The Imbiber's Report

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


October 3, 2015


turkey-wineLong-team readers of the Imbiber’s Report know that we have ‘a thing’ for weather and astronomical events, maple syrup, small-town fairs, Riesling and baseball. Sound like a segue? You may have seen this story making its rounds early this month. The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a cold winter with plenty of snow for most of Ontario. Smart Imbibers will plan accordingly and stock up on warm comfy reds for fireside respite.

Next week, the Norfolk County Fair and Horseshow begin its 175th year, with a wide range of competitions and exhibits. Foodies will want to drop by Eat and Drink Norfolk to sample some beer and wine, as well as locally produced cheese, meat, pastries and, yes, maple syrup.

“I really didn't say everything I said!”
 - Yogi Berra

This leaves us with Riesling and Baseball. Thanksgiving is next weekend, when we are once again charged with doing the impossible - matching wine with Thanksgiving dinner. The table brings together a wide variety of people with very different tastes – Aunt Millie, who only drinks Rye and water, Uncle Bud who will only drink his namesake, some enthusiastic wine neophyte cousins and a few people who know the difference between red and white and who have preferences. We pour a little simple, inexpensive white into everyone’s glass to toast and give thanks. After that, we open a number of different wines and let people choose for themselves. Wine choices usually include Segura Viudas Cava, an aromatic dry white like Willm Riesling (which in our opinion might be the contender for MVP of the dinner), an off-dry Riesling from Sprucewood Shores (the crowd-pleaser) an oaky Chardonnay like Wente Morning Fog, a light fruity utility player red such as Pisse-Dru Beaujolais and a medium-bodied, yet intense red like Chivite Gran Reserva. That covers all the bases for the main. This is the perfect time to open a bottle of Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider to enjoy with pie, tarts, crumbles and ice cream (or Chic Choc Spiced Rum Pumpkin Tart - recipe at the bottom).

The possibility exists that over the course of Thanksgiving weekend, you could visit the Norfolk Fair (to pick up pie ingredients and maple syrup), watch a meaningful ball game or two, and enjoy some Riesling with or without food (remember its affinity for Guacamole).

We love what Australian wine writer James Halliday has to say about Riesling – “The lack of appreciation by the broader wine community for Riesling knows no end. I simply cannot understand why pinot gris/grigio should be the preferred choice when there is such a cornucopia of Rieslings. Jancis Robinson’s often repeated assertion is that Riesling is one of the greatest varieties, simply because it more accurately reflects its terroir than any other variety. Its other attribute is its capacity for evolution over a decade, and continuing thereafter, as it adds notes of honey to its lime-lemon-apple base. High acidity and low pH are the all-important attributes of Riesling that underpin its vibrant freshness of youth, and its elegant brocade of flavours come with maturity. It hardly needs be said that the screwcap seals the deal”.

We’ve enjoyed giving you a ‘heads-up’ on some unique wines (usually from Ontario) released through Vintages that, while they are not part of our portfolio, you may find interesting. Rare Red Icewine from Stratus is worth seeking out in this release as is the Keint-He Voyageur Gamay Noir (think Cru Beaujolais). Ontario Gamay is relatively rare (most wineries planted Baco Noir instead). This is a good wine to have on hand for the fall. Also keep an eye out for the 2014 Vintage of Georgian Hills Ida Red Frozen to the Core.  It's made from the frozen apple juice of Ida Red apples harvested behind the Blue Mountains in the Beaver Valley. Nicely balanced, it’s a great match with apple desserts.

We have a ‘Unique Find’ to tell you about as well as great value Cru Bourgeois. We also have some nice reviews for Sprucewood Shores, a link to our latest appearances on Humble & Fred and JazzFM91 Notes, and some great events to tell you about. Drop a little Chic Choc Spiced Rum into your coffee and relax with us a spell.


VINTAGES RELEASE, February 7, 2015

A Unique Find…

Staff Black ONoirSue-Ann Staff Estate Winery
Black O’ Noir Baco Noir 2014
VQA Ontario
260422 $14.95
56 (12 pack) cases available

Vintages Panel: “Dark fruit, tar and herbs on the nose. The palate is complex and layered with engaging replays and a dash of tomato ketchup. This is loaded with distinctive and bold Baco character. Serve with juicy burgers”.

There's not much of this wine available and with so little to go around, distribution is limited.  If you need a great wine to fit the theme for a Halloween party or dinner, grab it now.  We suggest checking availability on-line.











