SAQ Wine Hunt in Montreal -- Day 3 Finale: Vive La France!... et Espagne! Italie! Hongrie!


My third and final day of wine hunting in Montreal was the biggest yet with a 3 stop SAQ tour that crisscrossed downtown and East Montreal. There were newly discovered treasures resulting in unplanned spontaneous purchases as well as the acquisition of some much sought after treasures.


This was the one from Day One that was under construction. Here I found two bottles of 2004 Pago Del Vicario Dulce, a late harvest Merlot wine from Spain. Really looking forward to cracking this one open as I love Merlot icewine and even like Merlot dry wine, thought I know Merlot is not a grape taken seriously by true wine aficionados. Picked up 2 bottles of this.

The shadow of Kris Patten loomed heavily over me as I passed the very large Alsacian dry wine selection. After careful consideration and research, I had finally settled on a bottle each of the Paffenheim Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer, as well as the Arthur Metz and Hugel Gewurztraminers. However, seeing as how I intended to purchased dry wines on a fourth and final day, I chose not to purchase these now. This would prove to be a very, very fortuitous decision as you shall soon see…


The SAQ Signature store is a two-story retail outlet that connects to a regular plain old SAQ store right beside it. They are separated by a neat automatic glass sliding door that makes you feel like you’re on the Starship Enterprise… if the Enterprise were a speakeasy, that is. [wow.gif] It’s located on Montreal’s most famous and most traversed street, where you find an electic mix of shopping malls, restaurants, boutiques, video arcades and strip clubs like no other street you’ve ever been on. It’s like a kid designed the street using the Sims. Yet incredibly, it works. It’s a beautiful vibrant street with non-stop motion and great stores including this one.

Downtown Montreal also happens to be the heart of Montreal’s business district where all the financial and legal bigwigs work and hang out, so the Signature store is geared towards the serious wine drinker/collector with money. In fact, the bottom floor which is actually underground is designed to both look and function like an actual cellar. Beautifully done in brown oak wood with great displays dedicated to each individual winemaking region. Though it’s hidden out of view, there is also plenty of cellar space that the SAQ also rents out at this location.

If you have any doubt as to who they’re targeting for their clientele, the first thing you pass when you take the stairs down is the $2000 six bottle Hugel Alsacian Selection des Grains Nobles Collection 89-02 Gewurztraminer/Riesling/Pinot Gris gift box. [worship.gif]

The two targets for this particular location: a 1998 Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes and a 2004 Vin de Paille Savigny Cotes du Juras. As Suduirait is a top chateau and 1998 is one of the top Sauternes vintages, I was a bit skeptical as to the relatively low price of only $40 a bottle but the old school product consultant I spoke to assured me that I need only look at the color and the clarity of the Sauternes to know that it is great and that this particular bottle was a great deal.

We then got into a conversation about the modern Sauternes vintages and how 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2010 are all listed as the great modern vintages. While he generally agreed, he gave me a warning to heed about young vintages: many times critics will taste a young Sauternes vintage and declare it to be great without any forethought as to how well it will age and develop. When it then turns to crap, they will cover their asses and claim that there was an unforseen or unknown “flaw” in the vintage they could not account for. By the same token, he told me that he himself had conducted many Sauternes tastings during his 20 years working for the SAQ and found that certain vintages which were declared to be plonk or outright dead such as 2003 actually produced excellent Sauternes.

Following his recommendation, I grabbed 2 instead of the 1 planned bottle of the 98 Suduiraut and decided to pass on the targeted acquisition of the 07 Rieussec. Any mention of how great that Sauternes is I declare heretofore BANNED from this thread so I don’t live to regret passing that one up. [smileyvault-ban.gif]

Then I turned my attention to the Vin de Paille and once again got 2 bottles instead of the planned and budgeted for one. Damn, this hobby is getting awful expensive! [help.gif] Good thing man can get all the sustenance and nutrition he needs from wine, thus making the ingestion of food completely optional. [dance-clap.gif]


My third and final stop was the SAQ Selection store on the East end’s tourist-focused Beaubien street. It’s one of only 2 stores in Montreal that carries my next acquisition target: the 2006 Royal Blue Label tokay from Hungary. I picked up 2 bottles of this and as I was headed to the cashier, I happened to pass by the Alsacian wine selection which I wasn’t even looking for. It’s as if Kris Patten deliberately moved the section to within view of the cash. Has that guy ever been to Montreal before? neener

Well, some of you may know from my previous thread where I threw myself at the altar of Pinot Gris from Alsace that 3 very well regarded names were recommended to me: Trimbach, Weinbach and Zind-Humbrecht. Guess which producer’s wines all just happened to be in stock in this store’s Alsacian wine selection? [worship.gif]

Now wait, the story gets better. Here’s why I love the SAQ’s classification system. Not only do they classify wines per the standard XD, D, M, MS and S classification, they also have not one but two sub-classifications to specify the character and taste profile of the wines.

The first classification is a color-coded taste profile schema that gives buyers a general idea of the wine: aromatic and mellow, vibrant and fruity, etc. Naturally, my eye leans towards the sweet and fruity classification. The other classification is a dry wine taste perception classification that indicates whether a dry wine tastes dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet or sweet regardless of the actual sugar classification. Well, the best of both worlds for a noble sweet and Alsacian wine addict is of course a dry Alsacian wine classified as both Sweet and Fruity and sweet under the two classifications.

Hence, the unplanned spontaenous acquistion of 4 Alsacian wines that fit under both categories: A Weinbach Cuvee Theo Gewurztraminer, a Zind-Humbrecht Herrenweg Riesling, a Bott-Geyl Sonnenglanz Pinot Gris, and a Riefle Bonheur Excellence Pinot Gris. [worship.gif]

Thus concludes the SAQ Wine Hunt in Montreal. There may be an Appendix added with my original Alsacian selections also being acquired, but let’s wait until I take all the nieces and nephews to see Captain America this weekend and if I have any money left over for more wine after the moneysuckers get through with me!