The Imbiber's Report

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


September 17, 2016


harvestmoon1The Full Moon nearest the autumnal equinox is called the Harvest Moon and marks the end of summer. Also known a Full Corn Moon, it is often one of the most spectacular to view. The moon will appear full on the 17th, but keep your eye on the sky on the 16th and 18th as well since it’s an impressive sight on a clear night. Try to find a spot where you can see it ‘rise’. If you have a smart phone, check out this free app called Skyview which is an amazing way to explore the sky.

We have three new wines in the mid-September Vintages release to tell you about, including a sunny California Chardonnay, a charming red blend from the south of France and a flagship red from Tuscany.

It feels like a glass of Riesling, Chardonnay or Pinot Noir would set the right mood…


VINTAGES RELEASE, September 17, 2016
MD Chardonnay largeMichael David Chardonnay 2014
Lodi, California, USA
396283 $22.95
300 (12 pack) cases available

Winemaker’s Notes: “The 2014 Chardonnay opens with an inviting tropical fruit-like bouquet and aromas of green apple and summer stone fruits (apricot and white peach) with a slight hint of toasted oak on the finish. ¬This is a definite “go to” on the hottest of days, but will hold its own against the cooler winter months as well.

Handcrafted from our family’s vineyard, our Chardonnay is a fusion of style. From numerous hand pickings throughout the ripening period, our winemakers produce three distinct Chardonnays that are later blended into a final wine just prior to bottling. From a crisp, fruit driven style fermented and aged in stainless steel, to a softer, more round French oak barrel fermented Chardonnay, our Chardonnay captures the best qualities of each style.

A higher total of degree days gave way to the earliest harvest Lodi had seen in 8 years when we began pressing Chardonnay on August 4th.   The 2014 vintage brought its challenges as Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and everything in between reached its optimal ripeness within days of each other, needing to be picked at the same time! Our final lot of Cabernet Sauvignon was picked on October 17th, marking the end of the fast and furious harvest season”.

Michael David’s wines are Certified Sustainable Grape Growing by the Lodi Rules Program.

We poured and tasted this at the California Wine Fair this spring and were pleasantly surprised by how bright and lifted this wine is. There is plenty of fresh lemon and apple in this Chardonnay and the oak is seamlessly integrated with the fruit. It’s a really great food wine and it would do a good job at any fall dinner party, including Thanksgiving.

If you love California Chardonnay, give this a go with lobster, grilled scallops, roasted corn succotash, grilled lemon chicken or all by itself (see lobster and succotash recipe below).


Fontareche Corbières redChâteau Fontarèche
Corbières AOP Vieilles Vignes Red 2014,
Languedoc-Roussillon, France
150540 $13.95
580 (12 pack) cases available

Gold Medal – Concours des Grands Vins des Corbières

4 Stars, Great Value, Vic Harradine,
“Dishing up a glorious mouthful of ripe juicy fruit - red cherry, juicy black currant and ripe mulberry, this red blend - Carignan, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache - offers a world of value. There’s campfire smoke, tarry notes and flinty bits on the nose of this nicely textured, medium-bodied, balanced and crowd-pleasing, food-friendly gem. It finishes with a good balance of acid and fruit and is drinking well now and on to 2021. (Vic Harradine)”

Château Fontarèche  is deep red in colour with flashes of garnet on the rim. This blend of Syrah, Carignan and Mourvèdre features a highly expressive nose of raspberry, strawberry, mineral and garrigue. It’s moderately full-bodied, dry and flavourful with crisp acidity and supple tannins. The finish is long and lingering with pleasant fruit, spice and mineral notes. This well-balanced red has a bit of rustic charm that makes it very appealing. Try it with rich pan-Mediterranean dishes, grilled pork sausage, cassoulet, pizza or game. The winemaker recommends Peking Duck!

Fontarèche takes its name from the Latin ‘Fonte Erecto’ or the fountain that gushes, and is one of the oldest wine estates in the Languedoc region. In 1682, Château Fontarèche and its winery became the property of the Mignard family whose descendants, the Lamy family, are the current owners of the estate.

Although it holds the appellation of Corbières, the largest growing region in the Languedoc Roussillon, this is a single estate wine made from grapes grown on the property. Fontarèche is located in the Aude Valley just west of the important commune of Narbonne. The hot Mediterranean climate is tempered by the estate’s proximity to the sea.


