The Imbiber's Report

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


November 26, 2016


custacheCrazy Uncle Hard Root Beer is now back in stock at the LCBO.  This has been one of the most successful product launches we have ever had, but that has also meant lengthy periods when the LCBO cupboards were bare.  Now is your time to grab some, make yourself a Root Beer float and raise some money for a good cause with their #CUSTACHE promotion. 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 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. Get your ‘stache on!

The November 26th Vintages release features 25+ ‘Swoon-worthy’ Holiday Wines. The release is certainly packed with its fair share of iconic wines and spirits, including d’Arenberg’s The Dead Arm Shiraz. Also in this release from d’Arenberg is one of favourite white wines, The Hermit Crab. We also have a gorgeous Carmenere from the Colchagua Valley and as a re-release of a 2010 Médoc that is really worth your attention.

Begin your weekend with a glass of Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay, in celebration of its 90 Point Wine Enthusiast score (review is below)…


VINTAGES RELEASE, November 26, 2016
dArenberg Hermit Crabd’Arenberg
The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2015
McLaren Vale, Australia
662775 $17.95
320 (12 pack) cases available

This is one of our very favourite white wines – period. It’s moderately full-bodied and incredibly fresh at the same time with fantastic complexity. It’s great by itself but sings with anything from the sea. Try it with cream-based pasta dishes, most types of cheese and even dishes that have a little spicy heat to them.    

Winemaker’s Notes: “The nose of this wine displays an enticing mix of white stone fruits and sweet pineapple with an underlying hint of ginger. The palate is luscious and flavoursome with notes of nectarine and peach with a twist of candied citrus rind. These sweet flavours evolve through the palate into more savoury flavours reminiscent of raw almonds and spice”.

Vintages Tasting Panel: “Though Chester Osborn is most highly-regarded for his red wine, the d'Arenberg winemaker is among the very best when it comes to working with Australia's Rhône varietals, red or white. This Viognier and Marsanne blend will be a refreshing and crisp wine that offers touches of peach and pears with a spicy undertone”




Viu Manent Gran Reserva CarmenereViu Manent
Gran Reserva Carmenere 2013
Colchagua Valley, Chile
45161 $15.95
450 (12 pack) cases available

GOLD MEDAL International Challenge du Vin, France 2015.
GOLD MEDAL Berliner Wein Trophy, Germany 2015.

Vintages Tasting Panel: “This blend of 90% Carmenere, 6% Malbec and 4% Syrah was sourced from 15-year-old vines and aged for six months in used French oak. The resulting wine has a rich black fruit character with hints of toast and a touch of pepper spice. Creamy and likeable, this will please a wide range of palettes. Great with grilled chicken, or thick and meaty stews”.

Winemaker’s Notes: “Ruby-red with a violet hue. The nose presents great character and is marked by intense and elegant aromas of red and black fruits, berries, blueberries, cassis, plums, black pepper, damp earth and tobacco leaf. The palate has medium structure with good balance and chalky tannins leading to a long and complex finish”.

Grapes for the Gran Reserva come from the family-owned La Capilla Vineyard near Peralillo in the Colchagua Valley. Most of the Carmenere vines are now 25 years old and produce fruit with superb intensity. The soil is volcanic and alluvial with layers of sandstone which contributes special characteristics to the wine. Nearly 90% of the wine was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels.

This is a terrific wine to have around for fall and winter.  It’s a sumptuous red that is well suited to hearty comfort food like stews and braises. It will also play well with some pan-Asian beef dishes that are sweet and savoury. Serve a little below room temperature.



Chateau de Panigon 2010Château de Panigon 2010
Médoc AC Cru Bourgeois
Bordeaux, France
348250 $19.95
700 (12 pack) cases available

90 Points – Neal Martin,
“The Panigon has a candied bouquet with baked red cherries, touches of dark chocolate and dried orange peel. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, lithe tannins. There is lovely purity here, whilst the finish is focused and long. This is a little gem. Drink now – 2018”.

90 Points – Decanter
Gold Medal Bordeaux 2012
Guide Hachette 2014 1*

In Bordeaux, the 2010 vintage was remarkable. It produced a volume of quality and quantity not seen in the region for a very long time. The top Chateaux produced some of their best wines of the past decade, while Cru Bourgeois properties like Château de Panigon made wine of exceptional quality that is affordable and approachable now. This is a blend of 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot. Try it with grilled rack of lamb, roasted duck breast (recipe below), steak with mushrooms or moderately strong cheeses.



