The Imbiber's Report

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


March 18, 2017


tourism-torontoHave you seen Toronto’s new promotional video called The Views are Different Here? We have a funny feeling that Toronto is going to be a very popular tourist destination this year, both for folks from the U.S., who are looking for a change of scenery, and for groups (like Girl Guides Canada), who have postponed or cancelled travel south of the border. There will be a ton of things to see and do in Toronto this summer and many of the events will celebrate Canada’s 150th.  TO Canada with Love is the city’s ‘official’ promotional website with info on concerts, festivals, shows and neighbourhood celebrations...

If you visit TO this year, make sure to take advantage of the newly expanded Bike Share Toronto program. It’s part of the city’s transportation infrastructure and the easiest way to cover short to moderate distances in the downtown area It’s an extremely popular way to get around.  In January, the company reported over 42,000 rides, twice as many as were recorded in 2016. One of the best things about Bike Share Toronto is that the 200 stations are conveniently located close to subway stops and areas with high concentrations of shops and restaurants, so you can stop for lunch or dinner any time you feel like it.

Two gorgeous red wines from our portfolio are featured in this weekend’s Vintages release. We have a ‘New to Vintages’ red blend that hails from one of Washington State’s most celebrated AVAs. The release also includes one of Barone Ricasoli’s Chianti Classico Gran Selezione wines, which was recently awarded Tre Bicchieri by Gambero Rosso.

We would also like to draw your attention to the Accolades section below which features Natalie MacLean’s 90 Point score for Wente’s Morning Fog Chardonnay and a solid review and 89 Point score for Sprucewood Shores 2015 Riesling.

Open a bottle of Segura Viudas and have a glass to celebrate the arrival of spring, which officially gets underway on Monday, March 20….


VINTAGES RELEASE, March 18, 2017

New to Vintages…

Ryan Patrick Redhead-bottle NVRyan Patrick Redhead Red 2014
Columbia Valley, Washington, USA
478149 $23.95
224 (12 pack) cases available

Redhead Red is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 4% Malbec and 1% Syrah.
You’ll find a complex bouquet of dark cherry, raspberry and mocha with hints of savoury herbs and earth on the nose. The palate delivers excellent intensity with flavours of cassis, ripe red fruit and dark chocolate which is balanced by soft, plush tannins and harmonious acidity. This red blend will work wonderfully with barbecued brisket or ribs. It would also be an excellent accompaniment with grilled beef, veal or game.

Winemaker Comments: “The Wahluke Slope is one of the warmest, driest growing regions in Washington State. As a result, red wine grapes from this area are ripe, rich and concentrated. This wine is a balance of backbone and depth, intrinsic to the Wahluke Slope.”
–Jeremy Santo

About Ryan Patrick (from their website): “Intuitive winemaking is the art of letting the fruit speak for itself. It is minimalist intervention combined with consistency of style. That’s the heart of the Ryan Patrick promise: artisanal winemaking where the grape is at the centre. Many wineries use static recipes for their wines; instead, winemaker Jeremy Santo does daily fermentations with different yeast or temperatures to achieve a specific effect. A true craftsman, Jeremy pulls from his scientific education and training at Snoqualmie and Canoe Ridge wineries to create consistently great wines that people love to discover and share with their friends”.

Technical Stuff: 100% of the grapes are sourced from the American Viticultural Area of the Wahluke Slope in Washington State. The grapes were gently destemmed and allowed to cold soak in the tank prior to inoculation with yeast strains selected to emphasize terroir and varietal character. Once fermentation began (in stainless steel tanks) the grapes were pumped over twice daily to aid in the extraction of colour and tannin. After about seven days, the free run wine was drained away from the grapes and sent to barrel for malolactic fermentation. The wine was aged in new and used American oak barrels for seven months.


ColledilaBarone Ricasoli Colledilà
Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione 2013
Tuscany, Italy
293522 $51.95
140 (6 pack) cases available

94 Points – Monica Larner,
“This is one of Barone Ricasoli's two Grand Selezione wines. The 2013 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Colledilà is a delicious wine that excels in terms of its generosity and pureness. The 2013 is an excellent one for the 7.5 hectare Colledilà vineyard that dates all the way back to 1832 (it is older than Italy) ... soils consist of marl limestone and alberese stones, and the wine does indeed present evident mineral tones that add balance and elegance. It feels etched and shapely in the mouth. I loved the muscle and sheer power of this beautiful wine. It requires ample decanting time, but it should age gracefully. Drink: 2016-2028”.

Tre Bicchieri - Gambero Rosso

96 Points - Guida Essenziale ai Vini

95 Points – James Suckling

92 Points - Wine Spectator

Barone Ricasoli has become the centre for research and development for Chianti Classico. Collaborative work with the University of Florence has led to the development of a Sangiovese clone specific to vineyards of Brolio. To learn more about the project click here

Barone Ricasoli provides a remarkable amount of information about its wines on its website. The following comes directly from Colledilà’s webpage:

“Colledilà - the land which has been part of the Brolio estate for centuries - is the cru of this Chianti Classico DOCG that stands out due to its complex structure and great modern elegance. The research on original clones that has been carried out at Barone Ricasoli for the last fifteen years and the work on the specific characteristics of the various plots of land on the estate have now given rise to a single varietal Sangiovese which manifests the magnificent gifts of this grape variety. The limited volumes of the Colledilà cru render it all the more exclusive.

