The Imbiber's Report

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


July 9, 2016


sportsThere is a confluence of sporting events taking place this weekend as Wimbledon, The Euro 2016, Tour de France and a couple of important baseball games all vie for our attention. It’s also hiking, camping, bicycling, sailing, swimming and SUPing (it’s a thing – look it up!) season.

With all this activity, you are bound to work up a thirst. In the interest of keeping well hydrated, why not try your hand at making some wine-based, lower alcohol drinks over the weekend? A basic wine spritzer can be made with any un-oaked white, red or rosé wine and plain soda water. Start with a ratio of 2 parts wine to 1 part soda water. Serve it very well chilled over ice with a slice of lemon or lime. Once you’ve mastered ‘The Classic’, play around with different flavour combos by adding different fruit. If you prefer something a little sweeter, try using lemon-lime pop or other fruit-based carbonated drink (one of our favourites is rosé and San Pellegrino Aranciata Rossa sparkling garnished with berries or a slice of blood orange when in season). Use your imagination and have fun!

We have a single Vintages release this weekend, a lively Sauvignon Blanc from Nelson, New Zealand that is featured on the back cover of Vintages Catalogue No. 591. We’ve dedicated our recipe to this terrific wine and hope that you try the combo together.

With all that talk of spritzers, it is probably a good idea to make one right now to enjoy while you continue to read The Imbiber’s Report…



Spinyback-Sauvignon-BlancSpinyback Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Nelson, New Zealand
694737 $19.95
560 (12 pack) cases available

Silver, NZ Int'l Wine Show
4.5 Stars, Wine Orbit
4 Stars, Raymond Chan

4 Stars - Susan Desjardins,
“This is lively and fresh offering classic notes of citrus, herbs and crunchy pea pods with a hint of white peach. Mid-weight, it’s almost spritzy with the pungency of grapefruit zest, tangy lemon-lime and passionfruit. Finishing dry and refreshingly crisp, you’ll enjoy this wine well chilled with a salad of, yes, crunchy pea pods with roast tomatoes and goat cheese”.

There’s a very interesting backstory to Waimea Family Estate’s Spinyback range of wines – this is directly from their website:

“Every purchase of Spinyback wines provides direct funding to further education and conservation of New Zealand’s Tuatara – the world’s only remaining living link to the dinosaur.

Technically the Tuatara is not actually a lizard, but is classified as a “Sphenodontida”. The only other examples are fossils – the Tuatara is often referred to as a “living fossil”.

Waimea Estates is assisting the Department of Conservation and Ngati Koata (“Narti Ko Arta” Nelson’s local Maori Tribe) in their efforts to protect this vulnerable and unique species on Stephen’s Island, an island off the coast of Nelson that is a dedicated Tuatara sanctuary. Through our Spinyback sales we have also formalized the funding of “Zone 5 Protective Fencing Projects” for Brook Waimarama Sanctuary”.

We are constantly surprised by the amount of creativity and work that goes into crafting top quality wine like this Sauvignon Blanc. Here’s how this wine was made:

“Parcels of fruit from five of our estate vineyards come together to create this wine. The vineyards are situated on the stony alluvial soils of the Waimea Plains and have produced pungent and tropical characters in the fruit. Notably some of the latest picked Sauvignon has gone into this wine which shows a ripe and generous character. The fruit was harvested very early morning and carried directly to the winery while still very cool, the fruit processed and the juice promptly pressed off to tank. The juices were cold settled and once clarified they were racked off and inoculated with a variety of yeast chosen to enhance varietal expression. Ferment temperatures were kept cool to help to maintain primary fruit flavours. These ferments were arrested when good balance was found in each wine and the process of blending and finishing the wine began. A component of the finished wine representing 10% of the blend had extended lees contact. This has added a level of richness to the wine well suited to the dominating tropical character. Heat and cold stability was carried out and the wine was then cross flow filtered ready for bottling the last week of July”





VM French Vanilla Mudshake NEW PACKAGINGToronto Sun – Coolers that are Summer Ready
Vodka Mudshake French Vanilla
“A hot and humid summer’s day doesn’t really scream for a sweet and smooth cream-based vodka beverage in our books, but this surprisingly enjoyable selection changed our mind. We still see this as better suited for holiday entertaining, but served over ice, with or without s'mores by the fire? Totally enjoyable. The creamsicle-esque Vodka Mudshake Orange Cream also scored favourably”.










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!

