The wine scene in Montreal has evolved a lot in the last few years. Numerous wine bars have sprung up as Quebecers’ love of wine continues to grow. Montrealers are now spoiled for choice when it comes to enjoying a good glass of wine. I decided to make my own idea of the best spots to drink fermented grape juice in the Quebec metropolis. Here is my selection of the best wine bars in Montreal.
M. et Mme
Opened in mid-January 2016, Mr. and Mrs. has quickly become a must for wine lovers in the Plateau Mont-Royal and Outremont. Located on Laurier Avenue, this wine bar has one of the most ambitious wine lists in Montreal. Its friendly sommelier Francis Arkinson has put together a list of no less than 600 wines, many of which are organic, biodynamic or made using natural methods. 120 prestigious wines will be added to the list in the coming months.
An interesting concept, Mr. and Mrs. work with 13 private import agencies. Each agency has its own bottles stored in a cellar that blends harmoniously with the decor. Each week, the bar highlights a particular agency by putting several of its wines on tap. At any given time, Mr. & Mrs. offers some 40 wines by the glass and half-glass, plus a few thematic tasting trios. Very nice choice of orange wines for the amateurs of the genre. I had the chance to taste a very rare orange wine from the Languedoc winegrower Léon Barral.
M. et Mme offers a very substantial food by Chef Stelio Perombelon. You will have the choice to sit in the bar area or in the dining area. A lighter, finger food style menu is also available for those with a small appetite or to accompany a drink if you don’t necessarily want to dine.
The basement of the bar has two spaces to organize various events. Mr. & Mrs. organizes wine tastings on Tuesday evenings. During the M. et Mme Evenings, you can taste a dozen wines for the modest sum of $20. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, we also organize 4 or 5-course tasting dinners to showcase the wines of a producer.
We like: one of the largest choices of wines by the glass and by the bottle in Montreal, impeccable service, the quality of the food and the late night menus at $24 after 10 pm.
To treat yourself: champagnes from Larmandier-Bernier and Jérôme Prévost, sylvaners from Franken (Germany), wines from Jean Tardy (Burgundy), Pascal Cotat (Sancerre) or Can Rafols Del Caus (Catalonia), etc.
M. et Mme
240, rue Laurier Ouest
Accords is located on Notre Dame Street West, a stone’s throw from Notre Dame Basilica in Old Montreal. The owners, Chantal Fontaine and Jean-Pierre Des Rosiers, opened Accords in 2009 inspired by the Italian enoteca concept. The restaurant and wine bar attracts a business clientele at lunchtime and a more touristy clientele and wine lovers in the evening. Accords offers almost exclusively natural or biodynamic wines, as the owners say, “wines that are a little funky, original, but without flaws. The restaurant has a very extensive wine list with no less than 500 references. There is no wine by the glass on the menu. Every evening, the sommelier decides which wines to open and offer by the glass, depending on the menu of the day and the tastes or desires of the customers!
When it comes to food, Accords is gastronomic with the cuisine of chef Simon Mathys. The restaurant transforms all the products it receives. Everything is homemade: pastry, bakery, butchery, etc. Great attention is also paid to the origin of the food. For this reason, products from sustainable agriculture or fishing are favored. The chef is himself a wine lover and he does not hesitate to taste wines with the sommelier in order to get inspiration to create and renew his menu. The menu changes very regularly according to the fresh and seasonal products, just as the wine list evolves constantly according to the arrivals.
The decoration is superb with large stone walls, typical of the architecture of the buildings of Old Montreal. The jewel of the place is nevertheless the superb terrace which attracts many customers as soon as spring arrives.
Accords organizes a few events around wine, including the Nuits d’ivresse, which take place on Saturday nights. Starting at 11pm, private import agencies come to present their products. For a fee, you can taste many different wines. The events also sometimes take the form of meetings with winemakers passing through Montreal. Accords has also opened a second restaurant, Accords le Bistro, in the Quartier des Spectacles. As its name suggests, it offers bistro-style cuisine, while maintaining the same spirit as its big brother.
We like: the very elaborate food where everything is homemade, the variety of wines offered on the menu, the great attention of the staff and especially of the sommelier ready to uncork THE wine that will satisfy you, the superb terrace to enjoy the beautiful days.
