Wandering the isles looking for bubbly to celebrate the holiday season can be a daunting task. Champagne (strictly French bubbly) is a wonderful addition to any holiday party, but why not shop for local bubbles? There are so many delicious bubbles made right here in Niagara. Better yet, head out to the wineries on an organized tour and try and buy sparkling wines direct from the people that make them. What better fun? I recommend having a bottle (or two) of bubbles in your fridge at any time of year. Great for celebratory occasions but also for non-occasions…a welcome addition to any table, anytime.
What is in a bubbly you ask…..
Traditional method bubbles (where a second fermentation is allowed to occur in the bottle, aged, riddled, disgorged then “dosage” … the lovely aged liquid is immediately topped up before corking ) and Charmat (where a finished wine undergoes secondary fermentation in a stainless tank, then bottled under pressure in a continuous process.) Both of these methods can be widely found in Niagara and are offered at very reasonable price points, much less than Champagne.
Here is a list of some of our favourite local bubbles (in no particular order)
Henry of Pelham – Cuvée Catherine Rosé Brut. There are two non-vintage wines in the portfolio, a Brut and a Rose Brut, both of which are made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (and vice versa, respectively). They see aging en tirage for an average of 30 months, meaning that it takes up to 3 years from harvest to finished wine, exceptional in New World sparkling wine production at the non-vintage level. The Rosé Brut is my fave. A subtle note of fresh raspberry and icing sugar. Pink and delicious! Comes in a pretty package and stylish gift box for a perfect hostess gift!
Kew Vineyards – Tradition Sparkling. With its light copper colour and evident elegance, the winemaker describes this Traditional Sparkling as "a pretty wine." While the wine is Pinot Noir driven, the Pinot Meunier provides a hint of sweetness. The wine’s more acidic Chardonnay component rounds out that touch of sweetness beautifully and maintains the wine’s superb structure.
Tawse Winery- Limestone Ridge Riesling. This is the third vintage of Sparkling Riesling from the now certified Organic and Biodynamic Limestone Ridge Vineyard. Made in the traditional method, this wine displays a shy nose at first but is soon followed by ripe apples, citrus and minerality on the mouth. This sparkling wine has intense and concentrated flavours. This is a wonderful value bubble for under $20.00!
Cave Spring- NV Blanc de Blancs. Made entirely from Chardonnay grapes, grown in the limestone-clay soils of Cave Springs’ vineyards along the benchlands of the Niagara Escarpment. Vinified in the Traditional Method, it was fermented and aged sur lie in bottle for a minimum of 30 months prior to disgorging. The result is a dry, Brut-style sparkling wine exhibiting delicate effervescence mineral nuances that are true to its cool-climate origins.
Featherstone Estate Winery- Cuvée Joy. Cuvée Joy is a true, classic méthode traditionnelle sparkling wine in the style of the best Champagne houses of France. This bubbly is a 'blanc de blancs' (white from whites), made only from Chardonnay grapes. The wine slowly went through many steps, including the secondary fermentation in bottles that dissolves naturally produced carbon dioxide into the wine for the fizz. Following the tradition of the great sparkling wine houses of Europe, our wine is named after a woman at the heart of the family -- the winemaker’s mother, Joyce. Voted Best Sparkling Wine of the Year 2015 All Canadian Wine Championships. This has a different (and very festive) closure system, rather than a cork, with a pretty red ribbon. Perfect for holiday gifting. Look for the Rosé version releasing soon. I had the pleasure of sampling it this summer…It is absolutely lovely.
Back 10 Cellars- Smit.ten A lovely fresh bubbly. The Riesling grapes are hand picked then fermented in the Charmat method into an expressive aromatic and off dry bubble. Aromas of melon, apple, pear , with a sleek back bone of acidity. Delicious! And all for under $25.00
Jackson Triggs- Grand Reserve Sparkling Brut. Aged en tirage for three years, this beautiful, slightly pink Brut boasts hints of red fruit, toast, and zest, with a tight mineral structure. On the palate, a lasting, delicate and creamy mousse is supported by a round body and crisp prolonged finish.
Here is to a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. Raise a glass to 2019!
Cheers! And keep drinking Ontario Wines.
Christina and Andrew Brooks own and operate Crush on Niagara Wine Tours and live on a 10 acre vineyard in Beamsville, ON, Niagara.