The Imbiber's Report

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








California wines




NOVEMBER 10-12, 2017




Into the Wine



July 8, 2017


Ontario bikingThe Great Lakes Waterfront Trail runs from the Quebec border, along the St Lawrence River, around the shore of Lake Ontario to the Niagara River, where it climbs the escarpment and continues along the north shore of Lake Erie, all the way to Lake St. Clair. The network of roads and trails passes through all of Ontario’s major wine regions. There are special events, rides and festivities planned for the summer. Have a look here . It’s a great way to explore the province.

The Vintages early July release features some of Ontario’s finest wines in their Cheers to 150 Years promotion as well as a collection of some local cool-climate Chardonnay that are worth looking into. We have five wines in the release including a charming German Riesling, a new Zinfandel from Paso Robles, a Classic Chianti from Barone Ricasoli and two big reds from Australia’s McLaren Vale. We have some events we would like you to know about as well as our LCBO promotions and a recipe.

Pour yourself a glass of something summery…



Pauly-Bergweiler-Feinherb-Riesling-2016Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Riesling 2016
Feinherb QbA
Mosel, Germany
496554 $17.95
280 (12 pack) cases available

The word Feinherb on the label means that the wine is off-dry.  This unregulated term is used by many German producers use to indicate that the wine has some residual sugar in it and is not completely dry (trocken). This Riesling’s 19 grams of sugar per litre are nicely balanced by citrus-infused acidity giving the wine a light, refreshing character.  Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler makes this Riesling in a straight forward and uncomplicated style which is meant for enjoying with casual outdoor summertime meals. This aromatic and flavourful wine has fine fruit aromas of gooseberry and white peach. It is off-dry and crisp with enticing stone fruit flavours on the palate. It pairs well with mixed green salads, grilled chicken and parmesan cheese. Also try it with freshwater fish.







New at Vintages…

Four Vines BikerFour Vines Biker Zinfandel 2012
Paso Robles, California, USA
513176 $21.95 448
(12 pack) cases available

90 Points - Wine Enthusiast
“Cherry pie with cloves, black loam, dark tobacco leaf and maple-flavoured bacon aromas make for an inviting nose on this edgy wine. It's surprisingly light and airy on the palate, with decent grip, showing boysenberry and graphite flavours”.

94 Points - Double Gold, San Francisco International Wine Competition 2015

We love how Four Vines’ attitude and philosophy is reflected in all of their marketing material, packaging and even their website. Each of their wines has a different personality. Here’s what they have written about their Biker Zinfandel: “Like that driven-but-dusty feeling your get after a satisfying road trip, Biker bursts with the bold flavors for which Paso Robles Zin is known. Sourced from Paso’s Westside wonders, Dusi and Preston Vineyards, Biker revs up the rugged spirit of the terrain in which it was grown. Bottled for bold palates, great friends and big parties, Biker is the perfect pick for those who crave surprises they can savor”.   

Biker is a blend of 83% Zinfandel, 9% Petite Sirah, 7% Primativo and 1% Syrah that spends 14 months in a mix of French, Hungarian and American oak barrels. On the nose, there are heady aromas of blackberry, black currant and spice. Full-bodied and intense on the palate with flavours of wild bramble, sweet black cherry and jam. The finish is long and smooth with more pepper and spice. Try with smoked brisket, grilled sausages, hamburgers or grilled beef ribs (see recipe below).



Brolio largeBarone Ricasoli Brolio
Chianti Classico DOCG 2014
Tuscany, Italy
3962 $22.95
350 (12 pack) cases available

91 Points - Robert Parker

90 Points - Wine Enthusiast

90 Points – Natalie MacLean
“From producer, Barone Ricasoli, the red wine blend for this Chianti Classico Brolio from the 2014 vintage are mostly Sangiovese grapes with some Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Juicy and robust with fleshy ripe black cherry and earth. Pair with pasta in tomato sauce”.

Vintages Panel:  “In some ways (and somewhat counterintuitively) a modern Chianti Classico, this wine is 80% Sangiovese with about 15% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Spice box, violet, cherry, raspberry and smoke paint a vivid aromatic picture. The wine is youthful and structured, with dark cherry and blackberry flavours paving the way for a firm finish. Pair with steak Florentine or a selection of firmer cheeses”.

Winemaker’s Notes:  “Intense ruby red colour. Long and fragrant bouquet offering scents of small red fruit, vanilla and spicy notes. The mouth exhibits great appeal and harmony with balanced tannins. The intense persistence exalts the fresh and mineral notes typical of this wine”.

