The Imbiber's Report

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


March 5, 2016

IN LIKE A LION        

lionHow was that for timing? There’s no room for doubt when a major snowstorm roars in like the proverbial lion on the first day of March.  Hopefully we should see “lamb-like” weather at the end of the month, just in time for the return of baseball to Toronto.

We have two very different wines featured in this Vintages release, a beautiful Riesling from Mosel and an elegant and powerful Shiraz from McLaren Vale. Despite their differences in almost every aspect, they do have something in common: they are both excellent ambassadors for their respective regions. We also have a new wine in the Vintages Classics catalogue.

Let’s get right to it, shall we? A glass of whatever is on-hand and open will do…



Online and Phone Ordering began Thursday, March 3, 2016, at 8:30 a.m.  Follow this link for full details.

LA VIOLETTA MALBECBodega Monteviejo Lindaflor
La Violeta Malbec 2009
Uco Valley, Argentina
435024 $113.00
10 (6 pack) cases available Classics

93 Points – Luis Gutikerrez,
“The 2009 Lindaflor La Violeta is a luxury wine named after their Pomerol property La Violette. It is from their Malbec grapes in Tunuyan, Uco Valley, grown at 1,100 meters altitude and from selected bunches from two blocks that have lower natural yields from their vineyards. The grapes are hand-harvested and hand-destemmed, fermented in the most exclusive 225-liter French oak barrels money can buy (a majority of Darnajou, the only one they use for Le Gay in Pomerol, Saury Signature and Sylvan from very specific trees) with hand-pigeage where the wine aged for 36 months. This 2009 has a very ripe nose of plums, blueberries and cassis, with abundant earthy notes, denoting a warm growing season and very ripe fruit. The palate is full-bodied with moderate acidity, and fine-grained tannins, without reaching the sophistication of the tannins obtained in 2008. I had a preview of the recently bottled 2010, which is very promising. This is a real blockbuster Malbec. 4,500 bottles produced. Drink now-2020”.




 VINTAGES RELEASE, March 5, 2016

Pauly-Bergweiler RieslingDr. Pauly-Bergweiler Riesling 2014
QbA Mosel, Germany
596601 $14.95
336 (12 pack) cases available

Vintages Panel: “Always a customer favourite, this lightly sweet Riesling offers great value and is a brilliant partner for foods. Look for aromas and flavours of apple blossom, citrus, peach and honey and pair with stuffed peppers, cabbage rolls or honey-garlic chicken”.

A steal at the price…

89 Points – Frank Baldock’s Wine Express
“With honeycomb and apple blossom aromas and flavours, this long-time favourite always delivers pleasure and value, a steal at the price as an everyday sipper with or without food”.

The Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Estate has 16 ha of Riesling vineyards in the Middle-Mosel area where more than 75% of its vineyards are planted on slopes marked as ‘Steillage’ or steep (like a double black diamond ski run). Soils are mostly Devon slate with small amounts of varying topsoil and mineral stone. The slate gives Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler’s Riesling a delicate minerality which is a hallmark characteristic for wines of the region.

This refreshing Riesling strikes the perfect balance between sweetness and acidity and would be a great match for spicy, pan-Asian food, especially Thai dishes that use fruit. Also try it with sushi, deep-fried seafood, schnitzel or simply on its own.


Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Shiraz 2013Chapel Hill Shiraz 2013
McLaren Vale, Australia
743989 $26.95
312 (12 pack) cases available

95 Points – James Halliday,
“Open-fermented, basket-pressed. Good colour; takes a millisecond to establish its sense of place and variety; at the full end of medium-bodied, it has very good balance and texture, its luxuriant black fruits trimmed by bitter chocolate and ripe tannins; has impeccable length”.

Winemaker’s Notes: “The 2013 vintage was notable for its wet winter followed by an extremely dry and warm spring and summer. Rainfall over the growing season was roughly half of the long term average. The combination of lower rainfall and warmer than average weather explains why the resultant harvest was earlier and more condensed than normal. Grapes quickly achieved their optimum ripening level and pest and disease problems were minimal.

The grapes were sourced from vines (all grown on their own roots) aged between twelve and thirty-six years. The various vineyard parcels were harvested and open fermented separately to ensure that each parcel articulates the unique character of each vineyard site. All ferments were maintained on skins for a minimum of 8 days and then gently basked pressed, following which the free run and pressing fractions were combined.

