The Imbiber's Report

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


May 27, 2017


566028f324d1d2529dedffe76e31c11bWe love local seasonal food. There is a certain sport in spotting the first ramps, fiddleheads and asparagus spears of the season. We watch for our favourite crop of asparagus from Norfolk County to show up at the local green grocer and we are relieved and happy when it finally arrives. Ontarians can be justly proud of our asparagus industry and the remarkable story behind its growing popularity. Here’s The Star’s recent article on The Guelph Millennium, Ontario’s superstar veggie. Check out our recipe below for Lemon Butter Chicken and Asparagus. The citrusy flavour of the chicken tempers the asparagus’ earthiness so you can enjoy it with a wide variety of white wines.

Speaking of white wine, we have three of them in this weekend’s Vintages release along with a solo red from South Africa’s Cederberg. We have a mouth-watering Riesling from New Zealand, a classically-styled Sauvignon Blanc from one of the Loire Valley’s most famous appellations as well as an elegant Napa Valley Chardonnay for you to consider. We also include a few new reviews and some upcoming events that we think you should know about, including a very special tasting of premium South African wines with Vintages on June 1st.

A glass of something refreshing and bright would be good right now. Marqués de Riscal’s Rueda would do the trick…



Waimea Classic RieslingWaimea Family Estate Classic Riesling 2016
Nelson, New Zealand
408666 $18.95
224 (12 pack) cases available

93 Points – Sam Kim,
“The wine is instantly appealing on the nose showing nectarine, mandarin, orange peel and floral characters with a hint of spicy complexity. The palate is juicy and lively, and delivers excellent fruit focus and intensity, wonderfully enhanced by subtle sweetness and perfectly pitched acidity. Mouth-wateringly delicious. At its best: now to 2022”.

90 Points - Sara d’Amato,
“A real stunner, this sustainably farmed Riesling from the sunny beach community of Nelson shows terrific tension yet is approachable and not austere. Sweet pear and lime dominate the aromatic nose of good intensity. The palate is fresh and clean, floral and is nicely defined by acidity and mineral character. Zesty with really good length”.

4 Stars – Vic Harradine,
“Lifted, lively aromas of mixed spice and citrus zest precede a yin and yang, sweet and tang flow with palate-bathing flavours of Key lime pie and racy grapefruit. It’s medium bodied with decent texture and an off-dry demeanor that cries out for spicy Asian cuisine. The mouth-watering aftertaste is crisp, clean and refreshing”.

The fruit for Waimea’s Classic Riesling 2016 comes from three premium Nelson vineyards. These include the family’s own Hunter vineyard and Annabrook Vineyard, immediately adjacent to the Winery, and from growers Jeanette and Paul Chick from Ruby Bay.

The winery uses a combination of winemaking techniques to maximize the Riesling’s fresh character. When pressed, the free run juice is separated from the hard pressing and each is fermented in different tanks. The hard press is typically blended into a different range of wines but in 2016 the wine was so flavoursome that the winemaking team decided to blend it back into the Classic Riesling. The result is a Riesling with scrumptious texture, superb intensity and crisp acidity.

Try this mouth-watering Riesling with spicy pan-Asian dishes, especially Thai food, curried Waldorf salad, grilled pork tenderloin with apple butter.


New to Vintages…

Guy Saget pouilly fume 2015Guy Saget Pouilly-Fumé AC 2015
Loire Valley, France
488890 $26.95
275 (12 pack) cases available| New to Vintages

90 Points – Sara d’Amato
“Tight and tense with nervy tension and an electric edge, this dynamic Pouilly-Fumé from Guy Saget is a tongue tickling and compelling find. Lime and grapefruit, dried herbal notes, saline and mineral are notable on the palate that offers a New Zealand brightness on a traditional frame. Food friendly, widely appealing and offering very good length”.

Vintages Tasting Panel: “Along with Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé is perhaps the most famous region in the Upper Loire. Pouilly-Fumé produces only white wines from Sauvignon Blanc and is most noted for the flinty minerality that the soils here impart. This example has that distinct smoky flint note alongside bright citrus tones and Sauvignon Blanc's characteristic herbal notes. This is a finessed and very pretty wine. Enjoy with seafood dishes”.

