The Imbiber's Report

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


June 27, 2015


Fancy Farm Girl Red label image smallWe are still monitoring Foodland Ontario’s Twitter feed to find out what’s fresh and seasonal in farmer’s markets across the province and the short pick-your-own cherry season will begin at some Niagara farms this weekend. Don’t wait too long to get out because they won’t last long. There are still a couple of weeks left for the asparagus crop according to the St. Lawrence Farmer’s Market asparagus guy and new things are ripening all the time.

Have a look through the two links below to see what’s going on in your neck of the woods.

We have a new wine from Washington’s Columbia Valley in Vintages this weekend and a return engagement for a charming red blend from the Douro. Some good news for fans of Sue-Ann Staff’s Fancy Farm Girls is that they have been kept on the LCBO’s Wines to Watch program until October.  See below for details.

There are more reviews for you to review, links to our latest appearances on Humble & Fred Radio and JazzFM.91, as well as an interesting twist on a summer tapenade recipe that you will just love.  We also share a link to making two huge Canadian burgers and washing them down with that classic Canadian cocktail, the Caesar!

If it’s more than 25C when you read this, make yourself an Ungava G&T, if it’s cooler, pour a glass of red and spend a few minutes with us…



New to Vintages…

Castle Rock Col Valley Chard 2013Castle Rock Winery Chardonnay 2013
Columbia Valley, Washington
414193 $19.95
168 (12 pack) cases available

89 Points - Jane Staples,
“Castle Rock Chardonnay from Washington's Columbia Valley has a delicate melon & apple nose.
The palate gives tropical fruit, green apple, melon, citrus lime, vanilla and toasted oak, with a well-balanced mouthfeel and a long citrus/tropical fruit finish”.

Vintages Panel: “This elegantly balanced wine offers delicate aromas of melon and apple. On the palate there are notes of tropical fruit flavours with hints of pineapple and vanilla, ending in a lingering, yet crisp, finish. This Chardonnay provides an excellent accompaniment to fish, chicken and light pasta dishes”.

4 Stars, Vic Harradine,
“Gentle aromas of orchard fruit and baking spice introduce a balanced and tasty flow of green apple and lemon yoghurt garnished with buttered toast and notions of oaky bits. It’s mid-full weight with nice texture and a clean, crisp and refreshing finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside breaded, pan-seared veal cutlets and buttered egg noodles”.

The Columbia Valley lies at roughly the same latitude as Burgundy, the ancestral home of Chardonnay, and it’s a natural home for the grape in the northwestern U.S. This huge AVA contains 99% of all vineyards planted in the state and takes up almost one third of its landmass. Chardonnay is grown with great success in cooler microclimates across the entire appellation and there is a large amount of excellent quality fruit produced here each vintage. The valley lies in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains and consequently all vineyards are irrigated. The amount of water added to the vines is closely monitored and controlled which helps to keep flavours concentrated in the fruit.

This handcrafted Chardonnay delivers tropical fruit, apple and spice on the nose and palate. It’s bright and well balanced with terrific flavour intensity. It finishes with nicely integrated fruit, oak flavours and a little lick of lemon. Try it with Smallmouth Bass or other freshwater game fish.


AnimusAnimus 2013
Douro DOC, Portugal
385302  $14.95
420 (12 pack) cases available

Vintages Panel: “Trained in both Portugal and Bordeaux, winemaker Vicente Leite de Faria has over 30 years - or to put it another way, roughly 250 million bottles - of winemaking experience behind him. And as if that's not enough, his family has been making wines in Douro for over 200 years. His Animus will suggest leather, dark fruit, smoky meat and herbal tones and will be a great companion to a meal of grilled ribs or burgers”.

This typical Douro blend includes Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca. It’s crafted in a medium-bodied and fruity style that is approachable and very, very drinkable. There is solid complexity, good balance and a rustic feel to this wine. Think casual Mediterranean mixed grill of sausages, chicken, pork and veggies. It is a home run with the tapenade recipe below.  The previous vintage sold out in a heartbeat so don’t say we didn’t warn you!




Wines to Watch…

This from - The LCBO Wines to Watch collection is a premium, changing assortment of Ontario wines available in 62 stores. Offered for a limited time and priced from $13.95 to $19.95, these wines allow you to discover delicious new products. Every four months, we will refresh the selection, so come back soon.  

Fancy Farm Girls has been asked to the dance again and will be available over the summer and into October. You’ll find Sue-Ann Staff’s Fancy Farm Girl wines in the Ontario VQA section of the LCBO. Here are the wine tasting notes provided by the Vintages Panel although the wines can be found on the regular LCBO shelves.

Fancy Farm Girl WhiteFancy Farm Girl Frivolous White 2012
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
394072  $14.95
120 (12 pack) cases available

Vintages Panel: “There's nothing frivolous about this Fancy Farm Girl. Sue-Ann Staff is a fifth-generation grape-grower and one of Ontario's leading winemakers. This is bright and crisp and marvellously dry, with impressive grapefruit, white peach and green apple throughout”.