Donissan 2011Château Donissan 2011
Listrac-Médoc AC, Cru Bourgeois
Bordeaux, France
365874 $19.95
300 (12 pack) cases available

4.5 Stars,, Vic Harradine
“This cooler, elevated AOC is known as the roof of the Médoc. Wood smoke, earthy notes and dark berry fruit aromas set the table for a spice-laden, tangy surge of red and black currant and black juicy cherry washing over the palate in waves. It’s stylish and structured, medium-plus weight and creamy smooth with a long finish showcasing more that its fair share of charm. It’s value packed and simply scrumptious”.

Vintages Panel: “Situated in the Haut-Médoc on the Cabernet Sauvignon dominated left bank, between Saint Julien and Margaux, Listrac represents some of the highest land in the Médoc. Understandably overshadowed by its legendary neighbours, Listrac has been producing increasingly impressive big, bold and structured wines in its own right. The 2011 Donissan offers expressive cassis, dark fruit, vanilla and spice. Easy to enjoy with good length and depth of flavour. A value-priced wine with more than a few surprises up its sleeves”.

The 2011 vintages consists of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot. The grapes were hand-picked and sorted and vinified in the Bordeaux method. The wine was aged on its lees in oak barrels for 12 months. The result is a bright lifted red blend that punches well above its weight. Try with game, veal, lamb and most cheese.






Hurray!!! Two wonderful reviews for Sprucewood Shores Estate Winey.


Lady-In-Red med3.5 Stars,, Vic Harradine
Sprucewood Shores ‘Lady in Red’ 2013
VQA Ontario
(266486) $14.95
“This red blend— 35% Cabernet Franc, 35% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Pinot Noir—won Silver Medal at the recent 2015 All Canadian Wine Championships. Winemaker, Tanya Mitchell, describes it as having, ‘nice nose, good legs, great body’. Über-fruity aromas of fresh-pressed grapes mingle with fennel and wisps of dark fruitcake spice. It’s light on its feet racing over the palate with piquant spice, tangy red currant and passion fruit to the fore. Pour with pasta in tomato sauce, wings, tacos or enchiladas”.



Sprucewood Riesling4 Stars/ Value wine,, Vic Harradine
Sprucewood Shores Riesling 2014
VQA Ontario
(326249) $13.95

“This won Silver Medal at the recent 2015 All Canadian Wine Championships and once you pick up a few bottles and taste, you’ll probably agree. Perfumed aromas of floral notes, peach and citrus herald an off-dry surge of honeyed white nectarine and crisp green apple juxtaposed to a tangy line of lemon curd and lime cordial. The sweet and tang are just the yin and yang required to pour well with spicy Asian cuisine. It also sips well solo”.













Churchill Cellars is on the air with Humble and Fred!

To begin our last visit to H&F, Chris introduced the boyz to a new track from Colin Linden appropriately called No More Cheap Wine.!/play/artist/Colin-Linden/No-More-Cheap-Wine We talked a bit about the state of new Canadian music, "Whatsherface" the ex-intern, camping and fishing. We noshed on some Oktoberfest sausage while sampling Willm Riesling Reserve (from Alsace) and Humble’s long lost love – 7 Deadly Zins from Lodi California. We chatted a bit more about matching wine and food and recommended Willm Riesling as a wine you could drink while watching the Blue Jays in the post season. Pretzels anyone?

To listen to our segment click here and go to the 1:24 mark.








NOTES – As Featured on JAZZ.FM91 With Brad Barker

“You brought meatloaf?”
- Brad Barker

We dropped by the JAZZ.FM91 Studio on September 23rd to see our friend Brad Barker for another edition of NOTES. We talked a little about comfort food, and why we brought meatloaf. We had a really informative tasting and talked extensively about how the wines tasted and why they matched with the meatloaf. We tasted Bodega Piedra Negra Pinot Grigio, d’Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne, Château Bel Air from Bordeaux and Angove Vineyard Select Coonawara Cabernet Sauvignon. Click here to listen to the podcast and see Marko’s Autumnal Meatloaf recipe.


Evas Taste Matters Logo





Eva’s Taste Matters

Tuesday, October 20, 2015
6:00 – 9:00 pm
Liberty Grand
25 British Columbia Rd, Toronto

Join us on October 20th for the best in food, wine, craft beer, and more!
All proceeds will go towards Eva’s critical services to help homeless youth live productive lives away from the streets.

To Buy Tickets:



Willow org


Eat to the Beat

Date: Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Time: 7:00 pm
Venue: Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe Street, Toronto (St. Andrew subway station)
Dress: Smart casual
Tickets: $175
Visit for more information.

60 Female Chefs. One Worthy Cause.
Benefitting Willow Breast & Hereditary Cancer Support

Eat to the Beat at a Glance
Celebrating its 20th year, Willow's Eat to the Beat is a mecca for urban foodies who come to experience the best Ontario’s culinary scene has to offer. It is the only event in Canada that exclusively features the talent of 60 female chefs: women supporting women through the challenges that come with a breast cancer diagnosis.

