Sunday, 3 February 2019

Christophe Pacalet Beaujolais Blanc 2017

Most people are very familiar with red wines coming from the Beaujolais.  The splendour behind the gamay grape is it's juicy fruit forwardness, appetizing acidity, and its amazing drinkability. It has some sort of superpower that can win over the palate of anyone who tastes it.

Many producers are doing an outstanding job in this region, some even making wines from all ten appellations, which can have incredible variances in appellation comparisons.  But can we just step back  for a second to recognize the beauty and equally enchanting Beaujolais blanc, especially coming from renowned producer Christophe Pacalet?

The wine gene is running strong in Christophe as he is the cousin of Burgundy producer Philippe Pacalet, and was the nephew of renowned Beaujolais producer Marcel Lapierre, and therefore cousins with Mathieu Lapierre.  He started his wine business in 1999, and since then has been successfully making wine from all ten appellations of the Beaujolais, and one that has especially rocked my world - the Beaujolais Blanc 2017.

Christophe has a relatively small scale production, and artisanal in nature.  He wants his wine to express their terroir, and makes his wine with minimal intervention.  Although he refrains from doing so as much as possible, he is not entirely against things like dilution or additions of sulfur, when he feels it is needed.

Christophe Pacalet Beaujolais Blanc 2017
SAQ: 13112870  $29.95

Coming from granite soils, this is a wine made with 100% chardonnay grapes.  Aged in neutral Burgundy barrels, there is no filtration, with a minimal amount of sulphur used, roughly around 20mg/l.

Medium gold in colour, this wine has notes of baked apples, candied lemon and pear.  There is a nice sharp, refreshing acidity counterbalanced with a plump mouthfeel.  The luminous finish is fine in length, carrying the fruit along with very attractive saline and floral characteristics.  This wine is ready to drink, but can keep nicely for another 2-3 years.


You can find a bottle at any of the following SAQ shops near you:

Version Française

La plupart des gens connaissent bien les Beaujolais rouges.  La beauté derrière le cépage gamay, c'est son avant-goût de fruit juteux, son acidité appétissante et son incroyable facilité à boire.  Il possède une sorte de superpuissance qui peut conquérir le palais de quiconque le goûte.

De nombreux producteurs effectuent un travail remarquable dans cette région, certains fabriquent même les dix appellations, ce qui entraîne des écarts incroyables lorsqu'on les compare.  Mais pouvons-nous simplement marquer une pause pour reconnaître l'élégance et le charme équivalent du Beaujolais blanc, de Christophe Pacalet?

Le gène du vin est fort présent chez Christophe; il l'est aussi chez son cousin Mathieu Lapierre et son oncle Marcel Lapierre.  C'est avec ce dernier qu'il a débuté la viticulture en 1999 et depuis, il élabore avec succès des vins issus des dix appellations du Beaujolais, dont ce Beaujolais blanc 2017 qui a récemment ébranlé mon monde!

Christophe a une production relativement petite et de nature artisanale.  Il souhaite que ses vins expriment leur terroir et les élabore en minimisant les interventions.  Il limite les intrants et l'ajout de soufre (excluant ceux qui sont naturellement présents dans le vin) qu'il réserve à de seules fins de stabilité pour l'exportation de ses produits.

Christophe Pacalet Beaujolais Blanc 2017
SAQ: 13112870  $29,95

Issue de sols granitiques, c'est un vin 100% chardonnay.  Vieilli en fûts de Bourgogne neutre, il est légèrement filtré, avec une quantité de souffre minimale, environ 20 mg/l.

De couleur dorée, ce chardonnay dégage des notes de pomme cuites, de citron et de poire confits. Il y a une belle acidité vive et rafraichissante contrebalancée par une sensation charnue en bouche.  La finale limpide est fine et porte le fruit longtemps avec des caractéristiques salines et florales très attrayantes.  Ce vin est prêt à boire, mais peut se conserver encore 2-3 ans.


Ce vin est disponible dans un magasin SAQ près de chez vous:

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Oka Valley Quebec: Skip the Cheese, You Want the Wine.

Last year, Rivière de Chêne celebrated it’s 20th year of winemaking in Quebec. In 1998, with a desire and belief in the potential of his family’s land in St-Eustache, Daniel Lalande planted the first hybrid vines, on his family’s 7 hectares of land. 

