The Imbiber's Report

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


October 1, 2016


White-RabbitWhat’s your 1st of the Month tradition or superstition? For reasons I’m not entirely certain of, I utter white rabbit, white rabbit, white rabbit (for good luck). It turns out it’s an old English tradition that might date back to the 13th century. Yorkshire is a bastion for superstitions as is New England and parts of Canada. Like ‘ring around the rosie’, its origins remain a mystery.  

Our annual plug for you to visit the Norfolk County Fair and Horseshow is finally trending. There is some serious promotion of Ontario wine and food happening with companies like Culinary Adventure Co. and the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance organizing events, dinners and celebrations of Ontario food. Take a day and drive down to the fair, it’s one of Ontario’s treasures and a visit should be on everyone’s bucket list.

You can purchase foodstuffs made in Norfolk at the indoor farmer’s market called Flavourfest. We usually stock up on a few items including Dennis’ Horseradish, Jensen Cheese (cheese curds and sometimes their 5 and 7 year old cheddar), Chamber’s maple syrup and some meat from VG or Townsend Butchers (locally raised). Spend a day and wonder around the fairgrounds as much as you can. The fair runs over Thanksgiving weekend.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, let’s talk Turkey. The actual bird plays well with off-dry aromatic wines like Riesling, lighter fruity reds, like Beaujolais, Baco Noir and Pinot Noir and thoughtfully-oaked Chardonnays. We give everyone two or three glasses and encourage them to mix and match to see what combination they like. Almost every mouthful is a little bit different. Here are some recommendations.

Dry to off-dry aromatic whites:

Dunavar PG LargeDunavar Pinot Grigio (Hungary) 335422 $9.30
An affordable ‘utility wine’ that will play in the background and is also great to cook with.







Willm Riesling 2014 largeWillm Riesling Reserve (Alsace, France) 11452 $15.95
Classic elegant Alsace Riesling for folks who prefer their wine dry.







Spruewood Shores Riesling 2015 new labelSprucewood Shores Estate Winery Riesling (VQA Ontario) 326249 $13.95
Silver Medal winner in the All Canadian Wine Championship, this is loaded with bright apple fruit and some tropical notes. It’s a perfect match with squash soup.







Fancy Farm Girl WhiteFancy Farm Girl Frivolous White (VQA Niagara Peninsula) 394072 $14.95
Off-dry and refreshingly crisp. This will match a wide array of flavours and will please those who prefer their wine with a kiss of sweetness.







Thoughtfully oaked Chardonnay:

Morning Fog Med SmallWente ‘Morning Fog’ Chardonnay (Livermore, California) 175430 $18.95
Beautifully balanced Chardonnay with apple-citrus focus and perfectly integrated oak.  For those who ‘don’t like Chardonnay’, we double dare you to try this. This will match everything, including the Brussels sprout recipe below.






Light, fruity reds (chill these down before serving):

Staff Baco Noir 2014Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery ‘Black O’ Noir’ Baco Noir (VQA Niagara) 260422 $13.95
Boo! We like to describe Baco as Canada’s Lumberjack Wine – woodsy and earthy with hints of blueberries. It likes dark turkey meat, mushrooms and anything that has bacon in it (see recipe below).







Pisse Dru 2014 New Label medPisse-Dru Beaujolais (Beaujolais AC, France) 2881 $12.95
The quintessential wine for Turkey dinner, it’s medium-light bodied and fruity with playful acidity and a fresh berry essence. Bring on the cranberry sauce!







Domaine-PinnacleBy the time pie rolls around, it can be a tough sell. ‘Leave room for dessert’ doesn’t really mean anything at Thanksgiving. This is the time to pour Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider 94094 $25.65.  It’s vibrant, opulent and complex and will remind you of Ice Wine or Sauternes.







We have two wines featured in this weekend’s release, a big, bold Zinfandel from Lodi California and, one of our very favourite wines, the Late Bottled Vintage Port from Dow’s.

We’ll be pouring some very special wines from Chivite this week at Vintages Reign in Spain tasting event. Please see the events section for further details.

It feels like whisky weather. How about a wee dram of Stronachie 10 Year Old Highland Single Malt Whisky?


