Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Thursday, December 10 2020

Canadian Sparkling East

By: Treve Ring
A year of sparkling wine from Ontario and Nova Scotia

This is one of four in a series of Sparkling Reports for 2020.

Click here to read our thoughts on BC wine, and here to see the International Sparkling Report. Finally, you can read our 2020 Champagne Annual here.

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 of the 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)?

Though I certainly didn't taste through all the sparkling wines of ON this year, highlights that I did see included 13th Street Winery, and Cave Spring, both of which showed a lot of maturity and confidence in their 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.

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 3 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 Ontario and Nova Scotia Sparkling Wines tasted in 2020.

Written By: TR
Treve Ring
Treve Ring

Treve Ring is a writer, editor, judge, consultant, educator and certified sommelier based on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. After completing her Art History degree with Distinction from the University of Victoria and being exposed to the world of wine business at Christie's in London, England, she switched gears, leaving the realm of art for the world of wine.