Click through for nine fantastic B.C. fizzes guaranteed to make any occasion sparkle

Click through for nine fantastic B.C. fizzes guaranteed to make any occasion sparkle

Bubbles are big business in B.C. There are now more than 40 wineries across the province producing sparkling wines from the Okanagan to the Gulf Islands. We all love local here in Vancouver, so why not support one of our wineries over the holidays and drink some beautiful B.C. bubbles instead of the usual cava, prosecco or champagne? I promise: if you’ve never tried B.C. sparkling wines, you’re in for a treat.

I spoke with all-round wine genius, Dave Stansfield, sommelier for Tap & Barrel restaurants and Vancouver Urban Winery to get a handy B.C. sparkling wine 101.

BCL: Why are sparkling B.C. wines so popular?
DS: I guess bubbles are just awesome and super delicious! Seriously though, climatically, sparkling wines work well in B.C. as you need a cooler climate which creates a higher acidity, which sparkling wines need—especially if you make them with the traditional method of a second fermentation in the bottle.

It’s a global trend to drink more bubbles now, as people have realized that we can have beautiful sparkling wines every day, it doesn’t have to be your birthday or a special occasion. The behind-the-scenes reason that bubbles are on the rise is due to the improvement of technology to make good ‘tank method’ bubbles, like how prosecco is made.

BCL: How do sparkling wines get their fizz?
DS: Basically there are three main ways of making sparkling wines. At the high end, you have the traditional method, which is how champagne is made. This is done inside the bottle and the bubbles occur from the second fermentation.

At the low end of the scale, you have wine in a tank which you add bubbles to through forced carbonation, like Baby Duck.

In the middle, you have the charmat method, which has a second fermentation in a pressurized tank; it’s halfway between those two methods and you get a good natural bubble, but it’s more affordable and makes for easy drinking. That technology is now more accessible than it’s ever been and these wines are a great price for everyday sparkling wines for the everyday consumer.

So now that you're all set with your basic bubble knowledge, click through for nine fantastic B.C. fizzes guaranteed to make any occasion sparkle...

Tantalus Traditional Method Blanc de Noir

Tantalus Traditional Method Blanc de Noir

Tantalus Vineyards says

A magnificent pale rose-petal pink in colour, the wine pours with a wonderfully persistent bead and mouth-filling mousse. Aromas of sun-baked red apple, fresh oysters, orchard blossom and cherry almond biscotti lift out of the glass. The palate has a voluptuous mouth feel with raspberry, refreshing gooseberry and lush mandarin topped off with a pink grapefruit flesh finish that carries on and on. We see this sparkling evolving beautifully over the next five to seven years.

David Stansfield says

What’s cool about Tantalus is that it’s a single vineyard sparkling wine, so made from a single block of Pinot Noir. Traditionally, champagne did not celebrate the grower and vineyard, it was all about the house and the name. Hipster sommeliers are really into ‘grower’ champagnes and there is a big movement in champagne to celebrate smaller houses. So you can think about this wine as being all about who grew it, who made it and celebrate that. This is a traditional method wine and it tastes great with food.

BCLiving says

We loved this! It’s a gorgeous peachy-pink blush in colour with a glorious whoosh of cherries and grapefruit on the nose. It's balanced and fresh with a fine mousse of bubbles. 

Steller’s Jay Pinnacle

Steller’s Jay Pinnacle

Great Estates Okanagan says

Handcrafted in the Okanagan Valley using the traditional French “methode classique.” First produced in 1989 and named after British Columbia’s official bird, Steller’s Jay Brut stays true to its tradition by remaining one of Canada’s preeminent sparkling wines. White peach and golden hues flatter the ripe orchard fruit and citrus blossom aromas in this crisp and complex sparkling wine. Rich flavours of toasted nut and red berries layer the palate, resolving to a soft and creamy floral mousse finish.

David Stansfield says

This is an iconic wine and it’s become a reliable standby. That’s hard-earned, as not many wines have stood the test of time and this is a venerable and iconic B.C. sparkling wine. They hit on something smart and ran with it.

BCLiving says

This has plenty of dark dried fruit on the nose with a Christmassy hit of cranberries—bright acidity and nice and toasty at the finish. This would be great with fried canapes, like arancini.

Gray Monk Odyssey

Gray Monk Odyssey

Gray Monk Estate Winery says

Made from a blend of Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay Musque grapes, this pale straw-coloured wine provides a lively display of fine bubbles. The aroma is fruity and fresh. On the palate, the wine has a full creamy texture with flavours hinting of citrus fruits and apricots. The finish is crisply refreshing. 

David Stansfield says

Grey Monk are further north, so you’ll get more more acidity which works so well with that traditional method. Grey Monk may be big but they do fly under the radar; they’re not a much-discussed brand but maybe they should be.

BCLiving says

This one has a terrifically biscuit-y nose, reminiscent of champagne—bags of citrus and green apple notes with a little sweetness at the end. It's the perfect anytime sparkler.

Stoneboat Grand Piano

Stoneboat Grand Piano

Stoneboat Vineyards says

The Grand Piano Brut is produced using the authentic charmat method for natural bubbles. Made from old-vines Pinot Blanc, this stunning sparkler offers up beautiful peach and citrus aromas with bright flavours of white peach, grapefruit  and pineapple.

David Stansfield says

One of the first to use the charmat style to produce a great fruit-forward sparkler with little to none of that biscuit style you get with a traditional method. What’s cool is that this is an estate vineyard from the hotter part in Oliver and they have a rocky, calcum-rich soil which gives lots of mineralty. My favourite is their rosé.

