The Imbiber's Report

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


June 25, 2016


sweet peaIt’s a happy coincidence when the wines featured in The Imbiber’s Report line up with what’s seasonally available at the farmer’s market or grocery stores that carry local produce. That’s the case this time as we have three bright, flavoursome whites that are perfect for this time of year.

Asparagus season will come to an end soon, so make sure to have one last feast before they’re gone. To celebrate the arrival of sweet pea season (the veggie, not the flower) we’ve included a simple, yet delicious risotto recipe for you to try with any of these wines. Here’s the link to Foodland Ontario, where you can see what’s available seasonally.  The site also has a really great recipe collection.

We are very pleased to announce two new white wines to our LCBO portfolio, which will be available year round at stores throughout the province, and an addition to the Vodka Mudshake range of coolers. Our single Vintages white wine is featured in the catalogue’s Wines of southern France promotion.

Hopefully you have a bottle of Saint-Tropez Carte Noire chilling in the fridge, because that is the perfect thing to pour right now…



Deakin Estate Sauvignon Blanc largeDeakin Estate
Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Victoria, Australia
447060 $9.95

Deakin Estate is a family-owned vineyard and winery located in the Mildura region of northwest Victoria. The property was named in honour of Alfred Deakin, a former Australian Prime Minister who pioneered irrigation in the arid region. Fed by the mighty Murray River, Mildura continues to produce high-quality grapes, yielding a range of delicious, stylish, value-for-money wines.

The grapes were harvested when the flavour profile was at its peak. Aromatic yeast selection, coupled with a cool fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, helped retain the fruit flavours throughout the winemaking process.

Deakin Estate Sauvignon Blanc has notes of green apple, gooseberry and lime on the nose along with a hint of herbal notes. On the palate there are flavours of citrus, passionfruit and lychee. It is medium-bodied, with subtle minerality balanced by natural freshness and bright acidity.

This wine is an exceptional value which pairs well with sushi, Thai food, grilled snapper and summer salads.




Les Dauphins Reserve White largeLes Dauphins Réserve White
Côtes du Rhône AC
Rhône Valley, France
450205 $12.95

After the successful launch of Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve Red in 2015, we are pleased to introduce Les Dauphins Réserve White. With its colourful retro packaging, Les Dauphins captures the ‘joie de vivre’ mood of Paris in the roaring 1920s, a time when the wines of the Dauphiné region of France became very popular with their fruit-forward, palate-pleasing style.

Côtes du Rhône white wines may contain up to eight different varietals, and this blend consists of 65% Grenache Blanc, 15% Marsanne, 10% Clairette and 10% Viognier. This traditional blend of grapes is fermented out to be completely dry and clocks in at 12.5% alcohol.

Les Dauphins Réserve White Côtes du Rhône has a brilliant pale straw colour. The nose is fresh and floral with hints of grapefruit, peach and apricot. It is medium-bodied and vibrant with crisp acidity. It is great as an apéritif, with salads or grilled fish.





Vodka Mudshake Orange CreamVodka Mudshake Orange Cream
New Zealand
448175 $12.95 for 4 X 270 ml

Many people are surprised to hear that the largest supplier in our portfolio is Independent Distillers based in New Zealand.  Their range of Vodka Mudshake cream-based coolers has been a mainstay at the LCBO for years.  The LCBO has recently added their Orange Cream flavour to store shelves and it was so popular that it went out of stock for a while.  If you liked Orange Creamsicles as a kid, one sip of this will make you young again.  It’s a delicious blend of orange, vanilla cream and vodka which is perfect for patio sipping or poured over ice cream for a simple but decadent summer treat.  Vodka Mudshake Orange Cream coolers are only 5% alcohol and they’re gluten free.  Pick up a four pack and chill!





Colombard-SauvignonLe Carla Colombard Sauvignon 2014
IGP Côtes de Gascogne
Gers, France
438788 $13.95
400 (12 pack) cases available

Vintages Panel: “Bright aromas of lemon, tangerine, lime, pear and peach. Fresh and balanced with a touch of spritz. Crafted in a light, fruity style with great fruit flavours. Superb value. Enjoy with seafood dishes”.
4 Stars – Vic Harradine,
“Grassy, citrus and pit fruit aromas point the way to a value-packed, light-on-its-feet white blend that’s an enjoyable summertime sipper. The palate’s awash with flavours of tart gooseberry and racy lemon-lime tang that persists through the mouth-watering finish and aftertaste”.

This delightful white blend combines 80% Colombard with 20% Sauvignon Blanc to produce a bright, breezy white wine that is perfect for al Fresco dining. Colombard is the dominant white grape in Gascony, in southwestern France, and has a long history in the region. The IGP designation ensures the quality of the wine, while providing producers the flexibility to choose which grapes they would like to blend together. Here, the soft and fruity Colombard gets some acidity and citrus notes from Sauvignon Blanc.

At 11.5% alcohol, Le Carla is a bit lower in alcohol which a growing number of consumers are looking for. The winemakers have also added a tiny bit of residual sugar to reach 7 g/L which provides a little body and mouthfeel to the wine.

