The Imbiber's Report

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


November 14, 2015


SantaParade“The Santa Claus Parade” comes to Toronto this weekend. With the help of more than 3,000 volunteers, the parade makes its way from Christie Pits to the St Lawrence Market. A truly remarkable Toronto institution, the parade marks its 111th year in 2015. For a look behind the scenes and for more information visit the website

Toronto isn’t the only town with a parade.  Cities and towns across the province have parades of all shapes and sizes. Sudbury, Chatham, Ottawa, Niagara Falls, Cobourg and Owen Sound are all visited by Santa. One of our favourites is the Orangeville’s Moonlight Magic, Tractor Parade of Light, where 30 tractors make their way through downtown Orangeville decorated with thousands of Christmas lights. Another favourite is Simcoe’s Panorama Christmas River of Lights, featuring stationary ‘floats’ that you can walk around and visit. Remember to dress warm and take plenty of hot chocolate.

The mid-November Vintages release highlights ‘Stars of the Season’ and features a plethora of holiday gift ideas, including our very own Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad Cava and d’Arenberg’s medal-laden The Dead Arm Shiraz. We are also excited to showcase a new wine, Jost’s Tidal Bay, that will be available exclusively at LCBO Flagship Stores, direct from Nova Scotia. The release also contains an up and coming Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, a wonderful red blend from Medoc, an award-winning red blend from Langhorne Creek and another excellent red from d’Arenberg.

A nice glass of Shiraz would take the chill off right about now…


VINTAGES RELEASE, November 14, 2015

HeredadSegura Viudas Reserva Heredad
DO Cava, Penedès, Spain
558825 $29.95
560 (6 pack) cases available

4.5 Stars (out of 5) - 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”.

Reserva Heredad is Segura Viudas’ ‘tête de cuvée’, their flagship wine that epitomizes the high standard of quality of the house. What makes Reserva Heredad different from other Cavas? The wine is aged on its lees for 30 months and is hand riddled. The grapes are hand harvested and whole cluster pressed to maintain freshness. Primary and secondary (in the bottle) fermentations are carried out using Segura Viudas’ own proprietary yeast strain that was developed at the winery. This yeast gives structure and softness on the palate and more complex aromas and flavours of honey, dried fruits and flowers. The wine is finished in a special bottle adorned with the Segura Viudas crest and a faux-pewter base.

Editor’s note: In our house, tradition dictates that a bottle of Reserva Heredad is opened while we trim the Christmas tree.  Don’t wait until Christmas to buy it though, since this wine usually sells out quickly.


Cool coast SBCasa Silva
Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Colchagua Valley, Chile
419812 $16.95
280 (12 pack) cases available

92 Points - #1 Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, International Wine Review
90 Points – Tanzer’s International Wine Review
90 Points – Robert Parker
90 Points - Josh Raynolds,
“Bright straw. Highly pungent aromas of citrus zest, melon and jasmine, with a spicy nuance emerging with air. Deeper exotic fruit flavors join bright lemon and honeydew on the palate. Finishes clean and focused, with bright minerality and bitter citrus qualities”.
Jamie Goode – “Could this be Chile’s Cloudy Bay?”
Jancis Robinson – Financial Times, “Look out Pouilly-Fumé!”

Let’s just say that Casa Silva’s inaugural attempt at producing a cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc really hit the mark. Grapes for this wine were grown in the coastal foothills of the Colchagua Valley, only 8 km from the Pacific Ocean, where the Humboldt Current brings cold Antarctic water up the coast, keeping temperatures cool and consistent. The wine is bright and zesty and will give your favourite Sauvignon Blanc a run for its money.

Try with seafood, oysters, scallops or freshwater fish.


Jost Tidal BayJost Vineyards
Tidal Bay 2014
Nova Scotia, Canada
431783 $17.95
(12 pack) cases available

89 Points – Sara d’Amato,
“I was very happy to pick out this white Nova Scotian blend from Jost Vineyards in a blind tasting at the National Wine Awards. The acids are tense and nervy and provide excellent structure for the complex array of fruit and spice on the palate. Notes of pear, peach and honey on the juicy palate with a compelling character. Although the palate may be refreshingly tart, the texture is viscous and substantial. Stock up while you can”.

88 Points – Tony Aspler,
“(60% L'Acadie, 15% Muscat, 15% Ortega and 10% Cayuga): pale straw colour; aromatic, orange peel nose; clean and bright, off-dry, spicy, honey, grapefruit and nectarine flavours”.

