Canadian wine at the Vancouver wine fest: sparkling wine

novascotiasparklingwine

There’s a buzz around sparkling wine at the moment. Sparkling wine sales account for 11% of global wine sales and this market is growing by 4.5% annually. And it’s something that Canada has a talent for, with its cool climate wine regions.

This seminar, moderated by Dr Janet Dorozynski, looked at Canadian sparkling wine. Of late there has been the beginnings of something special here in Canada. VQA sparkling wine is 3.2% of market share in Canada, which means there is room for growth. By value, domestic sparkling wine is 12% of sparkling wine sales.

1974 saw the first sparkling wine from Ontario which was made from Chardonnay and labelled ‘Champagne’. It was the late 1980s when there was greater commitment to sparkling wine, with Hillebrand and Chateau des Charmes producing their own fizz.

Now there are at least 40 sparkling wine producers in British Columbia (but there may be as many as 75 if you count all those who have wine on lees but which is not yet released), and some 40+ in Ontario. There are 20 in Quebec making grape-based plus also fruit and cider fizz, and in Nova Scotia 10 producers make fizz (from 20 wineries). There are relatively few specialists though: in BC there’s Bella, and Ontario has Hinterland in Prince Edward County.

A lot of progress has been made in Ontario with the ‘fizz club’ which Belinda Kemp set up at Brock University. This brings together sparkling winemakers for a forum to discuss technical issues.

The latest buzz surrounds sparkling wine from Nova Scotia, which has a particularly cool climate that allows producers to make base wine with amazing acidity and yet also lovely flavour development.

This selection of wines showed the breadth of the offering of Canadian fizz, with some real highlights. This is an interesting future direction for Canadian wine.

L’Acadie Prestige Brut Estate 2010 Nova Scotia, Canada
pH 2.9, rs 2 g/l, 11.5% alcohol. Fresh, pure and lively with lovely balanced citrus and grape characters. Fruity and quite sophisticated, this is made solely from L’Acadie Blanc. This is traditional method with five years on the lees, and it has nice complexity. 90/100

Domaine de Grand Pré Vintage Brut 2009 Nova Scotia, Canada
L’Acadie Blanc and Seyval Blanc. Almost five years on the less. Slightly creamy edge to the lovely balanced pear and ripe apple fruit. There’s a bit of toasty richness here with some sweetness, too. Nice weight on the palate with some grapey richnesss. Sweet finish. 89/100

Blomidon Estate Winery Late Pick Chardonnay 2011 Nova Scotia, Canada
From Chardonnay left on the vine and picked on 8th November. No malolactic fermentation and 2.7 g/l dosage. Pithy, bright and herby with a slightly waxy edge to the lively lemony fruit. There’s some focus here with a bit of savoury grip under the taut fruit. Dry, lemony finish with keen acidity and purity. 90/100

Benjamin Bridge Brut Reserve 2008 Nova Scotia, Canada
L’Acadie Blanc and Seyval with a bit of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Lovely delicacy here: there’s fine toastiness, ripe apple, lemons and some bright herbal characters. Sweetly fruited and well balanced with keen acidity. Precise, with some nice complexity. 92/100

Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catherine Brut NV Niagara, Canada
Rounded and fruity with some white peach and pear notes. Generous with subtle toast and bread characters, with some citrus freshness here. Good balance. Has some deliciousness. 89/100

Trius Winery Brut NV Niagara, Canada
Craig MacDonald collects disgorgement lees and uses them as the basis for the liqueur d’expedition. Fresh, a bit toasty and a bit herby, with nice bright lemon and pear fruit. Fresh and detailed with nice precision and a lovely lemony finish. Fruity and bright. 89/100

Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Entourage Sparkling NV Niagara, Canada
70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, three years on lees. There’s a sweet fruit character here with grapes, citrus fruit and green apple notes. Fresh and fruity with some cherry hints and a smooth, rounded texture. Attractive fruity style. 88/100

Huff Estates Cuvée Peter F. Huff 2011 Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
Very rich and toasty with lifted apple and pear fruit. Very toasty and broad with nice acidity and a slightly chalky edge. There’s a lot of flavour to this rather distinct wine. Baked apple character with some herbs. 90/100

BCsparklingwine

Averill Creek Vineyard Charme de l’Ile NV Vancouver Island, Canada
Fruity, lively, bright and intense with lovely citrus and grape notes. Good acidity and clean, lively fruit flavours dominate. 88/100

Meyer Family Vineyards Brut NV Okanagan Valley, CanadaCrisp and pithy with nice citrus drive. Has some fine toasty, bready notes. There’s nice precision to this wine with some finesse. Youthful and pure. 90/100

Haywire Narrative Ancient Method 2015 Okanagan Valley, Canada
There’s a distinctive grapey, floral edge to the nose. Creamy with a hint of talcum powder. Lively, pure and very fruity on the palate with some sweetness and a nice full, rounded mouthfeel. 89/100

Stellar’s Jay Brut 2009 Okanagan Valley, Canada
First made in 1989. Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Distinctive fruity style with tangerine, grapes and pears. Has some sweetness, too. Appealing and fruity with nice brightness. 87/100

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Cipes Brut NV Okanagan Valley, Canada
Fresh, bright and detailed with crisp fruit. Really lively with grapefruit pith, lemon and table grape characters. Keen acidity and a bit of sweetness on the finish. Very appealing. 89/100

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

3 comments to Canadian wine at the Vancouver wine fest: sparkling wine

  • Bob Parsons Alberta

    Good selection. In my area of N Alberta, any reasonably priced fizz is up against Prosecco I am afraid to say.

  • I know what you mean Bob, but that’s like saying “any reasonably priced Pinot Noir is up against the biggest-selling, cheapest branded red”. No, it’s worse: nine out of 10 committed Prosecco drinkers do not even like yeast-aged character so they would not buy it at half the price of Prosecco!

  • I would like to try Benjamin Bridge Brut Reserve Nova Scotia, but I think is a bit pricey for me. Please, can you recommend me something similar but cheaper?

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