This blend is a terrific wine to have on hand all summer long. Enjoy it by itself or as an apéritif. It will match any food that you would squeeze a lemon over.






Spruewood Shores Riesling 2015 new labelSilver Medal, Off-dry Riesling – All Canadian Wine Championship
Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery 2015 Riesling

Our congratulations go out to the Mitchell family and everyone at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery for this award.  Since summer is here, why not plan a weekend junket to the only winery we know of with its own beach?  Find out where they are by visiting







Wente Family Estates receives inaugural ‘Legendary Family of Chardonnay’ Award!

Morning Fog and Southern HillsOn Friday, May 13, 2016, Fourth Generation Winegrower Eric Wente and Fifth Generation Winemaker Karl D. Wente accepted the inaugural ‘Legendary Family of Chardonnay’ Award at the International Chardonnay Symposium La Paulée Dinner & Vintner’s Award Ceremony in Pismo Beach, CA. The event, sponsored by The Tasting Panel Magazine, is a gathering of the world’s top chardonnay producers, trade, media and consumers celebrating America’s #1 varietal with a series of panel discussions, educational classes and Grand Tasting.

The Legendary Family of Chardonnay Award presented by Tasting Panel Magazine will be an on-going annual honour for those wine producing families or winery owners who have made an impact on the growth and/or promotion of Chardonnay, have helped it gain positive recognition in technology, production, sales or viticulture and have contributed to the industry, domestically and on the world stage.

Click below To view the Wente Family’s historic 133 year journey & award video, click here.



 Sue-Ann Staff was featured in The Globe and Mail’s Report of Business.  Click here to view the whole article.















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.











Our JazzFM.91 appearance with Brad Barker is now posted as a podcast on their website. You’ll find it here:









Churchill Cellars is on the air with Humble and Fred!

The Churchill boyz rolled into the studio on June 15th for the #wineforbreakfast podcast with Humble and Fred. We started with Chris’ musical pick, Greg Laswell’s Dodged a Bullet and talked a little bit about the song’s vibe. We poured San Leonino Chianti Classico and Chateau de Panigon as we chatted at bit about Italy, really expensive wine at restaurants before segueing into some potty humour before finishing with the sponsorship of the new studio’s toilet.

Listen to the podcast here. We are on at the 1:00:00 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.




The following promotions are available now until July 16, 2016 at the LCBO:

Earn 4 Bonus Air Miles on Casal Thaulero Sangiovese IGP (588996)

Earn 5 Bonus Air Miles on Château de Gourgazaud (22384)

Earn 6 Bonus Air Miles on Alsace Willm Gewurztraminer Réserve (269852)

Earn 6 Bonus Air Miles on Deakin Estate Viognier (399253)

Earn 7 Bonus Air Miles on Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva (275909)

Earn 8 Bonus Air Miles on Les Dauphins Cotes Du Rhone Reserve Red (385385)

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

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

Earn 12 Bonus Air Miles on Marqués De Riscal Rioja Reserva (32656)

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

Save $2.00 on Handcraft Petite Sirah (through Vintages) (361907)

Save $3.00 on Seven Deadly Zins (59311)

Save $5.00 on Chic Choc Spiced Rum (402867)

Receive a free Koozie (where applied) with the purchase of Vodka Mudshake French Vanilla (4606). While supplies Last.

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

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

Sprucewood Shores Estate Riesling VQA (326249)






While visiting Norfolk County last week, I had the opportunity to taste the latest seasonal fruit and veggies. Strawberries are fantastic – the ones which we picked were perfectly ripe all the way through and quite dark in colour. We saw new potatoes, snow peas, garlic scapes and radishes but the thing that really caught our attention was the fresh green peas in the pod – they are perfect. We call them sweet peas and love to eat them raw. This risotto dish is an annual tradition in our home, and really marks the transition into summer and marks the beginning of easting fresh veggies for the rest of the summer.

This recipe relies on fresh sweet peas and really good quality cheese. Purchase a chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano and grate it just before you make this dish. We’ve successfully made this with good quality Pecorino, Grana Padano, Romano and Asiago as well. If you want to try a local cheese, we recommend Monforte Dairy’s Toscano (similar to Pecorino).

Fresh Spring Sweet Pea Risotto

32 ounces chicken broth, divided
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup uncooked arborio rice
1 cup freshly hulled sweet peas
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives


Heat broth to a simmer in a small covered pot and hold.

Heat oil and butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the wine, stir the rice until reduced by half.

Add 1/2 cup simmering broth while stirring constantly, shaking pan forward and back as you do, until absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup more broth and repeat the process. Continue repeating until rice is just tender and risotto is creamy and loose. (Reserve any remaining broth for another use.) Stir in peas and cook just until tender and heated through.

Remove pot from heat and stir in 1/3 cup cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer risotto to bowls and garnish with remaining cheese and chives. Serve immediately.

(We have chives growing our garden and garnish the dish with chive flowers you can use other edible spring flowers like Nasturtium).

Enjoy with any of the white wines above.

Cheers! - Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum






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