To treat yourself: a Champagne from Jacques Sélosse, a great vintage from Burgundy among Thibault-Liger-Bélair, Dugat-Py or Camille Giroud, several vintages from Château Le Puy (Bordeaux), a Cornas from Thierry Allemand or a Chardonnay from Domaine Ganevat (Jura).
212, rue Notre-Dame Ouest
Restaurant Les Cavistes
Les Cavistes wine bar and restaurant opened in 2012 on Fleury Street West in the Ahuntsic neighborhood on the north end of the island of Montreal. The owners, Roberto Herrera and Maude Théroux-Séguin, are convinced that wine improves greatly with food. Their wish was to create a neighborhood restaurant with simple and tasty food to showcase carefully selected privately imported wines.
Les Cavistes has not only become a must-visit restaurant in the neighborhood, but also a favorite spot for wine lovers who participate in its many tasting workshops. In fact, the place was awarded a certificate of excellence in 2016 by the very famous Wine Spectator magazine. The workshops take place every weekend from September to April, always on a different theme: a featured region, a grape variety, an appellation, old vintages, etc. Almost fifty workshops are organized during the year, including thematic dinners and meetings with winemakers.
The wine list changes approximately every six weeks. At any given time, there are 12 whites, 12 reds, 4 bubbles and 12 sweet wines by the glass (also rosés in the summer). The wine list has a little less than 200 references, but these are only the bottles displayed, because the Cavistes buys a lot of wines in order to organize its tasting workshops. The cellar is therefore very well stocked, with notably older vintages, but also quite a few magnums and large formats. Every Thursday, we open more expensive bottles that are sold by the half glass, at cost price. A great way to taste wines that you could not afford to buy by the bottle.
As for the food, we are talking about a bistro style cuisine with a menu that includes the classics of French gastronomy, to which are added the daily inspirations of the chef proposed on the slate. The chef takes part in tastings with the sommeliers in order to always start with the wine to create his menu. From Wednesday to Saturday, Les Cavistes offers a $22.50 menu after 9 p.m.
We like: perfectly executed bistro classics, the tasting workshops, the warm welcome and quality of service, one of the largest selections of sweet wines in Montreal, the possibility of tasting more expensive wines by the half glass on Thursday nights.
To treat yourself: a Moulin-à-Vent Vieilles Vignes from Thibault-Liger-Bélair, the wines of Mustiguillo in the Valencia region of Spain, an old vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon from Beringer (California), a Dominio de Pingus (Ribera del Duero), an old Brunello from Col d’Orcia, the wines of Yves Cuilleron (Northern Rhône), Domaine de la Taille aux Loups (Loire) or Zind-Humbrecht (Alsace)
196, rue Fleury ouest
Located on Beaubien Street, a few steps from St-Laurent Avenue, Cul-Sec offers a nice selection of natural, organic, or biodynamic wines. Opened in 2015, the place imagined by the famous and friendly chef Martin Juneau is both a canteen and a neighborhood cellar. Cellarist, because it is indeed possible to buy any bottle as long as you order food to go.
Martin Juneau, who already owns Pastaga restaurant, wanted to create a more convivial space, with a more bistro-like cuisine. A place where you can come and have a drink with friends and eat simple, yet comforting food. All of the ingredients for the dishes are prepared at Pastaga, which is a one-minute walk from Cul-Sec. They are then assembled at Cul-Sec. The menu includes oysters, charcuterie and terrines, tartars, tataki and other salad meals. Cul-Sec is open for lunch with a $15 menu, or $20 including a glass of wine.
The wine list has more than a hundred references, with a strong emphasis on French wine. Cul-Sec regularly receives new arrivals, sometimes in very small quantities. It is therefore necessary to come back regularly to taste different vintages, because the menu is constantly evolving. We always offer by the glass, a bubble, 3 whites and 3 reds (as well as rosés in summer).
We like: the conviviality of the place, the food, the great drinkability of the wines offered, the very reasonable prices and the possibility to buy and take away wine until 11 pm.
