A Bevy of BC Bubbles
Sparkling wine has become BC’s fastest growing category, in part thanks to the proliferation of charmat style wines, which are cheaper and quicker to make than traditional method sparkling wines. The WGBC (Wine Growers BC) advises there are now 100 different producers making some 300 sparkling SKUs. The following are all highly recommended.
Frind Brut, NV, Okanagan Valley VQA ($24.99)
The first sparkler from relative newcomer Frind Estate, whose base is the former West Kelowna lakeside home of one-time Premier Bill Bennett. The smart package definitely does justice to what’s in the bottle. No surprise considering it was made by Eric von Krosigk—a winemaker who’s been making bubbles since 1983, just about as long as anybody in the Okanagan Valley. This Frind NV Brut Traditional Method, a Chardonnay / Riesling blend, sports a lively stream of bubbles and a persistent mousse, with some brioche – biscuit and stone fruit aromas before a creamy, textured palate of apple, peach and citrus. Very food friendly.
Haywire Narrative XC, 2018, Okanagan Valley VQA ($24.90)
Okanagan Crush Pad has become the pacesetter for BC sparkling wines. This mainly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (with some aromatic varieties) from Summerland and Oliver vineyards is made in “state-of-the-art Charmat tanks, designed to lie on their sides, exactly like traditionally made sparkling wine is aged.” Very pretty, pale rose in the glass, with a good mousse, a persistent stream of fine bubbles, textured mouthfeel, balanced acidity with ‘strawberries and cream’ notes, layered and edgy. An excellent example of just how stylish, in the right hands, Charmat can be.
Noble Ridge The Fizzy One, NV, Okanagan Valley VQA ($21.95)
A fun drop that’s a tongue-in-cheek salute and counterpoint to their perennial sparkling flagship, The One. This light hearted and frivolous frizzante (a 60/40 blend of Pinot Gris and Viognier) positively percolates in the glass with festive froth and a bonanza of bubbles. Up front ripe stone fruit and citrus with a burst of white peach and pear on the off-dry palate through a clean, refreshing finish. The pretty copper colour comes from extended Pinot Gris skin contact. Crown cap and picnic primed! Perfect for cold cuts, maple smoked bacon and milk chocolate!
Church & State Muscat Frizzante, 2017, VQA British Columbia ($24.95)
Made with fruit from both the Okanagan (Coyote Bowl) and Brentwood Bay, on Vancouver Island—which is where the winery originated. You can still drop by and taste the full range there in a lovely setting. This perfect breakfast wine sports bountiful bubbles, a persistent mousse plus aromas of orange blossom with stone fruits and tropical hints on the palate. Perfect with peach and prosciutto!
Intrigue Wines “I Do”, 2018 ($20; $7 for 200ml)
Arguably one of the smartest sparkling bottles around, not surprisingly, this wine has built a cult following among romantic sippers. Vibrant rose coloured in the glass, an ‘intriguing’ blend of Riesling, Merlot and Gewurztraminer yields apple, berry, stone fruit and tropical flavours: crisp, juicy and eminently quaffable.
Kitsch Blanc de Blanc, 2017, Okanagan Valley VQA ($39)
Inaugural sparkling release. A persistent stream of fine bubbles and good mousse lead to up front citrus and brioche notes followed by a creamy, well textured palate (from two years on the lees), defined by stone fruit and citrus with mineral undertones.
Township 7 Seven Stars Polaris, 2017, Okanagan Valley VQA ($36)
In the hands of winemaker Mary McDermott, Township 7 is emerging as a bit of a sparkling specialist, although the winery made its first sparkler 20 years ago. Recently T7 just launched BC’s first ‘Sparkling only’ wine club for its Seven Stars wines, at 15% off, plus free shipping, and 10% off other wines. Of note, last year the 2016 Polaris won Best Canadian Sparkling Wine at London’s Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships. Apple, mineral and brioche aromas, persistent bubbles great balance and texture, apple, pear and citrus though the finish.