It seems like we just finished our Christmas turkey leftovers and ‘Deck the Halls’ is still ringing in our ears, but I’m already eagerly anticipating New Year’s Eve when we welcome in 2011 and say goodbye to another year and another decade(!). While I brush up on the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne, I’m also trying to decide which sparkling wine to have when we ring in the New Year. Along with the party hats, noisemakers and balloons, nothing says ‘Celebrate!’ better than the unmistakable pop of a cork and a glass or two of bubbly. It’s perfect for festive get-togethers, as an aperitif, or paired with just about anything. I happen to be a big fan of the stuff.
Hmmm, so many favourites to choose from: from white to pink to red, sweet or dry, light or rich, there is a wide range of styles from many regions around the globe. Maybe this is the year to try something new and consider the many choices at Everything Wine – after all, we have one of the largest selections of French champagne and sparkling wine in BC! Just select ‘sparkling wine’ on www.everythingwine.ca and you’ll find almost 200 wines in your search results.
Here are some ideas and a few of my favourites to get you started:
Champagne: Well, I might as well start at the top. We have over 60 French champagnes in our Vintages Room. Champagne is the most famous bottle-fermented sparkling wine in the world and is named after the Champagne region (appellation) in northern France. Because of high demand and limited supply (not to mention its labour-intensive production methods, quality and pedigree), champagne is not inexpensive. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier grapes produce champagnes that are typically dry, with high acidity and complex flavours of green and citrus fruit and other notes described as bready, biscuity or toasty. This year’s favourite is Roederer Brut Champagne ($59.99) from the same producer of legendary Cristal (they’ve been synonymous with the world’s great champagnes since 1776). This is their flagship, award-winning non-vintage champagne. It has a golden colour with fine bubbles and smooth palate of apples and pears with red berries (blackberries, raspberries and cherries) and classic rich notes of toast and almonds – yum!
Cava is the Spanish term for sparkling wine that is also bottle-fermented. The main grape varieties are local Spanish ones that offer neutral fruit flavours and medium acidity. Cava is easy-drinking, less pricey and very popular. One of the best recognized labels is Segura Viudas Brut Reserva and at only $13.99, it’s also an incredible value. Another favourite is Codorniu Pinot Noir Brut Rose Cava ($16.49) which is very pretty in the glass (soft salmon/pink colour), with a light strawberry nose and a dry, refreshing finish.
Prosecco is a sparkling wine from northeast Italy (Veneto) that is usually fermented in the tank method. The prosecco grape produces a light to medium-bodied, dry or off-dry sparkling wine with delicate stone fruit flavours (think peaches and pears). Some are fully sparkling (spumante); others are slightly sparkling (frizzante). Our most popular prosecco at Everything Wine is also organic: Villa Teresa. It is light straw-coloured with small bubbles, has a clean, crisp taste and a very cool re-sealable rubber closure/top. Wine Access awarded it 87 points in 2010 and at only $15.99, it’s one of the best value Prosecco’s on the shelf. When I want to splurge a little more, my current favourite is Adami Bosco di Gica Spumante Brut ($29.99).This delicious 91-point wine (Wine Advocate-Robert Parker) is soft and elegant. It was also selected as the prosecco to be served last year to world leaders at the G-8 summit in Italy to world leaders, so you know it’s got to be great to meet those standards.
Sparkling wine from Canada: British Columbia’s sparkling wines are award-winning, impressive and delicious. Blue Mountain Vineyard’s Gold Label Brut Sparkling ($29.99) is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris grapes. It has a fine mousse (tiny bubbles) with lemon and toasty characters on the nose and palate with a dry finish. It’s a staff favourite and sells quickly whenever it arrives in the store. Summerhill Estate, See Ya Later Ranch, Tantalus Vineyards and Sumac Ridge are some other wonderful quality sparkling wine producers in our province.
Other favourite wines from other sparkling wine-producing countries include:
Australia: Bird in Hand Sparkling Wine ($30.99). Pinot Noir grapes are the sole star in this sparkling rose with a soft pink hue, delicious strawberry aromas and flavours balanced by refreshing acidity and a long, dry finish. A different Australian specialty is Sparkling Shiraz like the Banrock Station Sparkling Shiraz ($13.99). These are full-bodied wines with intense black and red berry fruit notes and yes, they are fizzy too – it’s a delicious combination!
New Zealand: Mount Riley Savee Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc ($29.99). If you love Sauvignon Blanc and also love bubbly, you’ve GOT to try this unique sparkling wine with traditional Marlborough sauv blanc notes, crisp acidity and lingering finish.
South Africa: Graham Beck Brut Sparkling Wine ($24.99). This is delicious blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes fermented in-bottle with light yeasty aromas, rich and creamy mouthfeel and fine mousse. It was awarded one of the ‘Top 10 Fizzies’ by Decanter magazine in 2009.
California: Although Domaine Chandon and Mumm’s are ubiquitous, I like Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blanc Sparkling ($42.99) from cool climate Carneros. It’s produced exclusively with Chardonnay grapes, has enticing aromas of apples, full creamy feel with flavours of pear and lemon meringue with a long finish.
Germany, Hungary and Argentina and many other countries also produce sparkling wines.
There are so many sparkling wines to choose from. Regardless of the type or style or country of origin, I never tire of popping the cork and watching millions of tiny bubbles swirling to the surface in my glass. It’s a beautiful thing … We hope you discover a new favourite this New Year’s Eve.
Happy New Year from all of us at Everything Wine!
– Sharon McGavin