The Imbiber's Report

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


November 12, 2016


custacheDo you know a guy? If you do, please click through on this link to learn more about Movember.

Our good friends at Crazy Uncle have come up with a fun and effective way to raise money during Movember. Men and women can post your (real or silly) moustache pics holding a can of Crazy Uncle Hard Root Beer and use the #CUSTACHE hashtag, and the good folks from Crazy Uncle will donate $10 for each post (one entry per person) to the Movember Foundation Canada to help change the face of men’s health. Donation totals, along with draw winners for their Limited Edition 4pks will be posted on Facebook and on Instagram every Wednesday, starting November 9th.

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair continues through this weekend with an incredible array of events. There is something for everyone at ‘The Royal’ and attending should be on everyone’s to do list.

One of our favourite German Rieslings returns to Vintages this weekend along with an amazing trio of Tuscan reds from Barone Ricasoli, including their Flagship Gran Selezione. We also have a great value Bordeaux that we’ll share with you. We have news, reviews and much, much more in the Movember edition of the Imbiber’s Report.

Grab your smartphone, a can of Crazy Uncle Root Beer and get to work…


VINTAGES RELEASE, November 12, 2016
Hattenheimr Schützen Riesling KabinettBalthasar Ress Hattenheimer Schützenhaus Riesling Kabinett 2015
Prädikatswein, Rheingau, Germany
735241 $21.95
150 (12 pack) cases available

Vintages Tasting Panel: “The Rheingau is one of Germany's smallest wine regions, but remember what they say about good things coming in small packages? This region's reputation dwarfs its size. Riesling is the most important grape here, and the majority of vineyard sites enjoy a southward aspect - thanks to the westward curving arc the Rhine River takes through the region. This wine offers notes of citrus, apple and pear fruit with a fine and distinct mineral edge. Enjoy with ham, or with spicy dishes such as curry”.

This Balthasar Ress Riesling comes from a single vineyard source. Here’s their background information on the site.

“West of the village Hattenheim, the Schützenhaus site faces south-southwest and rises in altitude from 328 feet above sea level (slightly sloping) to about 492 feet. The site is relatively long and slopes toward the west, thereby protecting it from cold easterly winds. The name probably derives from a vineyard hut (“Haus”) for the vineyard "keepers” who watched over the vineyards prior to the harvest. The vineyard “guards” (“Schützen”) used blank cartridge pistols to ward off starlings from munching on the tasty sweet grapes. The soils consist partly of deep loess and loess-loam, and partly of Tertiary marl mixtures. They are able to store considerable water reserves and ensure the vines’ water and nutrient supplies, producing wines with high extract values”.

This style of Riesling is remarkably versatile with food. Match it with all types of spicy dishes, especially Thai cuisine and dishes that include curry. It will also play nicely with Japanese cuisine, Cajun food and dishes that use fruit in them.


New to Vintages…

chateau macquin2012Château Maquin 2012
Saint-Georges Saint-Émilion AOC 2012
Bordeaux, France
468371 $19.95
500 (12 pack) cases available

90 Points - James Suckling

“A perfumed and attractive red with ripe strawberry, citrus and raspberry character. Medium body, integrated tannins and a solid core of fruit. Delicate finish. Well done for the vintage. Drink now or hold”.

This family-owned estate was founded in 1885 by François-Albert Macquin who purchased and converted an already existing winery and renamed it Château Macquin. The property now contains 85 acres of vineyard and is currently under the direction of Francois’ grandson, Denis Corre-Macquin. Interestingly, François-Albert was the first vigneron to replant in Bordeaux after the vineyards were devastated by Phylloxera, which destroyed most of the vineyards in France. These experiments helped to pave the way to replanting elsewhere and to eventual development of Phylloxera-resistant rootstock.



