The Imbiber's Report

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


January 7, 2017


canada-150-logoRight off the bat, 2017 gives us something to celebrate, Canada’s 150th Birthday! CANADA 150 celebrations are planned all year long across the whole country. Here is guide to some of the festivities If you haven’t visited Ottawa in a while, this would be the year to do it Get outside and explore your backyard! Go snowshoeing, skiing or tobogganing. Skate on a canal or pond, grab your hockey stick and visit your closest outdoor rink. Have fun and remember that warm socks and hot chocolate are your friends.

The Vintages January 7th release is a small one and doesn’t contain any products from our portfolio. Not to worry since we have plenty of things to tell you about including the release of a McLaren Vale Icon, what’s happening in your local grocery stores, our ongoing on-line exclusives, some terrific LCBO promotions, accolades and really delicious recipe. We also take an in-depth look at our Vintages Essentials portfolio, with some notes on new vintages for each of the wines.

Raise a glass of something Canadian and join us in celebration of 2017…



On-line ordering for Vintages’ January Classics Collection has commenced. There is a limited amount of The Medhyk currently available. Here is the link to the ordering page:




Angove Medhyk ShirazAngove
The Medhyk Old Vine Shiraz 2013
McLaren Vale, Australia
437749 $70.00

96 Points – James Halliday,
“The vineyard may be relatively small, and the production a minuscule part of Angove's total annual production, but it's a worthy flag bearer. This is a wine of real distinction and class. While it has all the depth and structure needed for long cellaring, it is so supple and well balanced it can be enjoyed any time, its velvety blackberry fruit flavours wreathed by supple tannins and perfectly integrated quality oak. Drink by 2037”.

The Medhyk is Angove Family Winemakers’ flagship wine. Here are the winemaker Richard Angove’s notes on the 2013 vintage:

“The stunning fruit from the cane pruned North West corner of our organically and bio-dynamically farmed and certified Warboys Vineyard again made the grade to be included in THE MEDHYK blend. Fruit from the Jones Block, which has been an integral part of our icon wine since its inception in 2008, was also included. The remaining parcels came from the Swan Block grown in the sandy soils of the Blewitt Springs sub-region and the Cameron Block grown on the cracking Biscay clay near Willunga.

All of the grapes that showed potential to be part of THE MEDHYK were handpicked and then hand sorted prior to a gentle destemming into half tonne open fermenters. The fermentation process began slowly using the natural yeast in our 100 year old winery and the cap was hand plunged and foot trod according to the individual needs of each parcel until dry. The new wine was then basket pressed and sent to gently mature in French oak puncheons. Each year in early summer we taste and grade our Shiraz barrels from the previous vintage. The best of the best are selected for our flagship THE MEDHYK, and these wines are then matured further until bottling the following spring. The 2013 vintage proved to be quite exceptional in quality. However volume was scarce and only 1220 six bottle cases were made”.



Willm Riesling 2014 largeWillm Riesling Réserve 2015
Alsace AC, France
11452 $15.95

Steve Thurlow, WineAlign
“The 2015 vintage of this classic Alsatian Riesling is ripe and rich on the palate with delicate aromas of stone fruit with lemon, floral and mineral tones. It is clean and mid-weight with sweetish fruit but it finishes dry and is well balanced. Try with sautéed veal or mildly spicy Asian cuisine. Very good length”.

We love the interplay between apple, floral and mineral notes, each taking a turn to get your attention as this Riesling opens up. This Riesling is lovely all by itself and will match a wide variety of soft and semi soft cheeses. For a real authentic experience, try it with Alsace Tarte Flambée (recipe below).






Gran Feudo Reserva NVGran Feudo Reserva 2010
Navarra DO, Spain
479014 $16.95

The new 2010 vintage of Gran Feudo Reserva has started to appear at some Vintages locations. This is a beautiful Tempranillo-based wine that has been aged in oak for a minimum of 18 months.  The fact that you can buy a wine from 2010 for less than $17 never ceases to amaze us! Gran Feudo Reserva is one of the most versatile food wines that we know of and we often use it when we do wine and food matchings.









