The Imbiber's Report

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


June 10, 2017


Wine festivalMeanwhile in Canada…the snow melts and everyone goes outside to play.

The summer of 2017 is replete with festivals and events that celebrate everything this great province has to offer, with the added bonus of Canada 150 celebrations everywhere. One of the best resources for figuring out which ones to visit, is Ontario’s official website where you can find hundreds of things to do.

This month we will be at a number of festivals and events taking place across the province. Have a look at the EVENTS section below for exciting wine and food festivals in your neighbourhood. We hope you can come by for a visit.

Saturday, June 10 is National Rosé Day! We will be celebrating with some Gran Feudo Rosado from Navarra, Spain, and from Vintages, Les Maîtres Vignerons de la Presqu’île de Saint-Tropez Carte Noire Rosé 2016, Côtes de Provence AP. We will also fire up the grill and cook a wide variety of veggies, chicken, sausages and some shrimp. Rosé is one of the most versatile food wines available.

The June 10th Vintages release brings two of our favourite red wines into Ontario - an elegant and stylish single vineyard Cabernet from the Livermore valley and an inspired blend of black and white grapes from the McLaren Vale, in South Australia.

Also, have a look in the ACCOLADES section for a stellar 93 Point score and review for Fresita. We love pouring Fresita at wine shows, where we make lots of new friends for this lovely bubbly.

It’s probably a good idea to have a practice glass of Rosé right now…



Charles Wetmore CabWente Vineyards
Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Livermore Valley, California, USA
963397 $27.95
223 (12 pack) cases available

Vintages Tasting Panel: “This wine is named after Charles Wetmore, California's first Agricultural Commissioner, who was responsible for planting top-quality Bordeaux vines in the Livermore Valley in the 1800’s. A blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 5% Petite Sirah and 5% Malbec, this delivers a smooth and toasty wine filled with ripe black fruit, cassis, vanilla and menthol tones. Good structure and balance with well-integrated oak”.

Winemaker’s Notes - Karl D. Wente, Fifth Generation Winemaker: “This Cabernet Sauvignon has a great expression of Livermore Valley, with fruit sourced exclusively from our Charles Wetmore Vineyard, consisting of diverse soils such as clay hillsides and gravelly alluvial fans. This well-drained vineyard provides us with a Cabernet with bold tannins and ripe fruit character, which coupled with the natural acidity from the long growing season, creates a beautifully balanced wine.

For five generations our family has been dedicated to the art of winemaking and to the philosophy that the quality of a wine originates in the vineyard. Our Single Vineyard Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon is named after one of Livermore’s most prominent pioneers, California’s first Agricultural Commissioner, renowned for planting vine cuttings from many of Bordeaux’s top Chateaux in the Livermore Valley in the 1800’s. The vines planted today are direct descendants from these vines and only the best of these Cabernet Sauvignon vines have been selected for each new generation planted.

The Charles Wetmore Vineyard is located in the southern hills of the Livermore Valley between the Arroyo del Valle and the Arroyo Mocho, ranging in elevation from 460ft to 735ft. The site was selected because it demonstrates the ideal well-drained gravelly loam soil of the Livermore Valley similar to the Bordeaux region in France, ideal for growing Cabernet Sauvignon of distinct character, depth and intensity”.

Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon was a crowd-favourite at this year’s California Wine Fair in Toronto. In a room full of excellent quality red wine, people came back to our table to try this wine before they left the show, with a few proclaiming that it was the best value wine they had tried. We have to agree; this is an amazing wine for the price and it is well worth hunting down a few bottles.


The Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viognier bottled'Arenberg
The Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viognier 2012
McLaren Vale, Australia
936971 $29.95
406 (6 pack) cases available

95 Points – James Halliday,
“Matured in 50/50% French and American oak (8% new) for 20 months. It's odd how the co-fermentation of viognier can appear to intensify the regional signature, it's certainly written large here, but there's a spark of fresh fruit with a different pitch to its note. All this adds up to an impressive example of this key wine in the d'Arenberg menagerie”.

Gold, Mundus Vini International Wine Award
Gold, China Wine & Spirits Awards
Gold, Korea Wine Challenge

Dark brooding fruit is apparent on the nose with earth, spice and dried herbs. The palate is round and luscious with black olive and sage notes. This wine has fantastic fruit weight, with great supporting tannin and balanced acidity. Try with well-marbled grilled beef, leg of lamb or game.