 A Trio from Tuscany…

Barone Bettino Ricasoli, through much experimentation and study, developed the original ‘recipe’ for Chianti. Here are his notes from 1874:

“I had confirmed my previous results, i.e. the wine receives from the Sangioveto the principal dose of its perfume (to which I particularly aim) and a certain vigour of sensation; from Canajuolo the smoothness that tempers the hardness of the first, without subtracting any of its perfume being itself aromatically endowed; the Malvasia, which could be omitted in the wines to be aged, tends to dilute the product of the first two grapes, increases taste making it lighter and readier for the everyday table”.

Please see the On Food and Wine section for an everyday Ragu recipe which will match all three of the following Tuscan wines.

Barone Ricasoli Rocca GuicciardaBarone Ricasoli Rocca Guicciarda 2013
Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG
Tuscany, Italy
943613 $24.95
850 (12 pack) cases available

91 Points – James Suckling
“90% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot and 5% Canaiolo. The highly perfumed bouquet is redolent with red fruity aromas and floral tones. The palate consists of berry fruit flavours, cherry, black currant and seductive cinnamon. This elegant wine reveals a clean, fragrant taste and many Chianti Classico characteristics such as violet and mixed berries flavours”.

90 Points, Bruce Sanderson,
“A mix of black cherry, black currant and spice flavors highlights this rich, juicy red, which is modern in style and balanced, lingering on the finish with a black pepper accent. Drink now through 2020”.

Rocca Guicciarda was one of the Barone Ricasoli's most important estates. Today, it is the name of the estate's Chianti Classico Riserva, a traditional aromatic wine that is well balanced, elegant and complex. The wine spends 15 months in oak barriques and tonneaux before bottling.


New to Vintages…

Ricasoli Torre della Trappola Brunello di Montalcino 2010Barone Ricasoli Torre della Trappola 2010
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
Tuscany, Italy
455485 $52.95
300 (12 pack) cases available

94 Points – James Suckling
“A linear, racy style, this features bright cherry, raspberry, iron and tea aromas and flavours matched to a firm, tannic structure. Stays fresh and long, with a mouth-watering aftertaste of pure fruit, spice and mineral. Best from 2019 through 2032”.

94 Points - Bruce Sanderson,
“This structured wine opens with aromas of leafy underbrush, toasted oak, roasted coffee beans and a hint of raisin. The palate offers dried black cherry, liquorice, mocha, espresso and vanilla alongside firm, fine-grained tannins. 100% Sangiovese”.

Barone Ricasoli’s notes on this wine: “The project “Brunello di Montalcino Barone Ricasoli” represents the first concrete example of diversification into other important Tuscan wine denominations. The cooperation with Castello Romitorio and the direct involvement of our winemaker Carlo Ferrini produced a high quality result. The style of this wine is the result of the long experience of Barone Ricasoli in Tuscany”.


Star Quality…

Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico Gran SelezioneBarone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio 2012
Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione
Tuscany, Italy
942607 $59.95
168 (12 pack) cases available

92 Points - Michael Godel,
“A Chianti Classcio first borne in 1997 with the plan to create a maximum quality blend as an expression of the estate's diverse terroir. A meticulous selection is combed from the estate's vineyards, spread over 230 hectares of land. Though early on the fruit may have emerged out of good but not yet exceptional vineyards, nearly 20 years later the Sangiovese (90 per cent) with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (or perhaps Petit Verdot) adheres to grand vin excellence. The wood regimen is 18 months in tonneaux followed by 18 in bottle. Perhaps you will not find a more accomplished, perfectly judged, matter of factly expressed Gran Selezione. Sangiovese in equality of spicing with fruit, acidity and tannin, perfectly integrated toast, wood impact and textural drive. Stefano Capurso admits this about the transition from Chianti Classico to Gran Selezione."It’s a matter of compromise between what is needed for the small producers and the need to express through crus for the large ones."

96 Points - James Suckling
“Fresh and bright with strawberry, raspberry and roses on the nose. Full body, firm and chewy tannins, yet polished and refined. Hints of chocolate too. Solid and powerful. This shows the greatness of Gran Selezione”.

