The Imbiber's Report

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


October 31, 2015


halloween-pumpkin-carving-ideas-125On behalf of all our Imbiber’s Report Jays fans, that was a great ride.  Let’s do it again next year!

Driving and cycling around the backroads of southwestern Ontario the past few weekends, we’ve notice a bumper crop of pumpkins. They seem to all be the perfect size, colour and shape. You shouldn’t have a problem finding a great one for carving this year. If you’re wondering what else to do with your pumpkins, visit Foodland Ontario’s Pumpkin Page, and see the Food and Wine section below for a pickled pumpkin recipe.

We have an amazing new unique wine from Nova Scotia and three great reds in this Vintages release. The Globe and Mail gave d’Arenberg’s Galvo Garage a stellar review (see below). We also have some great promotions on at the LCBO right now and an update on our recent radio exploits.

Pour a splash of Chic Choc Spiced Rum in your favourite tumbler or tin cup (look for the free value add in stores) and relax for a spell.


VINTAGES RELEASE, October 31, 2015

New at Vintages…

Devonian Maple WineDevonian Coast Maple Wine
Nova Scotia, Canada
431791 $21.95
112 (12 pack x 375ml) cases available

90 points - David Lawrason,
“It makes total sense that Canada should be able to make great maple flavoured wines. If not us, who? This Nova Scotian is a classic, with deep amber colour and huge nose of maple walnut fudge, apricot/pumpkin fruit and spice. It's thick, sweet yet braced by good acidity. Excellent length”.

89 Points – Very Good, Strong Recommendation, Ultimate Wine Challenge, 2014
“Pretty amber colour. Smells alluringly of baked banana, bacon fat, maple syrup, tree resin, floor wax. Taste profile shows a high degree of acidity and is therefore fresh, vibrant, piquant, sap-like, only moderately sweet. Finishes resiny, syrupy, lovely, elegant”.

Double Gold, Finger Lakes International Wine Competition 2011
Gold, All Canadian Wine Champ 2014
Gold, All Canadian Wine Champ 2011

This Maple wine is certified by the National Certifying Body of Fruit Wines of Canada as a Quality Dessert Wine. While it does not carry an appellation, per se, it is made from 100% Nova Scotia Maple Syrup. The wine is made from maple sap that is cool fermented until the desired level of residual sugar is reached. The wine is fined and filtered and bottled in 375ml bottles.

It doesn’t get more Canadian than this. Play around with this wine and serve it with pancake brunch or breakfast. It will nicely match apple or pumpkin pie and other not-too sweet desserts. For the ultimate Canadian match, try it with a platter of fresh and dried Ontario apples, Bleu Bénédictin, Upper Canada Cheese Company’s Niagara Gold and Cows Applewood Smoked Cheddar along with Ontario Black Walnuts in honey.


chateaudepanigon2011 photoChâteau de Panigon 2011
Médoc AC Cru Bourgeois
Bordeaux, France
348250 $22.95
420 (12 pack) cases available

90 Points – Roger Voss, Wine Enthusiast
“This structured, fruity wine has a core of dense tannins. The firm smokiness from wood marries well with the blackberry fruit and tight acidity. Well-balanced and likely to age well for 4-6 years”.

This is a blend of 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit-Verdot. Grapes are hand and machine harvested in separate lots and vinified by grape variety in temperature controlled stainless steel. Various parcels are then aged in French oak barrels for 12 to 18 months.

Panigon has a long and storied past and its history dates back before the French Revolution. The estate was featured in various wine guides throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and has enjoyed a solid reputation for producing excellent quality Cru Bourgeois reds. In 2006, the Dadda family assumed management of the Château and it continues to be family owned and operated to this day.

This is a great wine to try if you are not familiar with Bordeaux.  With 50% Merlot, it’s a softer, more approachable style. If you love Bordeaux, Château de Panigon offers amazing value at the entry-level price of $22.95.

Try it with a hearty beef stew, mushroom risotto or game.


New to Vintages…

Brolio Riserva Chianti Classico DOCGBarone Ricasoli Brolio
Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2011
Tuscany, Italy
418822 $34.95
200 (12 pack) cases available

91 Points - Robert Parker
91 Points - Guide Gilbert & Gaillard
91 Points - Guida Oro Veronelli
90 Points - James Suckling

This Classico Riserva is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Following a controlled fermentation, the wine spent two weeks macerating on its skins. After a gentle racking, it was aged for 16 months in French barriques and tonneaux. The final blend is bottled and aged for a further 3 months before release.