Why Laughing Magpie? The Kookaburra is a native Australian bird famous for its distinctive laughing call. d’Arenberg winemaker Chester Osborn's young daughters named them 'Laughing Magpies'. The Magpie plumage is black with a stripe of white feathers, representing McLaren Vale's first ever blend combining the (black) Shiraz and its white partner, Viognier.







Fresita new package

93 Points – Carolyn Evans-Hammond,
NV Fresita Sparkling Wine, Chile
383901 $14.15
“This sparkling wine infused with fresh, hand-picked Patagonian strawberries — no artificial flavours or colours — tastes like the freshest crush of berries imaginable with just the right balance of succulence and mouth-watering acidity to draw you back sip after sip. In fact, it’s so full of strawberries, a fine pulp settles in the glass as you drink it. Whenever I pour it for someone, they just absolutely fall in love with it”.




 Last week, Beppi Crosariol’s wine column featured summer wines…

Sip summer in a bottle with these moderately priced wines

“Most of the wines below are not only zippy but also relatively low in alcohol and moderate in price, two generally prized assets for many outdoor occasions by the proverbial patio or pool – or balcony or park bench”.

Waimea Classic Riesling91 Points – Beppi Crosariol, The Globe and Mail
Waimea Classic Riesling 2016
Nelson, New Zealand
408666 $18.95
“Off-dry, but what perfect balance, and at a modest 12-per-cent alcohol. Sweet orange, drippy peach and tart lime combine for a sunny fruit festival (plus, there’s a hint of so-called minerality for the wine geeks out there). Brilliant”.








Zooma Farm Grill at Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery

June 10 & 11, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm daily

Garden dining is back at Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery! Zooma Caters joins forces with Sue-Ann to present Zooma Farm Grill this summer. There is a ‘soft opening’ on Saturday, June 10 and Sunday June 11. Enjoy Zooma's incredible food with Sue-Ann's award-winning wine outside on the beautiful winery grounds. Check out the menu below! No reservations, just come on out to the farm!

 Sue-Ann Zooma

















Future summer dates for Zooma Farm Grill are:

July 1 & 2
July 15 & 16
July 29 & 30
August 12 & 13
August 26 & 27
September 9 & 10
September 23 & 24



Taste of Tecumseh





Taste of Tecumseh
June 16 – 17, 5:00 pm – 1:00 am
Lakewood Park, Tecumseh

Join Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery at the annual Taste of Tecumseh Festival. This two day event features local food, beer, wine, spirits and music. The beautiful Lakewood Park is located on the shore of Lake St Clair in the town of Tecumseh, just north of Windsor.
Tickets are available here:



 Taste of Toronto




Taste of Toronto
June 15-18
Garrison Common at Fort York

Visit our Crazy Uncle Hard Soda Booth where you can taste the new Cream Soda or last summer’s favourite Root Beer. We will also be making ice cream floats all weekend!

Taste of Toronto has afternoon sessions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and evening sessions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Each session lasts between 4-5 hours (depending on the day) giving you time to enjoy your pick of restaurant dishes, browse the exhibitor stalls and enjoy some of the many attractions. Tickets are sold for each session and are only valid for the time and date indicated on the ticket. Dates and times shown below:

Thursday June 15, 5.30pm – 10:00pm
Friday June 16, 11.30am – 4:00pm
Friday June 16, 5.30pm – 10:00pm
Saturday June 17, 11.30am – 4:00pm
Saturday June 17, 5.30pm – 10:00pm
Sunday June 18, 12:00pm – 5:00pm

Garrison Common will transform into a foodie wonderland as the World’s Greatest Restaurant Festival returns for four days of fantastic food, drink and summer fun. With 25,000 food-loving visitors in attendance, this is the highlight of the summer foodie calendar. Toronto’s latest, greatest and most exciting restaurants will serve taster size signature dishes, world-class chefs will appear in live cooking demonstrations and, as always, there will be many opportunities to get hands-on with interactive Metro Master Classes and shop from an array of over 60 food and drink exhibitors.

Purchase tickets for Taste of Toronto here:








The Wine & Spirits Festival
Sugar Beach, Toronto
Friday, June 16, 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Saturday, June 17, 2:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Visit Sue-Ann Staff Estate winery’s booth to sample all the Fancy Farm Girl wines, Lavelle’s Vidal, Baco Noir and their Iridescence Sparkling Riesling.

Swing by our NZ Pure Lager and Dos Locos booth for some refreshing beer and sparkling Lime Tequila Margarita!

The Wine & Spirit Festival is a two-day event showcasing the talents of the world’s most renowned wine, beer, cider & spirit producers along with chefs and culinary personalities.

