MTL Travel: Rosé + Gourmet in the Eastern Townships

It may surprise some to know that despite the Eastern Township claim to some 27 vineyards, easily placing it at the center of Quebec wi...

It may surprise some to know that despite the Eastern Township claim to some 27 vineyards, easily placing it at the center of Quebec winemaking, the province really started to seriously produce wine only about thirty-five years ago. Needless to say things have evolved at lightning pace as we learned during the kick-off media tour for a campaign focusing on the region’s rosé.

Organized by Tourism Eastern Townships in collaboration with wine route partner Kava Tours, a handful of bloggers led by food writer, speaker, and art of living connoisseur Natalie Richard boarded a bus under sunny skies and perfect temperature for a three-winery discovery day, all within an hour of the city.

Vignoble de La Bauge
Our first stop was at Brigham’s Vignobles de La Bauge, the name a reference to the wild boar who’s called the vineyard home since 1976 and who attracts the many tourists who come to sample wines produced from expertise handed down from father to son. Today it remains a family affair headed by Simon Naud and his mother Ghislaine. Located in the Brome-Missiquoi valley the vineyard makes a number of wines including Brise, a semi-dry rosé, and personal favorite.

Do not miss a carriage ride out into the heart of the field to take part in a ‘polysensorial’ tasting on an elevated terrasse built right in the middle of the vineyard!  Here you are given a glass of rosé and asked to describe it from each of the five senses – a total immersion amongst the vines and one that made us appreciate wine’s sheer complexity.

From here it was onto an al fresco lunch, Provençal in style, and made up of products from the Bauge farm, with more of their fantastic wine. A couple bottles purchased from the boutique and we were on our way.

Our next stop, Dunham’s Union Libre cidre & vin, and their 30 hectares containing 5500 apple trees, the source for several kinds of cider.  Here we discovered fire cider, a relative newcomer since 2010, and the result of fermenting heat-concentrated apple must. With a vibrant acidity on the palate and a bouquet of yellow-flesh fruits, it has a silky, elegant quality perfect with cheese and charcuteries. Cider lovers will want to try it fortified with apple brandy and the benefit of oak barrel aging.

Other varieties include ice cider with aromas of honey and pear, and a rich, balanced finish going great with desserts and chocolate, and sparkling cider for a truly festive touch.

Domaine les Brome
Our last stop of the afternoon was at Domaine les Brome in Lac-Brome, worth a visit if only for the exceptional views of the cantons. Bordered in the back by a century-old apple orchard, the vineyards were planted in gravelly soil facing the lake, complete with an impressive storehouse and sophisticated equipment that permits them to produce a wide variety of reds and whites, oak barrel aged, late harvest, and ice wines. 

Open since 2005, they have won many prizes and continue to attract a devoted following. Don’t leave without a bottle of their renowned Détente rosé, a favourite sipper for your summer barbecues.

Le Pleasant Hôtel & Café
We ended the day with a drive into Sutton, just in time for cocktail hour at Le Pleasant Hôtel & Café. Located in the heart of the quaint town and steps away from boutiques, restaurants, and the popular Mont Sutton ski hill, this stately Victorian mansion-turned boutique hotel has been entirely updated with contemporary décor while retaining some of the original elements. With great views of the surrounding mountains, the 10 rooms all have ensuite bathrooms, and the lower level counts a couple comfortable lounges, and a signature restaurant leading to a large, sun-filled terrasse.

It was here that we enjoyed an aperitif while mingling with charming hotel owners Michel Gagné and his partner Bertin Jacques, before making our way into the dining room where chef Dany Savage ‘had us at hello’ with his new tasting menu du moment, accompanied by wines from the region. 

Given carte blanche to turn the space into destination dining for the region, and armed with a CV including both Chez l'Épicier with Laurent Godbout and Europea with Jérome Ferrer, it’s easy to understand how Chef Savage was awarded, that very night, with the Chef créateur designation from the Townships Tourist Bureau for his masterful menus highlighting regional products.

Calamari ramen with citrus marinade, fennel mousseline, orange pearls and red pepper coulis. 

Snails confit with a spinach coulis, roasted garlic puree, and emmental flakes.

Torchon of foie gras with Le Pleasant's pain perdu, and a palette of flavours.

Trout fillet cooked unilaterally with celeriac puree, root vegetables in their broth, and a lemon foam.

Braised lamb with goat cheese polenta and ratatouille.

Chocolate quartet comprising a brownie, dark chocolate ganache, crystallized chocolate sugar, and strawberry jelly.

Tired in the most satisfied way, we boarded the bus back to Montreal, knowing that our discovery of this diverse and tranquil region had only just begun.


Photo Credit: Dax Giunta


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