If you’re like me, the sound of wine made in Québec comes with skepticism. We know the province makes delicious cider and maple syrup, but what about wine? Having spent the last 20 years in British Columbia, I was unfamiliar with the Québec wine scene until recently.
This all changed last spring. Accompanied by good music, Jackie McLachlan, founder of My Wine Canada, and I hit the road. We spent a few days in the region taking in the breathtaking scenery and tasting at multiple wineries. There were many pleasant surprises, and Coteau Rougemont was definitely one of them.
Most of the wineries are located in the beautiful area of Dunham, QC; but Coteau Rougemont is located, you’ve guessed it, in Rougemont, QC. This area is also well known for it’s delicious apples. In the winery, businessman Claude Robert, spared no expense when he purchased the property in 2006. Glass windows showcase a stunning view overlooking the vineyards that welcomes wine lovers and wedding receptions.
The Robert family is just as committed when it comes to the wine. Their very first vintage was in 2010, and along with winemaker Patrick Fournier, they dedicate 60% of their production to cider and 40% to wine.
The harsh and long winters of Québec have led producers to favour hybrids. Grapes from vitis vinifera (most of the grapes you know are vitis vinifera) often die during the winter, while hybrids survive. This is why the core of the wine production has been dedicated to hybrids.
Saint-Pépin is one of the white grapes that have been embraced by many, and has continuously proven to succeed in these climatic conditions. If you’re unfamiliar with the grape, Coteau Rougemont’s 2013 Saint-Pépin is a great way to get introduced. Aromatic with nice white floral aromas, it has bright searing acidity, which balances the slight amount of residual sugar. Try it with your favourite salad or simply serve as an apéritif.
Another wine I have an affection for, which is also made from hybrids, is the 2014 Versant Rouge. Using the winemaking technique called carbonic maceration, winemaker Patrick Fournier succeeded in making a wine that is fresh, honest, and fruit driven. Serve slightly chilled with your favourite sandwich or a plate of cheese and charcuterie.
My biggest surprise was their 2012 Chardonnay La Côte. I am thrilled they’ve taken a leap in choosing a vitis vinifera to make their top wine and succeeded. Chardonnay is known to have the ability to express the quintessence of a terroir and here you have it! The bright acidity screams Québec climate, and the mineral notes are a beautiful surprise on the finish. Open an hour prior to serving and pair it with roasted lemon chicken or mushroom risotto.
By the way, Coteau Rougemont is this month's featured winery for our Wine of the Month Club! You only have until August 15th (that's just 3 days away) to sign up to receive this month's amazing shipment from Coteau Rougemont. Sign up now and you'll be sipping on their delicious wines shortly!
As we say in Québec, chin chin or santé!
Michelle Bouffard is a wine educator and journalist who splits her time between Montréal & Vancouver. She co-owns the Vancouver-based company ‘house wine’ and is the president of the BC Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers. She Tweets @michellebwine and Instagrams @michellebouffard.