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Salon des Vins D'Importation Privee: What You Should Do (Drink) Today Between 4pm and 7pm

Posted by Amie / November 15, 2010

Salon des vins d'importation priveeThis is the best deal on a 5 à 7 ever. The Quebecois Happy Hour will be in full force tomorrow at the Salon des vins d'importations privee at Marche Bonsecours in the Old Port. A lot of these wines at the private importation wine show you can get at the SAQ, but a lot you can't. In theory it'll cost you $1 per sample, but you probably won't be asked to hand over a single coupon. How, you ask?

Most of these importation companies and the actual wine producers present at the show are more than happy to explain and talk about their wines with a curious listener whether you hand over some tasting coupons or not. So be a curious listener. Enjoy the wine. Savour. Have a conversation.

Then, for a grand total of $15 to get into the salon, you can try an organic ("natural") Burlenberg 2004 Alsatian Premier Cru Pinot Noir that retails for $47.50 imported by Les Vins Alain Belanger and a zero dosage natural sparkling wine Barmes-Buecher imported by Oenopole (zero dosage means no sugar is added after the first fermentation - there are two yeasty stages. Did you know that a "dry" champagne or sparkling wine can have up 32 grams of sugar per litre? "Doux" has up to 50!). Tomorrow you can even meet the producer of this crémant and try his lauded Alsatian reisling. The crémant you can get at the SAQ for a very reasonable (for bubbly) $21.55, but the Grand Cru Reisling is $41, so a sample feels like Christmas. Most of the rest of his line you'll never see on liquor store shelves, and importation guidelines requiring a bit of sulfur will keep the best quality bottles out of your hands.

There are a ton of other great wines at the Salon to try - Bordeaux, beaujolais, Napa Valleys, Barolos and barbarescos (the classics, minus Napa Valley), but every importer at this salon has good wines to offer. Ask them what they like, why it's special, and compare what you think you'll like with what you'd never buy at a restaurant or the SAQ. Now's your chance.

Enough education. Back to the fun part.

After starting with the bubbly and maybe the the Reisling, and a grand chat with some producers and hilarious video-makers (see below) find your way over to Marc Bournazeau, the producer of Terra Remota Spanish wines, whose elegant, full-bodied reds are sold at Montreal's Pullman Wine Bar, DNA, and Les Cons Servent. Or try them for next to to nothing at the Marche Bonsecours with no date, friend, enlarged pocketbook, and no glasses to find your date in the poor restaurant lighting required.Aurelia from Oenopole explains the zero-dosage Alsatian crémant

So here's a little sample salon-sampling itinerary. Everything listed below is "natural", "organic", or "biodynamic", so very little or no sulfur is added. It's more complicated than that, but generally all these methods are considered more eco-friendly than, say, Dep wine. Oh, and I'm very much NOT a wine connoisseur, so you really should taste for yourself and get back to me with your own opinions:

1. Barmès-Buecher's Crémant d'Alsace, Brut Zéro Dosage 2007 (Always start with the bubbles)

Where to find it: the Oenopole table (or the SAQ)

Tastes like... I figured it'd be acidic or mineral-y without the additional sugar, but it's actually still sweet. Says Theo Diamantis of Oenopole, not all the sugar is gotten rid of in the first fermentation by the yeast, so what's left kick-starts the second fermentation. What that means is the producer didn't need to add extra sugar to get the second yeasty process happening. I'm not sure if it's good that it still tastes sweet, but it's very drinkable, and it won't give the same sugar high as drinking a bottle of baby duck. Do people still drink that, or is that just a fairytale my family tells about cheap bubbly?

Great with oysters...

2. Thierry Puzelat's Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, 2008

Where to find it: Rézin

Tastes like... Fruity, acidic and refreshing, like hearing someone say it'll be just as good with trout as unsustainable salmon. Very refreshing.

3. Domaine Julien Meyer's Pinot Gris, Alsace, 2008 (then follow up with the Muscat Petit Fleur, 2008)

Where to find it: Insolite Importation table.

Tastes like... You might taste lychee, or you might just taste a smooth, easy to drink white wine. Definitely a good bottle if you miss summer as much as I do.

I'd say with chicken or squash. Yes, vegetarians, a wine pairing for you. Squash. I'm not even making this one up: I heard from the horse's mouth that the Muscat would be good with asparagus (which are $1.00 a bunch at Jean-Talon right now. If you're paying over $2 for non-organic ones you're getting ripped off). Seriously, whose first wine pairing suggestion is asparagus? You've got to have a lot of confidence in your wine to say that. Very impressive.

4. Have a bagel break by sampling the Domaine de la Dourbie Vin de Pays d'oc, Marie Nostra, 2007

Where to find it: Insolite Importation table.

Tastes like... It's a sauvignon chardonnay that's a little sweet and has a taste I couldn't figure out for a second. I'm sure I'm wrong, but I swear I tasted yeasty bagel. So I figured that meant I could call it dinner. So fed and watered, I moved on to reds...

4. Terra Remota's Clos Adrien, 2007

Where to find it: Insolite Importation table.

Tastes like... a mouthful of fruit. Not a whole lot of acid, but not bitter or tannic (the mouth-drying sensation). Insider tip: make friends with Marc because he's going to make a Cava soon (the Spanish sparkling wine made the same way as a champagne but costs WAY less) and you're going to want to know about it once you realize that you can't afford a $20 bottle of Alsatian Crémant every time you want to celebrate, but you are embarrassed to go back to Baby Duck. Drink what you want, but get the most for your money. There's no point paying for a Baby Duck hangover.

Now that you're full, move on to dessert:

5. Cru Barréjat's Sauterne 2001

Where to find it: Rézin table

Tastes like... honey without the syrup. If you've never had a sauterne before this is a good one to try. Made from a mix of sémillon, sauvignon and muscadelle grapes, you're going to smell this wine and start thinking I'm crazy because it smells like nail polish. But then you're going to drink this wine and understand. Then we're going to be friends.

Salon des Vins D'Importation Privée
Where: Marché Bonsecours, 350 St-Paul Est
When: Monday, November 4pm-7pm
How much: $15 (maybe plus some $1 tasting coupons if you're not great at having conversations with strangers)

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