2020 Pinard et Filles Vin de Jardin

Austin, Quebec

Pinard et Filles is a Québec winery started by Frédérick Simon and his wife Catherine Bélanger. They have both worked in the wine industry since the 1990s, in different aspects from owning restaurants to importing. Bélanger now owns Pullman Bar à Vin in Montréal, and Simon runs the winery.

Coming full circle, they bought land in 2010, starting the winery from scratch. They planted ten thousand vinifera vines, along with winter-hardy hybrid vines. Today, they farm two sites that are home to nine different varieties of vinifera and ten hybrid species. This enables them to produce sixteen cuvée’s each vintage. In a young wine-producing region such as Québec, there are no set traditions, thinking creatively helps to overcome the challenges of working in such a marginal climate.

This wine is a blend of the hybrid varieties Frontenac Noir (40%), Gris (30%) and Blanc (30%). Its fermentation is by wild yeasts in amphora, with no fining or filtration or added sulfur. A hybrid grape is a result of crossing two different species of vine, which can happen naturally or deliberately. Frontenac is a French-American crossing of Landot Noir and Vitis Riparia #89. This particular variety was bred at the University of Minnesota in 1978 and released commercially in 1996. It’s the most planted red wine grape in its home state of Minnesota, as well as in Québec, where it’s planted in 70% of the vineyards. Frontenac Gris is a pink-berried mutation of Frontenac, as is Frontenac Blanc.

The main reason hybrids exist is to give the resulting variety a desirable quality. In this instance, Frontenac is winter-hardy, meaning it can withstand the extreme cold climate of Québec. In other cases vines exist for the opposite reason, to withstand the extreme heat, offering drought resistance. Hybrids are also used to fight against pests and diseases.

In the past, the reputation of wine made from hybrid grapes has not been as high as those made from Vitis vinifera. But, these wines can offer a different and exciting flavour profile. Canada has a long history with hybrids and makes a lot of exciting wines. This one is no exception. It can be enjoyed as a light red or heavier rosé and is best with a light chill. It has a profile of blueberry, blackcurrant, crisp apple with an earthy/herbal element. If you have never had a wine from Québec before, or a wine made from a hybrid grape, now's the time. This is one of the best examples you will find!

If you would like to learn a little more about Pinard et Filles and a few other exciting Canadian wineries, check out an article I recently wrote for Vine Pair.