Val di Suga Rosso di MontalcinoVal di Suga
Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2014
Tuscany, Italy
455683 $49.95
50 (12 pack) cases available

Winemaker’s Notes (with Italian syntax): “Intense ruby red with garnet highlights, its rich, complex nose opens up immediately. Initially dark cherry, plum and violets, clean, fine and elegant, it then opens up to wider, more complex notes of blueberry, vanilla, tobacco, cinnamon, chocolate and leather with a menthol finish. In the mouth the elegance of a full, crisp body comes through immediately without warmer notes. Its cherry, plum and blueberry nuances are very long lasting. Serve at 18°C but no more. It goes ideally well with game, roast and grilled meat and medium mature cheeses.

Sangiovese Grosso 100% from the Val di Suga vineyards in Montalcino in its three historic zones. It is a blend which combines the three main hillsides with different sun exposures and different geo-climatic features. The combination of these three wines produces a special equilibrium between the characteristics of each zone, a unique equilibrium between crispness and structure, body and elegance.

The wine ferments in steel, passing around 20 days on the skins at controlled temperatures of 30°C before completing its fermentation in 50 hl Slavonian oak barrels. It ages for 36 months in large oak and small 300 l French oak barrels before spending at least 12 months in the bottle”.

We have not tasted the 2014 Val di Suga yet, but it is one of the wines that we would purchase based on its past track record. It is a favourite among the Italian wine inteligencia and is considered a fantastic value at $49.95. This wine has just been released and there aren’t any reviews of it yet either. Reading through the 2014 vintage reports for Tuscany, it is widely agreed that the year favoured late ripening grapes like Sangiovese. It also favoured wineries that spent lots of time in the vineyard managing their vines. Val di Suga is the only producer with vineyards in all three of Montalcino’s viticultural sub-regions, each with its own terroir and microclimate. They devote an extraordinary amount of effort to vineyard management ensuring that the quality and consistency is unequalled.




In previous Imbiber’s Reports, we introduced you to our new E-Commerce wines from the Viu Manent winery in Chile. We will continue to feature wines from that program in a dedicated section called Ongoing On-Line Exclusives and we will let you know when we’ve added new products.

There are currently 5,000 products available and in addition to all the regular listings at the LCBO, there are quite a few exclusives which can’t be found in stores. The Viu Manent wines are priced less than what they would be if available at retail, so they are great buys.  You must purchase them by the case from the E-Commerce site and you can have them delivered to your nearest store for free, or to your home or office for $12, regardless of how much you buy. Because there are only 10 cases of each available, you’ll be one of a select few who can enjoy these wines.

We love the labels on the entire range of Viu Manent’s Secreto wines which were done by Chilean artist Catalina Abbott.  Although the dominant grape variety is stated on each label the “secret” is the addition of 15% of other grapes to enhance the flavour.

secreto-sauvignon-blanc2014Secreto Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Casablanca, Chile
224526 $14.10 per bottle; $169.20 per case of 12

A complex nose of grapefruit, pineapple and sea salt (one of the vineyards is 11 km from the sea) repeats on the palate producing a wine perfect for summer sipping, seafood and chévre.  This wine received 90 points from Chile’s Descorchados wine guide.
Order here.









secreto-carmenereSecreto Carmenere 2014
Colchagua Valley, Chile
224518 $14.15 per bottle; $169.80 per case of 12

Carmenere has become a signature grape of Chile and really excels in the Colchagua Valley.  Almost half of this wine was aged for 9 months in French oak.  You’ll find notes of red fruits, blueberries and plums on the nose with fresh complex flavours on the palate which belie its price.  You may enjoy it now or cellar for the next 5 or 6 years.
Order here.








secreto malbecSecreto Malbec 2014
Colchagua Valley, Chile
224500 $14.15 per bottle; $169.80 per case of 12

Although most people think of Argentina when they hear Malbec, more and more excellent Malbec wines are being produced in Chile.  As proof, Secreto Malbec received 90 points from Chile’s Descorchados wine guide and 89 points in The Wine Spectator.  Two thirds of the wine spent8 months in French oak, imparting a hint of vanilla which melds seamlessly with soft tannins.  Plums, sour cherries and violets are the dominant notes on this fresh, fruity wine.  Drink now or cellar for up to 6 years.
Order here.












