The Imbiber's Report

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


April 1, 2017


Norwegian Wine Surplus HoaxWe’ve seen a few wine related April Fools’ pranks over the years - usually in the form of a bogus press release announcing things like the development of single grape fermentation, a ‘green tax’ on chilled Champagne or the launch of Chateau Le Pin’s new Rabbit Label for the Chinese market.

The most famous April Fools’ wine prank took place in Norway in 1950 and is referred to as The Norwegian Wine Surplus Hoax. The country’s largest and most respected newspaper announced that the Vinmonopolet (Norway’s LCBO) had received a large shipment of wine in barrels and that it had run out of bottles to put it in. The announcement said that the stores would be selling the wine for one day at 75% off and tax free, provided shoppers brought their own containers like ‘buckets, pitchers, and the like’. Long lines formed outside of the stores before they opened at 10:00 am. When shoppers figured out that it was an April Fools’ joke, they abandoned their buckets and bottles leaving streets littered with empty containers.  

The early April Vintages release includes a re-release of the much lauded 2011 Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port, so if you missed it the first time, here’s your chance to pick some up. From the makers of 7 Deadly Zins, we have a carnival-inspired Cabernet Sauvignon with an eye-catching label and high entertainment value (the label has 87 different characters on it). We also have a few new reviews to tell you about and lots of information on our on-line exclusives.

We’ve encouraged Imbiber’s Report subscribers to pick up a few bottles of Dunavar Pinot Grigio in the past because it’s an amazing wine for the price. If you have purchased some, congratulations! Pour yourself a glass and read Carolyn Evans-Hammond’s re-review of the wine in from last weekend. It really is a great wine for the price...



“I’m not going to change the way I look or the way I feel, I’ve always been a freak”.
- John Lennon

FREAKSHOW largeMichael David Winery
Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Lodi, California
405175 $29.95
704 (12 pack) cases available

91 Points – Wine Enthusiast, Editor’s Choice
“Rich, ripe and oaky, this full-bodied wine has loads of sweet blackberry and black cherry ¬flavours, with generous doses of oak spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, wood smoke and dark chocolate. It’s bold but complex and will be a lot of fun to drink with red meat.”

Known for taking the road less travelled, Michael David Winery has always stood apart from the crowd with its outlandish brands and packaging. As a brand, Freakshow was developed to highlight Cabernet Sauvignon from Michael Phillips’ own vineyard, which had a reputation for producing ‘freakishly’ concentrated fruit and big red wines. This is winemaker Jeff Farthing's fourth time making Freakshow Cab and he has really hit his stride with the 2014 vintage. The 2014 has a kiss of Petite Sirah in it and was aged for 17 months in French oak barrels.

Try Freakshow with a plate of assorted cold cuts, cheese and veggies with dip. If you are serving lamb for Easter, this would be a great match.




Dows LBV 2011Dow's Late Bottled Vintage Port 2011
Douro DOP, Portugal
533364 $19.95
140 (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”.

92 Points – Natalie MacLean,
“Terrific value for this Portuguese fortified dessert wine from the Douro Valley. Aromas of blackcurrant jam and blackberry pie wrapped in smoke. Pair with chocolate cheesecake or chocolate chip cookies”.

We’re not sure why Vintages doesn’t mention that this 2011 LBV is the sister wine of the stellar 2011 Dow’s Vintage Port which was The Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year in 2014 with 99 Points.  The 2011 vintage had Port producers salivating for good reason and this wine is a steal at $19.95.

This following 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 2011 Vintage 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”.




This section of The Imbiber’s Report features products that are available at grocery stores with a tasting note and food matching suggestions.

Fancy Farm Girl WhiteFancy Farm Girl Frivolous White
Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
394072 $14.95

Bright and breezy, this off-dry refreshing Riesling-based white is the perfect wine for spring. Apples, peach and citrus abound on the nose with hints of flint and grapefruit. This zippy white has fantastic flavour intensity, great balance between sweetness and acidity and a mouth-watering, long finish that makes this a pleasure to drink.

Serve Fancy Farm Girl with brunch, all kinds of salads and dishes that have a bit of spicy heat to them. It also plays well with grilled chicken, salmon or ham (see the recipe below). It’s very good with all sorts of cheese and charcuterie as well.











Dunavar PG med90 Points Carolyn Evans-Hammond – Toronto Star
Dunavar Pinot Grigio 2015
335422 $9.55
“I recommended this hidden gem in January, but I’m writing about it again because it’s one of the top sub-$10 wines available in Ontario. Aromas of freshly sliced lemon lead to lively flavours of lemon curd and crisp, green apples. While it’s not particularly complex, it offers the pristine purity of fruit and a seamless mouthfeel. And it goes with almost anything you care to serve with it. But I particularly like it with fish tacos”.






Deakin Estate Sauvignon Blanc new label medSteve Thurlow recently reviewed the 2016 vintage of Deakin Estate Sauvignon Blanc and named it to WineAlign’s Top 20 Under $20

Top 20 Under $20 at the LCBO - Steve Thurlow, Wine Align
Deakin Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Victoria, Australia
“A flavourful Sauvignon with very good length. The nose shows faint aromas of dry straw with apple and melon aromas. It is mid-weight well-balanced and very creamy. Try with sushi or salads with fresh white crumbly cheese”.











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.


















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 April 23, 2017 at the LCBO:

Save $1.00 LTO on Alsace Willm Riesling Réserve (#11452)

Save $1.50 LTO on Vodka Mudshake Orange Cream (#448175)

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






Maple Glazed Ham Grilled Ham ‘Steaks’ with Maple Whiskey Glaze

Grilling already smoked or cured meat can be a real time saver and a great way to feed a crowd. We grill smoked sausages, kielbasa, smoked pork chops and capicola. Hams can be grilled for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Cut and grill the entire ham - the leftovers are great in sandwiches.

Preparing a ham ‘properly’ (steaming, glazing and broiling) in the oven takes a bit of work and can be quite messy. Grilling ham is quick and easy and each ‘steak’ ends up with its own char and glaze.


700-800g smoked boneless half ham
¼ cup Canadian whiskey
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp. honey mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice


Preheat your grill to high (internal temperature should reach between 400-500 degrees).

While the grill is heating, make the glaze by combining whiskey, brown sugar, maple syrup, mustard and allspice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, mixing well, and then remove from heat.

Pour glaze into a bowl.

Cut the boneless ham in 1.5 cm slices and brush with the maple whiskey glaze.

Turn the grill down to medium heat and grill ham steaks for 2 to 3 minutes a side until, turning over until you’ve made a criss-cross pattern on the steaks. Glaze the ham each time you flip it.

Remove from the grill and brush additional glaze on the steak. Serve immediately with spring veggies and some Dunavar Pinot Grigio or Sue-Ann Staff’s Fancy Farm Girl Frivolous White.


Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum







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