VINTAGES RELEASE, October 1, 2016
Earthquake Zin 2012 no backgroundMichael David Winery
Earthquake Zinfandel 2013
Lodi, California, USA
59717 $39.95
150 (12 pack) cases available

91 Points – Robert Parker Jr.,
“Michael David Winery also scores impressively with their moderately priced Zinfandels. The 2013 Zinfandel Earthquake is 100% Zinfandel, a 30,000-case cuvée aged in American oak. It is no wimpy Zinfandel at 15.5% alcohol, but is full-bodied, offering briary, peppery, meaty and herbal black fruits and some red fruits. The wine is pure, deep, fleshy, and ideal for drinking over the next 3-4 years”.

The Earthquake Zin comes from an old Lodi vineyard planted around the same time of San Francisco’s great Earthquake of 1906. While mulling over a label name in the vineyard, Michael Phillips thought it only seemed fitting to relate this intense wine with the historical quake. This is full-bodied Zin that is packed with intense fruit aromas and flavours. Give it a spin with barbecue pork, chicken or brisket, lamb or duck Spiedini/Spiducci, spicy meat pizza or beef fajitas.

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



Dows LBV 2011DOW’S LBV Port 2011
Douro DOP, Portugal
533364 $19.95
196 (12 pack) cases available

90 Points – Wine Spectator, Kim Marcus
“A floral aroma leads to sinewy flavors of red plum, raspberry and dark cherry that lengthen out nicely midpalate, with a creamy texture. Milk chocolate details emerge on the finish. Drink now through 2019”.

Vintages Panel: “LBV Ports are wines that are produced every year, as opposed to Vintage dated examples, which are only made in exceptional, declared years. LBV wines spend longer in barrel (4-6 years) than Vintage Ports, and mature and are ready to drink much earlier. This example has lots of dark fruit tones, grippy tannins and a fine balance”.

This is directly from Dow’s technical notes, written by Charles Symington:

“Dow's is one of the most iconic and respected Port houses, owned and managed by the Symington family. To this day they proudly control every stage of the winemaking process. Long-aware that great wines are made in great vineyards, Dow's was one of the first Port shippers to invest in vineyards in the Douro. To this end, in the 1890s, Dow's acquired two of the Douro's finest quintas, Senhora da Ribeira and Bomfim, both of which continue to produce outstanding wines more than a century later.

Late Bottled Vintage 2011

Dow's 2011 Late Bottled Vintage is a single harvest wine, differing primarily from a
"declared" Vintage Port in that, to show their true potential, LBVs require a longer maturation period in seasoned oak vats. The wine is fully mature and ready for immediate consumption and can be served with no need for decanting. LBVs are very stable and will keep their freshness for a further week or so after opening.

Dow's Late Bottled Vintage Port comes from the same vineyards and shares the same winemaking with Wine Spectator's Number One wine of 2014, Dow's 2011Vintage Port. Unlike many Port shippers, it is only in occasional years of exceptional quality that Dow's releases an LBV, which is why we believe that our wine stands out well above any alternative.

Tasting Notes

The wine has a deep ruby colour, and a fine complex nose with layers of dark fruits, and hints of violets and cigar box aromas. The well-balanced palate is muscular and full-bodied, with a great purity of style, and its firm tannins hold on into a long and spicy, peppery finish. Dow's trademark drier style is much in evidence throughout.

Food Pairing Suggestions

Dow's LBV is a wonderfully versatile wine which harmonises beautifully with a variety of end-of-meal dishes, from the classic Port and mature cheese combination, both creamy and hard, and of course chocolate desserts and mousses and cakes.

Winemaker’s Overview

The 2011 Vintage Ports are characterised by an unusual combination of elegance with power and structure. Whereas "elegant" usually implies lighter-bodied, the 2011s have fantastic aromas and great elegance but are big wines - not an easy balance to achieve”.

Try Dow’s LBV with Blue Cheese and dried fruit. See if you can hunt down Glengarry’s Celtic Blue or Blue Reserve, Best in Show Winner at the American Cheese Society Awards 2015, besting 1,779 entries in 109 categories.





We continue to feature wines from the LCBO’s E-Commerce program in a dedicated section called Ongoing On-Line Exclusives.

We have 2 new wines which have entered the program and are now available on-line and at the LCBO’s Chilean Boutique store at 5100 Erin Mills Parkway.  Casa Silva’s 1912 Vines Sauvignon Gris is both eclectic and rare, while their Los Lingues Carmenere is a single vineyard wine which has previously been available through Vintages.  They can be purchased by the case on-line or by the bottle at the store.

