Wine in Montreal
Hi, I live in NYC and I'm going to Montreal for 5 days. I already have my lunch & dinner schedule but I would like to know: Is there a wine store or wine place/bar I shouldn't miss? Is there something special that i wouldn't find here or that would be cheaper there. I'm going to a couple of BYOB restaurants, any suggestion?
The Quebec board has lots on this subject. In a nutshell:
The stores are all run by the government-owned monopoly, the SAQ. The top-of-the-line is the Signature store on Ste-Catherine near University. Verticals of first-growth Bordeaux and Burgundies, top wines from other appellations, more affordable stuff received in quantities too small to distribute through the general network and a selection of high-end spirits are typical of what they stock. A step down in terms of luxury but up in terms of selection are the Sélection stores. There's a good one downtown on de Maisonneuve, a five-minute walk from the Signature. Further afield, there are the stores on Beaubien east of St-Hubert (near the Beaubien metro station, probably the best in terms of overall selection), on Laurier west of av. du Parc, in the Rockland shopping centre (L'Acadie and the Metropolitan Expressway) and across the street from the Atwater market. There are also Classique stores in every neighbourhood and a few SAQ Express outlets open till 10 p.m. See the SAQ's website for business hours and addresses: www.saq.com
The best wine bar from a selection, food and ambience standpoint is BU. Closer to downtown are Pullman and POP. In Old Montreal, Aszu is it. Note that all wine bars are technically restaurants, so you'll have to order food -- if only nibbles -- with your libation of choice.
Tons of BYOs in town. My faves are Le P'tit Plateau (no website; southwest French in an uber-Montreal setting), Les Infidels, Le Bleu Raisin and O'Thym. La Colombe (no website; meat-heavy, market-driven and especially strong on desserts), Les Héritiers and Yoyo also have their fans. There are also plenty of ethnic BYOs -- Afghan, Algerian, Vietnamese, Greek, Reunion Island, etc. -- some of which are pretty good and all of which are affordable. Surprisingly, the weakest BYO category is Italian.
All these have been discussed repeatedly and recently on the Quebec board, so feel free make use of the site's excellent search engine.