The British Columbia Sparkling Wine Report is one in a series of four annual reports on key fizz categories put out by Gismondi on Wine in 2020, spearheaded by our sparkling wine specialist Treve Ring.
We think, particularly for those in BC and Ontario, where the local wine industry is massive, this past year has led to a desire to support locals and put your buying dollars back into our communities.
We decided to focus on Canadian sparkling wine this year, with a special look to Ontario, since we don't have the opportunity to taste their fizz very often. It was quite eye-opening and educational, tasting a few dozen Ontario bubbles over a few days this fall. As expected, we were impressed by the Blanc de Blancs category. The limestone laced soils make the wines sing, with a verve and intensity rarely seen in BC, and it was strikingly true for the solo Chardonnay examples when the fruit was allowed to shine. Similarly, some of the pinot noir led Blanc de Noirs impressed, with a precision of fruit and focus, and abundant structure. We were surprised to see dosages elevated in many Ontario wines, particularly in the Rosé category. It would seem far too many folks are relying on sugar to create a noticeably sweeter style. Perhaps it's the locals' strong favouritism for Prosecco leading winemakers to adopt similar styles (even in traditional method wines)?
In contrast, most of the sparkling wines out of BC are held to a lower dosage, perhaps more fruit-driven, but certainly feel increasingly more food pairing appropriate. It appears the sparkling wine drinking market is more mature in BC vs ON, which certainly isn't the case for all categories of wine. I can surmise our west coast locavore cuisine of shellfish and seafood lends itself to sparkling pairings, but that's just an observance. I see that sparkling wine on lists in restaurants and on private liquor store shelves in BC is burgeoning and impressive for styles from all over the world (notably grower champagne). In Ontario, certainly in Toronto, I do not see the same interest.
For me, BC highlights included Blue Mountain, Bella Wines, and Tantalus (as ever), and Elephant Island, which was a great surprise and delight. Lightning Rock, Haywire (and brands within), and Fitz also continued showing their strength, proficiency, and confidence with style across the range. Overall, BC Sparkling is a powerful category and one I definitely think will become something we're known for.
All told, the GOW team reviewed 113 Canadian sparkling wine in 2020. Add to that another 69 International Sparkling Wine, including wines from France, Italy, Portugal, New Zealand, California, Argentina, Chile, Hungary, Germany, South Africa, Austria, and England. And three dozen Champagnes were reviewed for our popular Champagne Annual. Many of these wines have multiple reviews, bringing the actual bubble count easily into the millions.
Here are all the BC Sparkling Wines tasted in 2020.