3.5 Stars – Susan Desjardins,
“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”.

This is a style of Riesling that is done particularly well in Niagara and it exemplifies the terroir of the region. If you have ever hiked along the Bruce Trail in Niagara, you will be familiar with its scent: a mix of cool wet limestone, fresh ferns and a faint floral note. That smell of limestone mineral freshness provides the underpinning to all of Sue-Ann Staff’s Rieslings and it really shows up in this wine. We love how Susan Desjardins (above) describes the Frivolous White’s aroma as “a basket of ripe Niagara stone fruit” because it smells like local fruit. There is a tiny bit of residual sweetness to this wine that is perfectly balanced by citrusy acidity. It’s an absolute joy to drink and could be matched to a wide variety of food. Try it with green salad that you’ve added fruit to, spicy Asian dishes and medium flavoured cheese like Upper Canada’s Niagara Gold. Hawaiian Pizza is also a strange and wonderful match.


Fancy Farm Girl Red largeFancy Farm Girl Flamboyant Red 2012
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
394080 $14.95
120 (12 pack) cases available

Vintages Panel: “Sue-Ann Staff, a fifth-generation grape-grower, is the winemaker and 'Fancy Farm Girl' behind this wine, which is quite lifted and perfumed with red plums, currants and spice notes. Fruity, dry and easy to enjoy”.

Medium-bodied, fruity and dry, this is a very pretty wine that would match well with wide variety of food. Try it with burgers, pizza with bacon on it or barbecued ribs.










“Ah, Provence!”

Carte noire rose90 Points Gord Stimmell, Toronto Star
Saint-Tropez Carte Noire 2014 Rosé
$17.95 319384
“Ah, Provence! Flavours that summon up sun-drenched cafés, nectarines, strawberries and apricot nuances in a nicely dry style with a fruity finish”.





San Leonino Chianti Classico91+ Points Gord Stimmell, Toronto Star
San Leonino 2011 Chianti Classico
$19.95 #412387
“Super-tasty Tuscan classic. Big, plummy vanilla, black cherry, cedar and violet set up rich vanilla-laced blackberry, anise, violet and black cherry depths”.






Liam Doody matches tasty wine with summer fare in the Ottawa Citizen

Summertime evokes a breezy approach to many things, including what’s in your wine glass. Ideally, it’s delicious and goes perfectly with the meal being prepared, but without too much effort or expense involved in the selection. Liam Doody, co-ordinator of the sommelier program at Algonquin College, offers a selection of fine wines for entertaining.


SV Brut Reserva New Bottle Segura Viudas Brut Reserva
$14.95 #216960
“Cava from Spain is a sparkling wine produced in the traditional method (like Champagne) but a very good value. This one is dry, crisp, and has some toasted and nutty aromas. Pair with a wide variety of foods from fresh oysters or ceviche, to various tapas”.








Uber Caesar with glass low resAbbey Sharp and Matt from Fidel Gastros break out everything Canadian for this friendly burger competition on Abbey’s Kitchen.  What to wash it down with (assuming you can even get the burgers into your mouth!)?  The iconic Caesar allows you to have some fun with a Caesar bar and the Crazy Uncle Über Caesar makes it dead simple since it’s pre-mixed to perfection and even includes the rimming salt.  Enjoy!
















Churchill Cellars is on the air with Humble and Fred!

This week, the boyz pretended to be in the south of France and enjoyed Saint Tropez Carte Noire Rosé as they noshed on some Tapenade, just like the truckers. We introduced them to San Leonino Chianti Classico as well and we talked old rock tunes, simple food ideas and a few tips to help you pimp your wine. We kicked the show off by listening to Soulstack’s track, Tip of My Tongue Listen to the episode here starting at the 52:45 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.










Notes on Jazz FM

Chris and Mark visited Brad Barker this week live at the Toronto Jazz Festival. We talked about wine temperature, outdoor imbibing and music as we noshed on tapenade as musicians warmed up on the main stage. There is a very cool vibe at Nathan Phillips Square right now. The Hermanos Lurton Rueda was a hit in the heat and the three reds (Château de Gourgazaud Cuvée Mathilde, Ricasoli’s Rocca Guicciarda Chianti Classico and Howard Park’s Miamup Cabernet Sauvignon) were really delicious. Brad especially liked the Howard Park Cab and picked up on the minty notes. Listen here.






The following promotions are available now to July 18, 2015 at the LCBO:


Save $3.50 on Chic Choc Spiced Rum (#402867)

Save $1.00 on Vodka Mudshake Chocolate (#5280)

Earn 4 Bonus Air Miles on Marqués de Riscal White Rueda (#36822)

Earn 4 Bonus Air Miles on Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc (#275909)

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

Receive a free 50ml Chic Choc Spiced Rum (where applied) with the purchase of Ungava Premium Gin (#374231)





Kalamata Olive and Vegetable Antipasto Tapenade

Adding a little Calabrese Vegetable Antipasto to your tapenade lightens it up a bit and makes for a less intense olive flavour. This spread is amazing on crusty bread or crackers. We like to put a bowl out when we serve a mixed grill of meat and veggies so people can help themselves to it. It plays well with hard Italian cheese like Grana Padano (which is how we served it on Jazz FM this week).

tapenade1/4 pound pitted Kalamata olives (check them for pit pieces)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed thoroughly with cold water
1 anchovy fillet
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Spicy Mixed Vegetable Antipasto Calabrese – Aurora Brand or the like.
Freshly ground pepper

In a food processor pulse the garlic, anchovy, olive oil and capers into a chunky paste.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until you have your desired consistency. For this tapenade it’s nice to have a bit of a chunky texture provided by the additional veggies.

Add freshly ground pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.

- Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum




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