With hundreds of skilled “cheese makers”, Quebec is renowned for its fine cheeses, but remains an underrated producer of quality wines. In the far south of the province, near the township of Dunham, is the Vignoble du Ruisseau, a prime destination for wine tasting. The vineyards here are the only ones in Quebec to exclusively use European grapes. The vineyard bottles Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Visitors can also dine at Le Bistrot du Vignoble, which offers picturesque views of the surrounding vineyards and hills. Our guide tells us that 65% of the ingredients of the dishes served at the bistro come from the land of the Vineyard, which raises its own cows and pigs, as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables. During the tasting, we nibble on fresh ham, purple and orange beets, and sweet tomatoes that explode in your mouth.
In addition to first-rate producers, this region of Quebec also promises a selection of excellent tables. Le Coureur des Bois, in Beloeil (on the Richelieu River, about a half-hour drive east of Montreal), is one of many restaurants that mostly source their ingredients from local farmers. . As a result, their menu is seasonal and flexible – I learn how chef Éric Fortin tells us that the grilled tuna in our entree comes from a 565-pound bluefin tuna he caught off the peninsula. Gaspé, shortly before our visit. . It’s spectacular. And just as impressive as their food is the wine selection. Their remarkable inventory of more than 14,000 bottles has earned them the Grand Prix d’Excellence du Wine Spectator for five consecutive years. Visitors to the restaurant can enjoy a wine pairing from a collection of local and international bottles with each course. We sampled a bottle of Castor, a demi-sec white wine from Vignoble Les Gémeaux in Hinchinbrooke, Quebec, which I found to be superb and full of fruity notes.