During the subsequent eighteen month barrel maturation in fine grained French oak barrels, each individual batch of barrels was racked and returned periodically to seamlessly integrate the tannins into the structure of the wine. To preserve varietal and site purity, the wine is unfined, doesn’t have any tannin additions and is bottled unfiltered”.

Chapel Hill’s oak program includes the use of 300L Hogsheads as well as new and used French and American oak barrels.

Chapel Hill Shiraz is a benchmark for the McLaren Vale style of power and elegance. This would be a great wine to have on hand in the summer for grilling. This is also a relatively inexpensive way to augment your wine collection with age-worthy, top quality Shiraz that will mature nicely for ten years or more.




dArenberg The Custodian Grenache90 Points – Beppi Crosariol, The Globe and Mail
d’Arenberg The Custodian Grenache 2012
McLaren Vale, Australia
713040 $19.95

“Sweet raspberry and cherry jam with citrus zest on the top and an earthy-tobacco undercurrent. It all adds up to a complex wine for the money, supported by gentle, chewy tannins. It would do justice to a wide range of dishes, but mostly big red meats”.




Katnook estate Cabernet Sauv90 Points – Beppi Crosariol, The Globe and Mail
Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Coonawarra, Australia
590471  $29.95

“Full-bodied and rich with blackberry jam and blackcurrant fruitiness, dark chocolate and a hint of mint. Sticky but unaggressive tannins provide backbone and dry balance to the sweetness. (Note: This wine is packaged with a white label, distinct from the black-label Katnook Founder’s Block.) Steak is in order”.







dArenberg Dead Arm Shiraz BottleThe Australian Wine Society of Toronto held a d’Arenberg wine tasting this past week at The Faculty Club at U of T. We were asked to lead the tasting which featured nine wines in total. The highlight of the evening, aside from the snowstorm, was a vertical tasting of The Dead Arm Shiraz from 2001-2004.

Notes: The ’03 is at its peak and should be enjoyed now. The ’01 is still going strong with plenty of verve. It’s maturing nicely and ready to drink now but you could hold it for a while longer if you like that style. The ’02 still has marked tannins but not as much fruit as the ’01, with more savoury earth notes in it. Drinking well now, it could go another 3-5 years, maturing with diminished fruit but more spice and leather. The ’04, which was under screw cap, has brilliant colour and is still loaded with fruit, acidity and smooth graphite-like tannins. There is still plenty of life left in the ’04 and it should develop even more maturity over another 5 years or more – drink or hold.

A quick show of hands for the favourite put ’01 and ’04 in a close tie, followed by ’02 and then ’03.

There was significant bottle variation with the wines under cork. None of the wines were ‘corked’, but at least one of the bottles from each vintage was noticeably more mature than the others (three bottles of each vintage were opened). The wines that are ‘in good shape’ under cork, will continue to mature well: the issue is that you won’t know until you open the bottle. It’s always a good idea to have a back-up bottle plan if you are opening one of these for a special occasion.














2016 California Wine Fairs

Taste over 400 wines from +150 prominent California wineries for one low admission price. Highly regarded as ‘the’ wine show of the year, it usually sells out. There are no tickets sold at the door.

Purchase tickets now @ and have questions answered via the California Wine Fair Hotline (905) 336-8932 or 1-800-558-CORK (2675).  

The 37th annual California Wine Fair tour pours in Ontario on the following dates:

Ottawa: Friday, April 8

Toronto: Monday, April 11








Second Harvest has announced the date for this year’s fundraising event

Toronto Taste 2016
Lakeside, Corus Quay
25 Dockside Dr. Toronto
Sunday, June 12, 2016
Doors Open: 6:00 PM

To purchase tickets and for more details:

We will give you more details regarding our participation in the event as we get closer to the date.



 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 three shows are now history with one more pianist to be featured.  The last show features 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:



“Notes” on Jazz.FM91 with Brad Barker

Chris and Mark visited JazzFM.91 this past Wednesday for the latest edition of Notes. They tasted through four wines beginning with Tiki (Tick-eeh) Pinot Gris from New Zealand, followed by the always available Gran Feudo Rosado from Navarra, Spain and finished with two great value reds from the Douro, Portugal: Altano and Vale do Bomfim. Brad continues his conversion to liking white wines after tasting the Pinot Gris. The rosé was perfect and the two Portuguese reds exemplified the amazing value that Douro delivers right now. Here is the link to the show that includes a recipe for a Portuguese Chorizo Stew.









