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Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Thursday, October 21 2021

Sparkling Memories and Sparkling Times

By: Anthony Gismondi
Canadian fizz is bubbling up everywhere.

I well remember the first time I walked into an underground cellar at Sumac Ridge in the early 1990s to see a small stash of méthode champenoise (re-fermented in the bottle) sparkling wine.

It was ageing under the care of B.C. wine pioneer and eternal optimist Harry McWatters. As the years flew by, those inaugural bottles of Steller's Jay were showing better and better at successive tastings as they aged in bottle, clearly McWatters was on to something big.

Making méthode champenoise sparkling wine in a country addicted to drinking Baby Duck was a huge step. The sweet, tank-fermented bubble was selling some eight million bottles a year in Canada and it dominated just about every celebration in the country. In the end, B.C.'s cool climate produced a high acid environment that was tailor-made for quality sparkling wine. While it would take a couple of decades for wineries to embrace the sparkling wine scene, it's never been better or brighter than it is today.

Across the lake from Sumac Ridge, Summerhill was turning out Cipes Brut in southeast Kelowna, a friendly riesling-based bubble, while much further south in Okanagan Falls, Ian Mavety was making a move from grape grower to winemaker at Blue Mountain. The heart of the early Blue Mountain model was a well-made Brut, also in the méthode champenoise style. Ian and Jane Mavety worked with Frenchman Raphael Brisbois, who earned his sparkling wine stripes at Piper Heidsieck in Champagne. Blue Mountain Brut was and still is a local restaurant staple to this day.

In 2021 well over 200 wineries from Vancouver Island to Nova Scotia produce sparkling wine, and it comes in a myriad of styles. In B.C., sparkling wine is becoming a key product at many wineries, and the quality at several small, select producers is climbing each year. B.C. is easily the Canadian leader in diversity. We are making some highly impressive blanc de blancs, a style that brings us closest to the finesse of Champagne, but there is much more. Styles range from ancestrale offerings to a wide variety of fruity charmat / frizzante fizzes to serious bottle-fermented, aged, traditional method sparklers.

The first of the many 2021 National Wine Awards results are out today, and it is a testament to just how many sparkling wines are now made across Canada. Here are your medal winners.

PLATINUM

Harper's Trail 2018 Chardonnay Sparkling Thadd Springs Vineyard, Thompson Valley B.C. $25.29

Trius N/V Brut Rosé, Niagara Peninsula, ON $29.75

Queenston Mile 2017 Blanc de Noirs, St. David's Bench, Niagara Peninsula, ON $50.00

Malivoire N/V Bisous Rose , Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, ON $29.95

Henry of Pelham 2016 Cuvée Catharine Carte Blanche Blanc de Blanc, Niagara Peninsula, ON $49.95

13th Street 2015 Premier Cuvee, Niagara Peninsula, ON $39.95

GOLD

L'Acadie 2018 Vintage Cuvee  Traditional Method Organic, Nova Scotia $35.00

Noble Ridge 2017 The Pink One, Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $45.99

Rockway Vineyards N/V Brut Cuvée, ON $29.00

Cave Spring N/V Blanc de Blancs, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, ON $29.95

Huff Estates 2018 Cuvée Janine, Prince Edward County, ON $30.00

Silhouette 2018 Boyd Blanc De Blanc, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $74.85

Two Sisters 2018 Blanc de Franc, Niagara River, Niagara Peninsula, ON $62.00

Fielding N/V Brut – Tradition, Niagara Peninsula, ON $39.95

SILVER

Time 2018 Brut, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $34.99

Tawse 2019 Spark Rose Quarry Road Vineyard, Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, ON $29.95

Huff Estates 2017 Cuvée Peter F. Huff, Prince Edward County, ON $40.00

Red Rooster N/V Brut B.C. $34.50

Gray M 2018 Odyssey White Brut, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $29.90

Road 13 2017 Sparkling Chenin Blanc, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $39.99

Frind N/V Brut, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $28.84

Blasted Church 2016 OMG, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $30.00

Tawse 2014 Spark Chardonnay St David's Block, Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, ON $39.95

Hidden Bench 2016 Natur Zero Dosage, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, ON $42.20

13th Street 2013 Grande Cuvee Blanc de Noir, Niagara Peninsula, ON $59.95

Silhouette N/V Boyd Classic Cuvee, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $49.54

50th Parallel 2018 Blanc de Noir, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $97.85

Lightfoot & Wolfville 2019 Brut Rosé, Nova Scotia $45.00

Gray Monk 2018 Odyssey Rose Brut, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $29.90

Malivoire N/V Bisous Brut, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, ON $34.95

Rosehall Run 2013 Stardust Brut Zero, Prince Edward County, ON $50.00

Blomidon N/V Crémant Extra Dry, Nova Scotia $28.00

Tantalus 2018 Blanc de Blancs Traditional Method, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $36.00

Kew 2016 Barrel Aged Blanc de Blancs Estate, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, ON $29.95

Evolve N/V Pink Effervescence, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $21.99

Inniskillin Okanagan 2017 Discovery Series Sparkling Tempranillo Rose, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $24.99

Tawse 2019 Spark Limestone Ridge Riesling, Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, ON $20.95

Cipes 2012 Blanc de Blanc, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $42.00             

Summerhill NV Organic Cipes Brut, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $29.00

