Affordable bubbles to ring in 2019 D
he clock is ticking closer to midnight on December 31, and we’re going to need some sparkling wine, stat!
The knee-jerk reaction for many may be Champagne, but most of us are way more likely to try to keep things under the $25 mark.
There are plenty of bottles of bubble available at this price, and there are certainly some gems, but I’m afraid there are also a lot of duds.
We don’t have time to chase exclusive bottles all around town, so I’ve combed the selections widely available at B.C. Liquor Stores to come up with a roundup of my top 10 bang-for-your-buck, $25-or-less sparklers. A small handful have been highlighted here over the course of the year, but the majority are new to these pages. Fortunately, there’s extra value offered, with many of them discounted through December 29, so best to jump on those selections.
JAUME SERRA CRISTALINO BRUT CAVA NV
(Penedès, Spain; $13.99)
A ridiculously good, year-round bargain. This Cava bursts with lemon, lime, and Granny Smith apples and is so fresh and lively that keeping your stamina up past midnight will be a breeze. SEGURA VIUDAS BRUT RESERVA CAVA NV
(Penedès, Spain; $16.99, $15.49 until December 29)
Segura Viudas has been a perennial favourite in our market, delivering top-tier quality at lower-shelf prices. In this mix of indigenous Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo varieties, those fresh-out-of-the-oven sourdough aromas greet orchard fruit like Gala apples, Bosc pears, and Red Haven peaches on the plate.
VEUVE DU VERNAY BRUT ROSÉ NV
The folks behind this French fizz keep their cards close to their chests; it’s tough to pin down exact varietal or regional components. No matter. At 16 bucks, I’m loving this dry pink wine for its zippy red berry fruit, solid lashing of white pepper, and quite dry finish.
CONO SUR SPARKLING ROSÉ NV (Bio Bio Valley, Chile; $18.99, $16.99 until December 29)
I profiled this wine earlier this year and can’t stop thinking about it. It’s 100 percent Pinot Noir from the cool-climate Bio Bio region in the south of Chile, and we get lovely varietal elements of plum, cherry, and blackberry, with lively acidity and plenty of charisma.
VILLA CONCHI CAVA BRUT SELECCIÓN NV
(Penedès, Spain; $16.99)
This Spanish Cava incorporates the wine style’s common indigenous varieties—xarel-lo, Parellada, and Macabeo—but they’re rounded out with a nice juicy splash of Chardonnay. A mix of citrus fruit with a handful of apples is finished off with a burst of pineapple and a small pinch of tarragon.
DR. LOOSEN SPARKLING RIESLING NV
(Mosel, Germany; $17.99)
If spicy snacks or dishes are on the roster, then head to Germany’s Mosel region for this lively Riesling from one of the country’s most notable producers. Honey-drenched pears, quince, lemon, and hazelnut carry a little bit of residual sugar at the end, perfect for enveloping any heat your dishes may carry. STELLER’S JAY MÉTHODE CLASSIQUE BRUT 2015 (Okanagan Valley, B.C.; $22.99, $20.99 until December 29) Definitely one of the best-value wines coming out of British Columbia, the Steller’s Jay sparkling made in the classic second-fermentation-in-thebottle Champagne method is a brioch-y, citrusy charmer of a wine, composed of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Noir. I’m not going to say that some may be fooled into thinking it’s Champagne—but I’m not not going to say that, either. CHANDON CALIFORNIA BRUT NV (Napa Valley, California; $29.49, $24.49 until December 29) Speaking of Champagne, the California outpost of this renowned French producer delivers a juicy, toasty culmination of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier with enough intensity to handle bold-flavoured dishes—or even those with spice—with ease. LOUIS BOUILLOT “PERLE D’AURORE” CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE ROSÉ BRUT NV (Burgundy, France; $25.99, $23.99 until December 29)
Pinot Noir from the Côte d’or and Côte Chalonnaise joins Gamay from the Mâconnais, then spends 15 months on the lees, resulting in a creamy strawberry, cream soda, and fresh cranberry.
BAILLY LAPIERRE CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE RÉSERVE BRUT NV (Burgundy, France; $24.99)
A varietal profile of Burgundy: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay, and Aligoté are harmonious in what they all bring to the plate. Fresh lime, guava, red currants, and lemongrass are woven together gracefully; a lovely, lovely ode to the region.
No matter what’s in your glass as we bring in the new year, I raise my glass to you and look forward to sharing another year’s worth of experiences and deliciousness in 2019.
OF THE WEEK
FESTIVE CELEBRATIONS call for sparkling cocktails. You can’t go wrong with a French 75, perhaps the most elegant of them all. (Gin has largely replaced cognac, the spirit in the original recipe, which dates back to the 1920s or so, but the drink still has grace.) The mixologists at Notch8 Restaurant and Bar in the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver put a holiday spin on the classic by adding a splash of pomegranate juice for a pretty pop of colour and burst of flavour. With a balance of sweet and sour, the Festive 75 incorporates aromatic rosemary to evoke the outdoors and crisp Steller’s Jay Mountain Jay Brut from the Okanagan Valley for B.C. flair.
next generation, and the scarcity of affordable homes,” Collier reflects. “It feels like we are quite confused right now and are awakening to this reality. For me, it feels like a real tipping point.
“Daniel has written a piece that challenges us to awaken to those things,” she adds, “and he has a central character that is seeking redemption in a way—she has a personal revolt and takes a great risk to challenge all of that.”
With Rose playing the woman on a quest to reconcile her husband’s corrupt legacy before she dies, the cast features Shaw Festival vet Jim Mezon, Bard on the Beach standout Dean Paul Gibson, and Betroffenheit’s Jonathon Young, as well as Jillian Fargey, John Ng, and Jenny Young.
The Full Light of Day
Collier seeks to use technology, somewhat paradoxically, as a way to create an intimate connection between those actors’ characters and the audience. The multiple cameras and projections often zoom in on their inner lives.
“I really wanted to make a livebased technology and use technology to fill in the gaps,” she explains. “With the camera, you can get closer to the character and you can see the things that the script demands. I want everything to be live for the audience and not mediated.
“All of this technology is also an expression of who we are now,” she adds. “I think it’s an honest response to today. It’s this epic, huge modern tragedy and you don’t want to reduce it to a certain location.”
Of course, overseeing all these moving parts in the Playhouse space will take Collier to new heights of multitasking—but the theatre artist, who’s helmed everything from Vancouver Opera’s Sweeney Todd to Bard on the Beach’s Titus Andronicus
and Electric Company’s own cinematic and wide-touring No Exit, embraces the challenge.
“It’s a very complex piece. But it has been a growing strength for me to man a big ship,” she says, then adds that the full effect of all the elements coming together in The Full Light of Day might not reveal itself until opening night at the Playhouse: “I’m a visually based director; I play things out in my mind and on paper, but you can never quite know how to predict that. You can never know till you feel the rhythms, and see how they hit the body and mind.”