I get all giddy at the thought of a trip to Canada. I LOVE that country. I’ve determined if I had
a grander tolerance for chilly winters, it’d be Vancouver all the way, baby. Cosmopolitan, clean, great people, amazing restaurants with cool wine lists, Stanley Park, dragon races, the Grand Isle Market…wow, I could go on—that city completely delights me.
My first trip northward was to Toronto in 1978, and this California school-aged girl loved the big city. I bought a heart-shaped, sew-on patch that read “Metropolitan Toronto, Affectionately Yours”, and over the years, my affection for Canada has only continued to grow.
My husband and two daughters speak a bit of French, me not so much. Yo hablo espanol mucho mas mejor. We decided to visit the French speaking province of Canada this summer. We spent some time in Montreal, as well as in charming Quebec City. Originally the plan was to drive from
NYC to the Finger lakes in upstate NY so I could do some eastern US wine tasting. Logistics precluded that from occurring, but I promised myself I would try something new once in Canada. As in Paris, the bistros in Quebec City are charming. Quaint tables and rattan chairs line the streets. Diners linger over their meals, wine glasses in hand, conversing, laughing and enjoying life. At Pain Béni, along the rue Ste-Anne, I opted for a local red wine, Clos du Maréchal, a wine made from the Maréchal Foch grape.
Like me, most wine grapes don’t have a tolerance for chilly winters; growing these grapes in Canada is a daunting task. The varieties need to be hearty enough to survive the bitter cold. Foch–as it’s
referred to locally–is an early ripening French hybrid that has stood both the test of time and temperature. The predominant wine regions in Canada are located in British Columbia and Ontario, but Quebec does manage to produce a respectable quantity of mostly whites and a few reds, like my glass at Pain Béni.
As I swirled and sniffed, I noticed the wine wasn’t particularly aromatic-maybe a bit spicy. It was, however, pretty to look at in the glass, similar in color to perhaps a Cote du Rhone, not quite garnet, not quite red currant. I enjoyed the experience from an educational standpoint. For me, this new variety was
light and enjoyable on a warm evening. If I were to describe its taste to you, I would say it was a cross between the Beaujolaises and the young Pinot Noir’s I’ve tried through the years. When I read up on the wine, I found out that, Foch often undergoes carbonic maceration, the same non-yeast fermentation process used in the production of Beaujolais Noveau. Maybe that’s why my Pain Béni glass had the flavor profile it did. I felt this wine was a good example of something to enjoy with a meal, not necessarily what I’d curl up with on my couch. But that’s just me—regardless, I’m glad I had a chance to drink like a local in one of my new, favorite vacation spots. XoSB