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La Belle Provence

Written by: J. Carnie

March 24, 2017

The Quebec wineries always seem to be at the head of the line each year, as the early entries start to appear for the All Canadian Wine Championships – these guys are always so eager! Unfortunately the cool, short growing season and especially cold winters of La Belle Provence may not be kind to Vitus Vinifera grapes but Quebec is always competitive in the hybrid categories… and they are indeed a force to be reckoned with for their fruit wines and ciders.

 Last fall we took a trip to the Eastern Townships to enjoy the magnificent colours of the season and of course we made a few winery stops en route. One particular cidery really got our attention. Du Minot has been entering the ACWC for a long time and has enjoyed much success at the medal table but we were really taken by the breadth of the offerings at the cidery. They produce three iced ciders (If you are an icewine fan and have never tasted Quebec iced cider… well, you just should), nine sparklers (my companion gravitated to the brut), three still wines and even three low alcohol offerings. But my attention was transfixed by an amber-coloured offering called Dore that they categorized as aperitif.

As we tasted through the lineup I continued to be intrigued by this wine, which at 16.5% ABV., was being saved for last. Du Minot bills Dore as an “aperitif” wine and recommends serving it before dinner chilled to 6-8 degrees C. The nose showed sweet, leathery notes of brown sugar and spicy vanilla and last year’s binned apples which exploded onto the palate and lingered, with a slight, white raisin finish.

Wow! As soon as we tasted it I could see loads of other uses; served as a digestive at 16-18 degrees C., heated for après ski, a little splash in dry sparkling wine… hell even poured over ice cream… and what about baking with it? Needless to say a few bottle of both the Brut and Dore made it into the trunk of our car for later research and experimentation.

Skip ahead to late this winter. A friend, who makes regular business trips to Quebec and the Maritimes mentioned he was once again headed that way. Now this gentleman just happens to be a devoted cheese lover and the Eastern Townships just happen to be pretty good at that too. He said was making a stop at Fromagerie du Presbytere, which makes an incredible blue so of course so of course I requested a little Care Package….

There are good wine and food matches… That wine, paired with that cheese was, without a doubt, nothing less than inspiring and sublime. The salt and bitterness of the blue against the complexity and sweetness of the Dore combined to present entirely new range of flavours that were simply not there previously and we pretty much gorged ourselves on both.  So keep those entries coming Quebec – I can’t wait to see what you have to show us this year!

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