private import wine

There is no time like the present to get into private import wines

Recommendations from our resident sommelier.

We owe a lot to wine agencies for making Montreal such a diverse wine scene, but times are tough for these local businesses since most of their sales are with restaurants. There has never been a better time to familiarize yourself with private import wines, especially since many agencies are making it easier than ever: visit their website, follow instructions to place your order, pay agency fees, ship your case to your nearest SAQ for pick-up. Products are usually sold by cases of 6 or 12 — expensive some may say, but after trading some bottles with friends and saving a few for birthday gifts, the rest will be gone in no time. 

Here are a few recommended private import wines (prepared by Claude Boileau in conjunction with Max McKay):

Cava Brut Laguardia

This Spanish sparkling wine from Bodega Faustino evokes a ray of bright sun — truly comforting, it cheers up the soul! Apple, bread crust, fine bubbles, what a delight! In a blind tasting, a sommelier guessed this was a champagne thanks to its 26 months aging in bottle. This is suitable to consume on its own or with sushi, vegetable tempura, smoked salmon or with hummus and pita.

Macabeu and Chardonnay, 750 ml, $18.10

Write to them here.

Finca Los Tronzones 2018

Spain again! Yellow apple, ripe pear, yeast, bread crumbs, and so round and long in the mouth — a pure delight. It is far from the Sauvignon blanc that we may know — we are somewhere else, and I am in awe. This would pair wonderfully with grilled shrimps and vegetables, tapas or grilled tofu with sesame and coriander.

100% Sauvignon blanc, 750 ml, $16

Write to them here.

Le Grand Ballon Touraine Rosé, Loire

Looking for a crisp rosé? This one is from the Loire’s flinty soils. The nose has a floral springtime freshness, with spiced red fruits deepening the palate. Nice clean acidity and a delicate minerality finish; this rosé is dry but gentle. Food Ideas: ash-rinded goat cheese, gazpacho, a salad of spring greens with strawberry vinaigrette, grilled whole trout, pizza bianco.

80% Gamay, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec, 750 ml, $18.95

Write to them here.

Ottomani IGT Toscana Rosato 2018 

Looking for a change from pool-side rosé? This one will take you elsewhere with its orange peel aroma and delightful bitterness, somewhat reminiscent of an Aperol spritz. To be enjoyed as a dressed-up aperitif or with food such as a selection of cured meat.

This was available at Grumman 78 (RIP) and Lustucru among other places.

80 % Sangiovese, 15 % Canaiolo et 5 % Colorino, 750 ml, $28.69

Visit their website here.

Domaine de Rapatel, Arthur, VdF

Sometimes agencies will carry older vintages, which allows those of us who don’t have the space (or patience) to keep wine for 10+ years to try something that has matured a bit. Grenache-Syrah blend, with black fruits, prune, leather and liquorice aromas, it has a medium-body with rounded tannins and a persistent finish. Lamb tagine would make a great pairing. 

Last seen at Pullman and Leméac.

Grenache, Syrah, 750 ml, $31.88

Visit their website here.


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