Montreal has long been known for its heady French vibe. But with a pulsing modern art scene, new-meets-old cityscape and multitude of young professionals, the Canadian locale takes on a hip yet polished setting that’s all its own.
A similar sensation permeates the city’s wine scene, which pushes beyond the classics with colorful, contemporary beverage programs based on Europe’s top natural, biodynamic and organic examples. And with the international Raw Wine fair holding its inaugural event here in 2018, Montreal has officially become a minimal-intervention wine haven. Read on for the best spots to sip.
Where to drink natural wine in Montreal
Open all day and past midnight, this is the tiny wine bar sibling of Boucherie Lawrence butcher shop and Lawrence restaurant next door. It’s a casual neighborhood hangout, with by-the-glass offerings scrawled on chalkboards and tables squeezed tight together. Expect fresh finds from producers like Négondos and Château Mérande.
Established in 2004 and three stories tall, Pullman is Montreal’s stalwart natty wine venue. And with a rotation of 50 wines by the glass, 500-plus bottles and a glassware chandelier that commands attention, it’s still a must-visit. Opt for a flight, and ask the staff to help choose small plates to match your sampling.
Vin Mon Lapin
This is the latest spawn of Joe Beef’s empire. Come early: With around 30 seats, endless charm and a no-reservation policy, it fills up quickly. The sommelier, Vanya Filipovic, handles one of the most impressive natural lists in the city. While you may be there for the vin, don’t pass on the produce-driven menu.
Off the beaten path and housed in a former church built in 1861, this might be the city’s best restaurant. A seasonal four-course menu is presented alongside a wine list of natural, biodynamic and organic pours. You’ll want to drink everything, but the pairings option is worth it.
Cul-Sec, Cave & Canteen
Thanks to the Société des Alcools du Québec (SAQ), Quebec’s liquor retail system, shopping for niche or small-production bottlings can be tricky. There are loopholes, however, and this hybrid wine bar and shop is one of them. Just order something to eat, and you’re free to nab a natural or organic bottle to stay or go.