The Guy Saget range of wines from Saget La Perrière is meant to showcase the highest level of quality wine from across the Loire Valley. Our regular listed Sancerre is a great example of the appellation and is a real benchmark for the region. The exact same thing can be said about their Pouilly-Fumé, as it is a tremendous example of regional style and it over delivers on quality for the price.  

Sauvignon Blanc from Pouilly-Fumé is typically more flinty, citrus-lime and herbaceous than wine from the neighbouring appellation of Sancerre. 2015 had warmer growing conditions than usual and the grapes fully ripened. The wine naturally broke through the 13% alcohol level and delivers a soft ripeness that is not usually associated with the region’s wine.

This 100% Sauvignon Blanc has an aromatic bouquet with lively stone fruit notes such as peach and apricot. The palate is fresh with lots of minerality and flavours of mango, peach and citrus. This would pair nicely with tuna carpaccio, grilled shrimp and asparagus. Try it with Lemon Butter Chicken and Asparagus (recipe below).


First Press Chardonnay new labelFirst Press Chardonnay 2015
Napa Valley, California, USA
199810 $24.95
560 (12 pack) cases available

Vintages Tasting Panel: “First Press Chardonnay tends to the oak-kissed side of Napa Valley Chard, making it an ideal choice for smoked fish dishes such as crab or salmon, as well as grilled or blackened chicken. Expect suggestions of butterscotch and caramel with vanilla, peach, pear and tropical fruit”.

Elegantly structured, this medium-bodied Chardonnay has aromas of melon, white peach, lemon, vanilla and a hint of spice. There are flavours of yellow apple, fresh pear and coconut that lead to a well-balanced, lingering finish.

First Press delivers terrific value at $24.95 and should be on your radar if you are a fan of this classic California style of Chardonnay. The price of fruit in California continues to go up and this might be the last time you see a wine of this quality under $25.

Try this with the recipe below or with grilled lobster, scallops and shrimp.





Cederberg-Shiraz-14Cederberg Shiraz 2015
Cederberg, South Africa
374199 $25.95
200 (12 pack) cases available

93 Points - David Lawrason,
“Cederberg the appellation, and Cederberg the winery, are high in the remote mountain region north and inland from Cape Town. This is a beautiful Shiraz with a pure, fragrant nose of finely ripened blackberry, cedar, violets and chocolate. It is a full bodied, dense red that also displays great minerality and tension, with Cape iodine and roasted herbs on the palate. Very complex and well balanced despite its size”.

Vintages Tasting Panel: "This Shiraz won a Silver Medal at the 2016 iteration of the Veritas Awards, the longest-running and most prestigious wine competition in South Africa. It serves up notions of ripe blueberry, blackberry jam, black pepper, mocha and vanilla in a powerful frame. Pair with grilled meats, firm cheeses or dark chocolate”.

4 Stars – Vic Harradine,
“This boldly fruited, cool-climate red has plenty of appeal. It springs from the glass with aromas of red and black currant, spice and mocha. A surge of palate-coating flavours are showcased by luscious red cherry and red currant, framed by excellent tangy acidity and adorned by sweet vanilla, baking spice and a boatload of charm. It finishes balanced and mouth-watering, crisp and dry. Cederberg Shiraz is one of the few wines with an appellation the same name as the winery as well as being the only commercial winery in their respective appellation—Château Grillet in France, is another that comes to mind”.

Winemaker’s Notes: "A complex Shiraz filled with intense red fruit, mulberry and cherries on the nose. 15 Months in oak showing hints of sweet spice and vanilla. Red berries follow through on the palate and finishes off with a smooth lingering sensation. A well-crafted Shiraz that allows you to cellar the wine for a few years developing into a sensational wine. Pair with South African game, powerful cheeses such as young cheddar or gruyere or indulge by pairing with intricate dark bitter chocolate".

Pair with Canadian game, Quebec blue cheese or any grilled red meat, especially lamb.