Casal Thaulero Pinot Grigio 1medCasal Thaulero Pinot Grigio Terre di Chieti 2015, Italy
73163, $8.95
Beppi Crosariol, The Globe and Mail

"Wines can be grand or they can be simple and honest. In this case the honesty is represented by the bargain price. Light and relatively smooth and soft for an Italian pinot grigio, it hints at pear and lemon, with a subtly sweet core and well-balanced acidity. Available in Ontario at the above price, $12.99 in B.C., various prices in Alberta."









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:

Thursday, September 29th – JACKSON BROWNE (solo acoustic)

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:





The following promotions are available now until October 8, 2016 at the LCBO:

Earn 4 Bonus Air Miles on Dunavar Pinot Grigio (#335422)
Earn 5 Bonus Air Miles on Deakin Estate Sauvignon Blanc (#447060)
Earn 6 Bonus Air Miles on Gran Feudo Rosado (#165845)
Earn 6 Bonus Air Miles on Caliterra Cabernet Sauvignon (#257329)
Earn 7 Bonus Air Miles on Cellier des Dauphins Carte Noire (#110197)
Earn 8 Bonus Air Miles on Château Bel Air (#665430)
Earn 8 Bonus Air Miles on Pisse-Dru Beaujolais (#2881)
Earn 8 Bonus Air Miles on Vodka Mudshake French Vanilla (#4606)
Earn 15 Bonus Air Miles on Marqués De Riscal Rioja Reserva (#32656)
Save $0.50 on Dos Locos Lime Tequila Margarita (#370668)
Receive a free pink boa (where applied) with the purchase of Fancy Farm Girl Frivolous White (#394072)

Find the following wines chilling in the Wine Fridge in Select Stores:
Alsace Willm Riesling Réserve (#11452)







Emeril Lagasse’s Grilled Lobster Tails with Grilled Corn Succotash and Grilled Sweet Potatoes

You can omit the sweet potato in this recipe and serve the succotash and lobster by itself or over some grilled bread. These flavours will play very nicely with an oaked Chardonnay or Cava.

Total Time:  1 hr 5 min
Prep: 35 min
Cook: 30 min

Yield: 4 servings


grilled lobster tailFor the lobsters:
4 (1 1/2 pound) live lobsters
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly chopped tarragon leaves, plus sprigs, for garnish
5 tablespoons clarified butter
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the succotash:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound small okra, sliced crosswise
3 ears grilled corn
1/2 pound fresh or frozen, defrosted lima beans (blanched until tender, if fresh)
1/2 pint small cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 cup chopped avocado

For the sweet potatoes:
2 large sweet potatoes, preferably long, thin potatoes
Olive oil

Directions for the lobsters:

Set a large 6-gallon stockpot to boil over high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, immerse the lobsters in the pot. Cook the lobsters for 3 minutes, remove, and chill immediately in an ice bath. Once the lobsters are cool enough to handle, remove from the water and place on a kitchen towel draped over a cutting board.

Twist the tails off the lobsters, and cut the tails in half lengthwise using a large chef's knife (score along the length of the tail). Set the cut tails aside, and crack the shells of the claws to remove the meat. Reserve the claw meat for pasta or a salad for a later date.

In a small saucepan over low heat, add the salt and pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice, tarragon and butter.

To finish the dish, set the grill on medium-high. Brush the lobster tails with the olive oil on the cut end, and season with salt and pepper. Place the tails, cut side down on the grill, and cook for 3 minutes, rotate 45 degrees, and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Turn the lobsters over and cook for 2 minutes. Once tails are cooked through, brush with lemon tarragon butter.

For the succotash:

Using a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, add the sliced okra. Cook the okra for 5 to 6 minutes until golden brown, tender and no longer slimy. Add the corn, lima beans, tomatoes, butter, and parsley and cook, tossing gently, until the vegetables are just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Fold in avocado. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

For the sweet potatoes:

Preheat grill on high heat. Peel the sweet potatoes and slice crosswise into 1/3-inch slices. Lightly brush the slices with olive oil and place onto the hot grill. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until nicely marked by the grill and tender.

To compile the dish, divide the sweet potatoes between 4 dinner plates. Top with succotash and place 1 whole lobster tail (or 2 halves) on each plate.


Enjoy with a glass of Michael David Chardonnay.

Cheers! - Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum





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