Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Quebec (inc. Montreal) >
Jul 28, 2010 06:27 PM

Bottle of Champagne... SAQ?

I've never stopped at duty-free before but I'm crossing the border to NY tomorrow and wondering if it's worth chancing it or a quick stop to the SAQ before leaving?

Also any recomendations for a really great medium to full-bodied, light and aromatic vintage in the $50-80 range that can be picked up locally?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. No vintage champagnes in that particular price range. For the NV, I've served Pommery, and Duval-Leroy recently. The Canard-Duchene Charles VII is very nice and only slightly over your top range ($85?).

    Last time I looked in the duty-free in the American part of the terminal, I think there was some Veuve-Cliquot but the selection was very limited (there may have been one other sparkler). You'll have better selection by pre-purchasing, but your bottle will have to go into checked luggage. Is there no way you can do your purchase in NY? Less hassle, probably lower costs depending on how smart you shop.

    2 Replies
    1. re: wattacetti

      Thanks, and I'd be willing to spring for an $85 bottle... I'm driving up rather than flying, so I doubt it'll be an issue with baggage. Are you not allowed to bring alcohol across the border in small "personal" quantity; ie. couple bottles of wine?

      I just wanted to have something ready for when we check-in to our room, rather than running around Midtown during rush hour following a long 7-hour drive...

      (I was almost thinking about putting in a request with the concierge -I like to tell them it's an engagament weekend!- to hopefully score a complementary bottle, but it'd surely be way overpriced if that didn't work as planned!)

      Looking up reviews of the Canard-Duchene Charles VII now... what year is recommended (pinot-'96?) and would hopefully be stocked at the SAQ by the market (Atwater)?

      1. re: OliverB

        It's probably a lot cheaper to pick it up in NYC, and there are many good liquor stores there - depending on where you're staying (BTW, it should only be a 6-hour drive). Best bet is stopping at a Costco if you're a member, where you can pick up Veuve Cliquot and others for under $35/bottle - there are a few en route if you look them up. Or post on the NYC board asking about stores in the area you'll be in. (As for the concierge idea, I am sure they'd gladly have one in your room on ice, but no way would it be free - but you could check, surely they'd give you an idea of the price in advance).

    2. Haven't compared prices with the US recently, but the Drappier "Zéro Dosage," a non-vintage Pinot Noir at $42 and change, is unbeatable in its price range and delicious in its own right.

      1. Why is it so much cheaper to pick up in the States?

        As mentioned, I could go up to $85... I just want to find the perfect bottle: light and fruity, fine spritzy bubbles, orangey pink colored.

        2 Replies
        1. re: OliverB

          A couple of reasons, including larger market (volume) and the hefty mark-up our provincial government puts on each and every bottle.

          Since you're driving, you can pretty much stop off anywhere and get something good.

          1. re: wattacetti

            A lot cheaper in the states, definitely! The trade off is they might not carry the specific brand you want but you don't seem to have something that precise in mind.

            As for why? Provincial government has monopole and puts a huge markup. We have less choices then USA in terms of brands. We have higher tax. Our dollar is closer to the USD so conversion is less of a factor. Wider market in the states...

            All of these are reasons why you can find the same bottle 2-10$ cheaper in the states depending on what you are buying.

        2. As mentioned, you will get a lot more bang for your buck in the States.

          If you are crossing at the main Lacolle border don't expect much at Hors Taxes beyond the usual suspects (VC and Moet NV, perhaps Dom P). Savings over regular SAQ prices are roughly 25-30%.

          If you can wait til NYC, I would recommend Chambers Street Wines in Tribeca. You will find loads of interesting RM champagnes there for 40-60 USD.

          6 Replies
          1. re: BrentMTL

            Is it enough bang for buck at hors taxes to just go with something run of the mill and on the boring side like a bottle of Moet or Dom (I don't know what Staeside prices are for GREAT champagne so 30% savings sounds nice but difficult to compare to US costs)?

