WORLDS OF WINE,
This is the annual sparkling wine column, in which I customarily say that it’s a pity so many people confine their sparkling winedrinking to the last two weeks of December, together with a few scattered occasions like marriages, births, and anniversaries.
The thing about sparkling wine is that there are so many good examples out there, they needn’t cost much, and most people really enjoy drinking them. And they don’t go flat as quickly as many people think. With an inexpensive stopper, the bubbles will hold for days. I have a feeling that the celebration-sparkling association also works in reverse: you not only drink sparkling wine on a happy occasion, but drinking sparkling wine makes you feel happy. I always have a bottle of bubbly in the fridge, and I don’t have many friends (any friends, actually) who turn down a glass when they drop by.
Sometimes it’s champagne, sometimes it’s Cava, sometimes prosecco, sometimes something else. But there are rarely any complaints.
So, there’s no reason not to enjoy sparkling wine at this time of year, but there’s no reason to stop when the calendar flips to Jan. 2. (I’m assuming some drinking will continue into the small hours.)
It really is time that sparkling wine was liberated from the celebration ghetto it’s too often in, and I’m encouraged by continued strong sales of sparkling wine in Ontario and elsewhere.
The four reviewed today cover a good price range, but there are many excellent alternatives available. From Ontario, look for: Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Brut Sparkling Wine ($29.95, LCBO 616441), which is made in the same way as champagne, and delivers terrific fruit and clean crispness; Trius Brut Sparkling Wine ($24.95, LCBO 284539), a vibrant-textured bubbly with welldefined fruit; and Cave Spring Cellars Blanc de Blancs Brut Sparkling Wine ($29.95, LCBO 213983), made from Chardonnay, with focused fruit and brisk acidity.
Prosecco (from Italy) and Cava (from Spain) are often very good value.
Look for: Astoria La Robinia Extra Dry Prosecco ($13.95, LCBO 593855), which is zesty and dry, with solid fruit; Codorníu Brut Classico Cava ($12.85, LCBO 215814); and Freixenet Cordon Rosado Brut Cava ($12.95, LCBO 217059), a rosé Cava with ripe, sweet fruit flavours.
From France, there are very attractive regional bubblies, such as Château de Montgueret Crémant de Loire Brut ($19.95, LCBO 217760), as well as champagnes. Try Nicolas Feuillatte Reserve Particulière Brut Champagne ($44.80, LCBO 537605) and Pol Roger Extra Cuvée de Reserve Brut Champagne ($60.85, LCBO 217158), both of which are very good value.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of options. Of course, you might want to spend more for holiday fizz, but you can still get very good sparkling wine at a reasonable price for everyday drinking.