BCLiving says

Yum! It's bright, fresh and has lots of citrus notes with a delicious minerality—perfect for brunch with a pleasing foamy mousse and a little sweetness at the finish.

Bella Blanc de Blanc Keremeos

Bella Blanc de Blanc Keremeos

Bella Wines says

Bella exclusively produces single vineyard, single varietal sparkling wines as we believe each vineyard has a different personality that comes through in the grapes produced.  We intentionally do not provide tasting notes as, just like when two people meet, what you pick up from someone's personality may be different from ours.

David Stansfield says

If I could start a winery, it would be Bella, but they already did it! I love his concept: only make drinkable, serious sparkling wines. Bella is all about terroir—you can buy all single vineyard, all single variety sparkler, one from the east, one from west. You can explore terroir through sparkling wine which is something you usually associate with high-end Burgundy wines. I also dig the utilitarian crown cap, rather than a corkit shows its production and shows it’s handmade. It’s a serious wine in a package which doesn’t seem serious at all.

BCLiving says

This bottle has a champagne-y yeasty, toasty nose with a beautiful fine bubble and lemony-y, green apple notes—just delicious and dangerously drinkable.

Haywire The Bub

Haywire The Bub

Okanagan Crush Pad says

Bottle-fermented and aged using Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes grown on cool vineyard sites in Oliver and Summerland. A fresh and lively wine with nice warm bread aromas and a crisp green apple finish, which is a shining example of what the Okanagan does best—crisp, fresh, and delicious. The Bub is proudly made by Okanagan Crush Pad’s sparkling winemaker, Jordan Kubek, who recommends pairing it with soft cheeses, fresh oysters or enjoying it purely on its own. This is a bold, austere bubble; crisp and fresh, with citrus and toasty notes, and a texture of light effervescence.

David Stansfield says

Haywire is a project from Okanagan Crush Pad, a (sort of) new kid on the block in Summerland. They make a bunch of different sparklers in an array of styles. The Bub, a classic traditional method blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, is their first and arguably still their best.

BCLIVING SAYS

A fun, yeasty, toasty sparkler with fresh green apple notes, which seemed so very B.C. that it tasted like a wonderful walk after the rain feels and smells.

Encore Vineyards Evolve Pink Effervescence

Encore Vineyards Evolve Pink Effervescence

Encore Vineyards says

Notes of ripe peach and rich berry fruit in your glass from this 97% Pinot Blanc and 3% Merlot blend.

David Stansfield says

Their rosé is darker with more residual sugar which results in a fruit-forward wine. When I drink this, I’m thinking red cups and firework parties.

BCLIVING says

Maybe it’s the Merlot, but this would be a perfect sparkler for red wine drinkers. Plenty of bright cherries and berries on the nose, this feels less summery and more like the ideal winter rosé.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Cipes Brut

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Cipes Brut

Summerhill Pyramid Winery says

This is a true Okanagan Valley classic, winning gold medals every year since first released in 1992. Made in the traditional method from organic Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, it has aromas of apple, lime, pear, almonds and grapefruit. On the palate Cipes Brut exhibits crisp acidity, a soft, creamy mousse and a long finish.

David Stansfield says

Cipes (rhymes with pipes) is near and dear to my heart. I started my career working with Summerhill. I think that of all the wines this stands apart. Sure, it’s iconic like the Steller’s Jay, but in a weird rebellious way, like a punk icon rather than a well-dressed one. And I love it for that. There used to be a lot of Riesling in this, and now there’s more Pinot. It’s citrus-y, fruity, made in the traditional method and a cool mix of B.C and tradition.

BCLIVING SAYS

More please. Creamy smooth bubbles and a heavenly aroma of stone fruit and pears with citrus. It’s easy to get a sense of place from this amazing sparkler.

JY Ancient Method Sparkling

JY Ancient Method Sparkling

Okanagan Crush Pad Winery says

This is the first harvest of organically-grown Pinot Noir from the spectacular new 320-acre Garnet Valley Ranch in Summerland, B.C. This Pinot Noir has been crafted into a sparkling wine using the ancient method. It began its fermentation with native yeasts in a concrete tank. Then it was transferred to bottle at 22 grams of residual sugar to finish its transformation. From there, it spent 10 months sur latte before being disgorged mid-August 2016. The results: a beguilingly complex, earthy and raw expression carrying a whimsical levity and brightness.

David Stansfield says

So I lied. There are more ways to make sparkling than three. This is made with the ‘method ancestrale.' This is the grandfather of all sparkling wine and pre-dates the way champagne is made. You take the grapes, add ambient yeast and then put it in the bottle, cloudy, all the matter and it does its fermentation in the bottle. There’s no secondary fermentation, it’s just the initial one which produces a little less bubble, and a bit of ‘funk’ which soon blows away. This is really exciting when you think abut it; it’s the bubbling bridge to the first sparkling wines enjoyed! JY wanted to use this method to get out of the way and just let the quality of grapes shine. This is just Pinot Noir juice fermented in the bottle with the first grapes from that vineyard. 

BCLiving says

This peachy-nosed wonder is gloriously effervescent; we love this fizz. What’s even more exciting is that it’s from the Okanagan Crush Pad’s Okanagan Wine Campus, where the B.C. Sommelier of the Year has the opportunity to create their own wine label at the OCP facility.  They take part in every element of the wine making process, from selecting the grapes to blending, labeling, marketing and bottling their wines. $5000 of the wine sales for this wine is donated to the BC Hospitality Foundation. Go buy some now!