The Tidal Bay designation represents a unique and recognizable style which is purely Nova Scotian. It’s a blend of indigenous grapes where the varieties of l’Acadie and Ortega play a significant role in defining the signature notes of the wine. Citrus notes of grapefruit rind and lemon peel with subtle notes of apple are expressed on the nose. Expressive notes of citrus and granny smith apple combine with a bright acidity and a balanced sweetness on the palate.

This food-friendly wine will pair well with seafood, shellfish and a wide variety of cheese. Also try it with spicy pan-Asian dishes.


New to Vintages…

Chateau LaulanChâteau Laulan Ducos 2010
Médoc AC Cru Bourgeois
Bordeaux, France
425561 $19.95
(12 pack) cases available

“Last vintage before it was bought by Chinese jeweller Richard Shen. Green bell pepper, subtle oak hint, medium bodied. Powerful tannins and smooth texture supported by abundant fruit in fairly promising concentration”.

This is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc, aged for 12 months in barrel and might be your only opportunity to purchase this wine. The new owner of the estate, Chinese jewellery mogul, Richard Shen, plans to sell all of his wine through his luxury jewellery stores in south China.






dArenberg hightrellisd’Arenberg
The High Trellis Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
McLaren Vale, Australia
943456 $19.95
448 (12 pack) cases available

90+ Points – Gary Walsh,
“Blackcurrant and blackberry, some aniseed licorice allsorts stuff happening, floral perfume with toasty vanilla and coconut oak. Medium to full bodied, some truffle flavours in the mix to taste, firm backed grainy Cabernet tannin keeps it trim, acidity is clean and well managed, and the finish is pretty dry and long, with some succulence of pastille fruit in the aftertaste. Pretty serious wine for under $20”.

93 Points – James Halliday

Winemaker’s Notes: “There is an abundance of blackcurrant, violets and minty notes on the nose. Beautiful bright purple fruits dominate the palate, countered by typical Cabernet characteristics such as red bell pepper skin and fresh mint. It’s a wine that can be savoured now or allowed to develop for the next five to ten years”.

While d’Arenberg produce some of McLaren Vale’s signature Shiraz-based wines, one of which is reviewed below, it also crafts some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon around. The High Trellis is an exceptional value for under $20 and is really worth checking out.



Bleasdale-Frank-PottsBleasdale Vineyards
Frank Potts Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Langhorne Creek, Australia
619999 $27.95
280 (6 pack) cases available

94 Points – James Halliday,
“A complex, elegant blend that spent 12 months in French puncheons and hogsheads. Bright crimson-purple; has absorbed the oak while preserving the cassis fruits and softening the tannins; good length and balance.”

Double Gold – China Wine and Spirits Awards

Winemaker’s Notes: “A blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Malbec, 9% Petit Verdot, 5% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. There are lovely red berry and dark fruit aromas, notably blackcurrant, plum and violets with a touch of black olives. These characters continue onto the palate supported by layers of nutmeg, cinnamon and spice oak flavours, with a hint of vanilla. Balanced, finely structured and perfumed, this wine shows considerable length and structure”.

Bleasdale is located in the lesser-known Langhorne Creek region. Here’s a little information about the region and the winery taken directly from their website.

“Conditions for grape growing in Langhorne Creek are ideal thanks to the natural fertility of the floodplain soils, the ability of those soils to retain moisture from natural winter floods, and the moderation of the local climate by cooling evening breezes off nearby Lake Alexandrina and the Southern Ocean in summer.

After purchasing 100 acres in April 1850, the first 30 acres of Shiraz and Verdelho vines were planted a few years later.

The harnessing of the natural flooding of the Bremer River by early grape growers, makes the Langhorne Creek region quite unique. Frank Potts developed a system of levees and floodgates to capture and divert a metre of water and nutrient rich silt across the entire vineyard. The vigour in growth caused by this natural abundance of water sometimes presented challenges in the past but it is now managed by modern viticultural practices. It is a practice and a benefit that continues to occur, with the flood being allowed over the vineyards during five of the past six years.

Langhorne Creek experiences relatively low annual rainfall so supplementary drip irrigation is conducted to provide the vines with every opportunity to produce optimal fruit. The soils for Bleasdale’s vineyards range from well drained, alluvial soils to brown loams over limestone”.


dArenberg The Dead Armd’Arenberg
The Dead Arm Shiraz 2010
McLaren Vale, Australia
430512 $54.95
520 (6 pack) cases available

96 Points – James Halliday,
“An unambiguously top class version of a distinguished lineage; the colour is as bright as the spicy red fruit aromas of the bouquet, the palate with a cascade of red and black fruits, spice, licorice and bitter chocolate flavours, yet providing all this with finesse and calm”.