Ricasoli’s Notes: “Brolio successfully matches the superior drinkability that defines Chianti Classico in its young version with a full, complex structure, which makes this wine excellent in its category”.

Brolio is made from a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Grapes are harvested from the estate’s vineyards which rise from 280 to 480 metres above sea level. Different plots are picked and fermented separately in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. The different lots are then blended and aged for 9 months in oak barriques and tonneaux. The wine is aged for a further 6 months in the bottle before release. Try it with tomato-based pasta dishes, grilled duck breast, antipasti or grilled Italian sausages. This is a very versatile food wine.


Chapel Hill
We have two wines from Chapel Hill in this release. The winery was built on the site of the historic Seaview Chapel, which was originally built in 1865, and now serves as the winery’s tasting room. Vines were planted in the early 1970s and the first vintage was in 1975. Now under the guidance of winemakers Michael Fragos and Bryn Richards, Chapel Hill strives to hand craft wines with purity and balance. Winemaking is done in small batches to ensure that the different vineyard site’s character is kept intact.

If you would like to learn more about Chapel Hill, visit their newly revamped website.  We think it’s one of the best in the industry.

Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014Chapel Hill Shiraz 2014
McLaren Vale, Australia
743989 $28.95
364 (12 pack) cases available

95 Points – James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion
“Dense, inky purple-crimson; absolutely achieves expressing 'a profound sense of place'; unctuous black fruits swathed in dark chocolate drive the bouquet and medium to full-bodied palate with relentless precision, yet keep balance and length. Oak and tannins are part of the package, but you sense them, rather than feel their impact. Carries its alcohol with ease. Drink by: 2034. Special Value”.

92 Points - Robert Parker

Winemaker’s Notes: “This wine displays plush dark fruits, mulberry and herbal flavours. The harmonious integration and balance of these flavours is further enhanced by the defiantly persistent and mouth-filling savoury, yet firm, tannin structure”.

This is a fantastic value McLaren Vale Shiraz that is worth every penny. Try it with grilled leg of lamb with rosemary and plenty of garlic.



Chapel Hill MV Cabernet SauvignonChapel Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
McLaren Vale, Australia
965830 $28.95
504 (12 pack) cases available

94 Points – James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion
“A sense of place indeed, communicated by the first whiff of the bouquet, cigar box and dark chocolate close behind cassis fruit; the medium to full-bodied palate brings the expected tannins into play, oak of textural, as much as flavour, importance in a notably well balanced wine. Drink By: 2029. Special Value”.

95 Points - Tyson Stelzer’s Australian Wines of 2017

93 Points - The Wine Front

Winemaker’s Notes: “This wine exudes an evocative array of flavours. Brooding mulberry, boysenberry and savoury flavours all mingle harmoniously in the wine. The layered flavour profile is underpinned by the graceful and seamless integration with the trademark Cabernet Sauvignon “dusty” fine grained tannin structure”.







Sprucewood Shores Pinot Grigio medSprucewood Shores
Pinot Grigio VQA
LCBO 426577, $15.10
“Sprucewood Shores is a family-run winery located on the sunny northern shore of Lake Erie. Its light-bodied Pinot Grigio includes just a touch of Riesling for a hint of fruitiness. You’ll love the wine’s juicy citrus aromas and flavours and crisp, refreshing finish – splendid with seafood appetizers, pasta with clams and sushi”.








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

Bistro Wine…

Les Dauphins Reserve White largeLes Dauphins Blanc Réserve
Côtes du Rhône AC
Rhône Valley, France
450205 $12.95

We are re-recommending this lively white blend from the south of France because it’s the perfect wine to enjoy during the summer. We also featured this wine in July’s Notes on JazzFM91 with Brad Barker.

Fresh and lively with aromas and flavours of citrus, peach and apricot, this medium-bodied white blend is the perfect summer ‘do-everything’ wine. Made from white grape varieties native to the south of France (65% Grenache Blanc, 15% Marsanne, 10% Clairette and 10% Viognier), it’s like a more flavourful version of Pinot Grigio with a bit of spice to it.