91 Points –
“Barone Ricasoli’s flagship wine with 80% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. The bouquet is balanced and intense with a charming mixture of bright berry fruit and oak-driven tones of vanilla, spice and balsamic. The fabric of the wine is rich, elegant, fresh and perfectly streamlined”.

Winemaker’s Notes: “In this wine you will find the essence of our firm, its long history, striving for perfection, and the very special nature of our territory and of each vineyard. Castello di Brolio is the Grand Vin produced at Barone Ricasoli, recently selected by Wine Spectator as one of the five best wines in the world. Castello di Brolio is created from a meticulous selection of the best Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes from the estate's vineyards, spread over 230 hectares of land. Only grapes that have given their utmost are selected at Brolio - the production of each vintage may thus vary in quantity, but quality is always outstanding. The vineyards are at 250 to 450 m above sea level, facing south/south-west. The perfect exposure and excellent elevation of the land as well as the very stony soil are responsible for the typicality of this wine”.

If you are serious about collecting wine, this is a must-have for your cellar.





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.












7 Deadly Zins New Packagingmed90 Points – Carolyn Evans-Hammond, Toronto Star
2013 7 Deadly Zins Old Vine Zinfandel 2013
Lodi, California
Vintages Essential
59311 $24.95
“Pride. Greed. Lust. Envy. Gluttony. Wrath. Sloth. This would be a fair assessment of Donald Trump and his morally vacant and factually allergic lead-up to the election. So celebrate the end to the madness with this explosive American drop. It’s a trumped-up fruitbomb with a big blast of blackberry, cherry, and stewed plum flavour edged with dates, warm oak and black pepper. Made from California’s flagship grape — Zinfandel — this wine is a friendly reminder that yes, America is already great in many delicious ways”.


Deakin Estate Shiraz New Packaging smallRecommended - Rod Phillips, Ottawa Citizen
Deakin Estate Shiraz 2015
560821 $9.95
“This well-priced shiraz from Australia is a good choice for burgers, well-seasoned sausages and barbecued ribs. It shows plenty of ripe, richly flavoured fruit right through the palate, good acid balance and negligible tannins”.

















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

We had a mini-dinner party themed tasting that began with the elegant Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad Cava (558825 #29.95) and talked about how well it pairs with salty cheese and most appetizers. The first course wine, Domaine Pre Baron Touraine Sauvignon (107128 $16.95) from the Loire Valley, would be a brilliant match with shellfish or seafood. The main course red, Chateau de Gourgazaud Reserve (986083 $17.95), is full-bodied and spicy and would be amazing with grilled or roasted meat, game or cassoulet. We finished up with Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port (533364 $19.95), a smooth, sweet, full-bodied dessert wine that plays nicely with a wide variety of sweets, especially chocolate cake.





The following promotions are available now until November 26, 2016 at the LCBO:

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

Earn 15 Bonus Air Miles on Marqués De Riscal Rioja Reserva (#32656)

Save $2.00 on Wente Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (#301507)

Receive three free Brix Chocolates (where applied) with the purchase of Fresita Sparkling Strawberry wine (#383901)


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







A sure-fire way to get the best results, is to use the best ingredients you can find.

Simple Country Ragu

Ragu5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 carrot, finely, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 rib celery, finely diced
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 pound veal, ground
1 pound pork, ground
1 pound beef, ground
1/4 pound pancetta or slab bacon, ground
1/2 tube tomato paste
1/2 cup milk
1 cup dry white wine
1 28oz tin San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating

In a 6 to 8-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, and garlic and sweat over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent and soft but not browned, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the veal, pork, beef and pancetta and stir into the vegetables. Add the meat over high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking together until browned. Add the tomato paste, milk, wine, tomatoes and herbs and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and remove from the heat.

When ready to use, the cooked pasta should be added to a saucepan with the appropriate amount of hot Ragu, and tossed so that the pasta is evenly coated by the sauce.

Serves 6

Enjoy with a Barone Ricasoli Tuscan red wine.

Buon appetito!
Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum








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