Thursday, March 27, 2008

Montreal Salon des Vins, Day 1

Between my tasting group, wine travel (1,2) and everyday wines I have the opportunity to taste many different wines. But as depicted in Edward's Wine Drinkers Dilemma, my tasting experience is a mere drop.

But it doesn't have to be a mere drop! In a effort to increase the size of that drop, and perhaps even make a dent in the liquid filled decanter, I attended the Montreal Salon des Vins.

Held once every two years, the Salon des Vins is not particularly unique, but it is a large event, hosting a variety of makers/distributors in the Montreal Palais des Congres, each offering their wares for tasting and sales.

On the plus side, the event features wines that are not available at the local liquor monopoly (case discounts, even for a mixed case if from same distributor) and it allows you to sample widely before dropping $$$.

On the negative side, it is large, crowded and expensive. The 15$ entrance fee is not too bad, but the coupons (1$ each) per taste (approx 2oz pour) vary widely - one table was charging 2$ for a 2oz pour of $12 verdicchio - ridiculous! Also, the wines are "organized" by distributor, not region - you really have to wander around to find what you are looking for.

Despite all that I had a great time. My objective was to taste widely, and I made Burgundy a key focus for Day 1. I have notes on 17 wines (sounds worse than it was as I spit the bad stuff and many were 1oz pours), here are some highlights:

- I had an absolutely great time with three Grand Cru Chablis from Moreau, all worthy of 18+ JoeScores. The 2006 Vaudesir was a stunning example of a classically-styled (steely, minerally) Chablis. The 2005 Les Clos was very different, creme brulee and creamy, never had a Chablis like it - more like a southern White Burgundy, an absolute joy. The 2005 Valmur was a cross between the other two, very delicious.

- the 2003 Domaine Meix-Foulot Mercurey 'Clos du Chateau Montaigu' was an unusually tannic Burgundy. Simple floral, raspberry, dark unsweetened cocoa, vanilla, some pepper, with big, dry gripping tannins and dry raspberry fruit. A neat bottle, needs some cellar time. I am finding that I quite like most of the reds of Mercurey, especially at their more modest price points.

- a NZ distributor convinced me to try two Craggy Range wines, the 2005 Sophia and the 2005 Te Kahu. Neat expressions of Melot, the Te Kahu was more of a brute, needing more time in the cellar, while the Sophia was soft and elegant. Given the massive price difference I suggest cellaring the Te Kahu.

Lots more to talk about, I'll save that for a future post.



Edward said...


I'm just trying to picture how much arm twisting it took to convince you to try the Craggy Range wine :)

Joe said...

Hi Ed - yes, it was quite a struggle...this was a bottle we were talking about a few weeks ago, wasn't it? Cheers!

Fadi said...

Hi Joe,

I passed by the Salons des Vins yesterday afternoon ..Yeah it was crowded and I agree with you that it'd have been nicer if the different sections were organized by under country themes. Having said I enjoyed my 2.5 hrs spent there. The South African producers had some nice QPRs. What struck me is how sweet the majority of the Alsace wines that were one the show (Rieslings, Pinot Gris, or the Gewrz)!! I like hints of sweetness as long there're other flavors and some complexity that comes along, but the 8-10 Alsacian that I tried were like syrupy water (and they're not even late harvest)!!
One thing to note for the readers is that it's always worth it (in wine shows like this where you pay per tasting) to ask the people pouring the wine for a half portion (which is plenty for tasting), like this you pay 1/2 the coupons asked, and would not get drunk too fast...

Joe said...

Hi Fadi - I was there Friday afternoon as well - we must have just missed each other! Missed the South Africans, but I loved the Alsace I tasted (Dopff et Irion Grand Cru) - I did not try the others. Good suggestion on the half pours - I was back again today and I took advantage of that. Maybe we'll run into each other next time, cheers!

Fadi said...

Hi Joe,
I missed that Alsacian Grand Cru!! Maybe we'll bump into each other at the upcoming event by the heart and stroke foundation (May 1st) where the tasting should be more focused and one would not worry about any annoying coupons. Cheers!

Joe said...

Hi Fadi - you missed a special wine! I will try to go to that event, good cause, I just hope they ban perfume/cologne...

Carl said...

Hi Joe,

Hope summer is treating you well. Great blog! Thought your readers would be interested in knowing about a new monthly concert series that is launching this fall at the Cabaret Lion D'Or. It is part wine tasting, part concert and overall remarkable experience.

September 18th features wines from Spain and two time Juno winner for best international album of the year Alex*Cuba.

You can get more information at It should be one great evening.

Best to you and your readers and keep up the great work.

Joe said...

Carl: I have added a new box on my page with upcoming Montreal wine events - I give that space for free if you keep me up to date on the events. Cheers, and thanks for your comments.