6.22pm, Old Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Bonjour folks! Comment ca va? I’m fine thanks, but working overtime to make sure that I get our story across when everyone else is working in their second language. The weirdest thing happens when I’m working in Montreal. Because I don’t have any French at all, I concentrate on using the precise and classic terms for things, instead of branching off into colourful and colloquial language that the folks with French as a first language would have trouble following. (Sometimes folks with English as a first language have trouble following Aussie-isms!) Also, my hands take on a life of their own. They turn into descriptive units, as if waving them about can create “pictures in the air” to help illustrate my point! As I said – weird! However, I think we’ve done really well.
Quebec is out a bit on its own in Canada, as apparently the powers that be basically said “No, we’re not having a recession in this province”. And they already enjoy a European lifestyle where wine is an integral part of their world. It seems that to, a large extent, things have just kept on keeping on here in Montreal.
So we have been out and about to the SAQ stores to see the wine consultants, we’ve had several consultants attend a master class at Le Gourmand restaurant out at Pointe Claire in the West Island part of town last night, and today we hosted media people for lunch at Da Emma – the best kept secret restaurant in Montreal. Proper Italian food – old school stuff that I really like – that even the superstars chase down when they’re in town. I can’t believe that two of my absolute favourites – Richard Gere and George Clooney, a couple of lovely, lovely blokes – have both come by to taste Emma’s excellent home cooking.
I have taken photos to show you some of the dishes that really rang bells with the wines we had on show, but honestly in this town you’d have to make a big effort to find ordinary food!
Out at Le Gourmand, they’ve set up the restaurant in a beautiful old stone building. Would you believe it was built between 1847 and 1849, and we opened our doors at the winery in 1849? Spooky! We were lucky enough that the chef/owner Michael Oliphant came out to join us for dessert and Muscat at the end of the evening. But then, it’s never really difficult to talk a chef into having a drink after work, is it!
The pick of the dishes here was a linguine loaded with three local mushrooms and topped with duck confit. I couldn’t decide between the bright and lush fruit of the 2006 Hand Picked Shiraz Viognier, or the star anise, blackcurrant lift and sweeping Shiraz undercarriage of the 2004 Signature with this one. Oh, and I have copped a bit of teasing today, as last night I was talking about our Jansz sparkling to the wine consultants, and spied a triangular piece of crusty bread in the basket, used that as Tasmania, the Jansz cork to be the winery and I popped that on the bread where the vineyard is located, then stood another spiky piece of bread behind the cork to show how the vineyard is modified by the maritime and mountain climates – making it unique for sparkling wine production, and Francois (who owns Elixirs – our Quebec distributor) and Kath (our gal who runs the Canadian market for us) laughed at me! I thought I did a really creative job in getting the message home!
Then just when you think things can’t get any better, today at Da Emma over lunch with the media folk – I had Emma’s agnelotti – homemade oval ravioli stuffed with veal, in a fresh tomato, garlic laced bolognaise sauce to die for. Same question! Shiraz Viognier or Signature? Actually, it doesn’t matter. They both fly because they’ve both got magic fruit, and no aggression in the oak crossover and support of the fruit. (Thank’s Broady – head cooper, Yalumba – for seasoning that timber well, and giving us some barrels to work with that make sure everything is pretty jolly smooooth in those reds!)
I’ve also put in a photo of Johnny and Bill (both journos with us for the morning ) and Emma’s famous whole tomato and bufalo mozzarella.Yes girls, it’s a tough job having lunch with such nice blokes on a regular basis! And Bill even likes country music. And bone dry Riesling. Doesn’t get much better than this.
Alors! I will now go and get ready to meet up with Francois as we’re off to a Greek restaurant this evening that has just put some of our wines on the list. Then I’d better get packed, as it’s off to Ottawa for the day tomorrow for me. As they say in the song folks “the road goes on forever …”