Domaine Lafrance turned towards the future


Bouteilles Vergers Lafrance

What do gin, brandy, cider and brandy have in common? All these products are found at Domaine Lafrance, now on sale under the new law. Let's go together to discover apple-based wines and spirits, as well as their creator Éric Lafrance.

Quick story. The Lafrance orchards were born three generations ago with Mr. George Étienne, grandfather of current owner Eric Lafrance. Orchards have more than 13,000 apple trees spread over 25 hectares, in addition to pear trees and vines. The first alcohol to emerge is cider, quickly followed by ice cider and sparkling wine, all very popular with foreign tourists. Domaine Lafrance was able to surf the great popularity of ciders in Quebec until the early 2000s. But there was a time when it was necessary to renew. It was while traveling in Europe 5 years ago that Eric came across a still in Bordeaux. He immediately saw the possibilities open to him in order to diversify his products. The following is a beautiful story of innovation, experiences (successful and failed) and desire to produce 100% local alcohol.

Domaine Lafrance produces numerous ciders, fortified wines and spirits, all made from apples from orchards. Ciders are no longer present, being well established on the shelves of the SAQ. On the other hand, the other products are quite recent and I will present them a little lower.

But before I talk about it, I would like to talk about the work and the vision of Eric and his chemist and responsible for winemaking, Laurent.

Eric's vision is of a disconcerting simplicity, but oh so rare nowadays: "from the earth to the bottle". But what does that mean? And although Domaine Lafrance is perhaps the only producer of spirits in Quebec that could earn a designation Origine Québec. All products are made from apples picked from orchards, then fermentation, distillation and aging are done at the estate. The estate even has its own semi-automated bottling line! Very few people in Quebec can say that they make 100% local products. Most known spirits are actually based on a neutral alcohol that comes from Ontario or Europe and is then flavored with local plants. Or, the product is made here, but based on raw materials that come from elsewhere. There's even more funny / ridiculous (depending on the point of view): products made entirely in Canada, with cereals from here ... but bearing the mention Imported from the United States since bottled in the USA. There is obviously a reason behind all this: the economy. Huge conglomerates sell their distillate for much less than the cost of production here. In the end, on thousands of liters, it makes a big difference. And by finalizing the product here, we can apply the mention Origine Québec ... which is quite deceptive for the ordinary consumer.
But in this case, why Eric and his team do not work like everyone else? There are two reasons! The first is one of quality management. Eric's team is present at all stages, it can ensure a much higher quality in the purpose of the product. For having seen the facilities and the production line, the controls are the most stringent, and this at each stage: sorting the apples, quality of the must, fermentation tanks clean etc. This does not mean that products half Quebecois are not good or of a lower quality. But simply, Lafrance products are they more refined, more delicate. This also allows experimentation by controlling all factors: longer or shorter fermentation, faster distillation, use of different drums for aging, etc. This is one of the long-term objectives of the Domaine Lafrance, the experimentation of barrels of different origins (Cabernet Sauvignon, European oak, Bourbon ...).
The second major reason is to provide consumers with a real product from Quebec. Take for example the great wines of Burgundy. They are not made from grapes from Greece, aged in Italy and finally bottled in Burgundy. The same goes for ice ciders, which must be made from Quebec apples in Quebec during our winters. Otherwise it would not be ice cider! Eric also dreams of a kind of Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (A.O.C.) concerning spirits of Quebec. The result would be to have more sophisticated consumers while encouraging local producers to use our abundant raw materials in Quebec.

Now that you understand better what is behind all products, let's go on a case-by-case basis! I will present five products with their personal tasting notes and the way I recommend you to drink them.


Here are the 4 products tasted at Lafrance orchards as well as my tasting recommendations:



Rouge Gorge - Vermouth of white cider: on the nose, beautiful flavors of herbs from the garden with a hint of citrus; on the palate, a nice acidity and a great freshness give way to aromas of apple and basil sugars; the finish is ample and voluminous, but remains short.
To drink: on cold ice or decorated with a zest of lemon and 5mL of pressed lemon juice, bringing out the acidity in the mouth. Perfect for an aperitif.




rouge gorge

 • Rouge Gorge - Vermouth of red cider: on the nose, much sweeter than its white cousin, with beautiful sage flavors; on the palate, an attack all in fresh herbs and in apple cider; the finish is long and warm despite the freshness of the product.

To drink: net without anything, accompanying one of the 1000 dessert apple that we know so well in Quebec, or in a Prohibition!

Prohibition: 45mL of Canadian Club Whiskey 12 years, 15mL of Rouge Gorge rouge, some bitter flavors with lime; spoon in a mixing glass filled with ice; filter over a martini glass.




pure legende

• Pure Légende - apple brandy: on the nose, one feels the eau-de-vie with a very light tip of decaying apples; on the palate, we are a thousand miles from the nose, with a very low presence of alcohol and a greater impression of ripe apples; the finish is supple and slightly aggressive, with a greater presence of alcohol than in the mouth.
• To drink: a nice addition to the traditional pear-william that can serve as a digestive.






• Dandy - apple gin: on the nose, strong feeling of traditional gin with notes of apples, grapes and pears; in the mouth, a mixture of fruits from the orchard and grapes, while keeping this herbal side that we like gin; the finish becomes drier than what we have in the mouth, creating a beautiful evolution. Gin is one of the most complex I have ever had to taste!
• To drink: on ice or lying tonic water to make a Gin Tonic!




Nicolas Hardy


About Terroir et Découvertes

Terroir et Découvertes aims to promote local producers and to make their products better known to the general public.

About Terroir et Découvertes

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