by MICHAEL PINKUS
We may (and should) be celebrating in scaled-back style, but there is always room for a great bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine. Here are some of my favourites from this year’s round of sparkling wine tastings for the holidays.
- SCORE KEY
- Good ★★★ ½
- Very Good ★★★★
- Excellent ★★★★ ½
- Outstanding ★★★★★
- + Wines with a little bit extra.
- Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut Champagne
- $74.95, France; LCBO 155341
- ★★★★ ½
A super-yummy bottle of Champagne that will have you wishing you had bought two or three bottles (so just do it). Rich mouthfeel that has a Wonderbread quality in is smoothness, but by the time you get to the finish the acidity has taken over and all you get is apple, lime, almond and even a flaky buttery croissant like note to the finish.
- Pommery Royal Brut Rosé Champagne
- $79.95, France; LCBO 234112
Delicate in all ways: on the palate, on the nose and even with its teeny tiny little bubbles. Red fruit and subtle lime notes backed by some nice biscuity-yeasty notes. This is a bottle of Champagne you won’t soon forget.
- Cave Spring Cellars NV Blanc de Blancs
- $29.95, Ontario; LCBO 213983
This Chardonnay-based sparkler spends about three years in the bottle on lees: and always has killer acidity with green apple, lemon, lime, touches of pear and a great mineral hit on the finish. There’s also a touch of floral, most likely from the little bit of Chardonnay Musque that slips into every batch. You really can’t go wrong with this one —in many years it has been mistaken for Champagne when tasted blind.
- Cono Sur Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé
- $14.95, Chile; LCBO 365205
A perennial favourite that delivers year after year. It’s well-priced normally, but then it goes on sale and becomes irresistible. This year the label has changed slightly and so has what’s inside the bottle; it seems to be a lighter pink, almost pale and doles out more citrus than the usual raspberry. But no complaints here, it’s still a delicious sparkling wine you can drink every night between Christmas and New Year’s without guilt.
- Grande Cuvée 1531 De Aimery
- $18.95, France; LCBO 428086
It is said the secondary fermentation method, that in-bottle process that gives Champagne it’s signature bubbles, originated in Limoux. Compared to Champagne this wine reflects the hotter summers that you get in the south of France with aromas and flavours of white flower, peach, and orange. In spite of the ripe fruit notes there is still bright crisp acidity to keep this light and refreshing on your palate.
- Bernard-Massard Cuvée de L’Écusson Brut Sparkling
- $24.95, Luxembourg; LCBO 21863
A traditional method sparkling wine from Luxembourg, and it comes with a couple of glasses in a beautiful box. Nice hints of bread crust along with apple, bosc pear, melon and a fun little earthy finish that leans apple and pear skin. Quite an interesting find.
- Huff Estates 2017 Cuvee Peter F Huff
- $40, Ontario; Winery & Online
There’s a lovely biscuity and toastiness to this wine that I really love, it screams time on lees, time in bottle and traditional method. It’s opens with green apple fruit adds in a little bosc pear and concludes with that lemon zest, all the time wrapped in that toasty charm of a good bubble.
- Juve y Camps Pinot Noir Brut Rosé Cava
- $24.95, Spain; LCBO 385088
- ★★★ ½+
Very pretty rosé, with notes of strawberry and cherry on the tongue with lemon drop on the finish. It really is a berry bowl of red fruit from start to finish. It also has a much deeper reddish colour than one would expect from a rosé bubble.
- Redstone 2019 Sparkling Rosé
- $29.95, Ontario; Winery & Online
- ★★★ ½+
Ontario not only makes lovely traditional method white sparkling wines, we also have a way of making really delicious Rosé bubbles; this version from Redstone shows it youth with notes of candied cherry and black cherry, plus lemon-lime and a slight brioche character, but it never gets in the way of that lovely red fruit at the core.
- Speck Bros. NV Lazzara Bianco Secco
- $17.95, Ontario; LCBO 16789
- ★★★ ½+
It’s basically an Ontario prosecco and offers up much of the same aromas and flavours: white fruits with a nice citrus punch and a touch of sweetness on the mid-palate, but it finishes drier than expected. It’s non-vintage but this year’s version seems better than last year’s, let’s hope that trend continues.
- Ruffino Prosecco Rosé DOC
- $16.80, Italy; LCBO 20896
- ★★★ ½+
Pale, pink and pretty, this is a style of prosecco we are going to start seeing much more of as producers are now allowed to put in up to 15 per cent pinot noir to give it that colour. There’s a nice hit of strawberry and lime juice on the palate and it balances that prosecco sweetness so that it finishes dry and refreshing.
- Byland Sparkling Chardonnay
- $30, Ontario; Winery & Online
- ★★★ ½+
There’s a little bit of sweetness left behind in this chardonnay bubble, but it really helps bring the apple, pear and citrus notes together and also hints at the green melon on the finish. This is a pretty little bubble from a new-ish producer in Niagara.
Looking for something different
- West & Wilder Sparkling Wine
- $19.95 for three cans, West Coast USA; LCBO
- ★★★ ½
Looking for easy to carry to the party sparkling wine? This one comes in cans (250 mL) and the wine itself is sourced from the West coast of the USA … the bubble isn’t aggressive but does have flavours of lime zest, apple and lemon, it also kicks off with some floral aromas.