A RE-CAP OF MONTREAL’S WINE FAIRS 2019

October is a harbinger of shorter, darker days.  But it’s also the beginning of a very interesting season in Montreal; the season of wine and spirits tasting salons.

At the forefront of a flourishing industry, the following events allow Quebeckers to meet producers worldwide for a unique tasting experience. The following is a team collaboration of myself and partner/wine connoisseur Lucie LeBel-Perron top picks, as having awakened our senses in wine tasting!

 

1- WINE GATHERING & TASTINGS FROM SOUTH AFRICA

Taking place at the beautiful venue Scena, located in the Old Port, the gathering is organized by the South African High Commission in Canada and South African Wines; 350 years of heritage!  More than 200 wines produced with a commitment of high-quality, a great view of sustainability.

An impressive setting goes a long way.  With the warmly lit, loungy music ambiance settled us right into the place in no time.  We were soon made aware, from sampling table to table the presence of informed and curious tasters taking part in the gathering.  Furthermore, the generous table of delicatessen, bread, croutons, pickled veggies set the scene for a good wine pairing.

Some of our favourites:

  • Simonsig Estate, chenin blanc “Avec Chêne” (oaked) 2017, Stellenbosch, South Africa (contact founder of the agency Dominique Gagné). Import info here. This full-bodied chenin blanc is matured 11 months in oak and is a true gastronomic wine whether paired with fish, white meat or spicy food.  Simply amazing.

  • Rustenberg Wines, Stellenbosch chardonnay 2018, South Africa. Well balanced, 10 months aged in oak, fresh acidity.  Available at the SAQ for $20. More info on the wine distillery here.

  • Bottega Family Wines, Idiom barbera 2014, Stellenbosch, South Africa.  Young wines planted in 2006 already give this one a distinguished style that exhibits typical varietal aromas of dark red fruit and vanilla with delicate hints of cherries.  Complexity and depth are hallmarks of this vintage.
  • Vondeling Wines, chardonnay 2018, Stellenbosch, South Africa.  Import info here.  A full-bodied wine with great palate tension. Crisp apple and chalky citrus are infused with mild layers of Crème Brulé, spun sugar and floral potpourri.  It would be great with grilled fish, creamy Alfredo pasta and salads. The freshness of the wine also makes it ideal for mild, aromatic curries.
The Rustenberg wine shop

2- RAW WINE, THE ARTISAN WINE FAIR

The Raw Wines Montreal edition took place on October 24-25, from 10 am to 6 pm at Salon Richmond 1861, in Little Burgundy.  The international event is also held in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Berlin, and London annually.

To begin RAW WINE could not have picked a more appropriate venue than in the formerly known St-Joseph Church which welcomes us every year for an unforgettable tasting experience. Originally built by the Sulpicians in 1861, we have access to two floors to scout and taste wines from more than 100 natural winegrowers from all over the world. Newly engaged wine tasters, as well as fine connoisseurs, are welcome to this event. No food pairings are served inside however there are food trucks conveniently parked in front of the building.

All wines presented at RAW WINE have to meet severe criterias, but the basic principles of the philosophy behind the ‘movement’ is simple:

  • 1. Organic grapes, grown without the use of artificial chemicals

  • 2. Wine prepared by hand using artisanal techniques

  • 3. Made using traditional winemaking processes that enable balance

  • 4. Creating a living wine, with low intervention in the cellar

  • 5. Promoting well being in individuals & communities

So many interesting products… very difficult to pick just a few! Love at first taste:

  • Domaine Barmès-Buecher, Hengst riesling 2016, Alsace Grand Cru. Available at the SAQ ($53) through Eonopole agency. Intense, pure, complex.  This 100% riesling is made from 35-year-old wines, made from biodynamic viticulture and aged 16 months in tuns on total lees after fermentation with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks. Creaminess, tart, salty and savory. The layers of fruity, creamy and salty notions are addictive. More info here.

  • Lichtenberger Gonzalez, Tres Cuartos welschriesling 2017, Burgenland, Austria (only 225 bottles produced!). This is an amazing pet nat (natural sparkling) made of 100% welschriesling, a grape variety grown throughout central and eastern Europe. Unfiltered, spontaneously fermented in wooden barrels,  long time on lees and minimal intervention; nature does it all. Delicious till the last drop! More info here.

  • Azienda Agricola Valdisole, arneis & moscato, Armonia 2017 (orange), Piedmont, ItalyAfter one month of maceration, Arneis is assembled with 20% of white Moscato vinified dry, which creates a wine with more delicate and immediate aromas with respect to the ones obtained from prolonged macerations. Highly pleasant in taste! More info here.

  • Vignoble Les Pervenches, Les Rosiers, chardonnay 2018, Farnham, Canada. It can be purchased here or you can buy directly at the Vineyard. Pioneers in the production of chardonnay and biodynamic viticulture in Quebec, Véronique Hupin and Michael Marler develop organic wines that express the typicality of the terroir, with methods rooted in tradition and innovation.

  • Kamara Estate, Pet Nat, xinomavro, malagouzia & assyrtiko, Macedonia, Greece. Off-dry sparkling rosé with no added sulphites, presenting fine and foamy bubbles.  This wine is lively and brisk with fresh citrus, red fruit, and cool watermelon to the nose. To the mouth the taste of strawberry and yeast are predominant. The crown cap holds in the fizz. More info here.

  • Alex Craighead Wines, Don chardonnay 2018, Nelson, New Zealand. The grapes were gently whole-cluster pressed into a combination of old barrel and amphora for both fermentation and élevage. The wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered using biodynamics practices.  More info here.

