The Imbiber's Report

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


May 28, 2016


Wine TastingChurchill Cellars Annual Portfolio Tasting
Monday, June 6th from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
George Brown College Waterfront Campus
51 Dockside Drive, Toronto

You should have received your invitation to our Annual Portfolio Tasting which is our way of thanking you for your continued support. Each year, we gather up all our products currently listed at the LCBO, as well as a few special treats from Vintages, and welcome a few hundred people for a tasting. You and a guest are welcome to join us for the afternoon. If you want to bring some more friends, have them subscribe to The Imbiber’s Report before Thursday, June 2nd and we will send them an invitation as well. We do have a limited amount of space, so please get in touch with us soon if you would like to attend.  Please note that your name MUST be on our invitation list to gain admittance to the tasting so you must RSVP.

We have two spectacular bargains from McLaren Vale, Australia in this upcoming Vintages release and we introduce a mysterious Super-Tuscan that is new to Vintages. We have some terrific LCBO promotions to let you in on and a link to our latest Humble & Fred and JAZZ FM podcasts. We also have a great recipe and a useful link that will help you out with the grilling season.

Remember you can follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to keep up with our shenanigans in between Imbiber’s Reports. Did you know that this past Wednesday was #NationalWineDay? This is the sort of “must know” information we report on social media.

We celebrated National Wine Day with some Segura Viudas. If you missed the opportunity to celebrate on Wednesday, we are sure that the National Wine Day police will not have a problem if you celebrate right now….



dArenberg The Footbolt Shirazd’Arenberg
The Footbolt Shiraz 2013
McLaren Vale, Australia
984021 $19.95
448 (12 pack) cases available

90 Points - Michael Godel,
“The Footbolt defines stalwart, an ever-bearing red berry shiraz of consistent quality and always, always at the same comfortable price of $19.95. Since 2000 I think, perhaps going back even further. The 2013 is even richer, desert sage brushed and deeper than before, full of mineral rich deposits and the demands of both acidity and tannin. Plenty of high quality chocolate smothers the fruit with a silky smooth coating. All in and capable of aging 10 years without decline or fail”.

Winemaker’s Notes: “Classic McLaren Vale Shiraz in every sense. Laden with dark fruits, old spices and woody notes on the nose and backed up with thick liquorice, blackberry, plum and graphite-like characters on the palate. Striking fruit concentration paired with a bold and chewy, yet integrated tannin structure. Brutish in many respects but somehow manages to remain incredibly balanced. A wine to please even the most contankerous wine aficionado”.

Vintages Panel: “'Footbolt' pays homage to the name of the racehorse that founder Joseph Osborn had to sell in order to get the d'Arenberg winery off the ground in 1912. Big and bold on the nose with intense black fruit, cherry, plum and cocoa tones. Fresh and long, this will be a great option for grilled lamb or steak”.

Grapes for The Footbolt Shiraz come from some of the oldest vines on the d’Arenberg property. Winemaker Chester Osborn makes the Footbolt in a bright, fresh style with very well-integrated oak. One third of the wine is aged in what he calls ‘the big woods’, giant, old hogshead barrels that do not impart any oaky character to the wine. The other two-thirds of the wine is aged in a mix of new and old smaller barriques, which adds a nice spicy note to the wine. The Footbolt Shiraz is a versatile food wine and will match a wide variety of pan-Mediterranean dishes. It also plays well with more exotic spices and seasoning (see lamb recipe below).


The Parson Cabernet SauvignonChapel Hill
The Parson Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
McLaren Vale, Australia
446716 $19.95
392 (12 pack) cases available

94 Points – James Halliday,
“Chapel Hill has this wine on a string, over-delivering year in, year out. The '12 was excellent, but the energy and drive of the palate this time around is even better; cedary oak is wound through dark olive and black fruits, but it is the mouthwatering tannins on the finish and aftertaste that are the hallmark of a special wine”.