This is a pay as you go event. Admission includes five vouchers and more can be purchased onsite - cash only. Featured wine, spirits, beer, cocktails, ciders and coolers, vary in price and quantity, depending on alcohol volume and the price of ingredients. Vendors charge what they see fit for their products. Most samples/drinks range between 1 and 4 vouchers.

The Festival is a 19+ event to participate, however Sugar Beach is a public park so children are welcome. A note to parents, the event does get quite busy and alcohol is being consumed by a lot of people, so it does become more of an "adult type" event as each session progresses and gets busier. Saturday afternoon is the perfect time for families.

Purchase tickets for The Wine & Spirits Festival here:











London Beer and BBQ
Metroland Media Agriplex
London, Ontario
June 16-18

Friday, June 16, 4:00 pm - 10:30 pm
Saturday, June 17, 12:00 pm - 10:30 pm
Sunday, June 18, 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Come by our booth to sample the brand new NZ PURE Lager from New Zealand as well as Dos Locos Lime Tequila Margarita. While you are there, also try Crazy Uncle’s latest creation – Hard Cream Soda! We’ll also have the Root Beer there, in case you haven’t tried it yet.

Get tickets for the Beer & BBQ show here:




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





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







Rosé wine loves to be paired with salads and anything off the grill. Dry Rosé (Rosado) usually has good acidity and a little more alcohol that most white wines, and they will match foods that other wines have a bit of trouble with. Vinegar is a notorious wine-slayer, making red wines taste sour or tart while most white wines just get beat up by the overpowering flavour of the acid. Enter Rosé, a wine powerful enough to stand up to brine and vinegar flavours (olives, antipasto, salad dressings etc.) and come out on the other side with some flavour intact.

One of the first things I learned to make in the kitchen was an emulsified salad dressing, using a 1L Pyrex cup and a whisk.  It was magic, the mustard, vinegar and oil came together to form a thick, tasty vinaigrette and I was hooked.  The following recipe is from Fine Cooking magazine and provides a solid base recipe and technique.  Learn to make this and you will never go back to store-bought again.

Classic Vinaigrette
This is infinitely adaptable, versatile, and quick to make with pantry ingredients. The only trick is the emulsification. Use on green salads of course, but also on cool or room-temperature potatoes, rice, grains, pasta, beans, and lentils; drizzle on warm grilled or roasted vegetables; nap over grilled, broiled, or steamed fish or chicken

    1/4 cup red- or white-wine vinegar
    1 tsp. Dijon mustard
    1/4 tsp. kosher salt; more to taste
    1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper; more to taste
    3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, add the oil in a slow, steady stream until completely incorporated and the sauce is slightly thickened and emulsified.

Salad dressingsVariations
To use other vinegars and oils: Use another vinegar (sherry, balsamic, Champagne, tarragon, fruit, cider) or substitute 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice for the wine vinegar. Try another oil: (walnut, hazelnut, or another nut, or a citrus-infused oil) alone or in combination with olive oil or a neutral-tasting vegetable oil.

For an herb vinaigrette: Make the basic recipe using any combination of vinegar and oil and add 3 Tbs. fresh herbs, single or a mix. Especially good are parsley, basil, dill, tarragon, chervil, and cilantro.

For a roasted garlic vinaigrette: Toss 10 unpeeled garlic cloves in olive oil, wrap tightly in aluminium foil, and roast at 400°F for 30 minutes until very soft. Squeeze the pulp from the skins, combine with 1/4 cup white-wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest, 1/4 tsp. fresh thyme, and purée in the food processor. Add olive oil according to the basic recipe and omit the mustard.

For a black olive vinaigrette: Make the basic recipe using red-wine vinegar and olive oil. Whisk in 1 minced clove garlic, 2 tsp. chopped capers, 1/3 cup finely chopped Kalamata or other good black olives, 2 finely minced anchovy fillets, and 1 Tbs. chopped fresh mint.

For a sun-dried tomato basil vinaigrette: Make the basic recipe with either vinegar and whisk in 3 Tbs. chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil, 1/2 cup finely diced fresh tomato, 2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil, and 1/2 tsp. grated orange zest.

For a Caesar-style vinaigrette: Purée together 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, 3 chopped anchovy fillets, 2 cloves garlic, 3 Tbs. grated Parmesan, and a dash of hot sauce. Whisk this purée into the basic recipe made with white-wine vinegar.

For a honey-mustard vinaigrette: Add 1 Tbs. whole-grain mustard and 2 Tbs. honey to the basic recipe and proceed, using white-wine vinegar and vegetable oil


Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum



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