and quite drier with aeration. Resampling it made me appreciate it more. A couple of days later, it was drinking far better, having fleshed out while still showing fresh, sappy fruit. Just for fun - since the bar top seems to encourage you to do that and LBVs are pretty resistant - I held it and experimented at Day 4 and Day 9. It was quite enticing on Day 4. On Day 9, it still drank rather well, showing good balance and structure, but there was also a hint of oxidation in the background. Overall, the mid-palate concentration is average for its type and there is little in the way of complexity at its young age - and it is not likely designed to age, even if can to some degree, which tends to give wines like this a ceiling. This is still overall a very nice performance in this big vintage. It is delicious, but also well balanced and intriguing. Enjoy it for what it is while it is young: well crafted, gracefully constructed and awfully tasty”.

We’ve done a similar tasting and after two weeks, the wine was pretty oxidized. There is a solution. Purchase a few Platypus Platypreserve Wine Preservation Systems to keep on hand. Pour the LBV into the Platypreserve, squeeze the air out and the wine will keep indefinitely (or at least a few years). They are also great for camping!


Inuksuk (aka Inukshuk) Wine…

Occasionally, we will flag a wine that epitomises the character of a particular region. We like to call these Inuksuk Wines as they can be used as a navigational point of reference to guide your future imbibing and wine education. Here is the Inuksuk for Chianti Classico Reserva.

Barone Ricasoli Rocca GuicciardaBarone Ricasoli Rocca Guicciarda
Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2011
Tuscany (Italy)
943613 $24.95
700 (12 pack) cases available

92 Points – Monica Larner,
“The 2011 Chianti Classico Riserva Rocca Guicciarda initially shows more of the vintage heat, for example, but pulls out to encompass a larger set of aromatic characteristics that help to build complexity. The highly perfumed bouquet is redolent of earthy notes, cassis and polished river stone. I love the overall fruity brightness”.

90+ Points – Gord Stimmell, The Toronto Star and Waterloo Record, Metroland Media
“Heady aromas of smoked meat, cedar and black olives. In the mouth, flavours of black cherry, licorice, cedar, plums and a touch of salty green olives”.

Winemaker’s Tasting Note: “This Mediterranean-styled wine shows classical elegance, clear fruity aromas and sweet spicy tones. Mouth filling berry fruit flavours, seductive cinnamon and cherry marmalade, great balance, complex structure. Extremely long finish thanks to its vibrant acidity”.

While we endeavour to maintain a modicum of objectivity in this report, occasionally, we break down and get ‘gushy’ when a wine really hits the sweet spot. Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler’s Bernkasteler alte Badstube am Doctorberg Riesling and Alsace Willm’s Clos Gaensbroennel Gewurztraminer have both previously affected our impartial resolve.

Rocca Guicciarda is another one of ‘those’ wines because everything about it is beautiful. We don’t often describe the aesthetics of the bottle, the colour and texture of the label or how it ‘feels’ in your hand. This bottle’s look and feel promises a wine that is classically styled and elegant and it delivers in every respect. There is similarity (we feel) between top quality Burgundy, Barolo, Rioja and Chianti. They all deliver intensity of aromas and flavour that belies their medium-bodied weight and mouthfeel. There’s always more than meets the eye with these wines, and that is certainly the case with Rocca Guicciarda. Open this wine with friends and serve a variety of northern Italian comestibles including cheese, cured meat and olives. Watch as the wine opens up and shares its secrets with you. Enough gushing for now... you get the idea.    




Deakin Art Blend Cabernet Tempranillo thumbnail... reds to knock your socks off
“Our never-ending quest for fabulous value wines found on all shelves has netted three reds rated 90 or above, which means they are amazing value for the money”.
90 Points – Gord Stimmell, Toronto Star
Deakin Estate 2013 Artisan’s Blend Cabernet Tempranillo
399238 $12.80
“A stylish blend with seductive aromas and flavours of plum, anise, blackberry and a finish of vanilla-laced summer black cherry fruit”.



dArenberg Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon Bottle93 Points – Beppi Crosariol, The Globe and Mail
d’Arenberg The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
McLaren Vale, Australia
943399 $49.95
“Velvety and dense, this complex McLaren Vale red suggests succulent cassis and blackberry-liqueur fruitiness infused with dark chocolate, cigar and black pepper, with pleasantly sticky tannins for solid structure. Cellar it for up to 15 years and try it, later or sooner, with juicy steak”.




Charles Wetmore Cab91 Points – Gord Stimmell, Toronto Star
Wente Vineyards
Charles Wetmore 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
#963397  $24.95
“From the San Francisco Bay appellation, another Lotusland cab is killer. Wente Vineyards Charles Wetmore 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon brims with lavish blackberry, black cherry, smoked oak, black olive, blueberry, vanilla and chocolate layers. Talk about multi-dimensional”.






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


 Pop! Sparkle! Sip! At Vintages – here are the details

Bubbles Event Agent Image FINAL-1




























Churchill Cellars is on the air with Humble and Fred!

#Wineforbreakfast with the boyz on May 20th began with an “amuzicbouche” called Devil on Both Shoulders by Romi Mayes. The banter bounced between beautiful women from ‘The Peg’, Bambi sausage and Howard’s attempts to have a cuvée named after him. We tasted Château de Gourgazaud Cuvée Mathilde and Howard Park Miamup Cabernet Sauvignon with some grilled venison sausage. Much fun was had by all (except Eileen, who isn’t drinking any wine because she’s preggers).

You can listen to the episode here.  We are on at the 52 minute mark.

As a bonus, we also had Chester Osborn from d'Arenberg and Jeff Burch from Howard Park in the studio this past Monday.  There was talk about wine, surfing and golf.  Click here and you'll find them at the 1:03 minute mark.

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 June 20, 2015 at the LCBO:


Save $1.00 on Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay (175430)


Save $1.00 on Vodka Mudshake Caramel (319467)


Save $2.00 on Gran Feudo Reserva (479014)


Save $1.50 on Crazy Uncle Über Caear (370650)


Save $1.50 on Alsace Willm Riesling Réserve (11452)


Earn 3 Bonus Air Miles on Dunavar Pinot Grigio (335422)


Receive a free Coolie Sleeve (where applied) with the purchase of Vodka Mudshake French Vanilla (4606). Collect all four fun colours while supplies last!





Grilled Lime and Chili Chicken Breast

We made this recipe specifically for the House of Mandela Sauvignon Blanc by incorporating some of the flavours in the wine into the marinade. A tiny bit of spiciness complements the wine nicely.

Using yogurt to marinate and coat the chicken breast will prevent it from drying out. Use your imagination to come up with different combinations of flavours. We used a combo of smoked paprika and a bit of hot tomato chili sauce to match Gran Feudo Rosado with good success.


Chili-Lime-Chicken-050½ cup yogurt (we used 6% Astro Original Balkan Style)
3 Tbsp olive oil
The finely grated zest from two limes
4 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts


Whisk all the ingredients, except the chicken and pepper, in a bowl and transfer to a zip-lock plastic bag. With a sharp knife, score each of the chicken breasts three or four times across the grain of the meat about 1 cm deep (depending on the size of the breast) and 3-4 cm apart. Be careful not to cut all the way through. Put the chicken in the bag and marinate for at least an hour or up to 12 hours.

Preheat a grill to medium-high. Pour the chicken and marinade into a bowl and take that to the grill. Place the breast score-side up and cook on the grill until it can be turned without sticking. Turn the breast over and baste with the remaining marinade until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with salad and grilled veggies. For a super-casual dinner, serve it with corn chips and guacamole.

- Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum





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