4.5 Stars (out of 5) – Vic Harradine,
“Smoke, iodine, baking spice and red and black berry fruit aromas waft from the glass. It cuts a wide and delectable path across the palate with red and black cherry, ripe mulberry, earthy notes and peppery spice robed in black licorice and dark chocolate. It’s full-bodied and generously textured with structure and gutsy flavour on the finish and aftertaste—it was hand picked, foot trodden, basket pressed, aged in French and American oak, unfined and unfiltered. Good to go now after a three-hour aeration/decant and with careful cellaring, the next twenty years”.

93 Points – Steve Tanzer

d’Arenberg’s iconic Dead Arm Shiraz 2010 has amassed four Gold or Double Gold Medals from the world’s most prestigious wine competitions. We are fortunate to have an allotment of Dead Arm set aside for Vintages in Ontario. This wine is nearly impossible to find in many markets. This link will show you where it is currently available across the province.






Les Dauphins CdR Reserve Red large88 Points – ‘A Bargain’ – Beppi Crosariol, The Globe and Mail
Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Reserve 2013
Rhône Valley, France
385385 $12.95
“The pretty retro label employs typefaces that hark back to the heyday of the French-bistro aesthetic. And this is the sort of humble and very sound red one might associate with Hemingway washing down steak frites at La Closerie des Lilas. Medium-bodied and crisp, it delivers a classic southern Rhône profile in a balanced, harmonious package, juicy with cherry-currant fruit and lively with black pepper. A bargain”.



Donissan 201190 Points – Carolyn Evans-Hammond, Toronto Star
Château Donissan 2011
Listrac-Médoc AC, Cru Bourgeois
Bordeaux, France
365874 $19.95
“2011 Chateau Donissan Cru Bourgeois (Bordeaux, France) Vintages #365874 $19.95 Score 90+
Pair this steak with the recently released 2011 Chateau Donissan Cru Bourgeois from Bordeaux, France, a sumptuous blend of 60 per cent Merlot, 30 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and 10 per cent Petit Verdot. Chateau Donissan is a small winery in the Listrac region of the Haut-Médoc that has remained in the same family since the 17th century; and the wines are excellent. When you uncork this bottle, expect juicy waves of glossy red cherry and black forest fruit nuanced with cigar box, plum pudding, fine leather and warm cedar for a seductive tension between sweet fruit and savoury underpinnings — just the thing to set off this roasted, sauced meat. And the wine’s weight, depth and structure stand up to the dish without overpowering it. If you have time, decant this wine before serving it. While certainly not necessary, any young red Bordeaux benefits from this act of aeration, helping it become a bit more expressive and articulate”.












Churchill Cellars is on the air with Humble and Fred!

We began this week’s show with Chris’ New Canadian Music selection   called Two Heads by Coleman Hell (from Thunder Bay). We agreed that the banjo was a bit of an ear worm and then proceeded to make fun of Thunder Bay. Todd Shapiro sat in for Freddie P, who was on holiday. We talked a little bit about poppy etiquette and a lot about wine. Château Panigon from Medoc was featured along with the stunning Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva. We noshed on some white and mortadella crostini (recipe below). Catch us at the 1 hour and 1 minute mark here.


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



 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:





The following promotions are available until November 28, 2015 at the LCBO:

Save $1.00 on Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Reserve (#385385)

Save $1.00 on Vodka Mudshake Chocolate (#5280)

Save $4.00 on Chic Choc Spiced Rum (#402867)

Earn 3 Bonus Air Miles on Cellier des Dauphins Prestige White (#496349)

Earn 5 Bonus Air Miles on Wente Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (#301507)

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

Receive a free $5.00 Online Rebate for Bleu Lavande (where applied) with the purchase of Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider(#94094). While supplies Last.


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)





This versatile bean puree can be the base for a wide variety of crostini. You can add your favourite herb or spice to help match with the topping.

Begin by thinly slicing a white baguette and toast the pieces on a baking sheet lightly covered with olive oil at 300F until lightly toasted.

White Bean Pureé


White Bean Puree1 540 ml tin of white kidney beans rinsed
2 cloves minced garlic
3 Tbs. olive oil
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh minced rosemary
1 small minced shallot
½ cup of chicken stock
2 Tsb. finely chopped fresh parsley
freshly ground pepper to taste


Heat a medium sized sauce pan to med high heat and sauteé garlic, shallot and rosemary in olive oil until fragrant, 2-3 minutes.

Add beans, stir and continue to sauteé for 1 minute, then add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer until the stock has completely evaporated, stirring often.

Remove from heat to cool down.

Place the beans, parsley, salt and pepper into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste the pureé and adjust the seasoning.

Spread the bean pureé on the crostini and top with things like cured meat, olives or cheese. One of our favouite combinations is mortadella and Parmigiano-Reggiano.


- Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum





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