First Press Napa Cab Sauv First Press Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Napa Valley, California
188110 $24.95

As we mentioned in the Christmas Edition of The Imbiber’s Report, First Press Cab has successfully graduated to become a Vintages Essential listing and is available across a number of Vintages locations all year round. The 2013 vintage was nearly perfect in Napa Valley and this wine reflects the quality of that year. It is full-bodied with a savoury nose of blackberry, plum and black licorice. Rich flavours of dark jam, chocolate, vanilla and hints of earth are complemented on the palate by soft, silky tannins and a long elegant finish.  This is a bargain for a Napa Valley Cab Sauv.








7 Deadly Zins New Packaging LargeMichael David Winery 2014
7 Deadly Zins Old Vine Zinfandel
Lodi, California
59311 $24.95
Vintages Essential

A little pepper, spice, and plenty of candied red berry fruit opens up the nose of Michael David’s 2014 7 Deadly Zins. Full, rich flavours of black cherry, currants, olive tapenade and exotic spices are rounded out with toasted oak notes on a lengthy finish. This wine opens up beautifully when paired with food, especially a juicy barbecue beef sandwich.










shopping-cart-In October, the Government of Ontario officially released the names of grocery stores that are eligible to sell wine, cider and beer. There are nearly 70 grocery stores that have licences and they include some familiar chains like Loblaws, Sobeys and Metro as well as a number of smaller regional chains like Ottawa-based Farm Boy and Hamilton-based Fortinos. Stores are able to choose which wines they wish to stock from a list provided by the LCBO. They are only permitted to sell wines with a $10.95 retail price or higher from the LCBO’s regular list: Vintages products and spirits are not available at grocery stores.  Half of the stores have restricted licences and can sell only domestic wines (and one imported product – more on that later!) and the other half have unrestricted licences which permit them to sell domestic and imported wines.  Products sold in grocery stores are the same price as the LCBO, but Bonus Air Miles are only available at the latter.

Stores are allowed to sell wine, cider and beer Monday to Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (although not all stores are open during those hours).

We have twenty wines and one beer available that are available to most grocery stores. They include domestic wines from Sue-Ann Staff and Sprucewood Shores as well as imported wines from France, Australia, Chile, Italy, Spain and the U.S. Lvivske 1715 beer from Ukraine is also available in some stores.  


This new section of The Imbiber’s Report will feature wines that are available at grocery stores with a tasting note and food matching suggestions.

La Minervois…

gourgazaud-minervoisChâteau de Gourgazaud 2014
Minervois AC, France
22384 $12.95

Château de Gourgazaud is the only imported wine which can be sold in both restricted and unrestricted stores in the province. The reason is its size: it is the only imported winery with small enough production and from a small enough appellation to qualify under the restricted licence conditions.  It might be the proverbial needle in a haystack as the only imported wine is a sea of domestic products, but if your local store has a section for red blends, start there.  

Owned by the Piquet-Tiburce family, Château de Gourgazaud was planted with Syrah and Mourvèdre in 1973, long before those grape varieties were popular in that region of France. This bistro-styled, rustic red wine can be enjoyed with hearty winter stews and braises, grilled meat and rich tomato sauce.









Wine Align Top 50 Value at the LCBO for January

Deakin Estate Shiraz New Packaging smallDeakin Estate Shiraz 2015
Victoria, Australia
560821 ($8.95 was $9.95)
“New to Top 50 – A youthful exuberant fresh shiraz that is quite zippy and if you close your eyes it could be a white wine; such is the freshness and vibrancy. Ripe fruit well balanced with negligible tannin and good length characterize the palate. Chill a little and enjoy with pizza and meaty pasta sauces”.





SV Brut Reserva New Sm-Med89 Points
Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava Spain
Penedès, Spain
216960 ($13.45 was $14.95)
“New to Top 50 – My favourite LCBO bubbly under $15 is even better value this month. It is great for receptions as an aperitif; essentially anywhere you would consider Champagne. Expect a fresh nose, an elegant delicate soft mousse and a long lingering finish. Lots of flavour and super creamy texture. Very good length”.

Recommended – Rod Phillips, Ottawa Citizen
“This is a very well-priced dry sparkling wine, made by the same method as champagne. It shows bright and attractive flavours right through the palate, crisp acidity, and plenty of bubble action in the glass. Drink it on its own, as an aperitif, or with fish, seafood, and chicken”.


