Let’s be honest player, probably the only time you open a bottle of sparkling wine is New Year’s Eve. Even then, your knowledge of sparkling wine likely started with either whatever you think your favourite rapper drinks or that less than impressive frosted black bottle that you got free with whatever event you bought tickets to. I’m hoping to change that a little bit. So, learn about the good stuff, break the bank once in a while, and drink something better this NYE.
First off, champagne only comes from France, specifically the Champagne region of France, anything else is just sparkling wine. The good stuff, whether it comes from Champagne or not, isn’t cheap. It’s pretty much handmade and aged for a long time before it gets to your grubby little hands. That’s why Dom Perignon costs a few hundred bucks, and why Cristal cost pretty much the same. That bottle of Baby Duck was pretty much made in a lab three or four days ago--that’s why it costs the same as those Canadian Tire wheel covers you just sprung for. What makes the bubbly from Champagne so good? Aside from a few hundred years of know-how, the climate and soil help make a base wine that is perfect for making into quality wine.
The good news is that there are several other countries that make great sparkling wine which are often very close in quality, but much more agreeable to the wallet. I’m a big fan of American and Canadian sparkling wines, and I find that Canadian wines have that little bit of acidity and mineral that make them very enjoyable. Some of the recommended wines below are pink (or rosé as we like to say), but pull up your big boy pants because that doesn’t mean they aren’t good or manly.
So, pop the cork, and show your NYE date that you mean business! Happy New Year!
(Photo from Benjamin Bridge Instagram)
Summerhill 1998 Ariel Brut, B.C.
A knock-out wine from Summerhill, one of Canada’s long time producers of sparkling wine. Bready and toasty with layers upon layers of fruit and mineral. I would highly recommend it to people that enjoy Krug or other big, autolytic sparklers. Enjoy with buttered popcorn, oysters, or mostly naked in front of a roaring fire with a hot date.
B.C. $85, AB $100
Backyard Blanc de Noir Brut, B.C.
A blanc de noir is made only from red grapes (in this case, pinot noir) but with very little skin contact making a white wine. Pale gold with lemon aromas and a hint of bread crust and strawberries. Tart and toasty in the mouth, with somewhat coarse bubbles. Perfect for creamy dishes or with appetizers.
Peller Estates Ice Cuvée Rosé, ON
A pale, copper-like colour in the glass with aromas of dried strawberry, herb, lemon, and honey, while the palate is remarkably similar. The ice wine dosage adds a nice layer of honey and apricot to the finish. Perfect for after dinner, or drinking in the back of a limo.
N.S. $25, N.B. $25, ON $35, SK $32, MB $32
Benjamin Bridge Rosé, N.S.
A pale, cotton candy pink--though I’d swear that I dated a girl with nipples that colour once. Bursting with soft strawberry and pomegranate notes with slate mineral and bready notes. Well integrated flavours from start to finish with a bit of waxy, herb flavours on the finish. Drink on its own or with some fresh strawberries.
N.S. $45, AB $45
Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Brut, ON
I’m a big fan of the sparkling wine program at Henry of Pelham and I think they make it well. Citrus and apple fruits with great mineral presence and a hint of toastiness on the nose. Well balanced but love the subtle red berry fruits that creep up on the finish. Drink with seafood, or use to toast!
ON $29, MB $32, Nfld, $35, AB $45.
Benjamin Bridge Brut, N.S.
I’ve been a very happy fellow since this sparkling wine from Nova Scotia started being available across Canada. Look for lime, and yellow apple fruits with bright mineral notes and a little bit of struck flint and sourdough bread. Very enjoyable to drink, I’m happy to recommend it anytime you need a bottle of great bubble.
AB $50, N.S. $45, N.B. $45, ON $50, B.C. $50.