Our June 29 appearance began with Humble’s musings on how great fresh garden veggies taste. Chris reported that lot of veggies get gassed for shipping, which segued into talk of heirloom tomatoes, the cost of steak and fish. All this before officially beginning the segment with Chris’ musical choice: One Night Only by New Vessels.
We tasted the Sangiovese-based Motuproprio 2011 from Tuscany and d’Arenberg’s The Footbolt Shiraz from McLaren Vale, Australia. We chatted a little bit about The Cheese Boutique and how long Howard has known the family who owns it. We wrapped up by telling the boyz about how amazing Crazy Uncle Hard Root Beer is – and how hard it is to find because of stock-outs.

Listen to the podcast here. The segment sort of starts at the 59:00 mark (you’ll see what we mean).

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)






We’ve been making this salad several times a summer since we first saw the recipe for it in the June/July 1998 issue of Fine Cooking Magazine. There is a bit of prep involved, but all the cold ingredients can be prepared in advance. It is the perfect cold salad for warm summer nights...

If you’re not very familiar with Vietnamese ingredients, read this background info first. It also has a link to the recipe. There are different choices for toppings and we made it with pork the last time.  It was delicious, so I’ve included that portion of the recipe below (you can also use beef, chicken, shrimp or stir fried veggies).

Vietnamese Noodle Salad

Vietnamese SaladFor the greens:

    2 cups washed and shredded romaine, red, or green leaf lettuce
    2 cups fresh, crisp bean sprouts
    1-1/2 cups peeled, seeded, and julienned cucumber
    1/3 to 1/2 cup roughly chopped or small whole mint leaves
    1/3 to 1/2 cup roughly chopped or small basil or Thai basil leaves

For the garnishes:

    2 Tbs. chopped roasted peanuts
    12 sprigs fresh cilantro
    Nuoc cham (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce)

For the noodles:

    8 oz. dried rice vermicelli

For the greens and herbs: Divide the lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumber, mint, and basil among four large soup or pasta bowls. If working ahead of time, cover each bowl with damp paper towels and refrigerate.

For the noodles: Bring a medium pot full of water to a rolling boil. Add the rice vermicelli and, stirring often, cook them until the strands are soft and white, but still resilient, 3 to 5 minutes. Don't be tempted to undercook them, as they must be fully cooked to absorb the flavors of the dish. Rinse them in a colander under cold water just until they're cool and the water runs clear. Let the noodles drain in the colander for 30 minutes, and then set them aside for up to 2 hours, unrefrigerated.

For the pork topping:

    1/4 cup sugar
    2 large shallots, sliced, or 5 scallions (white parts only), chopped
    2 tsp. fish sauce
    2 tsp. soy sauce
    Pinch salt
    2 Tbs. vegetable oil
    1-1/2 lb. pork loin or sirloin, sliced into large pieces about 1/4-inch thick

Marinate and cook the pork:

Combine the sugar with 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir a few times and allow to simmer until the sauce turns deep brown, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, have some extra hot water ready on a back burner. Once the sauce reaches the desired colour, carefully add 4 to 5 Tbs. hot water to slow the cooking and thin the sauce. (Be sure to hold the pan away from you so that none of the hot caramel splatters on you when you add the water.) If necessary, add more hot water. The sauce should only be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool.

Pound the shallots in a mortar and pestle or mince by hand. Transfer the shallots to a mixing bowl and combine with the fish sauce, soy sauce, salt, vegetable oil, and cooled caramel marinade. Stir well to blend. Add the pork slices and let marinate for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a broiler or light a charcoal or gas grill. When the broiler or fire is very hot, cook the pork until just done, about 2 minutes on each side. Let the pork rest for 10 to 15 minutes, and cut into thin strips.

To assemble the salad: Remove the salad bowls from the refrigerator 20 to 30 minutes before serving. The greens and bowl should be cool, not cold. Fluff the noodles with your fingers and divide them among the prepared salad bowls. Put the cooked topping on the noodles and garnish each bowl with the peanuts and cilantro. Pass the nuoc cham at the table; each diner should drizzle about 3 Tbs. over the salad and then toss the salad in the bowl a few times with two forks or chopsticks before eating.

Serve it with well-chilled Spinyback Sauvignon Blanc.

Cheers! - Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum







   facebook     twitter                     instagram          

Telephone: 416-368-5108 Fax: 416-368-1349
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Download PDF of our most recent General List Price List

Download PDF of our most recent Vintages Price List