“We have come a long way”, says Lalande. “We have made a lot of mistakes, lots of removal and exchanges of vines. We have learned so much in the past twenty years that has helped us create great quality wines.”

Rivière du Chêne is making wine from both hybrid and viniferous varieties, and have recently expanded their vineyards and portfolio by gaining land in the Oka, west of Montreal. “We purchased this property a few years back and we decided to name it La Cantina in honour of my grandmother who was from Italy.”  Of the 23 hectares of land at the Oka site, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling are planted.  The site has excellent exposure, and excellent proximity to the lake, helping it keep away from Spring frosts which can be a very stressful time in our Canadian climate.”

Lalande is very excited about the results of the wine he has been making at his Oka vineyards.  He believes that it is truly a special place and has amazing potential for future winemaking in Quebec.  “We have the same degree days in this location as they do in Burgundy and New Zealand.  This, along with the protection of vines with our geotextiles, we have every opportunity to make wines that are expressive of terroir.” 

Lalande is not the only one who believes in the potential of Oka.  Hugo Grenon , a geologist - turned vigneron has recently purchased 7 hectares of land in Oka, and will see his first  bottlings in the next few years.  “It took me 5 years to find the land that I believe is a perfect site for growing vines.”

The land he purchased in Oka showed not only favorable factors for quality wine, like exposure, drainage, and degree days, but it also had to have a special characteristic: alkaline intrusion.  He believes this specific type of subsoil would be ideal for the viniferous grape varieties like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gamay.

“Alkaline intrusion is very rare and unique.  In an alkaline environment, the organic soil is more capable of storage where these metals and elements can be redeposited in the soil with water.  The vines have the ability to convey these characteristics into the fruit. “

Grenon said he had could not just plant his vineyard anywhere, as it had to be a very specific site that he believed could express a terroir for Quebec. It took him 5 years to find the site he was looking for.  “I have a clear vision of what I want my wines to be like; fruit forward with freshness and elegance, simply allowing the grapes to show their character and unique expression of Quebec terroir…..and yes we have terroir.”  The name of the winery is still yet to be determined, but Hugo and his team are working tirelessly to stay on track and do things right. In the mean time, they are making some delicious cider as a side project. 

 Both Grenon and Lalande have been working closely with CRAM, le Centre de Recherche Agroalimentaire de Mirabel, where a special experimental vineyard in Oka is being closely studied.  “They know the land, the soil, the micro climate”, says Lalande.  “We work together to create some of the best wine that is coming out of Oka. We know we have something really special here, we just have to keep developing it. It takes time”.

There are some exciting wines being made in Quebec, and Oka is starting to gain some buzz and attention.  With the support of CRAM, lessons of the past, and keen, passionate winemakers like Hugo Grenon and Daniel Lalande, there is endless potential here.  

For more info and where to purchase La Cantina products, head to :

Hugo’s Project:

Instagram : hugo.grenon

Monday, 19 November 2018

Trio l'infernal : Combier-Fischer-Gerin Riu Priorat 2014

The Priorat is located a short drive away from Barcelona, Spain.  Upon arrival, the steep slopes and sharp turns on the road is enough to take your breath away, and the wines even more so.  The growers and producers here know this place is something special.  The dry climate, rolling hills and poor soil make it very hard for anything to grow, but vines do, and that is all that matters. 

The Priorat is famous for its llicorella soil.  Crumbling bits of laminated slate that are almost dark copper in colour.  Vines dig deep to find moisture, water and nutrients in order to thrive.  This hard work reflects in the beauty of the wine, which has concentrated depth, intensity and complexity. 

The Trio Infernal of Riu is a partnership between Laurent Combier of Crozes Hermitage, Peter Fischer of Provence, and Michel Gerin of Côte Rotie, who come together to make top quality wines in the Priorat.  The wine is wonderfully crafted, powerful and captivating.  This has got to be one of the most alluring wines I have tasted this year.  Here’s why….