Trius N/V Brut, Niagara Peninsula, ON $29.75

13th Street 2019 Blanc de Blanc, Niagara Peninsula, ON $29.95

Trius N/V Showcase Brut Nature, Niagara Peninsula, ON $55.00

Liquidity N/V Reserve Brut, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $35.00

Lily N/V Sparkling, ON $17.95

Hester Creek 2018 Old Vine Brut, Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $34.99

Blomidon 2014 Brut Réserve, Nova Scotia $45.00

Blomidon N/V Cuvée L'Acadie, Nova Scotia $35.00

Noble Ridge 2016 The One, Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $45.99

Bench 1775 2020 Blanc de Blanc, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $36.80

Jackson-Triggs Niagara 2016 Grand Reserve Entourage Sparkling Brut, Niagara Peninsula, ON $29.95

Road 13 2012 Jackpot Sparkling Chenin Blanc, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $86.99

Arrowleaf 2020 Summerstorm, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $22.50

Gray Monk 2018 Odyssey Traditional Brut, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $29.90

BRONZE

Haywire 2014 Vintage Bub, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $49.90

Locust Lane 2020 Sparkling Rosé, Niagara Peninsula, ON $34.95

Redstone 2019 Sparkling Rose Limestone Vineyard, Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, ON $29.95

Domaine Acer 2019 Mousse des Bois, Quebec, Canada $28.00

Maverick N/V Ella Brut Rose, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $40.23

Domaine de Grand Pré N/V Extra Dry Sparkling Riesling , Nova Scotia $44.50

Backyard N/V Sparkling Blanc de Noir B.C. $46.10

Pentâge 2020 Fizz Blanc, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $22.90

Del-Gatto N/V Bella Luna, Niagara Peninsula, ON $30.00

Malivoire N/V Che Bello, Niagara Peninsula, ON $17.95

VSP 2018 Brut, Ile d’Orléans, Quebec, Canada $30.00

Kitsch 2018 Blanc de Blancs, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $39.00

Redstone 2017 Sparkling, Niagara Peninsula, ON $24.95

Thirty Bench 2018 Effervescent Riesling, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, ON $38.75

Fitzpatrick 2017 Fitz Brut , Okanagan Valley, B.C. $32.99

Wesbert Winery 2020 Sparkling Rosé B.C. $25.29

Thornhaven 2019 Infusi, ON $ $ White Frizzante, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $13.98

Monte Creek 2020 Living Land Sparkling, Thompson Valley B.C. $21.99

Lily N/V Rosé Sparkling, ON $17.95

Pelee Island 2020 Lola Rosé Sparkling, Lake Erie North Shore, ON $14.95

Fielding N/V Sparkling Rosé Traditional Method, Niagara Peninsula, ON $32.95

Locust Lane 2019 Sparkling Riesling, ON $22.95

Jackson-Triggs Niagara 2017 Grand Reserve Entourage Sparkling Merlot, Niagara Peninsula, ON $34.95

Chain Reaction Midnight Sparkling Wine, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $28.75

Crescent Hill I Am Diva, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $24.99

Adamo 2017 Blanc de Blanc Traditional Method, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, ON $52.00

Gaspereau N/V Cuvee Brut Traditional Method Sparkling, Nova Scotia $27.99

Arrowleaf 2019 Wildblume, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $22.50

Evolve N/V Effervescence, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $21.99

Flat Rock 2020 Sparkling Twisted, ON Canada $19.95

Magnotta N/V 1925 Series Sparkling Chardonnay, Niagara Peninsula, ON $13.85

Lightfoot & Wolfville 2015 Brut, Nova Scotia $45.00

Vignoble Rivière du Chêne N/V La Cantina Vallée d'Oka Blanc de Blanc, Quebec $35.00

Intrigue Wines N/V I Do, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $19.90

13th Street N/V Cuvee Rose, Niagara Peninsula, ON $29.95

Byland Chardonnay Sparkling, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula, ON $30.00

Monte Creek 2020 Living Land Sparkling Rose, Thompson Valley, B.C. $21.99

Queenston Mile 2017 Grand Mile, St. David's Bench, Niagara Peninsula, ON $50.00

Westcott 2017 Brilliant Traditional Method Sparkling, Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, ON $39.99

Peller Estates Niagara N/V Ice Cuvee Rose Signature Series, Niagara Peninsula, ON $36.75

Corcelettes 2019 Santé!, Similkameen Valley, B.C. $22.90

Karlo Estates 2020 Bubble, ON $26.00

13th Street 2019 Gamay Blanc de Noir, Creek Shores, Niagara Peninsula, ON $34.95

Free Form 2017 Blanc de Noir, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $44.90

Haywire 2018 The Bub, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $32.90

Hainle 2020 Happiness Frizzante Gewürztraminer, Okanagan Valley, B.C. $24.99

Magnotta N/V 1925 Series Sparkling Rosé Extra Dry, Niagara Peninsula, ON $13.85

Written By: ag
Anthony Gismondi
Anthony Gismondi

Anthony Gismondi is a Canadian wine journalist and one of North America's most influential voices in wine. For over 30 years, he has been the wine columnist for The Vancouver Sun. The twice-weekly column is distributed across Canada through Postmedia Network to millions of readers. In addition, Anthony co-hosts the BC Food & Wine Radio Show, broadcast in 18 markets across B.C. and available as a podcast on Spotify, Apple and iHeart Radio and more. He launched Gismondionwine.com in 1997, attracting one million users a month from 114 countries. It continues to be a valuable resource of full tasting notes and intelligent wine stories and videos for the trade and consumers.