Leaves have started falling and so have apples. Both “Week-ends de Rougemont” in Montérégie and “Pommes en fête” apple festival in the Laurentians wound down last weekend, although it is still possible to visit, pick or simply buy homemade apple products on site.
I went apple picking on both Montreal’s South and North Shore, and I do prefer Rougemont’s hillside orchards with the occasional farm here and there. Saint-Joseph-du-Lac’s apple country often extends behind roadside bungalows and is not as idyllic. But there’s no bridge to cross, no Montreal traffic to take a bite out of you. The Laurentians do have marginal benefits.
That said, visiting orchards is but a pretext in my book. 1) I go to see kiddo running around the apple trees, his round cheeks as red as the fruit that seem to positively lean towards his greedy little hands. 2) The little boutiques usually at the front are full of every goodie I love: apple caramel and butter, jams, jellies, homemade pies, cider and… ice cider. One sip and I’ve been known to swoon.
Today’s cider is a jack of all trades. You can buy it still, sparkling, rosé, ice, rosé ice, crémant and what not. At Vergers Lacroix, the sparkling ice cider is called Lacroix Signature and made from a secret blend of apple varieties. With limited financial means, the bubbles are created by injecting carbonic dioxide into regular ice cider and not through the more expensive champagne method.
According to Lacroix representatives, this new sparkling ice cider, born a year ago, has been a favourite among visitors who enjoyed free cider tasting throughout the apple picking season. At $24 or so a bottle, it is slightly less than sparkling ice cider “inventor” Domaine Pinnacle, sold at the SAQ (Quebec’s Liquor Board) for $28.
Domaine Lafrance sparkling ice cider, also sold at SAQ, is half the price but mixes still and ice cider. Otherwise, if you want to discover other brands of this bubbly nectar, you may need a ride to the country and your cider producer of choice. There are worst ways to spend a Sunday.