If you live in Quebec, it is that time of the year that most of us will make our pilgrimage to our not so local sugar shack or cabane a sucre. This is a celebration of sugar, salt and fat that will leave you in a food coma in a matter of hours.
The SAQ list around 20 sugar shacks where you can bring your own wine ( https://magazine.saq.com/fr/conseils-pratiques/apportez-votre-vin-a-lerabliere/) and the menu is quite similar in all of them of course with slight distinctive personal touches.
Forget about the big reds and think sparkling and rose wines. Instead opt for high acid wines, fruity with little or no oak. Remember that salt more than fat will accentuate the tannins in your wine.
A word about sweetness if you are drenching all of your food in maple syrup
The wine should always be sweeter than the food. Sweetness in wine takes the role of a foil to rich foods. Sweet foods make dry wines seem over-acidic and tart.
The general rule of thumb is to serve a wine at least as sweet or sweeter than the food being served. So if you are looking to drench your omelette, potatoes or bacon in maple syrup you might as well go for a sweet wine such as Banyuls, Sauternes or Barsac.
The below recommendations are quite versatile with all the meal components of the sugar shack not including dessert. I favor Spanish whites because of their acidity and Pinot Noir because it yields versatile and food friendly reds.
Telmo Rodriguez Basa Rueda 2018 – SAQ# 10264018 $17.15
Vintage tasted 2017. Made with the native varieties Verdejo and Viura from Rueda, this Spanish white has a pretty nose reminiscent of grapefruit and balanced herbs with touches of granny smith apple. It is medium body with a snappy acidity and delicious minerality. I like it. From one of the top winemakers in Spain.
Pares BaltÃ Indigena 2017 – SAQ # 13565511 $22.40
A biological white made exclusively with white Garnacha from one of the top producers in Catalunya. Very expressive and candid nose bringing to mind white nectarines and meyer lemon notes. On the palate, dry and crisp with a racy aromatic finale.
Charles & Charles Rose 2017 – SAQ # 13189017 $16.60
An eclectic blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Counoise. Delicious yet simple aromas of raspberry, watermelon with strawberries. A straightforward rose, nothing uncomplicated verging on the vinous side in the palate. Medium length with a good acidity.
Domaine Phillippe Charlopin-Parizot Bourgogne Cuvee Prestige 2016 – SAQ # 13004342 $41.50
This is nice. Quite floral with nuances of raspberry yogurt and montreal spice notes. On the palate, fluid and long with finely woven tannins. It is a teaser of a wine but it is quite promising if you want to keep it for a few years
Domaine Comte Senard Bourgogne Rouge Auguste 2016 – SAQ # 13590601 $34.25
Lovely Pinot Noir nose. Cranberry with pomegranate puree and pleasantly herbaceous and floral as well. Delicious with a long aftertaste that brings to camphor and liquorice.
Ten Sisters Pinot Noir 2015 – SAQ # 13844368 $25
What an incredible nose. Subtle nuances of tomato leaf, slightly spicy with lovely hints of raspberry, cherry. On the palate easy going with just the perfect concentration, this New Zealand Pinot noir has a wonderful acidity with a retronasal that brings to mind bright fieldberry fruit.
After your Sugar Rush – Two local Quebec liqueurs
After the feast of fat, salt and sugar, you might find that the walk around the cabane is not enough to help you with the digestion. So if you are craving for a digestive, here are two recommendations:
Distillerie Mariana Morbleu Rhum Noir Ã‰pice – SAQ# 13992820 $34.00
This distinctive rhum from Quebec has menthol, blackcurrant and chocolate notes. In the mouth, it is round and creamy, the sweetness balancing the generous alcohol finish in the finale. Beautiful on its own but could would be a wonderful partner with a Jamaican cigar.
Le Reduit de Leo – SAQ# 12933043 $33.00
From the artisanal Micro Distillerie in Monteregie comes this magnificent fine liqueur made with maple reduction and Marie- Victorin Gin coming from the same distillerie. The reduction is the first product that results from the boiling of maple sap in an evaporator, after only a few hours. The tradition says that the boiler adds a little gin in its reduced glass if the quality of the product is satisfactory.
This light digestive can be appreciated straight, on the rocks and hot as well. It has a perfumed nose of maple taffy with ginger candy. On the palate, it is fresh and elegant with a creamy mouthfeel and a long-lived finale.