Thanksgiving weekend, I took advantage of the free childcare that Grandparents provide and ran away… admittedly, not far… just far enough to enjoy some wines on the Eastern Township’s “Route des Vins”.
There are sixteen local wineries near my Father’s and, with one thing and another, I had never visited them before. This is the first of three pieces (I realize that my blogs can be lengthy so I thought three short ones might keep everyone’s attention focused on me…cause that’s what it’s all about, right… me?) on the three wineries I could fit into a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
For many, the family name Gagliano will sound familiar. Yes, it is the same name associated with the now infamous sponsorship scandal. However, it is a different family member behind this Quebec winery.
I tried most of the wines that Gagliano produces: red and white table wines, ice wines, late harvest and a port-like sweet wine (as an aside, Quebec really seems to like its sweet wines….). Their award-winning “Portofino” is fortified with grapa and seems to be well-liked, if the lady who rushed up and bought three bottles while I was there is anything to go by.
Of the wines I tasted, the red “Trinita” ($20), white “Ice Wine” ($50/350mL) and red “Ice Wine” were my favourites.
The “Trinita” is a full-bodied red, a blend of Frontenac and Sabrevois grapes. The Sabrevois grape is a recent hybrid bred for the climate. It is considered to have potential and several of the area wineries are growing it. The Frontenac grape is from the University of Minnesota (who knew, Minnesota is in the grape business!) and produces a deep, berry-flavoured juice. This wine is a deep garnet colour, fragant on the nose, peppery in the mouth. At this time, the wine is oaked by the addition of oak chips but there are plans to age it in barrels for the next harvest. I tasted both the 2008 and 2009 vintage and feel that it would make a very nice, Burgundy-like table wine after two to three years of aging.
The Gagliano “Ice Wine” is 100% Frontenac Gris, imparting a lovely bronze colour to the wine. Fragrant on the nose, lingering on the palate, it is a nicely balanced mix of honey sweetness and crisp Fall acidic apples. I tasted the 2009 vintage.
The Red “Ice Wine”, made from the Frontenac Noir grape, is a pleasant balance of the sweetness one expects from an ice wine and the acidity of the Frontenac; it is a lovely pale red in colour, viscous in the glass with a slight honey frangrance on the nose. The taste is sweet, obviously, but followed by a pleasant taste of dried figs, oranges and an autumnal aroma of wet leaves. Unlike the average ice wine, I can imagine drinking more than a small glass, perhaps with a sharp cheese or a dark, flourless chocolate cake.
Serving the many visitors was Vince Gagliano. This is clearly a family business, with siblings and parents all pitching in. Vince told me that the last harvest was in that he and his father would be pressing twenty tons of Frontenac grapes that evening.
The Gagliano winery is the reincarnation of an unsuccessful winery “Les Blancs Coteaux”; this is its third year of production. Its wines are not available at the Société des Alcools du Québec but can be ordered or purchased at the winery. Vince told me that he recently doubled his production and has applied to be carried by the SAQ. When I asked him the standard “which one is your favourite”, he asked me if I had children and could I chose one over the other…trite, yes, but I deserved it for asking such a silly question!
Situated between two of the best known wineries in the area: Les Côtes d’Ardoise and l’Orpailleur and with a few nice, palatable wines, perhaps the Gagliano winery can succeed where Les Blancs Coteaux could not.
I bought six bottles of the Gagliano ice wines and drove home with the satisfying sound of bottles clinking gently in the trunk.
1046 Chemin Bruce Dunham, Québec