A happy and joyeux Novembre happens in Montreal each year
If you love wine and you want to visit Montreal, take my advice and go in November. November is the most wine-soaked month in the calendar there.
Several years ago, the SAQ took a look at all the major wine events that happened in the city over the year and decided to concentrate them in the month of November. Playing off “Happy Christmas,” they called it “Joyeux Novembre.”
Kicking off the month is a three-day event called Passion Vin, which is centred at the Hotel Bonaventure. The event celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2016. Then there’s a tasting at Bonsecours Market of the association of private wine importers, whose unwieldy acronym is RASPIPAV. (Some 16,000 wines are privately imported into Quebec as opposed to the 8,000 skus offered by the SAQ.)
The next offering is the two-day, themed La Grande Dégustation de Montréal in Place Bonaventure that features more than 200 winemakers, distillers and brewers from around the world (this past year’s theme was Spain, Grenache and global bubblies).
Then comes La Grande Tablée, a one-night dinner at the Fairmount Queen Elizabeth Hotel with menus created by Quebec’s top chefs. Some 700 gourmets attend. And finally, at the end of the month, there’s a three-day celebration of the wines and cheese of Quebec at Bonsecours Market.
But the most intriguing event is Passion Vin. Martin Gauthier, president of the organization for the past four years, told me that wineries that accept the invitation to attend must provide 36 bottles from six vintages. Plus they are expected to donate bottles for the live and silent auctions that takes place during the Grand Banquet on the final night — and supply wine for this dinner.
I attended Passion Vin this past November. Just to get you salivating, here’s a lineup of the tastings, all conducted by the owners and professionally served by a group of some 30 sommeliers who volunteered their time: six vintages of Louis Roederer Cristal Brut (2006, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2000 and 1999) followed by a four-course lunch at which five wines from Domaine du Pégau Châteauneuf du Pape were served — their 2014 white and four vintages of the red (2012, 2011, 2008 and 2009).
In the afternoon was a tasting of six vintages of Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino (2001, 2004, 1997, 1990, 1977 and 1968). Then six vintages of Vieux Château Certan (2012, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 1998).
The next morning, a tasting of six wines from Jean-Claude Boisset, introduced by winemaker Grégory Patriat: Beaune Les Vignes Franches 2012, Puligny-Montrachet 2011, Corton Charlemagne 2011 and three vintages of Clos de la Roche (2011, 2012 and 2008). This was followed by a lunch tasting of five wines from the Piemonte producer Ceretto — an Arneis 2014, a Barolo 2010, Barolo Bricco Rocche 2008, Barolo Cannubi San Lorenzo 2005, and Barolo Bricco Rocche Brunante 1999.
After lunch, a tasting of Château Troplong Mondot 2011 (the second wine), and Château Troplong Mondot vintages 2006, 2004, 1998 and 2010.
Before the Grand Banquet that evening there was a Roederer Champagne reception followed by a five-course meal that book-ended a live auction. During the bidding the winery owners who had donated the bottles would leap up on stage to outdo each other by adding visits, meals and overnight stays to their lots.
The combined live and silent auctions on that night raised $1,041,907. These proceeds will go to the construction of an integrated cancer centre at Montreal’s Maisonneuve-Rosemount Hospital. The Quebec government has said that if the wine enthusiasts of Montreal raise $12 million they would match the amount to finance the construction of the centre.
All it takes is wine to open people’s hearts and wallets.