Ward & Associés: Living wines and northern climates
“At Ward & Associés, we’re always thirsty!”
You may have seen names like Koppitch, Schmitt, Nestarec or Hummel flowing into your glasses this summer.
If you’ve had the pleasure of savouring these delicious wines in Quebec, it is thanks to the passionate work of Ward & Associés.
Ward & Associés is one of the most renowned private importers in Quebec, and for good reason. They represent everything we love about wine: drinking without thirst, sharing, and a whole lot of happiness.
The story of Ward & Associés began as it continues today, among friends. David Ward, co-founder of the private import house, told us about his journey.
In the beginning, David was immersed in the hotel business and only scratched the surface of the world of wine when with a few friends.
As he became more and more interested in sommellerie and pushed by his long-time friend Steve Beauséjour, David diligently followed a wine course at the École hôtelière de Laval. At the end of his training, he left the hotel business to embark on what would be the beginning of his career in wine.
David started, like many others, as a waiter. He worked in a restaurant that Steve helped to open at the time, and helped with the development of the wine list.
He later worked at Le Bouchonné, the wine bar of the restaurant La Montée de Lait where he had his first contact with the vast world of private importation. It was there that he met Cyril Kérébel from the agency La QV, Théo Diamantis from Oenopole, and several other personalities from the world of wine who were fans of the place.
In 2010, David was asked to create the wine list of the restaurant La salle à manger with Alexandre Boily, which would mark the beginning of a great friendship and future projects. The two friends quickly developed a beautiful partnership and learned a lot from each other. David described Alexandre as the perfect example of the self-taught, a great traveller curious about everything and who learned everything by himself. While Alexandre proved to be a great connoisseur of classic wines, David introduced him to the world of natural wine and gradually changed his perception of this concept, still atypical at the time.
The founding of Ward & Associés
In the beginning, Martin Juneau, Samuel Pinard, Alexandre Boily, and David Ward were at the helm of this new agency; two restaurateurs and two sommeliers. The quartet took advantage of the opening of Martin and Samuel’s establishments, Pastaga and La Salle à Manger, to promote their winemakers, who are proudly represented in Quebec.
The objective was to distinguish themselves from what already existed in Quebec and to distance themselves from the regions of France, Italy, or Portugal already well represented here.
In 2011, when Ward & Associés was founded, the new agency proved to be a pioneer in terms of representing German wines in artisanal production.
The agency became one of the first private import houses to showcase wines from Nordic climates and mainly from Central Europe. It was the meeting with Rudolph Trossen, a winemaker established in Mosel — and the first producer of German natural wines to appear in their portfolio — that was the trigger for a beautiful relationship between Quebec and Germany. This adventure continued in a natural wine bar in Cologne and in a wine fair organized by a woman named Surk-ki Schrade where the team met and discovered winemakers from all over Germany and Austria (including Koppitsch), winemakers who are now the pride of the agency’s portfolio.
Thanks to the hard work and resilience of the team members, the agency is now recognized as a reference in wine representation in Quebec. This beautiful agency promotes small producers who have at heart the respect of the land and the vine.
The name of the company also has a story. When the team registered the company with David’s father, who is a notary, the quartet came up with the idea for the name. “The four of us were sitting around the table, we really didn’t know what to call our agency. We were turning the pages of the company’s record book and at the bottom of the page it said ‘Ward & Associés.’ We all had an epiphany, that was what our agency should be called. Different domains, same passion! The agency was officially named “Ward & Associés; représentants en vin” and became an important player in the world of natural wine in Quebec. And not just any natural wine, “good wine that travels well”. One thing is for sure with Ward, they know how to make our aperitifs exciting, each and every time.
Ward & Associés today
Over the years, the agency has kept the same vision and mission: to help people discover beautiful products with a penchant for Central Europe and, above all, to put the human element at the heart of the experience, even at the origin of the import! Trust, solid relationships, and diligent meetings only enhance the tasting experience.
This same philosophy can be found at the heart of the company and their excellent teamwork. Today, Carl Champagne (founder of Les Fillettes restaurant), Federico Rivas (owner of Chez Baptiste on Masson), Alexandre Boily, and David Ward are the owners. As for Martin Juneau, he himself created his own private import house called Volet Importation.
The agency would be nothing without the enthusiastic work of the members of the team composed today of Marc-Antoine Phénix, “The Game” as he is called in the team since his efficiency and expertise are not to be discussed anymore, Audrée-Ève Beauchamp, in charge of marketing and social networks, who stands out for her creativity and her outstanding organization, and Marianne Chauvin-Bouchard, bookkeeper, without whom our emails sent to the agency would remain unanswered.
In addition, David is also the co-owner of the vinvinvin bar in Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, a project in collaboration with Isle de Garde and the Harricana brewery. They are in charge of the wine list with sommelier and co-owner Nikolas Da Fonseca.
Retail sales and Covid-19
Like many, Ward & Associés has had to be creative to keep up in recent months. Directly affected by the closure of the city’s restaurants and bars, the team focused on retail sales, including its successful mixed case offerings, a real relief during the lockdown. After their pause during the confinement, the mixed cases are back for the month of November! Be sure to make some tempting discoveries, 6 or 12 bottles at a time.
The agency has also managed to make its way onto the SAQ shelves with beautiful products available in-store and/or online, at excellent prices.
Here are some recommendations:
- Clemens Busch LS Riesling Trocken Mosel 2018 – SAQ Code 14444542
- Paraschos Orange One 2017 – SAQ Code 13614642
- Loxarel A Pèl Penedès – SAQ Code 1443534
- Domaine Olivier Pithon Mon P’tit Pithon 2018 – SAQ Code 12574811
- Domaine Olivier Pithon Côtes Catalanes Mon P’tit Pithon 2019 – SAQ Code 14113680
- Domaine Olivier Pithon Côtes Catalanes Cuvée Lais 2018 – SAQ Code 14113671
With their superb portfolio, from Germany to Slovakia via the Czech Republic, we discover real, natural, living wines, reflecting the expression of these equally magnificent terroirs.
Written by Inès Duguen
Photography by Audrey-Eve Beauchamp