Chivite Rosado med3.5 Stars – Recommended – Vic Harradine,
Gran Feudo Rosado 2016
DO Navarra, Spain
165845  $12.00
“Spice and red cherry/berry aromas waft from the nose of this light-medium bodied Garnacha-dominant Rosé. Delicate flavours of red currant and strawberry are enveloped by red grapefruit pith and sharp acidity on the palate and infusing the aftertaste. Pour chilled with ham and egg omelet or grilled, planked salmon”.




Fresita new package3.5 Stars – Recommended – Vic Harradine,
Fresita Sparkling-Infused Sparkling Wine Non-Vintage
383901 $15.00  8.0% alcohol
“Candied aromas of cherry cordial dominate the nose of this strawberry-infused sparkling wine. It pours in the glass with a profusion of frothy bubbles dishing up a sweet stream of red cherry and strawberry interweaving with spice and maraschino cherry over the palate and into the aftertaste. Pour with your favourite red-fruit flan or enjoy this happily on its own. Fresita is a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscatel and strawberries. Yes, small, fresh, handpicked Patagonian strawberries”.









Vintages South Africa wine tasting

170420-Africa en






Destination South Africa

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Cathedral Church of St. James
65 Church Street, Toronto

Walk-around Tasting: 6:30pm

Ticket price: $75 per person

All attendees will receive a $10 gift card at the event, courtesy of Wines of South Africa.  


Toronto Taste Web Banner 2




Toronto Taste 2017

presented by The Daniels Corporation

Sunday, June 4,
Lakeside, Corus Quay

Experience the best from over 60 of Toronto’s top chefs and enjoy beverages from 30 purveyors while enjoying breathtaking views and incredible entertainment.

Tickets are now on sale for $260 (with a $150 tax receipt).


The concerts at Wente






For more than 30 years, The Concerts at Wente Vineyards in California (60 minutes from San Francisco) have brought top name performers to the winery's picturesque natural amphitheater. We are pleased to announce the lineup for the 2017 concert season. Tickets will go on sale to the general public at 10 am on 5/2/17, through Ticketmaster only ( or Ticketmaster 1-800-745-3000). For all the details, visit

Wednesday July 12

Friday July 14

Tuesday July 18

KENNY ROGERS' Final World Tour: The Gambler’s Last Deal with special guest LINDA DAVIS
Wednesday July 26

Tuesday August 1

Thursday August 3

Wednesday August 9

Tuesday August 15

Wednesday August 16

Monday August 21

Thursday August 24

Wednesday August 30

Thursday August 31

Tuesday September 19



EPIC Wine Country

Take a trip around the globe without leaving EPIC Wine Country! Sample delicious wine and food pairings inspired by a different country at each winery you visit. Bring your ticket to your first winery and receive your Sip ‘N to Summer passport! Choose your own adventure by selecting up to six participating wineries you would like to visit. Fill up your passport and enter for your chance to win the EPIC Grand Prize. $40/person. Visit for more information.

Date: Saturday May 27th & Sunday May 28th, 2017
Time: 12pm to 5pm
Location: EPIC Member Wineries (including Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery)





Roots on the Twenty Final Logo - Colour 2 large






Roots On The Twenty, Balls Falls Conservation Area, May 27 & 28

Roots On The Twenty -- a little hipster, a smidge country, all about nature and a whole lot of fun! This ain't your parents' bush party!

Join us for a weekend of food, drink, entertainment and activities that celebrate the Twenty Valley. Free admission. Tickets for alcoholic beverage samples from local wineries, brewers and distillers are $5 each or get a commemorative glass and five sample tickets for $25. Click here to purchase sample tickets ahead of time and avoid line-ups at the event!










Stylin' Spring Supper on the Ranch - Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery, June 8

Women of Niagara invite you to join them on the farm this June for a fabulous evening of food and wine in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters Go Girls! (a young woman's group mentoring program). Chat, laugh and dine outdoors under our marquee tent while raising money for this important program!