Tickets include savoury and sweet dishes at 60 stations along with wine, beer and a selection of non-alcoholic libations from 20 of the finest beverage purveyors.

Churchill Cellars is proud to support Eat to the Beat again this year. Please come by our table and taste House of Mandela Sauvignon Blanc, The Wanted Zin, Willm Gewurztraminer and Chateau Bel Air. See you there.

About Willow
Willow Breast & Hereditary Cancer Support was founded in 1994 as a national, not-for-profit organization. Willow provides free-of-cost peer support, insight and information to anyone affected by breast or hereditary cancer.

Visit for more information.

Ticket are available here:





The following promotions are available until October 10, 2015 at the LCBO:


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

Save $1.00 Vodka Mudshake Caramel (#319467)

Save $1.00 on The Wanted Zin Zinfandel IGT (#416487)

Save $1.50 on Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava (#216960)

Save $3.00 on San Leonino Governo All'Uso Toscano 2013 (#409144) (Available through Vintages)

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

Earn 10 Bonus Air Miles on Alpine Valley Sauvignon Blanc (#241810)

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

Receive a free Chic Choc Tin Mug (where applied) with the purchase of Chic Choc Spiced Rum (#402867)

Find the following wines chilling in the Wine Fridge:
Marques de Riscal White Rueda (#36822)
Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery Riesling, VQA (#326249)
Alpine Valley Sauvignon Blanc (#241810)
Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava (#216960)





Chic Choc Spiced Rum Pumpkin Tart

The original recipe for the tart called for bourbon. I’ve substituted Chic Choc Canadian Spiced Rum and added a little Maple Syrup to give it a Canadian twist.

Tarts are as easy to make as pies (and maybe easier), but they’re more elegant, and much easier to cut evenly for serving. This tart tastes best if it's baked a day before you serve it.

Bourbon Pumpkin TartFor the tart crust:

    9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
    1/3 cup granulated sugar
    1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
    1/2 tsp. table salt
    5-1/2 oz. (11 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    1 large egg, lightly beaten
    1/4 cup heavy cream; more if needed

For the pumpkin filling:

    1 15-oz. can pure solid-pack pumpkin
    3 large eggs
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
    2 Tbs. unbleached all-purpose flour
    1 tsp. ground ginger
    1 tsp. ground cinnamon
    1/4 tsp. ground cloves
    1/4 tsp. table salt
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    1/4 Chic Choc Spiced Rum

For the streusel topping:

    3-1/2 oz. (3/4 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
    1/3 cup granulated sugar
    1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
    1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    1/2 tsp. table salt
    1/4 lb. (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    3/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
    1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

    Whipped cream, lightly sweetened with Maple Syrup for garnish (optional)

Make the tart crust:

Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, orange zest, and salt in a large bowl on low speed for about 30 seconds. Add the butter and combine on low speed until the mixture looks crumbly, with pieces of butter about the size of dried peas, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and cream, mixing on low speed until the dough is just combined. If the dough is too dry to come together, add more cream, a tablespoon at a time. Gently mold the dough into a 1-inch-thick disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to a week; the dough can also be frozen for up to a month.

Make the pumpkin filling:

Spoon the pumpkin into a large bowl. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly incorporated. Add both sugars and the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Whisk about 30 seconds. Whisk in the heavy cream and Spiced Rum.

Make the streusel topping:

Combine the flour, both sugars, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse briefly to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the butter has blended into the dry ingredients and the mixture is crumbly. Remove the blade and stir in the walnuts and crystallized ginger.

Assemble the tart:

Position a rack in the centre of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Take the tart dough from the refrigerator and let it warm up until pliable, 5 to 15 minutes. Unwrap the dough and set it on a lightly floured work surface. With as few passes of the rolling pin as possible, roll the disk into a 13-inch round, about 3/16 inch thick. Drape the round into a 11-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom gently fitting it into the contours of the pan. Fold the excess dough into the sides of the pan and press to create an edge that’s flush with the top of the pan and about 1/2 inch thick.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into the unbaked tart crust. Scatter the streusel topping evenly over the pumpkin mixture.

Bake until the topping is evenly cooked and no longer looks wet in the centre, 50 to 65 minutes. Let the tart cool on a rack for at least 2 hours before serving (or wrap it in plastic and refrigerate overnight; before serving, let it sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours). Serve warm, at room temperature, or slightly chilled, with Maple Syrup whipped cream, if you like.

Try with Pinnacle Ice Cider.


- Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum



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