The Imbiber's Report

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


June 13, 2015


Fresita CollageWe are monitoring Foodland Ontario’s Twitter feed to find out what’s fresh and seasonal in farmer’s markets across the province. A great asparagus crop is still chugging along and has been recently joined by spring onions, beans and strawberries. Have a look through the two links above to see what’s going on in your neck of the woods.

While asparagus is still here, try making the spring veggie risotto below and serve it with any of our light and zippy whites, especially Sauvignon Blanc from Caliterra, Alpine Valley, Veramonte or Guy Saget’s Sancerre which all have the right flavours to match. Also try it with Segura Viudas Brut Reserva, Lurton Pinot Grigio, Marqués de Riscal Rueda (a personal favourite) and even Gran Feudo Rosado (for a Rosado Risotto ;-). Fresh strawberries and strawberry desserts should be enjoyed with a cold glass of sparkling Fresita. The Vow Project has some amazing ideas for Fresita Cocktails here -  This is also the time to break out that bottle of Sue-Ann Staff Vidal Icewine that you have been wondering what to do with. Try this Strawberry Fool recipe  It’s great because you can adjust the amount of sweetness in the dessert and tailor it to match whatever wine you are serving, including Icewine.

This is probably our most eclectic collection of products ever to come through Vintages at one time. The beautiful Reserva Heredad Cava returns to Vintages this weekend and is joined by our favourite Provençal Rosé, a classic Chianti Classico, rare Tokjai Aszu 5 Puttonyos, a lovely 10 Year Old Tawny Port and an ancient Chinese liquor. We would also like to introduce you to two new wines from Victoria, Australia that will be available all year round at the LCBO.

Our House of Mandela launch of Sauvignon Blanc in Ontario was a great success and generated multiple television, radio and print interviews and articles. There was a tremendous amount of activity through social media as well as the House of Mandela story being blogged, tweeted, liked and instagrammed around the world. Importantly, the wine was well reviewed by The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and others, all of whom really like the wine’s character and flavour.

This would probably be a good time to pour a glass of said Sauvignon Blanc and relax as you peruse this issue of The Imbiber’s Report…



Two new drops from Deakin Estate…

We are very pleased to announce two new Australian additions to our regular collection of LCBO listings. These can be found at most LCBO stores, so check their website for product availability or use the LCBO app to find the bottles closest to you. They join our popular and often lauded Deakin Estate Shiraz.

Deakin Estate is a family-owned vineyard and winery located in the Mildura region of northwest Victoria. The property was named in honour of Alfred Deakin, a former Australian Prime Minister who pioneered irrigation in the arid region. Fed by the mighty Murray River, Mildura produces high-quality grapes yielding a range of delicious and affordable wines. The region is also famous for producing excellent quality olives, nuts and citrus fruit.

Deakin Viognier largeDeakin Estate Wines
Viognier 2014
Red Cliffs, Victoria
399253 $10.80

Winemaker’s Notes: “Grapes were harvested when the flavour profile was at its peak. Aromatic yeast selection, coupled with a cool fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, helped retain the fruit flavours throughout the winemaking process.
There are notes of dried apricots, honeysuckle and fresh citrus on the nose. This luscious and fruity wine has an approachable soft palate with a crisp finish and textural mouthfeel.
Deakin Estate Viognier pairs well with Thai or Indian cuisine, chicken or stuffed trout. It’s also an amazing accompaniment to shellfish such as scallops, crab, and lobster”.

This is really delicious Viognier and at $10.80, it could be your summer house or cottage wine. It also plays nicely with salty snack foods like potato chips. Guacamole with a bit of heat is also a winner.



Deakin Art Blend Cabernet Tempranillo LargeDeakin Estate Wines
Artisan’s Blend Cabernet Tempranillo 2013
Murray Darling, Victoria
399238 $12.80

Gord on Grapes – Toronto Star
“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
“A stylish blend with seductive aromas and flavours of plum, anise, blackberry and a finish of vanilla-laced summer black cherry fruit”.

