Joe Beef x Hinterland
This was the first time I sunk into a L’imparfait Négociant production.
For those unfamiliar with the term, négociant originates from France – its where a producer doesn’t grow his own grapes, opting instead to purchase grapes in bulk, and vinfy (make the wine) in a separate cellar, often their own, or sometimes, in partnership with another producer.
The négociant in this case, is Montreal celebrity chef, and founder of the Joe Beef empire, David McMillan (you might’ve seen him and partner Fred Morin pop up on several of the late Anthony Bourdain’s TV shows).
The winery, in this case, is Hinterland – one of the top producers in Prince Edward County, specializing in sparkling wine.
L’imparfait is all about the details. From the catchy label designed by Montreal artist Dan Climan, to the robust bottle, to thethe distinct green wax cap, to the true-cork cork – it is evident that meticulous care to each and every detail was given – something I appreciate immensely.
The wine itself is a natural wild-ferment, bottle-aged Chardonnay, grapes sourced from Quarry Road Vineyard in Niagara. This means that the yeast used was simply those that are found on the skin of the grape or in the cellar – so no artificial yeasts added. It also means that the juice stayed in contact with the lees that remained in the bottle – so yes, the wine will appear a little hazy. All this stuff adds delicious texture and complexity.
The first sip greets me with a light effervescence. Then, I get hit with a distinct aroma that I’ve come to see in most natural wines – light hints of fresh dill, with some subtle oak and vanilla.
Where do we start with the flavours… first, a crisp quince-like acidity, then, the characteristic yellow apple, pear that comes from a cooler climate Chardonnay. It’s a layered wine, so then I get hit with the buttery, cheesiness from the lees-aging, then, a little mushroom rounds out the savoury deliciousness. The acid is lively, and the finish is long – a combination that leaves you waiting for the next sip. The bottle might’ve been emptied in an unusually short period of time…
David McMillan is a Francophile, and this bottle makes total sense. Pairing this with a French fish dish – something like a Poisson de Rivière au Beurre Blanc, Mackerel Vin Blanc… divine.