Winemaker’s Notes:  “To achieve the desired style and to harness the regal varietal flavours of Cabernet Sauvignon, the grapes were strategically harvested to avoid any green tannins or overripe jammy fruit flavours. The subsequent open ferments were then gently plunged daily and allowed to remain on skins for up to 9 days to ensure the optimum extraction of flavour and tannin. Following basket pressing the free run and pressing fractions are combined. To promote and nurture varietal expression and complexity only well-seasoned tight grained French oak was used during the maturation process. During this maturation period the wine was regularly racked to encourage the integration and mellowing of the boisterous youthful tannins.”

“This wine displays expressive and alluring aromas of liquorice and mulberry. The wonderfully structured and eloquent palate is broodingly complexed by an array of persistent fine grain tannins. The palate is further supported by an array of intricately fine tannins which are both mouth-wateringly savoury and defiantly persistent”.

Chapel Hill has recently updated the packaging for some of its different ‘ranges’ including The Parson, which was formerly known as The Parson’s Nose. The Parson Cabernet Sauvignon is the ‘entry-level’ range of wine from Chapel Hill and delivers outstanding quality and value for the price. This is a spectacular wine for $20! Try it with the grilled lamb recipe below.



New to Vintages…

MotuproprioMotuproprio 2011
IGT Toscana
Tuscany, Italy
440818 $24.95
250 (6 pack) cases available

Winery Notes: “Motuproprio was created to unite the best characteristics of Sangiovese grapes from the three most important Tuscan quality designations including Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino. The aromas and flavours are complex yet elegant, with notes of ripe fruit, orange, liquorice and Mediterranean macquis (evergreen). It is full-bodied and well balanced with silky tannins.

Motuproprio is made with 100% Sangiovese, harvested and vinified in the estate’s own cellars: Val di Suga, Trerose and San Leonino. It is the alternating soils and climates of the three Tuscan hill areas, combining Alberese with Galestro and Clay, which make this Sangiovese so characterful and elegant, and such a unique and authentic expression of the union of the region’s three best terroirs.

Motuproprio is born from a desire to unite the best characteristics of Sangiovese grapes from the three most important Tuscan quality designations in a single bottle. It is this selection process of the best grapes from each different territory, which produces the most varied and special Supertuscan wine. Motuproprio is a union between: Chianti Classico’s mineral and savoury notes; Vino Nobile di Montepulciano’s warmth, fruit and creaminess and Brunello di Montalcino’s tannins, mineral notes and ageing capacity”.







Val di Suga Brunello di Montalcino93 Points – John Szabo,
Val di Suga Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
713719 $48.95

“This 2010 Brunello has evolved very favourably, and is showing beautifully at the moment. I love the savoury, dusty red fruit, the resinous herbs, the fine but firm and gritty tannins and the exceptional length. This delivers a complete Brunello package: complex, traditional and plain delicious. Drink or hold until the mid-'20s”.







Willm Riesling 2014 largeRecommended – Rod Phillips, Ottawa Citizen
Willm Réserve Riesling 2014
11452 $15.95

“This Riesling from Alsace is made in a dry style, but  not as astringently dry as many, and that makes it good sipping on its own, as well as friendly to food. Look for well-defined flavours and crisp acidity, and enjoy it with seafood, smoked salmon, white fish, and poultry”.















Second Harvest's 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:




The concerts at Wente





The Concerts at Wente Vineyards in California showcase world-renowned entertainers in the winery’s picturesque natural amphitheater in Livermore, about 60 minutes east of San Francisco.  Although not all the shows have been announced, this year's lineup includes:

Tuesday, June 28th – CHICAGO
Thursday, July 7th – DIANA ROSS
Wednesday, August 10th – HUEY LEWIS AND THE NEWS
Tuesday, August 16th – LYNYRD SKYNYRD
Tuesday, September 13th – CHRIS ISAAK

For all the details, visit
If you plan to visit California over the summer, this is a great way to spend an evening. For tickets, go to or call them at 1-800-745-3000.











Churchill Cellars is on the air with Humble and Fred!

This week’s #wineforbreakfast podcast with Humble and Fred began with Chris’ music selection called Drive Me Crazy by Charlie Oxford.  Have a listen:
We talked a bit about Fred’s recent Italian excursion, Prosecco, Saint Tropez and Brigitte Bardot. We tasted Les Maîtres Vignerons de la Presqu’île de Saint-Tropez Carte Noire Rosé 2015, Côtes de Provence AP and Chapel Hill The Parson’s Nose Shiraz from McLaren Vale, Australia. Everyone liked the snacks, especially the 7 Year Old Pine River Cheddar (think Cheddar meets Parmesan). We wrapped up with a few crass remarks and bid the boyz farewell.

