Text by Claude Boileau, Certified Sommelier and WSET3 with the collaboration of Maxime McKay – special collaboration
“Wait…what? Can wine NOT be vegan? Laughable for some, very decisive for others, this subject polarizes opinions.
Animal products are mostly used for fining, which is done before filtration to increase the clarity and brightness of the wine, attributes sometimes associated with better quality.
Egg albumin for red wines and fish glue (derived from the swim bladder of fish) in white wines are the most common fining agents.
Fortunately, vegan alternatives exist (just as a wine can be filtered without fining, or unfiltered). Does this mean that unfiltered natural wines are vegan? Not always…
And then it depends on how strict you are about vegan farming practices…no matter how bucolic horse labor and sheep grazing may seem to you” – Maxime McKay
Sumarroca Brut Nature Gran Reserva Cava 2019
An awakening in the spring of Penedès. The grapes for this Cava, a sparkling wine (traditional method), come from the Sumarroca vineyard, which is located near Barcelona, at an altitude of between 150 and 200 meters.
Certified organic, it offers beautiful fruity notes, such as yellow apple, which delight the palate, as well as pastry notes thanks to a 36-month aging on lees. Served chilled, it will accompany tapas such as olives, manchego, garlic shrimp or fried squid.
A nice alternative in rosé, mostly made of pinot noir, is the Summarocca Rosé Brut Cava 2020.
Arbolencia Sauvignon Blanc Verdejo 2021
A ray of light from Castile. One of the largest certified organic vineyards in Europe is certainly Mureda, with 1,600 hectares of polyculture (grapes, olives, pistachios, beets…), located south of Madrid.
They also use various techniques to reduce their carbon footprint, and 10% of the profits from this wine go to Tree Canada for reforestation.
Arbolencia is a bright straw yellow wine. The nose is full of exotic fruit aromas, such as pineapple and star fruit, with notes of hay and ripe lemon. The palate is fresh and all citrus at the beginning, while the finish is more delicate and round on white flowers and herbaceous notes.
At a bargain price, it will radiate with white fish or vegan sushi, and it also goes well with a fresh salad.
Bodegas Latue Wine by Nature du vin
An ode to the resurgence of nature. An oratorio of yellow apple, yellow grapefruit, almost juicy ripe lemon, pear, peach, white flowers (honeysuckle); with its refreshing acidity, it opens the appetite, makes the mouth water and brightens up any moment given its ridiculous price!
It will enhance zucchini flower with sauce, white fish, shrimp with avocado. Available at the SAQ.
A pleasant alternative in red is the Bodegas Latue Wine by Nature Tempranillo wine
Bonterra Chardonnay 2020
A pioneer in organic winemaking in California. This Chardonnay is blended with Viognier and Muscat which bring a nice touch of freshness and fruitiness with aromas of pineapple, citrus and stone fruits.
It has just the right amount of creaminess, butteriness and a slight touch of vanilla, without being overwhelming and keeping it very refreshing. Perfect with a vegan Caesar salad or kale with smoked tofu and capers.
Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint-Martin 2021
A flagship estate in Chablis. In the north of Burgundy, the Chablis terroir located on Kimmeridgian soil is characterized by its freshness.
Visually, the reflections are brilliant, the color is golden straw yellow. On the nose, fresh yellow apple bursts first, Meyer lemon and white flowers enhance the whole. On the palate, you can taste yellow apple and lemon almost candied. The acidity is fresh, the ageing on fine lees brings texture and the passage in oak barrels confers a fine woody taste.
Moreover, there is also an impression of minerality. The mouth is tasty and the finish is sustained on a note of salinity! It can be taken out of the refrigerator 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy with fried vegan tofu or seafood.
Domaine Cosse Maisonneuve Le Combal Cahors 2018
An illustrious producer from the north of the Pyrenees. From the southwestern region of France, east of Bordeaux, this dark red blend is very fruity as would be a Malbec and a Merlot, with blackberry and plum aromas.
But as the wine opens, it reaches another level of richness with notes of fresh spice, cocoa, graphite and cedar. This Cahors has a lot of tannins, but they are well balanced, almost unctuous in the mouth.
It will be a delight with grilled Mediterranean eggplant with herbs, a roasted rack of lamb or a duck confit.
Drink well, in moderation! Happy spring!