The Grande Dégustation de Montréal is upholding sustainable development and social responsibility.

Exhibitors offering eco-friendly products for tasting and for sales during the event will be identified using pictograms. Our goal is to support the producers offering this kind of products and to give the visitors the opportunity to choose responsibly. There are various ways to produce and to consume in an eco-friendly manner. This event puts an emphasis on three of those ways: organic farming, biodynamic agriculture, and integrated farming. If a producer offers products coming from at least 1 of these types of farming they will be identified as eco-friendly on the mobile app. Depending on the products offered, the producer will also be identified by one or more green pictograms. Each import product can also wear a neck-band label indicating organic farming, biodynamic agriculture, or integrated farming. We encourage you to ask questions to the producers about all of their eco-friendly activities. 

For this year’s edition, we are also proud to announce that we will make up for our carbon dioxide emissions by buying certified carbon credits. The carbon credits will be used to finance local sustainable development. We are collaborating with Nature Lab, an organization from Quebec. They are in charge of calculating the carbon dioxide emissions produced by the event (transportation, delivery, etc.) and to get the carbon credits certified by the competent authority. 

We are using the services of the organization Consortium Écho-Logique to recycle glass and the local company Re-Plast which recycles the decors made of Coroplast into street furniture. The corks are also recycled by the company ReCork which repurposes them into cork objects. There will also be bins for recycling and composting available for the visitors during the event.

Place Bonaventure is a certified green building of level 3 by BOMA BEST. The location offers parking for bikes and hybrid cars. It is also easily accessible by public transit.

We prioritize furniture that can be reused, recycled, or rented. Also, the majority of our suppliers are local (from Quebec).

The SAQ, co-presenter of the event, is providing visitors with reusable and recyclable glass cups.

Year after year we also strive to replace paper communication tools (i.e. The Visitor’s Guide) with digital tools (website, mobile app) to reduce the amount of paper used.

The non-profit organization Éduc’alcool, which has been a long-standing partner of La Grande Dégustation de Montréal, has for mission to bring awareness to Quebeckers. They strive to promote moderation and responsible drinking. We grant great exposure to this valued partner in our communication, our literature as well as during the event.

Finally, Point Zéro 8 offers a designated driver service to the visitors (free up to $40). They will have breathalysers available for use on-site during the event.

> A word from Hubert Sacy, Éduc’alcool’s General Manager

 

Q&A with Michelle Bouffard

Michelle Bouffard is a renowned Canadian sommelier. She is currently undertaking her second year into the Master of Wine education. She has been a certified instructor for WSET for a few years. She is also a well-known author and journalist in the wine and spirits industry. She is the founder and spokesperson for the international conference Tasting Climate Change which will take place on November 12th in Montréal.

Question 1: In a few sentences, could you explain what is…

Organic farming?

The producers do not use any chemicals in their vineyard (herbicides or pesticides). They support biodiversity. If a vine is sick, they treat it with natural products. 

Analogy: someone with insomnia who drinks a valerian herbal tea instead of taking a sleeping pill.

Integrated farming?

The producers chose methods that support biodiversity and that restrict the use of chemicals.

Analogy: someone who exercises regularly and eats well to be healthy, but who sometimes has to take medication to overcome a disease.

Biodynamic agriculture?

It is a doctrine based on Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy (1861-1925). This method has been created to support self-sufficiency – everything that is taken from the earth goes back to it. The producers support biodiversity and aims to treat the cause of the problem rather than the problem itself. They also take into consideration the influence the stars have on the wine-growing and producing practices. They do not use any chemicals. Therefore, various natural preparations must be used.

Analogy: biodynamic agriculture in the wine industry is comparable with homeopathy in relation to medicine.

Question 2: What is the function of certification when it comes to organic products, biodynamic agriculture, and integrated farming?

The certifications attest that a producer follows the regulations put in place by each association. They are also great tools used by customers looking for these types of wines.

Question 3: Is it difficult for a product to get certified?

Some climates present a challenge for wine growing, engendering more diseases for example. Therefore, it is sometimes harder, depending on the year, not to use chemicals to treat the vine. However, if a producer follows the regulations authorised by each certification, their product will get certified.

Do producers get discouraged?

Yes. There are producers who change their methods and philosophy along the way. For example, some change from organic farming to integrated farming. Broadly speaking, there is a big push towards these certifications.

Can we trust organic wines that are not certified?

There are producers who are 100% organic but chose not to obtain the certification label for various reasons, including the cost related to the process. As in all things, there are honest people and those who aren’t… There are those who claim to be organic without the certification and who actually are, while others sing their own praises but are not entirely truthful. By definition, the certification is a guarantee.

Question 4: People tend to believe that smaller producers offers products that are eco-friendlier, is that true?

It used to be the case. But times are changing. Environmental awareness is becoming more and more valued by small and large producers. There are more consumers demanding eco-friendly products and the producers are listening…

Question 5: Organic farming, biodynamic agriculture, and integrated farming form only a small portion of environmental responsibility. What are other important characteristics for environmentally responsible production and consumption of wine?

The carbon footprint! As the President of Familia Torres, Miguel A. Torres, says so well, “organic farming and biodynamic agriculture are not enough. We urgently need to find ways to minimize the carbon footprint”. Torres has to this day invested over 15 million euros in research. He is searching for sustainable solutions in order to reduce the carbon footprint coming from wine production.

Question 6: What part does climate change play in organic farming? Is it harder to meet the standards?

It all depends on the location. It is true that in some regions, the ever-growing weather extremes bring more and new diseases. This translates into a bigger challenge for producers. But for other regions, it is becoming easier…

Are people more environmentally conscious?

Absolutely. However, as mentioned by Torres, we need to push further. It is impossible to reduce the consequences of climate change without reducing our carbon footprint. In order to do so, each step of the production, from the vine to the table, must be analyzed.

Question 7: We are starting to hear more about natural wines. Could you explain what a natural wine is? Is a natural wine automatically organic? What are the differences?

Natural wine is a non-legislated term. It is returning to old oenology where the producer intervenes as little as possible. The wines are made in the most natural way possible adding and taking away very little during the wine-making process. It is allowed to add a small dose of sulfur dioxide (SO2) to protect the wine against oxidization, but a lot of producers choose not add anything. Generally, natural wine producers work with organic farming or biodynamic agriculture, but it is not guarantee.

Question 8: You are organizing the Tasting Climate Change conference on November 11 and 12. Can you talk a little bit about the event? Where can we buy tickets?

The wine-producing community around the world is facing major challenges due to climate change. This conference, organized every second year, brings together the world’s most prominent experts with the objective to share knowledge regarding the stakes of climate change in the wine-making community in order to identify solutions for sustainable wine production. The symposium for the specialists will be held on November 12 at HEC in Montreal. There will be 14 speakers and experts from around the world brought together to share their expertise. This year, for the first time, there will also be a general public evening titled « A Toast to The Earth » on November 11. In partnership with the acclaimed restaurant Les Cavistes, Tasting Climate Change takes you on a tour through the world’s wine regions while enjoying wines that are produced by wineries that are committed to the environment.

More information and tickets can be found on the website www.tastingclimatechange.com

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