Unmistakably a Burgundy, you say?
“As a winemaker and long-time partner of Domaine Queylus, one of my most memorable moments was when I served our 2010 Pinot Noir Reserve during a blind tasting to growers from Burgundy, and they thought it was a Volnay Premier Cru!” - Thomas Bachelder
Suddenly, an idea…
There are 12 of them in all. Twelve friends from Quebec, all great lovers of Burgundy, were struck with the idea of producing their own wine. But instead of purchasing an estate in France, this group which includes Gilles Chevalier, Gilles Bussière and the eminent Champlain Charest decided to see what the Niagara Peninsula had to offer.
Terroir that stands its ground
The first investors in Domaine Queylus were already familiar with the potential of the Niagara Peninsula. On a mission to discover new terroirs, they had 30 samples taken from their new property, an orchard, analyzed in Bordeaux. The results were promising: the terroir proved exceptional for growing a magnificent vineyard.
Doing it right
A new estate is like a blank canvas. On the one hand, there’s no need to set it up conventionally, but on the other hand, the lack of history can be a disadvantage. This prompted the partners to call on experienced professionals, including a consultant tasked with identifying which varieties, clones and rootstocks were best for each terroir (half of the vineyard is dedicated to growing Pinot Noir). The process required making decisions that were difficult but beneficial for their future wines, such as relevelling the ground where the Chardonnay would be planted and then letting the land lie fallow for two years. In essence, this is what Domaine Queylus is all about: passion and patience.
Guided by a shared passion for Burgundian wines, the investors made several “French” decisions for their winery in Ontario. The winemaker they recruited was a graduate of the Beaune school (even though he’s a Montrealer, they say that Thomas brings an elegant European touch to the wines). They also adopted the winegrowing practices used by seasoned vintners who cherish the typicity of the terroir. Most of the estate’s vines were imported from Burgundy and their barrels are even made from oak grown in the northeast of France and assembled in Burgundian workshops.
A nod to New France
The Queylus name may seem like a bold Scrabble move, but it actually has much more historic and noble origins: It refers to the family name of Gabriel Thubières de Levy de Queylus, a Sulpician monk who lived in New France in the 17th century. He was the first to vinify the indigenous grapes growing on the shores of Lake Ontario. A fitting tribute.