This is a bland of 33% Garnacha, Carignan, and Syrah aged 12 months in new French oak.  The wine has a fruit forward excitement of modern wine making with the complexity and fierceness of old vines.  There is structure, depth, and rustic elegance that instantly teleports you to the Priorat.  This cuvee retains all the beauty and power that the wines from this region are known for…but also with a welcoming freshness and vibrancy that leaves a lasting impression. 

Bold and beautiful fruit, showing blackberries, blueberries, and dark cherries with bits of spice and earth.  Intense flavour with excellent acidity and soft tannins leading to an elegant finish composed of dark dark fruit with a good streak of minerality.  Gorgeous wine.  Outstanding quality to price ratio.  Drink now, or within the next 4 -5 years. 

SAQ: 12134170  $34.25

To find a bottle near you check out:

Monday, 5 November 2018

Anthony Carone: Pioneer of Quebec Pinot Noir

There is a lot of buzz about wineries in Quebec. Professionals and consumers alike have been recently pondering whether or not this is a place that can make good wine, or if terroir can even exist here?  These are not new debates, and it is worth mentioning that in any wine region, new or old, we are always learning, evolving, and experimenting.

To get a better understanding of wine in Quebec, the best person to paint a clear picture is someone who has been in the wine industry for the past 20 plus years, and who has a keen and clear vision of where they want their wines to go.  A pioneer, who has taken the all of the risk to plant European wine grapes in one of the most exciting regions of Quebec- that person is  Anthony Carone from the Lanaudière region of Quebec.

In 1990, Anthony left his desk job to undertake the risky initiative of making wine in Lanoraie, just northeast of Montreal.  To say he is experienced is an understatement. He was the very first to plant Pinot noir, one of the most difficult and finickiest wine grapes to grow in the 1990’s.  Since then, he has been experimenting with the different expressions of Pinot Noir, and one of his first cuvees was launching the VENICE brand; an elegant and structured Pinot Noir with some oak aging.  After gaining numerous awards and high scores from top wine critics, he launched the VERITÀ label; a fresh and pure expression of Pinot Noir, aged 100% in stainless steel. 

An opinionated person, you cannot help but be drawn to his honesty and his passion for wine making.  Stepping out of his comfort zone, he most recently launched  a 100% Pinot Noir called Apex -  a natural wine with minimal intervention and made following his family's traditional process.  This special parcel of Pinot Noir grapes had no chemicals added during the growing season and wine making process. Anthony is constantly pushing the limits and his love for Pinot Noir grown in Quebec and his vineyard boasts approximately one third planted with Pinot Noir grapes and the following trio of wines are estate grown on his Lanoraie vineyard.  

All three wines are an incredible example of the different expressions of Pinot Noir grown on Quebec soil.  At the moment, there is a rare opportunity whereby all three styles of Pinot Noir available at the same time.  These wines are available exclusively at fine grocers and online at 

Venice Pinot Noir 2015  $35

Coming from sandy loam soils, this Pinot Noir was aged 8 months in oak barrels, 75% in used American and 25% in New French oak.  Very fresh in style, there is an added complex notes of cloves, cedar, tobacco and earth.  There is a harmonious balance of acidity and fruit intensity with supple tannins that add just the right amount of texture.  An incredibly structured wine, with elegant style and a long, soft finish.  Drink now or in the next 5-6 years.

Verità Pinot Noir 2015  $28

Coming from sandy loam soils, this is a very fruit forward style of Pinot Noir.  Delicate and delicious notes of cherries, blackberries and dried cranberries on the palate with added spice and cloves.  The acidity is spot on, very refreshing with finely integrated tannins and soft mouthfeel.  The finish is fruity and fresh.  It is a very approachable and thirst quenching wine.  Drink now or in the next 2-3 years. 

Apex Vin Nature Pinot Noir 2017 $22

Made with indigenous yeasts, fermented on skins (70% stems)  for 12 days with manual punchdowns throughout,  no enzymes, gravity filtration, nothing added – nothing removed.  Aged in stainless steel tanks, this is the very first vintage of Apex and it is outstanding.  This is if very fruit forward, with finesse and freshness.  Crunchy, bright red fruit like strawberries, cherries, and red currant. Spice and earth framed by an incredible acidity and raspy tannins.  APEX is extremely well balanced and incredibly easy to drink.  Finish is all about the delicious and bright fruit.  Drink now.