Welcome to Second Ferment! Wine pairs well with life ... and food, travel, people, work and play. Grab a glass and join me as I explore the wine scene in Ottawa, Canada, and beyond. Love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment. Cheers! - Bethany

Sunday, November 20, 2011

La bouffe, le vin et l'amieté

November brings with it grey skies, tons of rain and droopy trees looking naked and bleak. Add to that the end of Daylight Savings, and I'm ready to dig a hole and hibernate.

Or go shopping. For wine.

'Life is too short to drink bad wine.' So true. 
Back in Québec City for another long weekend of eating, drinking, sleeping and shopping. Nothing quite lifts one's spirits than getting together with an old friend, uncorking something yummy and then spending the day strolling from one boutique to the next.

One of those stops included an SAQ Signature shop of mind-blowing proportions. I've never been to Beverly Hills, but this was the Rodeo Drive of liquor stores. I think the cheapest bottle I saw was tagged at $60. But it was still fun to roam from one section to another, gawking at the mostly French, mostly old, and mostly impossible to afford in this lifetime or the next. Nebuchadnezzars were lined up like toy soldiers guarding a sacred shrine of Sauternes. A gleaming Enomatic at the back housed at least a dozen bottles of Amarone, top-tier Burgundies and award-winning Bordeaux.

But I wanted to get my hands on some true Quebecois wines. I didn't even bother asking the snooty clerk at the front if they had a "Terroirs d'Ici" section, just took the stairs down to the proletariat level and started poking around. Even then, the local/Canadian wines were stuck in a small corner, a half-dozen pitiful shelves vastly outnumbered by European selections.

Time to go to the Chateau.

You may recall reading my article for Brix Magazine, when I had the delightful opportunity to chat and taste with the director of the Terroirs d'ici store in the lower level of the Chateau Frontenac. I was thrilled to see it was still open, despite the misinformation circulating online and elsewhere that it had closed down. Nope, it was there, and the shelves were still filled with local reds and whites, ciders and hydromiels. Youpi!

I ended up with a Clos du Maréchal and a Vent d'Ouest from Vignoble Domaine du Ridge (Eastern Townships) and two Williams. They also had a Mission Hill Pinot Blanc that I couldn't pass up; now I wish I'd bought more than one bottle.

We dined at Échaudé in La Basse-Ville (Lower Town), a cozy but chic bistro famous for its tartares. A trio of appetizers runs you $39, but it's more than enough food to satisfy. I had the beef tartare, a foie gras millefeuille and tempura shrimp, all of which went gloriously well with the Orpailleur Brut I was offered in the place of another bubbly that was sold out. This one was way better anyway, with a full mousse, subtle yeast notes and delicate fruit-based sweetness. Wish I'd found one of THOSE at the SAQ.

Of course, in buying all this wine, I failed to remember I had to lug it all home on the train. For future reference, I don't recommend carrying half a case of wine in a canvas bag on your shoulder while killing time on a two-hour layover in Montreal. Ouch.

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