I will be in Montreal week of October 20 - 25.
I recall seeing a FoodTV program on Quebec's ice wines. I would love to try some when I'm in town next week. Can anyone recommend any particular Quebec wines, ice or otherwise? :)
Also, if there's a winery within easy driving distance (one hour or less) of Montreal, I'd love to hear about it!
Quebec wines always put me in mind of Dr. Johnson's quip about dogs trained to walk on their hind legs: the wonder is not that they do it well but that they do it at all. We just don't have the degree days for world-class wine. Maybe global warming will change that, but for now we're limited to hybrid grapes, and even those vines have to be cut back and buried at the end of each season. Nonetheless, a few valiant winemakers struggle on and some actually produce decent, if unmemorable, wines.
Production is centred in and around the Eastern Townships ("Les Cantons de l'est" or "L'Estrie" in French), about an hour's drive south-southeast of Montreal (the prevailing winds are from the northwest and the heat of the city actually tempers the winter climate), just north of the Vermont border. Though we've begun to see reds made from reputable hybrids like Maréchal Foch and baco noir, the best wines are white. Of those, seyval has given the best results to date.
Two wineries stand out:
- L'Orpailleur, in Dunham, is a franco-québécois joint venture. The dry white seyval, whether unoaked or oaked, is the best Quebec wine I've tasted. The unoaked version is often sold at the SAQ. L'Orpailleur also makes a sparkling white, a rosé, a red blend and an ice wine, none of which I've tried. Their winery has a tasting room and a small restaurant; one could do worse than spend a sunny fall afternoon on the deck, eating smoked duck salad and quiche and draining a bottle of their wine. Unfortunately, the resto closes for the season in early October. They have a website (alas, more of the links on the French site work than on the English site):
- The second best winery (IMHO, of course) is Dietrich-Joost, located a few kilometres east of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, on the western edge of the Townships but technically in the Montérégie, the region immediately south of Montreal. The owners are transplanted Alsatians and the wines have something of that region's character, if not class.
BTW, Toqué! usually has wines from one or both of the above wineries on their list, and sometimes available by the glass. A selection of Quebec wines and ciders is also available at the Marché des Saveurs, the fascinating Quebec-only product store on the southeast corner of Jean-Talon.
For more info about local wineries, visit the Quebec Wine Route site:
Most of it is in French but if you click on "Prenez la route des vins", you'll hit a couple of English pages and then be taken to a map of the province with clickable links to the various growing areas and individual pages for the wineries.
I imagine the Food TV program you saw was about Ontario ice wines, as the Quebec product is fairly new and hasn't yet reached the exalted heights of its Ontarian counterparts. If you insist on a Quebec ice wine, you'll probably have to drop by a winery (call ahead). However, some SAQ stores stock Ontario and British Columbia ice wines (check www.saq.com for a list of products and stores). While some are exquisite, many are overly sweet. Your milage may vary, but I find the riesling ice wines deficient in acidity; if riesling's your thing, try one of the late harvest rieslings from Château des Charmes or Cave Springs (Indian Summer), which run C$20-25 a half bottle. For ice wine, stick with the original: Inniskillin Vidal. Whichever ice wine you buy, be prepared to pay--we're talking C$50 to C$60 for a half bottle of the basic product and C$80 or even C$100 for the luxury cuvées (sparkling ice wine, red ice wine).
Yikes. Good to know. Thanks muchly. Perhaps it was Ontario wines I'd heard about on FoodTV. My bad (tho I could *swear* it was Quebec...hmmm...).
Sounds like Quebec wines are a little like wines from my state, Virginia. They make 'em, but I can't figure out why, and none of them are memorable or even remotely worth the outrageously high prices you pay for them.
Thanks for the input. Much appreciated.
There are good Ontario ice wines, and there may also be decent Quebec ice wines. I just haven't tried any Quebec ice wine. (I wouldn't put it past food tv to mess up, either). Do try the ciders while you're here.
And you can bring 2 normal bottles of wine, in response to your other post. See the link below.
Please note that you've revived a long-dormant thread and are replying to post penned nearly seven years ago, bakersdelight.
The situation has changed quite a bit in the interval. Dietrich Joost has passed away and his vineyards have been uprooted and planted over to corn. Wine -- of sorts -- is even being made in Laval... www.chateautailleferlafon.ca
IMO, the best dry wines made in Quebec no longer come from Orpailleur but from Les Pervenches, a biodynamically farmed estate near Farnham that's blending Chardonnay with Seyval. While not earth-shattering, it can withstand comparison with similarly priced wines ($20) from elsewhere in the world, something I can't say about any other Quebec dry wine I've tried. www.lespervenches.com
Other producers are experimenting with noble varieties like Riesling and Cabernet Franc.
Quebec ice wines are really coming into their own. Orpailleur's is pretty good but my favourites come from Chapelle Sainte-Agnès. www.vindeglace.com
The Pervenches Chardonnay-Seyval and Ste-Agnès Majorique and Vidal ice wines can now be purchased -- in case lots only, unfortunately -- on a "private import" basis, i.e. without making a trip to the winery. You contact the agent, La QV inc. (514 504-5082, laqv2 AT yahoo DOT ca, no website that I'm aware of), order the wine and pick it up and pay for it a week or two later at an SAQ Sélection outlet you specify.
As far as I know -- though correct me if I'm wrong -- Pinnacle doesn't make wine, only cider, including some good ice ciders. www.domainepinnacle.com
To add to your list, the ice wine from vignoble de la riviere au chene (website not quite ready yet: http://vignobleriviereduchene.ca/), Le Monde, is very excellent, and though I'm no connaisseur I'd say it definitely stands up to Ontario ice wines. It's available at the winery (just north of St-Eustache), and from a few SAQ outlets (50$ for a 375ml bottle, if I'm not mistaken).
I haven't tried ice wines that are local, but I've been exploring ice ciders recently.
Two standouts are La Face Cachée de la Pomme's Neige and Pinnacle's Ice Cider.
Neige is a more sopisticated cider by far; it has a wonderfully mushroomy nose in addition to the sweet apples you expect in an ice cider. (It was slightly warmer than it probably should have been when we had it, so..)
Pinnacle was a much richer, more sugary, more Sauturne-esque in the mouthfeel, almost creamy in how thick it felt. But it was much simpler, without the mushrooms and earthy aspects of the Neige.
Pinnacle's web site: http://www.icecider.com/icecider/e/home.html
The The Chapelle Ste Agnès ice wines are incredible, a great value, and are winning international acclaim. I don't pretend to have tasted every Ontario ice wine, but this beats the ones that I have tried, easily. It's a short, scenic drive, and the vinyard is beautiful.
re: The Chemist
«a great value»
Just to save readers from sticker shock. The average price for the latest vintage of Ste-Agnès's four ices wines is $58.75 per 200-ml bottle. That works out to around $220.00 for a standard 750-ml bottle. So, great value compared with Château d'Yquem (the 2005's currently going for $1,331.50 at the SAQ) or some of Germany's top ice wines (Dönnhoff's 2004 Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling eiswein is $176 -- marked down from $220 -- for 375 ml), but maybe less so compared with many other exceptional sweet wines (Huet's Cuvée Constance, for example).