To treat yourself: a Chablis, a Pommard or a Nuits-St-Georges from Christophe Pacalet (including magnums!), a Chinon from Wilfrid Rousse, a Coulée de Serrant from Nicolas Joly, a natural xinomavro from Thymiopoulos, the wines of Pierre Beaugé (an exclusive in North America!).
29, rue Beaubien Est
Bar Loïc is located in the St-Henri neighborhood in the southwestern part of the island of Montreal. Opened in September 2015, the bar is inside a century-old building previously occupied by a bank and then a post office. The wine list is composed by Cassady Sniatowsky, who also works at winemaker Normand Hardy in Prince Edward County, Ontario. With about 50 wines on the list, Cassady offers Bar Loïc’s clientele natural, organic or biodynamic wines.
Le Loïc offers 3 whites, an orange wine, 1 or 2 rosés, and 2 reds by the glass (more reds in winter). Cassady wants customers to be able to indulge without emptying their wallets, which is why there are no bottles over $120 on the menu. The wine list changes regularly. Loïc, which defines itself as more of a bar than a wine bar, also has a nice selection of cocktails and beers.
At Bar Loïc, you can eat a very simple cuisine with only a few ingredients, but which is always refined. The menu changes every day. The day I was there, we found oysters, cold cuts, cheeses, half a roasted chicken or pork cheeks with clams.
Bar Loïc organizes tastings every Sunday. During my visit, it was the sherry that was in the spotlight. Loïc organizes thematic tastings or the discovery of a particular producer. Very recently, a tasting was organized around the fabulous and very rare wines of François Raveneau in Chablis! We particularly like the very friendly side of these Sunday tastings. You can arrive anytime between 4pm and 3am!
We like: the very relaxed atmosphere, the very glou glou wines, the terrace in summer, the informal tastings on Sundays.
To treat yourself: wines by Frédéric Cossard (Burgundy), Partida Creus (Catalonia), Jean-Pierre Robinot (Loire), Gramenon (Rhône), Philippe Bornard (Jura) or Kevin Descombes (Beaujolais).
5001 Rue Notre-Dame O
Located on Avenue du Parc, Pullman is one of the first wine bars to have opened in Montreal in 2004. The concept of wine bars was then non-existent in the city. The idea of the owner Catherine Bélanger was to democratize wine among Montrealers. Pullman has trained many wine professionals over the past 12 years. All servers are sommeliers and have at least 5 years of experience in the field. Many young sommeliers are also in training.
The Pullman’s head sommelier, Véronique Dalle, has put together a superb wine list with no less than 400 references in the summer, and up to 450 to 500 products in the winter. There are classics such as great Bordeaux and Burgundy wines, but also many new wines such as young up-and-coming winemakers. As Pullman has been in existence for more than a decade, we are lucky to be able to find older vintages. The wines offered by the glass, about forty, change every week, and there are also tasting trios.
The sommeliers are very attentive to the customer. If you don’t find what you’re looking for in the extensive selection of wines by the glass, the sommeliers won’t hesitate to open other bottles, which they can then offer by the glass. Pullman participates in many Montreal festivals such as Montreal à table or Montreal en Lumière. It is also a popular venue for the Montreal sommelier community. Private import agencies also organize meetings with foreign winemakers visiting Montreal.
On the food side, Pullman offers snacks such as olives, chorizo and almonds, as well as dishes to share such as fried squid, cold cuts, tartars and mini-burgers. You can also order more substantial dishes, which vary according to the season.
Pullman has just given birth to a little brother, Moleskine, also located on Park Avenue. It is a small neighborhood pizzeria. It should also be noted that the owner’s spouse, Frédéric Simon, runs the Pinard et Filles vineyard, an estate located in the Eastern Townships. A family well established in the wine world!
We like: one of the largest choices of wines by the glass and by the bottle in Montreal, the professionalism of the sommeliers, exceptional bottles.
To treat yourself: a Clos Rougeard (Saumur-Champigny), a wine from Prieuré Roch (Burgundy), an old vintage champagne from Jacques Sélosse, an old Barolo from Giuseppe Rinaldi, or if your wallet allows it, why not a wine from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti!
3424, avenue du Parc