Celebrate (Every Day) with BC Bubbles

I’m not advocating saving sparkling wine for special occasions. Quite the opposite – any day that ends in Y receives a YAY sparkling wine vote for me. The most diverse wine style there is, sparkling ranges from mildly fizzy to full-on assertive, and suits occasions from morning through to – well – the next morning.

Sparkling wine from BC runs the spectrum as well, experimenting with grapes, closures, methods and goals. From light and fun to serious and age-worthy, our diversity in sparkling mirrors our diversity in culture and landscape.

Here is a round up of the BC bubbles that I tasted this year – more than enough to give reason to celebrate every day.

 

8th Generation Vineyard
Confidence 2012
Summerland, Okanagan Valley, BC
*$23  +885962

This off-dry frizzante wine is attractive on the inside and out, and was one of the first in BC to start the waterfall of fresh, lightly sparkling, fresh sippers. What was began as a small summer project for the family at Summerland’s 8th Generation is now a nearly annual affair, with a listing at the BCLDB and wider availability. A blend of merlot, pinot noir, dunkelfelder, pinot gris and viognier come together well in this striking frosted bottle. Pink grapefruit, candied strawberries and ripe apples thoughout this softer sparkling, with light and zippy bubbles and a creamy middle. As refreshing (and fun!) as a summer run through a sprinkler. 87 points.

Bella Wines
Oliver West Side Chardonnay 2012
Okanagan Valley, BC
*$24  +625897

Bella makes different sparkling cuvees from around the Okanagan, altering only the geography in an exercise in terroir expression. Try pouring West Side Chardonnay next to East Side Chardonnay and you’ll see what a big difference 13km can make. Here grapes at higher elevation Seacrest Mountain vineyard have yielded a crisp, green apple and mineral sharp sparkler, with light earthy, struck stone notes, and a bitter grapefruit pith finish. The wine is brut natural (no dosage) so acidity is tendered only by the sun bright fruit and light lees work. 88 points.

Bella Wines
Sparkling Gamay Noir 2012
Oliver, Okanagan Valley, BC
*$24  +851253

Bella does bubbles, and that’s it. This is one of three traditional method, single vineyard sparkling wines released in 2012. 100 percent gamay sourced from Oliver’s highly regarded Secrest Vineyard is a beautiful barely-pink, stainless steel fermented and with no dosage (bone dry!). The result is fresh, crisp and pure fruit. Strawberry, golden Macintosh, delicate peach blossom, tart rhubarb and freshness from first whiff through to a juicy, herbal pink grapefruit finish (with an orange peel twist). Nimble and sharp. 88 points.

Blue Mountain Vineyard
Gold Label Brut
Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, BC
*24  + 471672

This edition of Gold Label Brut NV was based on 2010 fruit and disgorged March 2013, a helpful note added to the back label providing consumers with a glimpse of maturing/aging of the wine. Pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot gris are whole cluster pressed, fermented separately and then blended and left sur lie for 24 months. After dégorgement, an additional 6-9 months rest. The result, BC’s most consistent,  classic and impressive sparkling wine year over year. Light dough, nuts and stone aromas lead to a crisp and nimble palate. Green apple, crisp pear, Meyer lemon, lemon rind, herbed salt and stone come together in lip-smacking raciness. Lively acidity, mineral driven finish, with a gentle cushion of pinot gris fruitiness to carry. Pair with oysters, spot prawns, moules frites. 90 points.

Gray Monk
Odyssey White Brut 2012
Okanagan Valley, BC
$25  +711218

This traditional method, floral-kissed sparkling from Okanagan Valley’s Lake Country (high Kelowna) impresses yet again, holding the pithy citrus, perfumed lemon blossom, sherbet and ripping lemon acidity that this cooler climate region can naturally produce. Lively and bright, with a pristine lemon focus that is a perfect match to seafood or salted bites. 88 points.

Haywire
The Bub Sparkling 2011
Okanagan Valley, BC
*$25  +9159

The Bub might be an obvious name for bubbles, but it’s more than just descriptive. The wine was made in honour of OCP’s Alison Scholefield, whose first sip as a babe was sparkling wine. As a child, she went by The Bub, Bubba, Alibubba, and the Bubster, though (thankfully) today she prefers Alison. The Bub 2011 is chardonnay and pinot noir, from a cooler mountain vineyard near Oliver, and pours a foamy flute of apple, stone, pear skin, and light eraser rubbings on the nose, along with tart white peach and crisp lemon in the mouth. Baked apple notes seal the finish and a crown cap seals in the freshness. 88 points.

Haywire
Pink Bub 2012
Okanagan Valley, BC
*$25  +397844

A cooler mountainside vineyard near Oliver was the source for the 51/49 pinot noir/chardonnay grapes in the cuvee, whole cluster pressed for complexity and cool fermented to preserve the crisp, shining fruit. At disgorging, a syrah dosage is added to give Pink Bub its lively hue. Light and bright strawberries and orange blossom aromas entice to a crisp palate of green apple, mandarin, Anjou pear and a welcome centre cushion of sage kissed strawberries. Citrus peel carries out the bright finish, well balanced with a touch of residual sugar. Pair with cheese, charcuterie, baguette and fresh berries. 89 points.