Deakin Estate Artisan’s Blend delivers aromas of blackberries, plum and chocolate. Aromas repeat as flavours on the palate and are joined by savoury notes and a hint of aniseed on a long smooth finish. Smooth cocoa-like tannins add nice grip to the finish. There’s levity to this wine that we find very attractive. With 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Tempranillo, the Artisan’s Blend has a bit of a European feel to it and would be at home with pan-Mediterranean flavours. Also try with game, duck and any grilled red meat.





HeredadSegura Viudas Reserva Heredad DO Cava
Penedès, Spain
558825 $29.95
25(6 pack) cases available

4.5 Stars  Susan Desjardins,
“Golden, with some green notes, this limited-production Cava, a blend of the first pressing of estate-grown Macabeo and Parellada, displays depth and lovely balance. Intense aromas of pear, citrus and toasted butter pastry entice. Dry, bright and fresh, it has a refined creamy mousse and a lively, crisp texture. Rich flavours of Bosc pear and lemon-lime wash across the palate and linger on the clean, persistent finish. A sparkling wine of presence and weight, it presents well as a gift or served at any holiday gathering”.

92 Points – Wine & Spirits
"A selection of Macabeo and Parellada grown at estate vineyards in the Alt Penedes, Reserva Heredad is a complex and heady Cava that delivers on its richness without sweetness. Its potent depth of flavor has a smoky minerality and fresh apple-skin notes. This is full and meaty enough to serve with roast chicken or veal meatballs."

92 Points – Gord Stimmell, Toronto Star

Segura Viudas uses only their very best Macabeo and Paradella from each vintage for the Heredad Brut Reserva. A high percentage of Macabeo in the blend allows the wine to retain a youthful freshness throughout the long aging process. Secondary fermentation in the bottle takes place in the winery’s deep, cool, subterranean caves. This slow process builds complexity and character into the wine. Heredad Brut Reserva spends at least 30 months on its lees before it is hand disgorged and finished. The result is Cava of tremendous depth and complexity that is elegantly powerful.  
Vin de pique-nique…

Carte noire roseLes Maîtres Vignerons de la Presqu’île de Saint-Tropez Carte Noire Rosé 2014
Côtes de Provence AOP
Provence, France
319384 $17.95
850 (12 pack) cases available

Vintages Panel: “Enchanting notions of wild herbs, white peach, melon and cherry blossom seduce the senses here. Brilliant acidity gives a tangy edge to the citrus and cantaloupe that defines the palate. Always a beautiful wine, this popular pink will delight with charcuterie picnic fare”.

88 Points – John Szabo MS,
“Clean but discreet, dry, light, and flavourful - this is an arch-classic Provençal rosé. Lightly herbal flavours are fresh and inviting”.
A few years ago, while visiting Provence, we drove the D93 around the Saint-Tropez Peninsula, passing through many of the vineyards that grow grapes for this wine. The landscape is wild and windswept and smells of herbs and pine. In the town of Saint Tropez, we saw Les Maîtres Vignerons de la Presqu’île de Saint-Tropez everywhere. It’s sold in tourist shops, restaurants, grocery stores and from its own branded kiosks. Carte Noire Rosé is an international wine ambassador for the region and is exported around the world.   

It’s a beautiful pale copper-peach colour. The nose shows notes of white flesh fruits and citrus fruit with a hint of wild herbs (it smells like Provence). The palate is fruity and dry with bright cranberry-like acidity which finishes with a white pepper and strawberry note.


Classic Chianti…

San Leonino Chianti ClassicoSan Leonino
Chianti Classico DOCG 2011
Tuscany, Italy
412387 $19.95
400 (12 pack) cases available

Vintages Panel: “The ancient city of Castellina dates back to Etruscan times, and its rural outskirts provide the setting for the Bertani family's San Leonino farm, where this wine is grown. In this Chianti Classico, the Sangiovese is blended with dabs of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Fresh and approachable in style, it offers tangy cherry fruit, fresh herbs and clove. This one will be versatile at the dinner table, particularly with barbecued meats and pastas with tomato sauce”.