From Barone Ricasoli’s website – “Ricasoli is the oldest winery in Italy the second oldest in the world according to the leading American magazine Family Business. Today it is the largest winery in the Chianti Classico area: Brolio Castle, where Baron Bettino Ricasoli invented the Chianti formula in 1872, is surrounded by 1,200 hectares in the communes of Gaiole and Castelnuovo Berardenga. Valleys, hills, woods of oak and chestnut trees, 235 hectares of vineyards and 26 hectares of olive groves, all enjoying the beauty and the wide variety of soils and climate in this central Chianti area.
The nearby avant-garde cellars are where we undertake the same pursuit of excellence today that drove Bettino Ricasoli to invent the Chianti formula in 1872.
The research we do today has almost one thousand years behind it. Francesco Ricasoli has been at the helm of the family business since 1993 and has renewed the quality and personality of great Brolio wines, experimenting and making the most of the unique characteristics of the land and its history. New labels are coming into existence and the already known wines, which have won awards all over the world, are being perfected: Barone Ricasoli’s research continues and gives a whole new meaning to the culture of winemaking and the art of drinking”.


Earthquake Zin 2012 no backgroundMichael David Winery
Earthquake Zinfandel 2012
Lodi, California
59717 $39.95
134 (12 pack) cases available

93 Points - Top 100 Wines Best of 2014 – Jim Gordon, Wine Enthusiast
“This is Zinfandel at its richest. Boysenberry, vanilla and maple syrup aromas meet up with jammy fruit flavors that coat the mouth and linger on the finish. For all its fullness, it stays balanced and dry. It does not feel heavy in texture nor heavily oaked”.

92+ Points - Gord Stimmell, Toronto Star
90 Points - Robert Parker, Wine Advocate
Gold, San Francisco International Wine Competition 2014

This wine comes from an old Lodi vineyard planted around the same time as San Francisco’s great Earthquake of 1906 (hence the name). Pepper and spice notes with plenty of berry fruits such as cherries and raspberries, intertwined with dusty, loamy soil and incense jump from the glass of this impressive wine. With over 15% alcohol and bold tannins, this is a dark and dense wine that is worthy of some meditation.

2012 was an exceptional vintage for Lodi with nearly all grape types reaching their full quality potential. Zinfandel did exceptionally well and with warm dry days and cool, pleasant nights, it was perfect.

Gather a couple of Zin-heads together and share a bottle of Earthquake over some fine cheese and a charcuterie platter. If you want to have it with food, give it a whirl with well-peppered, medium-rare grilled steak, finished with some crumbled blue cheese and sautéed mushrooms.





dArenberg Galvo Garage Cabernet Sauvignon 92 Points – Beppi Crosariol, The Globe and Mail
d’Arenberg The Galvo Garage 2010
McLaren Vale, Australia
907584 $29.95
“The odd name is an homage to the so-called garagistes of Bordeaux, small modern producers who thumbed their noses at the château establishment by crafting small-lot wines in garages, earning high critical praise in the process. d’Arenberg makes this and other reds in a humble-looking galvanized shed, hence “galvo.” Full-bodied and succulent, it’s a Bordeaux-style blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Smooth and chewy-dense, it’s packed with candy-shop flavours of strawberry, raspberry and licorice enhanced by leather and black pepper”.















Churchill Cellars is on the air with Humble and Fred!

This week’s music selection was Simone Denny’s Black Roses from a new recording entitled The Stereo Dynamite Sessions Vol. 1.  This great R&B/Soul track features Simone’s slightly husky vocals over some brooding instrumentation, making it perfect for late night listening.  Take it for a spin by clicking here:

After listening to Black Roses, the talk turned to wine as we featured our new general listing The Wanted Zin Old Vine Zinfandel from Italy and the above noted gem from d’Arenberg, The Galvo Garage.  If you want to know what Humble & Fred had to say about it, click here and go to the 1:04 mark.

WARNING: At some point during the podcast, there is bound to be mature language!