  • Schmelzer’s Weingut, grüner veltliner 2017, Burgenland, AustriaA classical grüner, Marvelous in taste. No temperature control, no sulphites, this wine is fermented spontaneously. More info here

A man labels Raw Wine barrels
Giving barrels an identity at Vignoble Les Pervenches

 

3- RASPIPAV, PRIVATE IMPORT WINE SALON

Raspipav took place this Fall on October 26-27, 2019 and was open to the general public. However, October 28 was organized exclusively for license holders and restaurant professionals.

Held at the prestigious institution Marché Bonsecours and organized by Raspipav, the salon is located in both the Old Montreal room and the Ballroom, designed to welcome a thirsty crowd!

Tickets include an inao glass and 20 coupons (pre-sale) or 15 coupons (at the door). Celebrating its 12th edition it brought together the most important agencies specialized in promoting the private importation of alcohol and wine in Montreal. Over 1,000 products presented by 50 specialized wine importation agencies,150 winemakers from around the world gathered in Montreal and Quebec City to discover to taste and share with wine lovers.

During the event, you could order your most appreciated wines. All one had to do was select your favourite wines and order with them directly from the agency. Your wine crate can be picked up at the closest SAQ to your home, within a few days and payment is made when you have received the bottles. Amazing concept!

So many delicious, delectable discoveries, again with a large variety of products, it is impossible to name all our favourites but here is our top selection:

  • Rinomata Cantina Tombacco, Grillo (muscat d’Alexandrie), zibbibo bianco IGT Terre Siciliane (orange). Bouquet with peculiar Mediterranean and balsamic notes of mint, rosemary and wild herbs, hints of dehydrated fruit, light vanilla note, raw sugar, and aged tobacco. There is a persistent after taste.  Gastronomic matches with goat cheese, Asian food, and even desserts. https://www.rinomatatombacco.it.  Imported through Vinatovin agency (contact Sylvain Roy)

  • Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut, chardonnay (55%), pinot noir (44%), pinot meunier (1%) : champagne variety and method ! 2017, Stellenbosch, South AfricaIts fine persistent mousse displays aromas of peach and fresh apple. On the palate, we taste some stone fruit, hints of citrus and raspberries. Vivid acidity, crisp, and a dry finish contributes to an elegant Cap Classique.  More info either here or at Import IVSP

  • Vignoble des 2 Lunes, AlsaceJust because we met producer Cécile and her explanations about the family winery: with a wine management school under her belt, she is extremely knowledgeable both in vines development and matters of the cellar. It is a family business that we hope will hopefully continue to flourish. Excellent sparkling wines products, their Riesling is love at first taste, pinot noir Lune Noire ($29) and Sélénite pinot gris ($25) from vineyard des 2 Lunes are available at SAQ.  More info here. Imported through VINVRAI (contact Jean-Pierre Des Rosiers)

  • Terranoble Gran Reserva, carignan 2016, Valle Del Maule, Chili. 50% of the wine was aged for 10 to 12 months in previously used French oak barrels and the other 50% was kept in un-toasted casks (foudre).  To be enjoyed with egg-plant lasagna, meats, stews, and strong cheeses.  The Ca2 100% carmenere from the same vineyard was also out of this world and would be perfect with grilled meats.  More info here

 

4- A TASTING OF WINES FROM ITALY 

The wine tasting event was co-hosted by the Italian Embassy and the Consulate General of Italy on October 30th at the magnificent venue of Marché Bonsecours in the Old Port of Montreal.

For its 24th edition, over 200 participating producers came to Montreal (Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto) to inform us of their wines. Many import agencies were also present to tell us which wines are available to the public for import in Montreal.

THE SALON is so well organized, in the main room and the ballroom. Lots and lots of Italian cured meats (prosciutto, mortadella,…), it’s traditional cheeses (mozzarella, burrata,…) on display to pair with our favourite raw wines. This year had also hot dishes such as vegetarian risotto, stewed duck and lamb and a free expresso station at the entrance for when you come in or well appreciated on the way out 🙂

Here are a few of our favourite tasted products :

  • Togni, Rocca Dei Forti verdicchio DOC, brut sparkling wine Bio.  This spumante is excellent as an aperitif and could match white meat or fish dishes with great class. Available at SAQ for $15

  • Nonino Distillatori, Prunella Mandorlata (liquor of plum distillate with alcohol, sugar and natural flavor). Absolutely pure and delicate, perfect to drink on ice, to mix to a cocktail or simply add prosecco, simply divine! Available at SAQ for $44.  More info here
  • Amastuola organic wines, primitivo 2016, Apolia. An organic wine with a deep and bright ruby-red colour. The nose is fruity with hints of plum and cinnamon. On the palate, the raw wine is rich and well balanced, with slight hints of berries and spices in the finish.  The full-bodied Zinfandel goes well with meat dishes of any kind: red or white grilled, like lamb or game meat. Available at SAQ ($17). More info here
  • San Giorgio E Il Drago, chardonnay, Toscana IGT. Straw white wine with greenish reflections, the smell is delicate but intense, slightly aromatic. Rich, soft and with good persistence on the palate. The raw wine traveled 6 months in new and old barrels. This product is good for an aperitif, white meat or light fish.  Unfortunately not represented in Quebec yet.  More info here

If you are traveling specifically for raw wine tours then it’s important to pack smart and light. Here is how to do just that!

Image result for masseria raw wine resort
Masseria Amastuola Wine Resort