Churchill Cellars is on the air with Humble and Fred!

Last week’s #wineforbreakfast segment began with Howard’s denial of ever hearing Robbie Robertson’s Showdown at Big Sky. Howard reflected on some childhood memories from Saskatchewan before we turned our attention to the wine (and food). Humble and Fred enjoyed both the Waimea Pinot Gris from Nelson, New Zealand and Los Clop Malbec from Mendoza Argentina. We chatted about the grapes, regions and a little bit about why chicken curry matched both wines.

Our portion of the podcast begins shortly after the 1:13:00 mark, click here to listen.

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.  You may listen to the podcast anytime you please.

NOTE: Broadcast contains mature language.





The following promotions are available now until March 26, 2016 at the LCBO:


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

Earn 5 Bonus Air Miles on Alsace Willm Gewurztraminer Réserve (#269852)

Earn 6 Bonus Air Miles on Marqués de Riscal White Rueda DO (#36822)

Earn 7 Bonus Air Miles on Cellier des Dauphins Carte Noire (#110197)

Earn 7 Bonus Air Miles on Patriarche Pinot Noir VdP (#522649)

Earn 8 Bonus Air Miles on Château Bel Air Bordeaux AC (#665430)

Earn 9 Bonus Air Miles on Fresita Sparkling Wine (#383901)

Earn 10 Bonus Air Miles on Crozes Hermitage Les Trois Couronnes (#421065)

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

Save $1.00 on Alsace Willm Riesling Réserve (#11452)

Receive a free Key Chain (where applied) with the purchase of House of Mandela Sauvignon Blanc (#407882). While supplies Last.

Find the following wines chilling in the Wine Fridge in Select Stores:
House of Mandela Sauvignon Blanc (#407882)





Jubilee Chicken Salad

Here is a recipe that will perfectly match the Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Riesling and could be served as a light lunch or supper over Easter weekend.

This recipe is from The Telegraph’s food section and it is a re-worked version of the classic 1953 Coronation Chicken recipe developed for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. This dish is a bit lighter and includes ingredients which would have been impossible to find in post-war Britain.

SERVES 8 to 10 as a lunch or buffet dish


jubilee-chickenFor the salad

    1kg (2lb 4oz) chicken breast fillets
    2 tbsp peanut oil or sunflower oil
    2 just-ripe mangoes
    2 ripe avocados
    juice of 2 limes
    250g (9oz) mixed watercress and baby spinach
    2 red chillies deseeded and shredded
    3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    15g (½oz) toasted flaked almonds

For the dressing

    3 tsp curry powder
    pinch of chilli sauce (optional)
    ½ tsp ground ginger
    350g (12oz) mayonnaise
    125ml (4fl oz) Greek yogurt
    7 tbsp mango chutney, chopped if chunky
    leaves from 8 sprigs mint, chopped


Season the chicken breasts all over and heat the oil in a large frying-pan. Sauté the meat until golden all over, then throw in about 50ml (2fl oz) water, cover and let the chicken cook in the steam (8-12 minutes until cooked through). Cut one through the middle to check whether it is done then set aside to cool completely. Using a really sharp knife, cut the chicken into neat slices. Season all over.

Gently mix all the ingredients for the dressing except the mint. It should be about the thickness of double cream (though of course it is chunky as it has bits of chutney in it). If it seems too thick, add a little milk. Taste for seasoning and heat (add more chilli sauce if you like). Stir in the mint.

Peel the mangoes and cut the 'cheeks' off each side, cutting really close to the stone. Cut the cheeks into neat slices, about the thickness of a coin. (You can remove the rest of the flesh from the mangos, of course, and use it for something else.)

Halve the avocados, remove the stone and cut into slices. Carefully peel the skin off each one. Spoon over some lime juice to prevent discoloration. Season.

Gently toss the salad leaves with the mango and avocado, chilli, extra-virgin olive oil and the rest of the lime juice plus some salt and pepper. Place on a big platter or broad, shallow bowl and arrange the chicken on top. Drizzle some dressing over the salad and scatter the almonds on top. Serve the rest of the dressing in a jug.

Other wines that would match this dish nicely include Sue-Ann Staff’s Loved by Lu Riesling, Waimea and Tiki Pinot Grigio, Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery’s Riesling and the Fancy Farm Girl Frivolous White. Enjoy!

Cheers! - Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum




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