Serve Les Dauphins Blanc all summer long with salads, fish and seafood or poultry. It’s one of the few white wines that can ‘play well’ with tomatoes. Give it a spin with all sorts of Mediterranean food like Greek Salad, grilled bread with tapenade or deep fried calamari – anything that you would squeeze a lemon over.





dArenberg hightrellis4.5 Stars – Vic Harradine,
d’Arenberg ‘The High Trellis’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
McLaren Vale
943456 $19.95
“Floral notes, perfumed exotic spice and notions of iodine aromas on the nose, this sports a full-Monty rush of palate-coating flavour with briary berry, tang-laden pie cherry and crunchy red currant to the fore. This medium-plus bodied, nicely textured cab has miles to go as it’s quite taut and firmly underpinned by still-evolving tannin—twist caps 2020 to 2025 and pour with grilled-rare, well-seasoned striploin. The price-quality balance certainly tips in your favour”.

















Notes with Brad Barker

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

The July podcast features one summery white wine and a few big reds for the barbecue. We started with the bright Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve White, and then tasted d’Arenberg’s juicy High Trellis Cabernet Sauvignon. Next we tasted Wente’s Charles Wetmore Single Vineyard Cab and then wrapped things up with d’Arenberg’s gorgeous The Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viognier blend. Brad was suitably impressed with all four wines and was especially smitten with Wente’s Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon.

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



Uncork Summer en








VINTAGES Uncork Summer
Walk-around tasting
Thursday, July 13
6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Corus Quay Atrium
25 Dockside Drive, Toronto

We will be at this fabulous lakeside event pouring Château La Gravette Lacombe 2012, Bordeaux AC Médoc and First Press Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  

Get tickets here



Belly Laughs on the Bench








Belly Laughs on the Bench II
Saturday, July 15, 2017
Comedy Night with Joe Pillitteri and Friends

Come on out for laughs with the Staffs! You're invited for a night of comedy, music, food, wine and fun on the farm with Sue-Ann and her family, with proceeds supporting the Howard V. Staff Memorial Fund at the Niagara Community Foundation. Proceeds to the Howard V. Staff Memorial Fund (Niagara Community Foundation).

Tickets: $40 +hst per person ($45.20)
OR purchase a table of 8 for $320.00 +hst ($361.60)
Advanced ticket sales only!

7:00 pm
Doors open
Cash Wine Bar & Feastivities Food Truck

8:00 pm
Comedy by Joe Pillitteri & Friends

10:00 pm
Music, complimentary light fare and a bonfire

Plan to stay late…

Tickets: 905.562.1719



Zooma Farm Grill at Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery

Garden dining is back at Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery! Zooma Caters joins forces with Sue-Ann to present Zooma Farm Grill this summer.  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 15 & 16
July 29 & 30
August 12 & 13
August 26 & 27
September 9 & 10
September 23 & 24



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 July 16, 2017 at the LCBO:

Earn 6 Bonus Air Miles on Caliterra Cabernet Sauvignon #257329

Earn 6 Bonus Air Miles on Patriarche Pinot Noir #522649 #522649

Earn 6 Bonus Air Miles on Château de Gourgazaud Minervois AC #22384

Save $1.00 on Sprucewood Shores Pinot Grigio #426577

Save $3.00 on Seven Deadly Zins #59311

Receive a free Koozie (where applied) with the purchase of Vodka Mudshake French Vanilla #4606. 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






Grilled Beef Ribs with Homemade BBQ Sauce

The technique of braising the ribs in liquid and finishing them on the BBQ is easier than trying to slow cook on a gas grill. The finished ribs are sweet and sticky. Substitute your favourite smoky BBQ sauce if you don’t want to make it from scratch.


BBQ RibsRibs

15 pounds beef back rib racks—membrane removed, racks cut into individual ribs (about 25 ribs)
1 liter Coca-Cola
About 1 liter water
1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
Kosher salt


1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons hot sauce
2 teaspoons liquid smoke (optional)
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons pure ancho chile powder


Braise the ribs

Put the ribs in a very large pot or roasting pan; add the cola and enough water to just cover. Bring to a boil, skimming off any scum on the surface. Add the peppercorns and 1 tablespoon of salt. Cover and simmer over low heat until the meat is tender but not falling off the bone, 2 hours; drain.

Make the sauce

In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer over very low heat, stirring frequently, until thick and glossy, about 15 minutes.

Finish ribs on the grill

Bring the grill to medium high heat. Working in batches, arrange the ribs on baking sheets and brush them with the sauce. Grill the ribs, turning and brushing with sauce, until lightly charred – about 10-12 minutes. Serve with the remaining sauce.

Mark Donaldson, Editor and Factotum





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