Nival is one of the stars of the Quebec wine scene, based in St-Louis, southern Quebec. They have 6 hectares of vines here, but this is quite a new venture – the first couple of hectares were planted as recently as 2013. It’s a family affair, with Denis Beauchemin (father) and Matthieu Beauchemin and Fannie Boulanger (son and daughter-in-law) running things.
Farming here is respectful of the environment, with an awareness that monoculture isn’t easily sustainable. The vineyard is in small plots on gentle slopes, with surrounding woods, and there’s biodiversity amidst the vines. Biodynamics is practised, although they aren’t certified.
The soils vary quite a bit even on this small vineyard. They range from clay-rich loams to more sandy loams, and some parts are more alkaline, some more acid, and some are more fertile than others. They have matched variety to soil type.
Grape varieties are an interesting mix. There’s Gamaret, Pinot Noir, Albariño and Vidal, as well as smaller blocks of Chardonnay, Gamay and Petite Arvine.
Winter protection of these vines, many of which are sensitive to winter cold (it can get to -30 here, and vinifera conks out at around -22 C), is through geotextiles. They use 250 rolls of these, totalling 13 km, each winter. They stop the temperatures dropping below -20 C.
But while the winters are freezing, the growing season is short and can be quite warm. Growing degree days here reach around 1250, which is cool climate, but enough to ripen quite a few varieties.
Domaine du Nival Les Singulières Pet Nat NV Quebec, Canada
60% Gamay, 40% Chardonnay. Fresh, juicy and fine with nice pure, crisp red fruits, and a hint of green. 88/100
Domaine du Nival Matière à Discussion Vidal 2016 Quebec, Canada
10.6% alcohol. This is stony and salty with nice precision. Has good weight with subtle creamy hints and a stony edge. 91/100
Domaine du Nival Matière à Discussion Vidal 2017 Quebec, Canada
Barrel-fermented. Nutty with nice weight and notes of wax and citrus. There’s some fatness but also nice acidity. Stylish. 90/100
Domaine du Nival Bouche-Bee Vidal 2015 Quebec, Canada
11.1% alcohol. This is bright, stony and linear with lovely taut fruit. So citrussy with a brilliant acidity. Intense and stony with bright acidity and real interest. 92/100
Domaine du Nival Bouche-Bee Vidal 2017 Quebec, Canada
Lovely fruity style with good texture, and nice pear and citrus fruit. Easy and delicious. 89/100
Domaine du Nival Les Singulières Petite Arvine 2017 Quebec, Canada
10.7% alcohol. Just 72 bottles of this made! Lively and intense with intense pithy pear and citrus fruit. There’s some structure here, with fine herby notes. Brisk and lemony with lovely acid line. Delicate and precise with a stony note. 92/100
Domaine du Nival Les Entêtés Pinot Noir Cuvée Nature 2017 Quebec, Canada
12.2% alcohol, no sulfites added. This is sappy and delicious with bright cherry and raspberry fruit. This has nice freshness and detail with lovely green notes integrated into the plum and cherry fruit, and just a hint of earth and pepper. So many dimensions here. 93/100
Domaine du Nival Les Entêtés Pinot Noir 2017 Quebec, Canada
12.2% alcohol. This is compact and pure with nice black and red cherry fruit. Tightly wound with a slight sappy edge to the fruit, but it’s also properly ripe. Such good balance here. Hints of pepper and minerals. Nice weight to this: very fresh, but not light. 92/100
Domaine du Nival Les Singulières Gamaret 2017 Quebec, Canada
10.9% alcohol. Gamaret is a cross between Gamay and Reichensteiner, mainly grown in Switzerland, showing good disease resistance. This is beautifully fresh and fine with lovely red cherry and plum fruit, showing a bit of raspberry freshness. Such precision and detail with a sappy edge to the fruit. Thrilling stuff with great precision. 94/100
424 rg Bord de l’eau ouest
Les Pervenches, Quebec, Canada