August 29, 2010

val caudalies, the chefs and the trendy

I was recently reading in a magazine an article about the 'Top ten Canadian restaurant trends' for 2010 and 2011. I never read these things and prefer to ignore them. This time though the top five were something like artisanal cheese, local ingredients, organic, free rage chicken, sustainable....anyway, the point was clear. In a flash I suddenly saw myself for the first time as someone who was trendy! I had a moment of 'I am not doing anything new or original' panic and then calmed down, after a glass wine. How was it possible, I thought in a brooding kind of way. How the fuck did this suddenly happen? Why was being trendy something evil? Maybe it meant being sensitive to our...

I was gooping all this in my mind when I pulled into Val Caudalies off of highway 213 near Dunham. It is simple. 20 000 vine plants and 1600 or so apple trees. I wander around outside looking at the orchard, mount Pinnacle, almost staring at the quiet. I walk into the boutique and meet one of the owners Guillaume Leroux. He offers me a dégustation with confidence but also with the undertones of someone saying 'it will get better'.

white wine 2009 100% Vidal, peach and wild flower nose with a strong mineral taste leaning towards fresh herbs and crisp pears. love it.

Vidal vendenge tardive. litchi, exotic fruits with a light complex gout oxidative which I love in sweet wines.

cidre de glace 2008 picked on the tree end of december beginning of January pressed at minus 8 degrees. Here is all the qualities of a good apple ice cider.

rosé very popular this year, even in Lebanon. everyone seems to be sold out. Pink is in.

cidre liquoreux an interesting product which is frozen half as long as an ice cider with the taste of apple crisp, less alcool, less sugar with a nice bite of acidity from the Macintosh apple. Amazing with a aged sharp cheddar.

Val Caudalies is no more than 6 years old. Collectively they worked for another similar enterprise in the Bas St-Laurent region, studied a bit of oenology in Québec, but there is no France, no Italy, no Germany. So? How is it possible? Serious stuff. Searching. Promising. There are some people who pay attention I guess, as if understanding someone that it has always been that way.

I thought of France and Italy, of the Serbian markets I visited again and again, Lebanon with their almost predictable seasons and the same dishes which appear on almost every menu...all these places had firm and long traditions. North America does and does not have this. When it comes to the Indigenous people there is a very long tradition of food, cultivation and knowledge of the land. Now for the rest? In France there are excellent charcuteries. Here in Québec? It is more or less difficult to find, albeit a new trend. For the moment though that is not what is important. What is though, is that we are all partaking in the development of our own types, be it wine or charcuteries, our own styles which will stabilize one day and no longer be a trend but a part of our everyday, the very expression of where we live and our identity. The exciting thing is that we are all part of establishing this future of regional AOC's. Everytime we buy something good, it gives those artisans the funds to keep experimenting and perfecting. That is the benefit of living in the new world, we are all in some way building towards something of quality which will one day become if not our immediate tradition then for the generations to come. `This year' Guillaume tells me 'we have tripled our visitors.' I smile. Well I guess they are becoming trendy too. I was encouraged by Guillaume's lightness, his love of doing what he is doing, reminding me that sometimes the things we love do become trendy, but as trends change, our love hopefully does not.