Here in Québec, autumn is in full swing. Fall colors are at their peak, snow geese are staging on the tidal flats, and the grapes are ripe on Orleans Island. In fact, at Bacchus Vineyard, they have just brought in the last of the harvest for the 2014 vintage.
The Vignoble Isle de Bacchus is to the left as you drive onto Orleans Island, just outside the village of St. Pierre. Its terraced fields slope gently toward the northwest, providing a summer’s worth of late-day sun to ripen the grapes. With those grapes, Bacchus Vineyard makes a variety of reds and whites, as well as some sinfully tasty wine cocktails.
The day of my visit, volunteers were harvesting Marquette grapes, a hybrid grape that is descended from the Pinot Noir. Developed at the University of Minnesota, the Marquette is prized for its ability to survive cold winters, which are in no short supply– either in Minnesota or here in the St. Lawrence River Valley. The vintners at Bacchus Vineyard use the Marquette in several of their red wines, including my favorite, the Réserve Alexandre. The vineyard touts this wine as a bold rouge that tastes of black current and plum with hints of roasted coffee and chocolate. This is connoisseur talk for “really good”! I would put it up against similar wines from the best known wine-growing regions of the world. I can’t wait to taste the 2014 version!