Road 13 Vineyards
Sparkling Chenin Blanc 2011
Oliver, Okanagan Valley, BC
*$40  + 820696

This unique sparkling chenin blanc opens with an intense nose of key lime and herbal white grapefruit. The lively palate vibrates with tight bubbles, crisp green apple, hay, green fig, quince and chalk. Racy acidity carries the low-yield, sun-sweetened fruit (16 g/l RS) to a crisp lemon pith lingering finish. Oysters please! 90 points

See Ya Later Ranch
Brut NV
Okanagan Valley, BC
$22  +075648

Bright, lively and floral, this is a consistently solid BC sparkling wine. A unique blend of chardonnay and riesling provides the green apple and citrus spine of the former and the floral aromatics of the latter. Juicy, crisp and ripe orchard fruits are carried by energetic bubbles through the finish. Pour with brunch, canapés and sushi. 88 points.

Sperling Vineyards
Sper…itz 2012
Okanagan Valley, BC
*$13 for 375ml  + 254573

Ann Sperling is one of Canada’s most heralded winemakers, and has brought 25 years of winemaking home to the vineyard she grew up on in the Okanagan, continuing a cherished tradition begun by her great grandparents on that land over 150 years ago. This light and lively, slightly sper…itzy wine is a blend of the obscure perle of csaba and slightly more familiar bacchus grapes. Light, frothy mousse, perfumed roses, honeycrisp apple, pink grapefruit and white peach. Chill it down and lap it up – this is low alcohol (7%), moderate acid deliciousness. Pair with fruit salad and brunch. 87 points.

Steller’s Jay
Brut 2009
Okanagan Valley, BC
$22  +536334

Struck stone, beach sand, lemon pith and rind and light nut shell on the nose leads into this medium bodied sparkler, BC’s best selling sparkling wine in the old Sumac Ridge portfolio and now a stand along brand on its own. As before, the 2009 is a blend of pinot blanc, pinot noir and chardonnay, and leads in the mouth with assertive bubbles, green apple, bitter lemon pith, anise and a white grapefruit cushion of fruit on the palate. The end finishes crisp and tight. Consistent, easy to find and a good pour with shellfish, canapés. 88 points.

Stoneboat Vineyards
Piano Brut NV
Oliver, Okanagan Valley, BC
*$24  +374041

The Martiniuk family was Inspired by Italy’s Prosecco for Edition 1 of Piano Brut, but ended up capturing the perfect pitch of the fresh fruit of their Oliver Home Vineyard in this made-for-summer sparkler. 1983 planted pinot blanc and müller thurgau are vinified in stainless steel in the Charmat Method (Cuve Close) to yield a fragrant and delicate floral bouquet of light peach, pear blossoms and peonies. The frothy and fresh palate carries more of the same, with the addition of nectarine, white peaches, ripe mandarin and lime. Barely off-dry, Piano Brut closes out with peach sherbet notes. Driving through Oliver in the middle of summer smells like this wine. Pop the cork for brunches, garden parties or impromptu piano recitals. 87 points

Stoneboat Vineyards
Faux Pas Rosé
Oliver, Okanagan Valley, BC
*$25

Light, bright, easy, fruity and fizzy – what more could you ask for on a sun dappled patio? I enjoyed this overlooking the Golden Mile hillside at Miradoro while nibbling on warm olives and olive oil dipped, just out of the oven foccacia. The bright, ripe lightly sweet cherry-berry fruit and frothy mousse refreshed with each sip.  86 points.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery
Cipes Ariel 1998
Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, BC
*$85 +485771

Certainly the most distinctive packaging for a sparkling wine in BC, from the most unique winery and probably the most memorable wine story as well. A misplaced lot in the cellars was rediscovered a couple of years ago, resulting in the release of this ultra-premium (for BC) cuvée. This estate grown blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier was disgorged after 13 years sur lie. Soy and vegemite at first whiff, chased by pear, apple blossom and brioche. The bubbles are super fine and subtle in the glass, the result of the lengthy aging. Regardless, the rich brioche, lemon custard, stone, pear butter, dried apple and nut shell character is potent, alluring and lengthy. A lovely vein of acidity flows to the nutty finish of this powerful sparkler. 90 points.

Therapy Vineyards
Fizzio Therapy 2012
Okanagan Valley, BC
*$23  +690024

Because everyone like bubbles, and everyone could use a little physio fizziotherapy. Therapy Vineyards has won attention not only for what’s in their bottles, but what’s on them. A marketing powerhouse, witty sense of humour and savvy creative team has done the team well, and winemaker Steve Latchford has backed it up. Other wines in their portfolio include Freudian Sip and Pink Freud (which might also come in hand for pop-in guests). Starting with huge perfumed floral and pretty peach blossom aromas, this Fizzio is more frothy in the glass, off-dry, with more peach, ripe apple and zippy acid on the finish. Chardonnay is perfumed up with 10% orange muscat – showing that just a dab will do you. Fun, friendly and frizzante – what’s not to like? 86 points.

Unsworth Vineyards
Cuvée De L’ile 2010
Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC
*$24  +520304

This is what I’d like to see more people doing on the Wine Islands. Sparkling wine. Not, contrary to popular belief, because it’s a way to use up ‘under ripe’ grapes. Because the cool, maritime climate and ancient soils can support grapes naturally high in acidity and create wines at the mountain top of freshness. Granny smith crisp on the nose and palate, this pinot noir sparkler spent two years on the lees after full malolactic – certainly needed to calm the raging acidity. The result is apple dominant, with light stone and a cushion of lightly creamy lees on the mid palate. Lemon zest finishes off the bright ending. Pour with herb and anise decked moules frites. 88 points

Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade. In addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for WineAlign, ...

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