For the last few years, the initiative known as “Le 12 septembre, je déguste un vin québécois!” has highlighted the importance of discovering – or rediscovering – local products and saluting the hard work of Quebec wine-growers. Choices abound among the delicious dry whites, fruity reds and sparkling wines produced under the best conditions.
Quebec wines over the years
I confess: Quebec wines haven’t always taken pride of place on my table. Like most people, I harboured a prejudice against them after tasting a few harsh and overly woody cuvées. But I must admit that Quebec wines have made a spectacular leap forward in the last decade and it’s now time to discover them.
The enthusiasm for these wines continues to grow. Since the advent of the Origine Québec section in SAQ stores in April 2014, sales have increased almost 80%. Quebec can be proud of so much more than just its ciders.
Vignoble de l’Orpailleur was unquestionably a pioneer of quality wines chez nous and several estates are already nipping at its heels. Quebec wines also owe their reputation to the indefatigable efforts of dedicated producers like Yvan Quirion of Domaine St-Jacques or Mike Marler and Véronique Hupin of Vignoble Les Pervenches (Website in French only).
Also popular are common grapes, a.k.a. vitis vinifera, so don’t be surprised to see more Chardonnays, Pinots Noirs or even Pinots Blancs on the market in the next few years. On the one hand, consumers are understandably hesitant about trying unfamiliar grapes, while on the other Quebec vintners have steadily improved their technical mastery. The oenologist Richard Bastien, who works as an expert adviser for several Quebec wineries, notes a significant rise in the demand for his services since 2012. And we are the beneficiaries of these increasingly refined products.
More wineries than ever are taking the risk of going organic. Realizing that our climate conditions make viticulture a complex undertaking, such a step provokes genuine admiration among a number of French vintners!
The 2018 vintage might be the official kick off for the brand-new IGP Vin du Québec designation, which is a major win for promoting local wines. Soon enshrined in law, an IGP is the official French acronym that stands for protected geographical indication and bestows official and worldwide quality recognition upon Quebec wines. To bear the IGP mark, local wines must be 100% derived from Quebec grapes and pass a blind taste test by a board of accreditation. The first bottles of IGP Vin du Québec wines might hit shelves in the spring of 2019.