89 Points – John Szabo,
“Clean, vibrant, juicy Chianti here, with fine, dusty tannins and good to very good length. Pleasantly resinous and representative of grape and place”.

Castellina in Chianti is located in the hilly western-central portion of the Chianti Classico zone. San Leonino’s vineyards are perched on perfectly angled south-easterly facing slopes. Wines produced here are some of the most traditional and classically styled in the region. Match this very versatile wine with a wide variety of food. We like to have it with grilled steak, baby arugula and tomato salad, sautéed mushrooms and shaved pecorino cheese.


Inukshuk Wine…

Aszu 5 PuttonyosPatricius
Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos 2003
Tokaj, Hungary
95901 $39.95
30 (6 pack x 500ml) cases available

Gold Medal Winner – International Wine Challenge, London

Winemaker’s Notes: “Flavours of apricots and tropical fruits integrate in a subtle dance of flavour. Made from individually picked botrytis berries, this Aszu is a blend of Tokaji varietals; Furmint,  and Harslevelu. High levels of residual sugar are balanced by the soaring acidity of the Furmint, leaving a fresh, lemony finish on the back palate. It is a lovely accompaniment with foie gras or dessert”.

5 Stars – Vic Harradine,
“One of the wine world’s affordable treasures, if you haven’t experienced it, allow me to heartily recommend this one. It coats the palate with orange and lemon peel marmalade, mango, candied blood orange and oodles of spice and charm. It finishes in a surge of sweet nectar with coffee, honey and apricot coming to mind and… not the least cloying. The ‘puttonyos’ refer to the number of 20-litre containers of über-sweet, hand-harvested, botrytis-affected grapes used in this magnificent Tokaji Aszú. Serve as an aperitif, with blue-veined cheese, crème caramel or fruit flan”.

93 Points – John Szabo MS,
“Furmint based. Three years in barrel and the rest in bottle, this is just reaching the market now 11 years later. A fragrant and delicate, transparent heavily botrytis-influenced aszú, reaching a fine stage of evolution now. This is really pretty, infinitely drinkable, rich but far from heavy or cloying. It could easily be a wine of gastronomy with its lightness and finesse; try with duck à l'orange or pork belly”.

This Tokaji Aszu needs to be part of your wine tasting repertoire. It’s an exotic treasure with a history unlike any other wine on earth. Have a look at the Wikipedia entry for a bit of an idea. “The Wine of Kings, the King of Wine”. Save your coffee money up for week and splurge on this wine. Enjoy with fruit flan.


Dows 10 Year Old TawnyDow's 10 Years Old Tawny Port
Douro, Portugal
246967 $34.95
125 (12 pack) cases available

“Best in Class” Gold Medal – International Wine & Spirit Competition

Gold Medal – Decanter Awards

4.5 Stars – Vic Harradine,
“This is liquid ambrosia with heady aromas and medium-bodied, creamy-smooth, palate-bathing flavours of treacle, nutty notes, Christmas-cake spice and caramel. It’s structured, complex and finishes with more of the same replaying palate flavours on the lingering aftertaste. This pairs and pours well with consommé, crème brulée, spice cake, warmed nuts or aged hard cheese”.

Winemaker’s Note: “The nose is brimming with aromas of candied fruit and toffee, beautifully combined with mature ripe fruit. On the palate, vibrant nutty flavours, perfect balance and a lovely long finish. Taste slightly chilled to appreciate the full complexity and sensuous pleasure of this wine. An excellent alternative to Vintage Port at less formal occasions”.

Dow’s drier style of Port making is showcased here in this gorgeous 10 Year Old Tawny that is packed with intense dried fruit flavours. The texture is exquisitely creamy and the finish is long and lingering and characteristically drier than other Tawnies. For the uniquely Ontarian experience, chill this down a little and enjoy it with a butter tart.  