Vintages Finest…

dArenberg Dead Arm Shiraz Bottled’Arenberg
The Dead Arm Shiraz 2012
McLaren Vale, Australia
430512 $54.95
546 (6 pack) cases available

Gold, Mundus Vini International Wine Award
96 Points - James Halliday
95 Points - The Wine Front
95 Points - Huon Hook

94 Points - James Suckling
“Shiraz in a very attractive guise here, this has a little peppery edge with red fruits, raspberry leaf and red liquorice too, plus a little boysenberry and a meaty edge. The palate has a core of dark plum flavor, cedary oak and a fine, savory tannin web; I like the freshness and concentration here. Best from 2022”.

94 Points, Beppi Crosariol, The Globe and Mail
"One of Australia’s most coveted reds. Full-bodied, rich and chewy, with gummy blackberry and blueberry fruit backed by a peppery kick and juicy acidity. There’s a welcome chalky grip for structure, too. Drink now or hold for up to 15 years".

Winemaker Chester Osborn’s Tasting Notes: “The Dead Arm Shiraz 2012 displays classic McLaren Vale aromas of plum, blackberry, liquorice and spice. There is also a strong sense of the old vines and infertile soils from which the grapes are sourced. This is evidenced through a raft of dark, earthy notes, evoking notions of a concentrated duck reduction and thick, black molasses. There is enough savoury oak character to support the generous fruit but it isn't the dominant feature, rather an intrinsic component of an ever changing bouquet of complex characters that ebb and flow with time in the glass.

The palate has an incredible depth of flavour and a solid structure built on a framework of firm tannins. The concept of soil transfer into the glass is furthered evidenced through flavours of beetroot and an almost woodiness. The power of the palate is somewhat tempered through its life and vibrancy, meaning we are met with a mouth-watering graphite-like impression rather than a sensation of boney dryness. The result is a wine of great presence and boldness but with a refined, stylish finish that lingers on and on”.

This wine is named after a vine disease called Dead Arm. It randomly affects vineyards everywhere and is caused by the fungus Eutypa Lata, which slowly reduces one half of the vine to dead wood. With the root system still fully functioning, the grapes on the other side of the vine have amazing intensity.




Morning Fog Chard Med-Small90 Points – Wine Enthusiast
Wente Vineyards Morning Fog Chardonnay 2014
Livermore Valley, California
175430 $18.95
“Civilized and supremely well-behaved, this wine smells just rich enough, with vanilla, ripe pear and lemon, then tastes like it’s poised between lemony acidity and a vanillin sweetness. That’s a good place to be, and very little oak influence intrudes.”    




Marques de Riscal Rueda med3.5 Stars – Christopher Waters, Vines Magazine
Marqués de Riscal
Rueda DO, Spain
36822 $12.40
“Made from 100% Verdejo, the refreshing character of Marqués de Riscal Rueda strikes a similar chord to Sauvignon Blanc. Its crisp profile delivers tropical fruit with hints of fennel and grass. The fresh, well-balanced nature makes this a winning match for fish, shellfish or pasta dishes with cream sauce".




Party planners, take note…

SV Brut Reserva New Sm-Med3.5 Stars – Christopher Waters, Vines Magazine
Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava
Penedès, Spain
216960 $14.95
“Popular Cava brand Segura Viudas Brut Reserva is consistently fruity, fresh and complex. It’s noteworthy thanks to its elegance, persistent bubbles and refined flavours. It’s flavourful enough to enjoy on its own and affordable enough to use as a base for mimosas or other sparkling wine cocktails. Party planners, take note”.




Barone Ricasoli Rocca Guicciarda med89 Points – Beppi Crosariol, The Globe and Mail
Barone Ricasoli Rocca Guicciarda Riserva Chianti Classico 2013, Italy
943613  $24.95
"Medium-bodied and very dry, with a fine-grained texture carrying flavours of plum, dried cherry, spice and smoky cedar. It finishes with juicy acidity and saline tension. Great for roast pork or meat-sauce pastas".








In addition to the d’Arenberg wines mentioned above, two of their Stump Jump wines are now available on-line and at the LCBO’s Australian Boutique store at 65 Wicksteed Avenue (Eglinton and Laird area), Toronto. Because the labels resemble an eye chart, these wines will make a great gift for an optometrist!

Stump Jump Lightly Wooded Chardonnayd’Arenberg The Stump Jump Lightly Wooded Chardonnay 2015
LCBO# 267012
In Store: $14.95 per bottle; Online: $179.40 per case of 12

The winemaker describes this as “fresh, crunchy Chardonnay, full of Granny Smith apples”.  The use of oak is really prudent and the mid palate has a lovely creaminess.  This would be brilliant with salmon or anything with a cream sauce.

Order here:








Stump-Jump-Shirazd’Arenberg The Stump Jump Shiraz 2012
LCBO# 267020
In Store: $15.00 per bottle; Online: $180.00 per case of 12

This is 100% Shiraz from the McLaren Vale region.  It’s generous, juicy and loaded with blackberry, plum and raspberry notes.  It’s medium-bodied, beautifully balanced and really punches over its weight.

