Celebrate with the Bubbly

By / Magazine / August 24th, 2013 / 2

Have something to celebrate? I can think of no better way to celebrate, be it a birthday, anniversary, graduation, special occasion, weekend or Wednesday, then with a bottle of bubbles. The best part is that there are a lot of homegrown bubbles across this nation, literally from coast to coast: Nova Scotia to British Columbia — all making delicious sparkling wine for your any-occasion. It is probably one of the fastest growing wine styles across the country. And in some cases, wineries are opening specifically to make sparkling.

“Demand for sparkling wine is growing,” explains Peter Bodnar Rod of 13th Street Winery. “We believe we have the ideal conditions for world class bubbles,” says Michelle Bosc of Château des Charmes in Ontario, and she’s not alone.

Angelo Pavan of Cave Spring digs a little deeper: “Given our cool climate and the swings in our growing seasons (as in Burgundy) there are a few varieties that grow consistently well and some wine styles that do well regardless of vintage variations. Sparkling Chardonnay is one of them.”

Out West, Roger Wong, winemaker for Gray Monk, says that, “sparkling wines are a natural fit for the Okanagan Valley, as our vineyards are on the same latitude as the Champagne region of France.”

“[The] Okanagan Valley, specifically cooler vineyard sites, is the model place to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that have beautiful natural acidity and flavours that are ideal for crafting a classic style of traditional method sparkling wine,” explains Whitney Law of Okanagan Crush Pad.

According to Jason James of Sumac Ridge, maker of the amazing Steller’s Jay line of sparkling wines, the only negative of BC with sparkling is, “few of the grapes are grown on really heavy/chalky soils, which really helps to give the wines that minerality.” Something Michele Bosc says is not a problem in Ontario, “Our grapes ripen beautifully but still retain the necessary acidity, all the calcium in the soil/escarpment provides the minerality in the finished wine.”

Jeff Aubry, President over at Coyote’s Run, gave three answers as to why he got into the sparkling game: “Why the hell not? Bubbles are cool. Because it is soooo much fun to produce sparkling wines [and] our climate is ideally suited — great ripeness, but also great acidity — perfect for making top quality bubbles.” I think that right across this country winemakers would say he’s right on all counts.

Ontario

Henry of Pelham Cuvee Catharine Brut ($29.95)

Still a great value for your money in bubbly. Good biscuit notes with lovely mineral nuances on the palate, there’s also lovely lemony citrus notes with green apple on the finish — but always with the biscuit and citrus.

Coyote’s Run Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé 2009 ($29.95)

Traditional method with 2 1/2 years on lees, this is the inaugural production from CR and they made only 1000 bottles. The nose is raspberry, strawberry and apple aroma-ed, while in the mouth all 3 show up right to the mid-palate then it’s green apple and rhubarb to the finish. Definitely drier than the nose lets on, and the initial fruitiness seems to amalgamate into a nice POM juice flavour before the finish kicks in.

Cave Spring Blanc de Blancs ($29.95)

This is a 100% Chardonnay-based bubbly. The nose is bready, biscuit, toasty and yeasty, and for you sparkling wine lovers that should mean quite a lot. The palate improves on the nose with mineral toastiness, apple and pear nuances and a long, lovely, bread crust finish — plus it has a lovely dryness on the finish from great acidity and not too much sugar in the dosage; very Champagne-esque without the Champagne price tag.

Chateau des Charmes Estate Bottled Brut ($22.95)

The nose is apple and lemon with a touch of yeasty-breadyness (but just a touch), that fruit is right in your face and very welcome. It follows onto the palate with crisp apple, lemon and a nice biscotti-like flavouring — very fresh with good acidity.

Peller Estates NV Ice Cuvee Rosé ($34.95)

Sweetness of cherry and red berries rise to the nasal occasion — you can taste the Icewine dosage on the fruity pleasant finish — almost juicy in nature with lengthy red fruit in the form of cherry and strawberry on the finish. This is easy drinking and tasty and might convert those who are not into bubbles … yet.

British Columbia

Okanagan Crush Pad Haywire “The Bub” 2011 ($24.90)

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blend with mineral, apple, lemon drop; heady bubbles with a peach stone finish and touch of sweet.

Sumac Ridge Steller’s Jay Brut 2007 ($25)

Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and a touch of Pinot Blanc. Nice toasty nose with almond and hazelnut notes, lots of pleasant fruit on the palate with a good toastiness to it; yeasty, brioche and biscuits sit pleasantly on the tongue. A little creaminess in the mouth reminiscent of lemon meringue. Long, toasty hazelnut finish. This bottle has some real depth to it.

Sperling Vineyard Sparkling Brut 2008 ($40)

Mineral and green apple are the hallmarks here, along with bread crust. Toasted apple seeds on the palate with a biscuity note, dry finish with good acidity that seems to bite back; fresh and crisp finish that hangs around on the cheeks.

Hillebrand Trius Brut ($24.95)

Pretty floral, mineral and apple notes adding to the yeastiness and used as a seasoning, not as the main attraction. Pleasant all-around, all-purpose bubble and not too much dough.

Gray Monk Odyssey Rosé Brut 2009 ($19.99)

Gamay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir. Strawberry, rhubarb and cherry with redcurrant and a hint of bitterness that keeps it honest and from becoming a sweet, red fruit mess.

Nova Scotia

L’Acadie Vineyard Vintage Cuvée 2010 ($25.99)

Creamy lemon zest and pith with hints of vanilla-brioche.

Blomidon Cuvée L’Acadie Brut ($29.99)

McIntosh apple, hazelnut and praline sweetness — you’ll also find pear on the long finish and buttered croissant in the middle.

L’Acadie Vineyard Prestige Brut 2007 ($39.99)

Pure toasty and nuttiness with McIntosh apple and lemon zest appeal. 4 to 5 years on lees seems to favour the toastiness instead of fruit.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael is an award-winning journalist: Promoting the Promoters Award Cuvée 2010 and Ontario Wine Awards Journalist of the Year 2012.  He is also a national and international wine judge - Ontario Wine Awards, All Canadian Wine Championships; Best of Riesling — Germany; Essencia do Vinho — "Top Wines of Portugal".  He is currently the President of the Wine Writers Circle of Canada and the wine columnist for Ottawa Life and Grand magazine as well as regular contributor to Tidings, and Grapevine ... his reviews have also appeared in the LCBO Vintages magazine. Michael has also added a YouTube channel to his activities where he reviews bottles of great Ontario wine on a weekly basis. In whatever he does, it is Michael’s desire to educate, inspire and encourage others to grow their own love and enthusiasm for wine – and to realize that it is their palate that ultimately makes the decision.

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