Caliterra SB new label 201588 Points Best Buy – Steve Thurlow,
Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2015
Valle Central, Chile
275909 $10.95
“This very inexpensive sauvignon from the Casablanca Valley has very correct aromatics of gooseberry and guava fruit with zesty lime plus hay and green pine notes. The palate is lively and creamy with lots of flavour with the fruit finely balanced by minty lemon acidity. So much going on for the money. Good length”.







Here’s what is currently available on-line and at the LCBO’s Australian Boutique store at 65 Wicksteed Avenue (Eglinton and Laird area), Toronto.

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.








Here’s what is currently available only at the LCBO’s Asian Boutique store at 3075 Highway 7 in Markham (not available on-line):

Dukang Mianrou 3 XingDukang Mianrou 3 Xing, Henan Province, China
LCBO# 270305 460ml
In Store: $35.30 per bottle

Dukang Wine, a famous age-old Chinese liquor brand, is named after its legendary brewing ancestor, Du Kang. According to legend, it was discovered over 4,000 years ago. Dukang Mianrou 3 Xing is transparent with a light yellow tinge. It has a long, smooth taste with some heat on the finish.






Xi Jiu 1988Xi Jiu 1988, Guizhou Province, China
LCBO# 270313 500ml
In Store: $124.55 per bottle

Xi Jiu 1988 has a strong millet character with notes of strawberries, bock beer, dark chocolate, cocoa, caramel and walnuts. It is typically acidulous and lactic with soy sauce flavours in the background. It is complex, balanced and has a very long finish.









The following promotions are available now until January 28th, 2017 at the LCBO:

Earn 6 Bonus Air Miles on Caliterra Cabernet Sauvignon (#257329)

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

Save $1.00 on Deakin Estate Shiraz (#560821)

Save $1.50 on Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Brut Cava (#216960)

Save $1.50 on Alsace Willm Riesling Réserve (#11452)

Save $2.00 on Pisse-Dru Beaujolais (#2881)

Save $2.00 on The Wanted Zin Zinfandel (#416487)

Receive a FREE mug with the purchase of Vodka Mudshake Chocolate (#5280), Vodka Mudshake French Vanilla (#4606) or Vodka Mudshake Orange Cream (#448175) where applied. While supplies last.

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


The following wines are on sale until January 28th, 2017 at grocery stores:

Save $1.50 on Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Brut Cava (#216960)

Save $2.00 on Pisse-Dru Beaujolais (#2881)

Save $2.00 on The Wanted Zin Zinfandel (#416487)





Alsace Tarte Flambée

This ‘white pizza’ is native to Alsace and matches perfectly with Riesling. There are a few different traditional variations which include ingredients like mushrooms, Gruyère or French Munster. These Tartes were traditionally made in a wood-burning oven, hence the term Flambée.

Chef Gabriel Kreuther of the Modern restaurant in New York City heats the pizza stone for an hour before baking, giving this savoury tart a crispy crust.  Makes 3 large tartes.

1⁄2 cup crème fraîche
1 cup cream cheese at room temperature
1⁄8 tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
1 3⁄4 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp. baking powder
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 egg yolks
8 strips smoked bacon, finely chopped
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced

Heat an oven to 500° with a pizza stone positioned on centre rack. Mix crème fraîche, cream cheese, nutmeg, and salt and white pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and 1 tsp. salt in a bowl; make a well in the centre. Whisk oil, yolks, and 1⁄2 cup water in another bowl, and pour into well. Using a fork, stir until a loose dough forms. Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead dough for 1 minute. Divide dough into 3 pieces. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll into a 12" circle, and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Spread 1⁄2 cup cheese mixture over circle, leaving a 1⁄2" border around edge. Sprinkle with a little of the bacon and onions. Transfer dough (on parchment paper) to pizza stone. Bake until lightly browned and crispy, 8–10 minutes. Repeat.

Serve with Willm Riesling.

For a local twist, use Ontario maple-smoked bacon and Upper Canada Cheese Company’s Niagara Gold (substituting the cup of cream cheese) with Sue-Ann Staff’s Fancy Farm Girl White.  

Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum





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