Order here:








Here’s what else is currently available on-line and at the LCBO’s Chilean Boutique store at 5100 Erin Mills Parkway:


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.











Our late friend Brian King, whom we worked with many times, passed away earlier this year. à la Carte Kitchen, recently made this announcement.

Brian King Fabulous Researcher Fund

Brian King Fabulous Researcher Fund






As an avid supporter of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, Brian has been honoured through the creation of the Fabulous Researcher Fund. This will support researchers in accessing CLGA collections and, support researchers who otherwise wouldn't be able to visit the CLGA in Toronto.

A note on Brian from à la Carte: “At this year’s #FlashbackGala we announced the Brian King Fabulous Researcher Fund. Brian King passed away earlier this year on May 10th, 2016. Brian will always be remembered for his generosity, quirky and quick wit as well as his gentle spirit and patience. His passion for what was right was infectious. Banisher of the bullies, keeper of the peace, if there was right to be done, he would do it. A passionate creative genius, Brian executed brilliant events with fabulous menus, service, ambiance, and always a certain amount of panache.

Always keen to push the envelope, Brian was the driving force behind the creation of the Flashback Gala. Brian was also known for how he supported and inspired those who were just starting out in life. We honour our friend, and a great man with the creation of the Brian King Fabulous Researcher Fund, which will support the ongoing research that is so vital in keeping our stories alive through the CLGA.

This fund will support researchers in accessing our collections and, support researchers who otherwise wouldn’t be able to visit the CLGA in Toronto. Details on how to apply for the Brian King Fabulous Researcher grant will be publicized in 2017.”

To contribute to the Brian King Fabulous Researcher Fund please donate here and specify in the notes that your donation should be directed to the Brian King Fabulous Researcher Fund.










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

The podcast features Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad Cava (558825 #29.95), Domaine Pre Baron Touraine Sauvignon (107128 $16.95), Chateau de Gourgazaud Reserve (986083 $17.95) and Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port (533364 $19.95).






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)


The following promotions are available from November 27 to December 31, 2016 at the LCBO:

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

Earn 8 Bonus Air Miles on Sprucewood Shores Riesling VQA (#326249)

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

Earn 10 Bonus Air Miles on Angove Organic Cabernet Sauvignon (#464743)

Earn 15 Bonus Air Miles on Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider (#94094)


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






Duck with sherry honey and thymePan-Roasted Duck Breasts with Sherry, Honey & Thyme Sauce

Duck breasts can be found in most grocery stores in the poultry section. Look for King Cole Duck brand – it’s a great local farm to table story.

This recipe comes from one of our favourite sources, Fine Cooking.

You can dress up this dish by adding a few dried figs, if you like. Trim off the stems and, depending on their size, halve or quarter them. Soak the figs in the sherry for 10 minutes and then drain them, reserving the sherry. Add the sherry as directed and add the figs to the sauce along with the broth.

4 boneless skin-on duck breast halves (about 2 lb. total)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/2 cup homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth
2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. lightly chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbs. unsalted butter

Heat the oven to 425ºF. Rinse the duck breasts and pat dry. Trim any silverskin from the meat side of the breasts. Scrape the tendon out of the tender, if it’s still attached, and pat the tender back in place. Trim the edges of the skin so there’s about 1/4 inch overhang. With a sharp chef’s or boning knife, score the skin in a 1/2-inch crosshatch pattern. Try to cut only through the skin and not into the meat. Season the breasts on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat a large ovenproof sauté pan or skillet (don’t use nonstick) over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Put the duck in the pan, skin side down, and let it sear. As fat collects in the pan, spoon it off once or twice. When the skin turns medium brown, after about 6 minutes, reduce the heat to medium.

Continue to cook until much of the fat is rendered from the duck and the skin looks crisp and deep golden brown, another 2 to 4 minutes.

Flip the breasts skin side up, spoon off any remaining fat, and put the pan in the oven. Roast until the duck is cooked to your liking: 3 to 4 minutes for medium rare and 5 to 6 minutes for medium well. To check for doneness, cut into a breast or use an instant read thermometer: 135°F for medium rare, 155°F for medium well.

Transfer the duck to a plate or platter and tent with foil to keep warm. Set the pan on medium high heat and pour in the sherry and sherry vinegar. Immediately scrape the pan with a wooden spoon to release any cooked-on bits. Boil until the liquid has reduced to about 2 Tbs., about 3 minutes. Add the broth, honey, thyme, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Boil until the liquid is reduced by about half, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and blend the butter into the sauce by consistently stirring or swirling the pan. Slice the duck thinly on an angle, arrange it on heated plates, and spoon the sauce over or around it. Serve right away.

Enjoy with Château de Panigon.

Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum






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