Pioneered by Ian Mavety at Blue Mountain Vineyards and Stephen Cipes at Summerhill Vineyards, the making of sparkling wines in the Okanagan Valley – and more recently on Vancouver Island – is proceeding at an astonishing pace!
As the vineyards move into maturity and growers discover the perfect sites for the kinds of wine grapes they choose to grow, the variety of sparkling wines seems to increase exponentially. Unencumbered by the kinds of prohibitive rules and regulations in traditional ‘Old World’ jurisdictions our local winemakers take full advantage of their own preferred varieties.
Corcelettes is a Swiss family run boutique winery located on 15 acres of hot, dark rocks in the pristine Similkameen Valley. Corcelettes Santé (672980) $20.79 is an off-dry bubbly with classic sparkling wine characteristics. Made from Viognier, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. Subtle honeyed apricot flavours fill the first sip followed by crisp apple, melon and lime notes.
After their initial fermentation, sparkling wines made using the classic Charmat Method go through a second fermentation in a sealed and pressurized stainless steel tank. Carbon dioxide produced during this second fermentation is trapped in the tank as those gorgeous, scintillating little bubbles wine lovers expect in their sparkling wines.
Made entirely from Chardonnay, Perseus Sparkling Chardonnay (91736) $22.30 is the Okanagan version of what would be called Blanc de Blanc in France. Using the traditional method, this wine exudes flavors of green apple and pear with a toasty finish.
Stoneboat Piano Brut N/V (374041) $22.49 is a blend of 90 per cent Pinot Blanc and 10 per cent Müller Thurgau. This tasty little bubbly features refreshing aromas of citrus and peaches followed by juicy pear and apricot notes with a fine, creamy ‘mousse’ of bubbles.
An intriguingly tasty blend of Cowichan Valley grown Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and the up and coming Sauvignette, Unsworth Charme De L’Ile (671289) $22.95 A lively, prosecco-style wine, tasting of pear, green apple, pineapple and sassy lemon, this is a refreshingly fruity alternative to the Italian sparkling specialty.
With a history of winemaking that goes back 8 generations to 1783 when Christian Schales planted his first grapes in the small Rheinhessen Village of Dalsheim, 8th Generation Vineyards is based in Summerland. Blending 90 per cent Pinot Noir and 10 per cent Pinot Gris. 8th Generation Confidence (743591) $23.50 is a unique prosecco-styled frizzante rosé. Leading with soft, sweet strawberry flavours that slide through peaches and cream into pink grapefruit, perfect for late summer sipping!
Using a very traditional Champagne-styled blend of 40 per cent Pinot Meunier, 40 per cent Chardonnay and 20 per cent Pinot Noir, Joie Plein de Vie Brut (509208) $23.65 gets its fizz from the less labour-intensive Charmat method – in that prosecco style. Strawberry, cherry and cranberry flavours sizzle across the tongue on first sip with a tart twist of grapefruit and rhubarb in the finish.
The ‘méthode traditionnelle’ is the very labor-intensive process in which wine undergoes a secondary fermentation inside the bottle. The process begins with the addition of a ‘liqueur de tirage’ – a wine solution of sugar and yeast – to a bottle of still base wine, producing a secondary fermentation inside the bottle.
Organic winemaking practices have been an integral part of Summerhill Vineyards since the Kelowna vineyard was purchased by the Cipes family in 1986. Add the New Age magic of aging in Summerhill’s Pyramid wine cellar and the results are unique.
Made in the traditional method – with its final fermentation in the bottle – and the distinctly Okanagan addition of 70 per cent Riesling to 20 per cent Pinot Blanc and 10 per cent Chardonnay, Cipes Brut (358010) $25.49 has been winning gold medals every year since its first release in 1992. Peach aromas and flavours slide into apple, lime, marzipan and grapefruit.
With their own unusual inflection on the classic French Champagne recipe Blue Mountain Gold Label Brut (471672) $23.99 marries 56 per cent Pinot Noir with 39 per cent Chardonnay and 5 per cent Pinot Gris. Using ‘méthode traditionnelle’ techniques and aged on its creamy ‘lees’ for 24 months, this delicious bubbly intrigues the taste buds with crisp notes of lemon and grapefruit and a hint of toast.
Whatever your preferences you’re sure to find a locally produced sparkling wine – Charmat or Traditional – to tantalize your taste buds!
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