Dukang Mianrou 3 XingDukang Mianrou 3 Xing
Henan Province, China
410738 $29.95
150 (6 pack x 500ml) cases available

Producer’s Notes: “Dukang Wine, a famous age-old Chinese liquor brand, is named after its legendary brewing ancestor, Du Kang. According to legend it was discovered over 4,000 years ago. Dukang Mianrou 3 Xing is transparent with a light yellow tinge. It has a long, smooth taste with some heat on the finish”.

Note: While the company’s tasting notes refer to this product as a wine, please be advised that it is a liquor which clocks in at an astounding 50%Alcohol/Vol.




House of Mandel Sauvignon Blanc large89+ Points – Gord Stimmell, Toronto Star
House of Mandela Thembu Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Western Cape WO, South Africa
407882 $12.95
“Enticing fresh fruit salad, musk melon, lime and guava aromas with crisp flavours suggesting pineapple, lime, and cantaloupe. Refreshing, vibrant white! Batter-fried haddock”.

88 Points – Beppi Crosariol, The Globe and Mail
House of Mandela Thembu Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Western Cape WO, South Africa
407882 $12.95
“Nice. Rounded, fruit-forward Sauvignon Blanc that comes across like a restrained New Zealand. It lands somewhere in between the punchy New Zealand styles. With subtle flintiness – not grassy at all”.

Beppi interviewed Tukwini Mandela at the Summerhill LCBO store and tasted the Thembu collection (some of the other wines are available in different provinces). Please take a minute and read the entire article here -


Chivite Rosado largeRecommended – Rod Phillips, Ottawa Citizen
Gran Feudo Rosado
165845 $11.95
“This Garnacha (Grenache) based rosé from Spain’s Navarra region delivers more weight than many rosés, and it shows excellent balance, as the solid and quite concentrated fruit plays off the clean, fresh acidity. Drink it with charcuterie, poultry, and pork”.

Read why Rod thinks Pink is a great idea.









 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!

The latest instalment of #wineforbreakfast at Humble & Fred Radio began with Chris’ music pick – Lindi Ortega’s cover of an old Bee Gees song  Several of Humble’s worlds collided as we talked about wine, ravioli and the Bee Gees. We tasted Hermanos Lurton Rueda from Spain and Barone Ricasoli Rocca Guicciarda Chianti Classico Riserva from Italy and discussed how the cheap fiasco bottle of Chianti in Billy Joel’s Italian restaurant has grown up to become a serious, world-class wine.  You’ll get the drift when you listen here and go to the 1:16 mark of the podcast.

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!





Goat Cheese Risotto with Asparagus

For Asparagus:

risottoBring 2 cups of water to boil in a large pan or pot
Add 1 tsp of salt
Blanch spears in boiling water until they turn dark green.
Drain spears and plunge them into ice cold water.
Cut the tips off the spears and set aside
Cut the spears into lengths, so that they are as long as they are wide, set aside

For Risotto:

4 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsps unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 large spring onions, minced
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (see the list in the introduction)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme


In small covered saucepot, heat broth over medium heat until simmering, turn off heat, and cover.

In a large pot, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add rice and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until rice begins to become translucent at edges of grains, stirring constantly. Add wine and stir constantly until mostly absorbed.

Add 1/2 cup hot broth; stir constantly until mostly absorbed. Add additional broth in 1/2 cup increments, stirring after each addition and cooking until broth is mostly absorbed before adding more. Cook 20 to 25 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring frequently and adding broth as needed.

Stir in asparagus spears, lemon juice, goat cheese and thyme; cook, while stirring, 1 minute or until cheese is melted and incorporated.

Serve the risotto on warm plates and garnish it with a fine crumble of goat cheese, the asparagus tips and very finely peeled lemon zest.

- Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum




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