Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Saturday, November 23 2013

Sparkling Picks

By: Anthony Gismondi

Like most of the world, British Columbians seem less than inclined to reach for sparkling wine until they are celebrating a significant milestone.

Birthdays, anniversaries, new jobs, somehow the occasion has to be, well, an occasion. Let it be said Christmas and or New Years are significant occasions for most of us and if you are ever going to open a bottle of bubbly, this is the season.

With just over a month to go we wanted to inspire you to reach for at least one bottle of sparkling wine, if not a few and drink them in the spirit of discovery.

If you require further inspiration, sparkling wine returns as a major focus of the 2014 Vancouver International Wine Festival, sponsored by The Vancouver Sun, in late February 2014. In the spirit of preparation and to get some fresh perspective I thought it might be fun to poll some influential Vancouverites, at least when it comes to wine to find out what will they be serving for the holiday season. I happy to report the selection is as diverse as the people.

Sid Cross


Honorary president for the International Food & Wine Society, Cross is a guy who drinks way too much Champagne gave us two delicious picks. Up first he chose Blue Mountain Reserve 2005 Brut R.D., $40. “The wine is recently disgorged after seven years on lees. It was disgorged March 2013 with a low sugar dosage 6g/l) showing rich, complex yeasty charming strawberry red fruits from low cropped 100 per cent handharvested estate grapes.” His second selection is Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru NV Brut, Champagne, France, $55. Mesnil comes from “A co-op that sources 100 per cent top Chardonnay grapes from this famous subregion. For a Krug or Salon wannabe displaying bright, lively, pure floral elegance. Excellent quality for the price.”

Robert Stelmachuck


Stelmachuck is studying for his Master Sommelier and went to Cava country in Spain selecting Real de Aragon Cava Brut NV, Calatayud, Spain, $15, calling it “a gorgeous, dry bubbly with white peach stones, brioche and hazelnuts. Accessible and irresistible.” His other pick Ployez-Jacquemart Extra Quality Brut NV, Champagne, France, $60, (Liberty Wine Merchants), is “the perfect weapon of elegance, grace and finesse. A deep, toasted almond, grilled honeycomb, mineral bath. Sleek but with a sexy set of hips.”

Terry Threlfall


Former Vancouver Magazine Sommelier of the year and longtime Playhouse International Wine Festival Sommelier Threlfall wanted to share some favourites you can easily find. His sparkling wine pick is Pares Baltà Organic Cava N/V Brut, Penedès Spain, $20. He calls it a “charming sparkling wine from certified organic vineyards. Its lovely perfumed nose leads to a lively, creamy mousse with notes of crisp pear and green apple and a pleasingly dry finish. Excellent as an aperitif, great for a party and a perfect way to welcome Christmas Day. Extraordinary value.”

His champagne pick is all class – Pol Roger N/V Cuvee Reserve Brut, France, $66. “Winston Churchill’s favourite champagne house rarely disappoints. Consistently delicious, the Cuvee Reserve delivers with full, rich aromas and flavours yet remains a very fresh, elegant and complex style. It’s perfect for a toast, excellent with food and a very satisfying way to ‘splash out’ during the holidays. Conveniently it’s widely available in half bottles, magnums and even larger sizes depending on the company you keep.”

Andrea Vescovi


Blue Water Café wine director Vescovi turned to Italy and France for his picks. He calls Adami Bosco Di Gica Spumante Brut N/V, Veneto, Italy, $28, “great value in the bubble category and a more serious-minded Prosecco from a great producer with apple and prune aromas, crisp and dry and great before a meal.” Bollinger Special Cuvée N/V, Champagne, France, $72, is one of his go-to bubblies. He says he “loves this style of Champagne; rich, complex, incredible aromas of brioche and pear. If it’s good for 007, it’s good for me.”

Peter Rae


Fine wine specialist at International Cellars, Rae was quick to share his picks. Ferghettina Franciacorta Brut Milledi 2009, Lombardy, Italy, $50, is “Italy’s solution to Champagne, same school of thought with stricter regulations, new to B.C.” His French pick Nicolas Maillart Brut Platine NV, Epernay, France, $68, is a grower Champagne made by a producer with Pinot Noir focus. “This non-vintage Pinot Noir … is put together using many reserve vintages in the final blend.”

Roberto Garcia


Vancouverite Garcia is Mr. Moet in Canada and while his picks are business focused, they are no less discerning. He calls Moët & Chandon Impérial NV, Champagne, France,$65.50: “The iconic house wine, created in 1869, to embody the unique Moët & Chandon style that distinguishes itself by its bright fruitiness, its seductive palate and its elegant maturity.” Similarly the company house style can be seen in the Domaine Chandon Brut Classic NV, Napa Valley, California, $26, where “it consistently displays bright aromas with a hint of spice and fresh apple and pear flavours.”

Andrew Melville


Our final contribution comes from Melville of the recently renovated Marquis Wine Cellars on Davie Street. Andrew’s credentials include accreditation from The International Sommelier Guild, as well as the WSET Advanced Level course. He chose Domaine Brisebarre Brut Vouvray Brut Fines Bulles, Loire Valley, France, $25, describing it as “rich and honeyed with a tremendous mousse. This drinks like a Champagne at half the price but it is distinctly Chenin Blanc-based.” From the chalky soils of Champagne Melville chose Gaston Chiquet 2005 Special Club, Champagne, France, $75. The Chiquet is “handcrafted, estate-grown bubbly from the master of grower champagnes. Silky, delicious and developed this Champagne drinks like a luxury brand at three times the price.”

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.