NOTES – As Featured on JAZZ.FM91 with Brad Barker

Last week, Chris and Mark paid a visit to the JAZZ.FM91 studio and worked their way through four wines as part of our regular Notes feature: Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay, Chateau Donissan from the Medoc region of Bordeaux, The Wanted Zin Old Vine Zinfandel from Italy and d’Arenberg’s The Galvo Garage.  We tasted all the wines with a deconstructed Grilled Steak and Mushroom Pie, but the real recipe and the podcast can be found here.



 Jazz FM Italian series sign









JAZZ FM Sounds of Italy Concert Series

Three of our Italian wines, Casal Thaulero Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese and The Wanted Zin Old Vine Zinfandel are sponsors of this interesting series featuring four Italian jazz pianists. The first show was this past week but three more pianists will be featured over 6 shows.  Mirko Signorile appears on November 10, Rita Marcotulli on February 22 and Giovanni Guidi on March 22.  Show times are 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm on those nights at the Jazz Bistro, but we suggest you arrive earlier to enjoy dinner with some wine before the show.

To see more information about the shows and order tickets, go to:



Ottawa Show Logo





The Ottawa Wine and Food Festival
30th Anniversary Edition
October 30 – November 1
Shaw Centre, Ottawa

We will be at the show pouring a selection of wines and spirits from our portfolio. Editor and Factotum, Mark Donaldson, is presenting two wine seminars as well. Full details are available here:





The following promotions are available until November 7, 2015 at the LCBO:

Save $1.50 on Cellier des Dauphins Carte Noire (#110197)

Save $2.00 on San Leonino Chianti Classico DOCG 2011, through Vintages (#412387)

Save $2.00 on Animus Douro DOC 2013, through Vintages (#385302)

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

Earn 4 Bonus Air Miles on Pisse-Dru Beaujolais (#2881)

Earn 12 Bonus Air Miles on Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider (#94094)

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)





Pickled Pumpkin

Pickled pumpkin has long been a tradition in many homes across North America.  Thinly sliced pumpkin can used in sandwiches, on turkey burgers or as a garnish for soup or salad. It has a surprising affinity for old cheddar and off-dry Riesling.

This excellent recipe is from Bernardin Canada  You can tweak the recipe by changing the spices. The pumpkin, lemon, sugar and vinegar amounts need to stay the same.

Makes about 6 x 500 ml jars.

sweetpumpkinpikcles lrg6 lb (2.7 kg) pumpkin
1 medium lemon, zest and pulp
6 cups (1500 ml) granulated sugar
4 cups (1000 ml) white vinegar
8 inches (20 cm) cinnamon sticks, halved
12 whole allspice berries
10 whole cloves

Place 6 clean 500 ml mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner; cover jars with water and heat to a simmer (180°F/82°C). Set screw bands aside. Heat lids in hot water, not boiling (180°F/82°C). Keep jars and lids hot until ready to use.

Halve, seed and peel pumpkin; cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) cubes; set aside.

Thoroughly wash lemon. Remove zest and place in a large stainless steel saucepan. Using a sharp knife, remove remaining white pith from lemon; discard. Separate segments from membrane and coarsely chop. Squeeze juice from membrane; add juice and pulp to zest in saucepan; discard membrane and seeds.

Add sugar and vinegar to lemon mixture. Tie cinnamon, allspice and cloves in a square of cheesecloth, creating a spice bag; add to mixture. Bring to a boil; cover and boil gently 10 minutes. Add prepared pumpkin and boil 3 minutes longer. Remove spice bag and take off heat.
Pack pumpkin into a hot jar to within 3/4 inch (2 cm) of top of jar. Add hot liquid to cover pumpkin to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of top of jar (headspace). Using nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if required, by adding more pumpkin and hot pickling liquid. Wipe jar rim removing any food residue. Centre hot lid on clean jar rim. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Return filled jar to rack in canner. Repeat for remaining pumpkin and hot pickling liquid.

When canner is filled, ensure that all jars are covered by at least one inch (2.5 cm) of water. Cover canner and bring water to full rolling boil before starting to count processing time. At altitudes up to 1000 ft (305 m), boil filled jars for 20 minutes.

 When processing time is complete, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars without tilting and place them upright on a protected work surface. Cool upright, undisturbed for 24 hours. DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands.

After cooling, check jar seals. Sealed lids curve downward and do not move when pressed. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place. For best quality, use home canned foods within one year.


- Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum




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