Listen to the podcast here. We are on at the 1:07:10 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.  You may listen to the podcast anytime you please.

NOTE: Broadcast contains mature language.









Our JazzFM.91 appearance with Brad Barker is now posted as a podcast on their website.  On the latest edition we tasted through four red wines: Grove Street Cabernet Sauvignon, First Press Cabernet Sauvignon, Wente Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon and Chateau de Panigon from the Medoc region in Bordeaux.  You’ll find it here:





The following promotions are available now until June 18, 2016 at the LCBO:

Earn 4 Bonus Air Miles on Dunavar Pinot Grigio (#335422)

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

Earn 6 Bonus Air Miles on Gran Feudo Rose (#165845)

Earn 7 Bonus Air Miles on Caliterra Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva (#257329)

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

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

Save $1.00 on Sprucewood Shores Estate Riesling VQA (#326249)

Save $1.50 on Vodka Mudshake Chocolate (#5280)

Receive a free Koozie (where applied) with the purchase of Vodka Mudshake Orange (#448175). While supplies Last.

Find the following wines chilling in the Wine Fridge in Select Stores:
Segura Viudas Brut Reserva (#216960)





There are some really fantastic websites dedicated to food. Many of them began as food magazines and they continue to develop and publish recipes. There are thousands of cooking blogs as well dedicated to all sorts of esoteric foodstuffs. Another great source for recipe ideas are manufacturer’s websites. Weber, manufacturer of charcoal and gas grills, has an extensive collection of grilling ideas on their website – like this Grilled Lamb recipe. We have tried over a dozen recipes and they are all fantastic. Their Weber Nation section is full of instructional videos and blogs as well. Check it out

Grilled Rack of Lamb with Cannellini Beans

grilled rack of lamb with cannellini beansIngredients:

•    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
•    1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
•    2½ teaspoons kosher salt
•    2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
•    2 teaspoons minced garlic
•    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•    1 teaspoon herbes de Provence


•    2 racks of lamb, each about 2 pounds, frenched
•    1 head garlic
•    Extra-virgin olive oil
•    ½ cup finely chopped shallots
•    ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
•    ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
•    ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•    2 cans (each 15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
•    ½ cup water
•    2 teaspoons tomato paste
•    Kosher salt
•    1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves


1.    Prepare the grill for direct and indirect cooking over medium heat (350° to 450°F).

2.    Combine the paste ingredients. Coat the lamb with the paste, adding more on the meaty side than the bone side. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

3.    Cut off and discard the top third of the garlic head to expose the cloves, and then place on top of a 6-inch square of aluminum foil. Drizzle the exposed cloves with oil. Fold up the corners of the foil to seal the packet.

4.    Brush the cooking grates clean. Grill the garlic packet over indirect medium heat, with the lid closed, until soft and golden, about 40 minutes. Remove from the grill, open the packet, and let cool for 10 minutes. Squeeze the garlic cloves from their papery shells into a small bowl and mash any large pieces.

5.    Allow the lamb to stand at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes before grilling. Sear the lamb, bone side down first, over direct medium heat, with the lid closed, for 3 to 5 minutes, turning once and watching closely to avoid flare-ups. Move over indirect medium heat, and cook, meat side down, with the lid closed, to your desired doneness, 15 to 20 minutes for medium rare, turning once. Meanwhile, prepare the beans.

6.    In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons oil. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1½ tablespoons of the roasted garlic, the red pepper flakes, rosemary, and black pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the beans and stir to coat. Add the water and tomato paste, bring to a simmer, and cook, covered, over low heat, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water, if necessary. Season with salt and transfer to a serving bowl. Stir in the parsley and drizzle with oil.

7.    Remove the lamb from the grill and let rest for about 10 minutes. Cut the lamb between the bones into individual chops and serve warm with the beans.

Enjoy with either (or both) McLaren Vale reds above.

Cheers! - Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum






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