            I'll probably ride it out 'till I reach the city based on your rec. though and try to make it to Chambers Street!

            Thanks and I'm off!!

            1. re: OliverB

              If you stop in Plattsburg, check Dames Discount Liquors and Wines. Terrible name, but good prices on the gins that the SAQ does not stock. I picked up a Boodles and a Plymouth there, at better prices than in NYC.

              They may have some decently priced champers too.

              1. re: TheSnowpea

                At what border are you crossing into the US?

                When driving to Burlington Vermont I usually stop at the duty free at Highgate Springs just before entering the US.
                Their prices on liquor are great and wine good.
                I recently purchased Veuve Clicquot $49 (SAQ $67.25) & Charles Heidsieck $48 (SAQ $60.50)

                The law is that when you purchase at the duty free you must be going to the USA and consume the product in the USA................

                The duty free at Dorval airport is a total rip-off, the prices are very similar to those at the SAQ!

                The duty free in the USA are much better, I recently saw Veuve 2btl 750ml package for $60 at Chicago’s O’Hare. Two weeks ago I saw at a retail store in New Orleans Veuve for $35.
                Seeing those prices just makes me crazy and more determined to make my purchases outside of Quebec.

                As you are going to NYC my experience has been great at Astor Wines & Spirits 399 Lafayette (at East 4th St.)Phone: 212-674-7500
                A few months ago I bought Pol Roger $34, Veuve $38, $70 Vintage & Charles Heidsieck $37
                If you are into wine & sprits you will be in heaven and make sure to check out their extensive Sake collection.

                If you can’t make it there, don’t worry, at any store you will get a better deal than at the SAQ

                1. re: InterFoodie

                  InterFoodie Fyi, you may return to Canada with your Duty Free purchase provided you have spent a minimum of 48 hours outside the country (up to 1.5L wine, 24 beers or 1.14L Spirits).

                  I agree with you about Astor - a great store and probably closer to the OP's hotel. I bought bottles of LP NV there two years ago for 27USD... at PAR! Although their weaker dollar has caught up to them and prices of European imports have jumped subtantially.

                  1. re: BrentMTL

                    Brent I have to disagree with you. I had an office in Burlington where I spent Mon-Fri and returned home for the weekend.
                    Naturally I would stop at the duty free and rarely drank my purchases in Vermont but brought them back with me to Montreal.

                    After a long time of doing so, on my return to Quebec the CBSA agent saw the alcohol on the back of my seat in the plastic duty free bag.

                    He asked if I had bought it at the Highgate Springs Duty Free to which I answered yes.
                    I had been doing for awhile and thought it was completely legal, the whole reason of me not hiding it.

                    He informed me that “duty free” items had no duty rendered on them because they were to leave the country thereby not taxable for duties as they were in “transition”. This is why at the duty free shops you are asked for your license # and asked if you are going into the states and at the airport why the duty free is beyond the check in and located in the international/USA part of the airport.

                    As some times mistakes are made I decided to contact CBSA and verify the information, at which time it was confirmed.

                    Funny thing, not one person in my office was aware of this rule and many had been doing what I did.

                    The 48hrs is your personal exemption for liquor or tobacco bought outside the country. Once that exemption is exhausted all other items are subject to taxes & excise duties

                    1. re: InterFoodie

                      Before we get tisk, tisked for posting off topic...


                      From the section "CDN travellers going to the USA":

                      "All goods bought at IGL DUTY FREE SHOP can be consumed in the U.S.A. or brought back to Canada after a 48 hour stay or more. (However all purchases must be declared at both U.S. and Canadian Customs)."

          2. If you buy the bottle before your 7-hour ride, don't forget to take a cooler along, considering this heat.

            I used to like Pol Roger best, until I tried a vintage Jacquart (can't remember the year) a couple of years ago, for $75 at LCBO. It was superb, but I have never seen it again.