Here’s what is currently available:


Casa Silva Sauvignon Gris 1912 VinesCasa Silva 1912 Vines Sauvignon Gris 2015, Colchagua Valley, Chile
LCBO# 236322                                
In Store: $19.25 per bottle; Online: $231.00 per case of 12
Produced with grapes from the Angostura Estate planted in 1912, this wine has a delicate nose with melon aromas and mineral notes. The palate is fresh with tropical flavours and notes of meyer lemon and apple ending in a crisp finish.

91pts, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate ‘14
91pts, Chile’s Descorchados Wine Guide ‘14
90pts, Stephen Tanzer's Int’l Wine Cellar ‘14

Order here.






Casa Silva Los Lingues Carmenere 2014Casa Silva Los Lingues Carmenere 2014,  Colchagua Valley, Chile
LCBO# 236314    
In Store: $19.30 per bottle; Online: $231.60 per case of 12
The nose is intense with notes of ripe black fruits with hints of wild forest fruits. On the palate there is good balance between fruit and oak with notes of boysenberries and hints of tobacco. It has a good structure with round tannins and an excellent finish.

91pts, James Suckling
91pts, Wine & Spirits Magazine '12
90pts, Stephen Tanzer's Int’l Wine Cellar ‘14
90pts, Chile’s Descorchados wine guide

Order here.






Secreto Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Casablanca, Chile
LCBO# 224526
In Store: $14.10 per bottle; Online: $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 sipping, seafood and chévre.

90pts, Chile’s Descorchados wine guide

Order here.









Secreto Carmenere 2014, Colchagua Valley, Chile
LCBO# 224518
In Store: $14.15 per bottle; Online: $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. Although the dominant grape variety is stated on each label the “secret” is the addition of 15% of other grapes to enhance the flavour.

Order here.








secreto malbec

Secreto Malbec 2014, Colchagua Valley, Chile
LCBO# 224500
In Store: $14.15 per bottle; Online: $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. Two thirds of the wine spent 8 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.

90pts, Chile’s Descorchados wine guide
89pts, Wine Spectator

Order here.










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

The following review appeared in the Globe & Mail.  Note what a great value this wine is in Ontario based on the BC price!

"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."














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



Going Local…

Here’s an idea for a road trip this fall. Drive to the Blue Mountains to see the fall colours and find the Apple Pie Trail Yes, you read correctly…Apple Pie Trail. While you are there, drop by our friends at Georgian Hills Vineyards, who along with Coffin Ridge winery have made the Beaver Valley their home. They both produce some amazing wine and Georgian Hills also crafts a dessert wine made from frozen Ida Red apples +359380 $20 (available at the LCBO). Try it with some of the 5 year old Jensen Cheddar that you picked up at the Norfolk Fair or the Glengarry’s Celtic Blue you managed to hunt down.



 Rioja The Reign in Spain Event













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)







All of these ingredients (except pecans) could be purchased at the Norfolk County Fair. This is an amazing combination of flavours. Serve it as a side for Thanksgiving.

Roasted Brussels sprouts with Pecans, Maple Syrup and Bacon

Roasted-Brussels-Sprouts-with-Bacon-and-PecansServings: 4-6
Total Time: 40 Minutes
    1/2 cup pecans
    6 slices bacon
    2 pounds brussels sprouts, halved (coarse stem removed)
    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    2-1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    1 tablespoon maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil.
Place pecans on the prepared baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes (keep a close eye on them, they can burn quickly). Transfer pecans to a cutting board and chop coarsely. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 400 F. Lay the bacon strips out flat on the same foil-lined baking sheet, leaving space in between so they don't overlap. Roast for 12-20 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back midway through, until the bacon is crisp (cooking time will depend on thickness of bacon). Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels; pour rendered bacon fat into a small dish and then discard aluminum foil. When bacon is cool, finely chop.
Heat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with fresh aluminum foil. Using a rubber spatula, toss the Brussels sprouts with the rendered bacon fat, olive oil, salt and pepper directly on the baking sheet. Roast, stirring midway through to promote even browning, until Brussels sprouts are tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and maple syrup and toss to coat evenly. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot or warm. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans and bacon.

Cheers! - Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum






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