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Gastronomic Getaways, Part 1: The Harvest Festival - Wine and gourmet tastings in Magog

Posted by Amie / September 1, 2013

fete-des-vendages-2013This long weekend (Aug. 31-Sept. 2) and next relatively short weekend (Sept. 7-8) Magog is throwing up a couple of tents and hauling out the cider to celebrate the grape-picking (and apple-picking) season. Along for the fun are tons of Quebec specialty producers, from fromageries and charcuteries and the province's best sommeliers and chefs who'll take over the scenic Eastern Townships locale for the fest.

Where: Magog (about two hours from Montreal)
How much: $20 for entry and 20 tasting coupons
Who goes: Tons of tourists, yes (mostly Quebeckers), but also locals and lots of Montrealais getting out of town one more time before fall hits. Hope for sun, bring a designated driver or stay overnight, and sample Quebec wines and some award-winning ice ciders from over 40 wineries, cidreries, and producers of all things fermented and fortified.

I was on a cider hunt (still, sparkling, and iced), but I did try a couple frontenac gris white wines (La Presse gave them a great review as an interesting grape varietal coming out of Quebec) and 1 interesting red. Here are my top picks:

Sparkling Cider coup-de-coeur:
fete-des-vendages-russet-cidRusset from Les Verger de la Colline

These guys are young and hip. Their ciders are refreshing. Three come in bottle-capped glass pop bottles. One of those is refreshing (the original, the lightest-coloured one below). But this Russet cider was one of the only ciders with tons of acidity and freshness that made you feel that you could actually drink the whole thing (think Champagne versus Baby Duck or other cheap sparkling wine). Not a lot of cideries are using russet apples, and these guys are putting the ugly-skinned variety to good use.

fete-des-vendages-cidThe other pop bottle-style cider offering from Les Vergers de la Colline. Apparently these are sold at tons of retailers in Montreal, including Les Douceurs du Marche at Marche Jean-Talon, Veux-tu une Biere specialty beer shop (at Cremazie), and at Marche St-Jacques. You can find some of their products at restaurants, but not enough yet.

fete-des-vendages-monde-des-bullesSpeaking of Baby Duck. If you really want a half bottle of local bubbly, this is probably the best choice. You get to unwrap the bright, shiny cork. Yay! It's all silver and nice. Christmas for big kids.

fete-des-vendages-minot-brutMinot Brut from Cidrerie du Minot

You find Cidrerie du Minot on tap at a lot of Montreal restaurants, but the brut is less common. It doesn't have that overly-fermented, headache-inducing apple juice flavour, so go with this one if you have the choice.

Frontenac Gris:

fete-des-vendages-cavalier-versant-unoakedIf you want to try this varietal, the best I tried was this Cavalier Versant unoaked white. Light but not flat. Fresh and not funky. And completely buttery without any of that cloying Chardonnay feel. Perfect with anything with butter. Ad what doesn't go with butter?

fete-des-vendages-domaine-des-meteoresThis organic red from Domaine des Meteores is my top pick for a Quebec-made red wine. The problem is we get great reds coming from France, Italy and Spain, and many at low prices in the SAQ and at restaurants through private importation. So only the staunch locavore will splurge on a Quebec-made red unless it's truly stellar. This one is for people transitioning to locavorism. It's got a round flavour, clean aftertaste, and a nice freshness. It's no award-winning Bourdeaux, but if you're the type willing to spend $15 on a fresh, young red from the Loire, Cote-de-Rhones, or Languedoc (and you're willing to drive to the winery to do it, because it's not at the SAQ--organic, low sulfite, very untouched wine that it is), give this a try.

Ice Wine:
fete-des-vendages-ice-wine-gelinasThe best ice wine I tried was the Signature Swenson White 2011 version from Gelinas. It didn't taste like syrup. (If I wanted syrup, I'd eat syrup...goodness knows Quebec has enough of it.) Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure you can only get it at the winery. Worth the trip? Yes.

Also on hand at the event are tons of food producers. Think fois gras and cheese and charcuterie and olive oils and nuts. They all cost coupons, but some are mighty tasty. There's even some artisanal gelato-style ice cream.

And there are culinary demos and wine talks from the likes of award-winning sommelier, Véronique Rivest, Guénaël Revel (Sommelier, expert in champagne and bubbly wines), Nadia Fournier (Sommelier and collaborator on the Guide du vin Phaneuf), Karyne Duplessis-Piché (Sommelier from La Presse), spice experts Ethné & Philippe de Vienne, chef Laurent Godbout of Chez l'Épicier, and chef Danny St-Pierre from restaurants Auguste and Chez Augustine.

There are a couple prizes too. You could win a wine cellar, and enter your name for $50 SAQ gift certificate by properly labeling wines. It's a fun game for wino afficionados.

Go make a day of it. And make sure you have a non-boozed-up person to drive you home!

Fete des Vendages

August 31, September 1 and 2: from 11-7
September 7 and 8: 11-6


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Anime / November 22, 2019 at 12:43 pm
Gastronomic Getaways, Part 1: The Harvest Festival - Wine and gourmet tastings in Magog
Anime / November 22, 2019 at 11:58 pm
Gastronomic Getaways, Part 1: The Harvest Festival - Wine and gourmet tastings in Magog
Anime / November 23, 2019 at 12:54 am
Gastronomic Getaways, Part 1: The Harvest Festival - Wine and gourmet tastings in Magog

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