Production Area: Gaiole in Chianti. The vineyard is located at an elevation of 380 m and faces south-west, in the most beautiful and representative part of the estate. The land is Paleocene-Eocene in origin and forms part of the geological formation ‘Monte Morello'. The soil is brown with a fine clay structure, very chalky, with a sub alkaline pH and little organic content. It is well drained, very stony and has an average water-holding capacity.

2013 Growing Season: The 2012 autumn and the 2012-2013 winters were among the rainiest of the last few years. The real spring began on April 10th when it stopped raining and there was a sudden change in temperature with extremely high average day temperatures. Summer had begun with wet soils but the high temperatures and the sunshine accounted for homogeneous bunches. The year was shaped in September: summerlike temperatures during the day falling at night (with a 15°C difference between night and day) that allowed a perfect technological and polyphenolic ripeness.
To sum up, a quality harvest with healthy, perfectly ripe grapes. The 2013 Sangiovese offers deep colour and a remarkable structure.

Tasting Notes: Delicate ruby red color. Complex nose, elegant, subtle and persistent. Aromas of violets, iris, mature red fruits and pepper, with notes of white chocolate. Velvety mouthfeel, full and warm, slightly savory, with soft tannins. Long and persistent aftertaste, expressing all the personality of the Brolio Sangiovese grape. Aging was carried out in French barrique and tonneau, of which 40% was new oak, for 21 months”.



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.

Chivite Rosado largeGran Feudo Rosado
Navarra DO 2015
Navarra, Spain
165845 $11.95

Find fresh strawberry, rosemary and citrus notes on the nose and palate. The palate is bright, lively and full of character. The strawberry-infused finish is crisp and clean. It’s like driving with the top down on the first warm sunny day of spring.   

This fruit-driven dry pink wine from Navarra will surprise you with its versatility. Use it as an apéritif, match it with bold flavours like olives and capers, or pair it with salads, appetizers or charcuterie. Its bright clean fruit will play nicely with lighter styles of cheese. Try it with some of the Pinchos/Pintxos ideas in the On Food and Wine section below.









Morning Fog  Chard 90 Points – Natalie MacLean,
Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2015
Livermore Valley, California
175430 $18.95
“A gorgeous, rich Californian Chardonnay from the cool climate of the Livermore Valley. Toasty oak wraps around green apple goodness. Match with grilled maple glazed salmon, chicken picatta, seafood pasta with saffron cream sauce, roasted pork tenderloin with apple chutney”.






Spruewood Shores Riesling 2015 new label89 Points –, Brad Royale
Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery
Riesling VQA Ontario 2015
326249 $13.95
“A very attractive and giving nose of white flowers and faint citrus. Quite pretty with supple weight on the tongue. Drink now”.











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:









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
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








Casa Silva Los Lingues Carmenere 2014Casa Silva Los Lingues Carmenere 2014,  Colchagua Valley, Chile
LCBO# 236314    
In Store: $19.30 per bottle
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







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):


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.

















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

Dunavar Pinot Grigio, Rocca del Dragone Falanghina, Spinyback Sauvignon Blanc and Gran Feudo Reserva 2010 are currently being featured on the station.

Tune in to Jazz.FM91 anytime to hear some great music and, if you’re lucky, Chris and Mark’s wine recommendations.






The following promotions are available now until March 25, 2017 at the LCBO:

Earn 6 Bonus Air Miles on Marques De Riscal White, Rueda (#36822)

Earn 6 Bonus Air Miles on Deakin Estate Sauvignon Blanc (#447060)

Earn 6 Bonus Air Miles on Alsace Willm Gewurztraminer Reserve (#269852)

Earn 8 Bonus Air Miles on Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône White (#450205)

Earn 8 Bonus Air Miles on Vodka Mudshake Orange Cream (#448175)

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

Save $0.50 LTO on Dos Locos Lime Tequila Margarita (#370668)

Save $2.00 LTO on Angove Organic Cabernet Sauvignon (#464743)

Save $2.00 LTO on Gran Feudo Reserva (#479014)

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


The following wines are on sale until March 25, 2017 at grocery stores:

Save $2.00 LTO on Angove Organic Cabernet Sauvignon (#464743)







The Easy Tapas Recipe website is a great place to find inspiration for your next wine and food themed party We love putting a few different tapas together for guests and relaxing over a glass of Rosado, Rueda or Cava. The Basque have their own version called Pinchos or Pintxos, which means spike and refers to the ‘toothpick’ that holds the small morsels of food together. Here’s one of our favourites.    

Montado Casa Vergara

Montado Casa Vergara An astonishing amount of food can be layered onto a single tosta to make extremely rich little morsels. The Basque region is particularly famous for its ambition in these elaborations, apparently marvels of construction as much as cuisine.

Makes 12

1 baguette
Olive oil for brushing and drizzling
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
200 g (7 oz) smoked salmon or trout
12 marinated anchovies (boquerones)
24 small cocktail shrimp


Cut the baguette in 1/2 inch slices and brush with a little oil. Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 5 minutes or until golden brown.

Spread the toasted bread slices with mayonnaise. Layer the smoked fish, the marinated anchovies and arrange a couple of the cocktail shrimp on top. Drizzle with a few drops of olive oil to finish off.


Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum






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