The Spa Eastman marketing team in conversation with sommelier Patrick Jackson
Did you know that Spa Eastman has created its own brand of white wine in partnership with a local winemaker – namely Jean-Paul Martin of Grange Hatley? It has been quite an adventure and here’s how (and why) we created a vintage exclusive to Spa Eastman!
Solving a need
One of the reasons we created our own brand is because our clients sometimes wanted to sample a glass of local wine. Customers are often reticent to drink wine made in Quebec if they have to purchase an entire bottle, but drinking a glass rather a larger quantity, overcomes their hesitancy. In other words, there was a need to develop a local wine that could be offered by the glass. As you may be aware, at Spa Eastman, we like to encourage regional producers and many of our customers do as well. It was evident that the time had come to create our own white wine.
Developing our wine – step by step
After identifying the need for this new product, we had to pin down the details. We envisioned the wine as something that could be drunk by the glass or by the bottle but it had to compliment our Tonic Cuisine®. Our clients are very open and curious about local producers, so clearly, the timing was good.
Then there were all the steps involved in implementing our idea – finding a wine maker, working out the quantity of wine we would need, determining the price point, the labelling of the bottles and so on….
The vintner we chose was Jean-Paul Martin, owner of Grange Hatley. He was suggested by our sommelier, Patrick Jackson, who knew of Jean-Paul’s reputation as an excellent cellar master. Grange Hatley grows those white grape varietals – St. Pepin, Riesling, Pinot Grigio and La Crescent, and one red – Marquette – and, claims the winemaker, white wines have a great future in Quebec! Spa Eastman was the winery’s first customer and as it limits its production to 5,000 bottles annually, it specializes in exclusive brands. We are proud to be able to produce our wines at this craft winery.
Grange Hatley’s wine is artisanal and innovative – the very attributes that have become so sought after in Quebec. Jean-Paul Martin is a proponent of sustainable agriculture, employing organic methods of cultivation and using the fewest possible artificial additives. Although he is not certified as an organic grower, he nonetheless follows eco-friendly protocols – something that was important to Spa Eastman, given that our wine list already features (mostly) organic wines, something that was important to Spa Eastman, given that our wine list, designed by our vice-president, Gérard Marinovich. already features (mostly) organic wines.
The next step was to choose the particular varietal that would bear the name Cuvée Spa Eastman. In order that we could determine which wine would win out, we were given a number of different vintages to sample (in various serving sizes) – a very pleasant experience! There were no criteria for selecting the best wine. Rather, the choice was instinctive. If a particular wine evoked a positive emotional response, we guessed that would also be the reaction of our clients when they tasted it. We have selected all of our wines in this tried-and-tested manner!
St-Pépin – an accident of history!
Did you know that St. Pépin, a hybrid grape that is in many of our higher quality white wines, was once associated with a mistaken identity? At Léon Courville Vigneron (formerly Domaine Les Brome where Jean-Paul Martin was the cellar master from 2000 to 2012), the winemaker planted some seeds which turned out, inadvertently, to be the St-Pépin varietal. This proved to be a fortuitous (and profitable!) ‘mistake’ because St-Pépin has become one of the most prestigious white wines in Quebec.
St. Pépin’s exclusivity is partly due to the fact that while the grapes are resistant to extreme cold (and thus well suited to Quebec’s climate), they are challenging to grow. The vines do not self-pollinate and so each row has to be planted alongside another varietal (or other plants) in order to attract pollinating insects. St-Pépin might be difficult to cultivate, but the rewards have been well worth the effort.
Cuvée Spa Eastman 2020
Cuvée Spa Eastman is an exclusive brand, which you won’t find anywhere else. That alone will make your drinking experience even more special! You can buy our new Cuvée 2020 on our online shop here.