Start your evening with a delightful seasonal wine cocktail and hors' d'oeuvre before taking your seat for dinner. The evening's menu includes:

Arugula Salad
with red wine braised pear, candied walnuts and Caprano creamy goat cheese,
drizzled with Fancy Farm Girl wine dressing

2016 Fancy Farm Girl Foxy Pink

House Cured Smoked Kassler Pork Chop
with apple & pearl onion chutney, celeriac and apple slaw, and sautéed green asparagus with black garlic.

2015 Riesling Loved By Lu or 2015 Baco Noir

Trio Dessert
Berry Charlotte with lemon curd
Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse Cake with hazelnut and almond pralines, and coffee chantilly
Cheesecake with biscotti crumb
All topped with Tigchelaar Farms berry coulis

2012 Vidal Icewine

Advance tickets are $100
Purchase through eventbrite or through

Proceeds to support Big Brothers Big Sisters Go Girls! Group Mentoring program.





The following promotions are available now until June 18, 2017 at the LCBO:

Earn 5 Bonus Air Miles on Marqués De Riscal White, Rueda #36822

Earn 6 Bonus Air Miles on Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc #275909

Earn 6 Bonus Air Miles on Alsace Willm Gewurztraminer Réserve #269852

Earn 6 Bonus Air Miles on Deakin Estate Shiraz #560821

Save $1.00 on Vodka Mudshake French Vanilla #4606

Save $1.00 on Vodka Mudshake Espresso Martini #491423

Save $2.00 on Angove Organic Cabernet Sauvignon #464743

Save $2.00 on Château Bel Air Bordeaux #665430

Save $2.00 on The Wanted Zin Zinfandel #416487

Receive a free Koozie (where applied) with the purchase of Vodka Mudshake Orange Cream #448175. While supplies last.

Find the following wines chilling in the Wine Fridge in Select Stores:
Segura Viudas Brut Reserva #216960
Sprucewood Shores Pinot Grigio #426577








The next time you are looking for recipe, have a look at the manufacturer’s website for ideas. Own a Weber? Visit the Weber website for tested, accurate and helpful tips, techniques and recipes. We have found some exceptional recipes at Le Creuset, Kitchen Aid and even Zwilling J.A. Henckels’ websites. This recipe is a favourite for spring grilling during Asparagus season and it is from Weber’s recipe collection

lemon-chicken-8Lemon-Butter Chicken Breasts with Asparagus


Lemon butter
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced

Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 chicken breast halves (with bone and skin), each 10 to 12 ounces
1½ pounds asparagus
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges


1.    In a small bowl mash the lemon butter ingredients, including ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, until thoroughly blended.

2.    Carefully lift the skin from each chicken breast, leaving the skin closest to the breastbone attached. Slide a paring knife under the skin and, without puncturing the skin, cut three to four slits in the flesh, each about ¾ inch deep. Spread 1 tablespoon of the lemon butter on the flesh of each chicken breast, pushing some of it into the slits. Lay the skin back in place.

3.    Transfer the remaining lemon butter to a small saucepan and melt over medium heat. Set aside.

4.    Prepare the grill for direct and indirect cooking over medium heat (350° to 450°F).

5.    Remove and discard the tough bottom of each asparagus spear by grasping at each end and bending it gently until it snaps at its natural point of tenderness, usually about two-thirds of the way down the spear. Drizzle the asparagus with oil and season evenly with salt and pepper.

6.    Brush the chicken breasts with oil and season evenly with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken, skin side up, over direct medium heat, with the lid closed, until nicely marked on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Without turning the chicken, move over indirect medium heat, close the lid, and continue cooking until the meat is opaque all the way to the bone, about 30 minutes more. About 5 minutes before the chicken is done, brush the tops with some of the melted lemon butter and then turn the breasts over, skin side down. Slide over direct medium heat, close the lid, and continue cooking until the skin is brown, basting once more with the lemon butter. Remove from the grill, cover, and let rest 3 to 5 minutes.

7.    Grill the asparagus over direct medium heat, with the lid closed, until crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes, turning occasionally. Arrange the asparagus on a serving platter and drizzle with the remaining lemon butter. Serve the chicken warm with asparagus and garnish with lemon wedges

Enjoy with the three whites above, Gran Feudo Rosado or almost any white wine.


Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum




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Download PDF of our most recent General List Price List

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