BC Fizz for Your Festivities
By Roslyne Buchanan
Celebrating with bubbly wine traces back to the mid-1700s in European royal courts where it was viewed as a symbol of high status. By the late 19th century, drinking Champagne became a global trend synonymous with marking milestones from christening ships to toasting weddings.
In British Columbia, there’s no shortage of fine representations to mark the festive season. Take the Summerhill Pyramid Winery’s Cipes line of sparkling wines which have reaped prestigious international awards and accolades. Cipes Brut holds the distinction of being the most awarded wine in Canada and is available at www.summerhill.bc.ca for $29.90 a bottle. Tried and true, too, is Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars’ Gold Label Brut, listed at $27.90 a bottle, www.bluemountainwinery.com.
Predating both Summerhill and Blue Mountain is Stellar Jay made since 1987 and now part of the Great Estates Okanagan. Buy the Mountain Jay Brut online www.greatestatesokanagan.com for $22.99. In September 2018, the Great Estates Wine Experience Centre opened in Penticton as a hub to showcase its portfolio including Black Sage Vineyard, Inniskillin, Nk’Mip Cellars, Jackson-Triggs, Sunrock Vineyards, Dark Horse, Steller’s Jay, See Ya Later Ranch and Sumac Ridge. Other sparkling wines listed there include Steller’s Jay Sparkling Shiraz, See Ya Later Ranch Non-Vintage Brut, Inniskillin Okanagan Sparkling Tempranillo, Jackson-Triggs N/V Reserve Series Methode Classique Brut, Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Entourage Sparkling Brut, and Steller’s Jay Sparkling Rosé.
Thinking of a focal point to access a wide variety of BC sparkling wines under one roof, the BC Wine Information Centre is not to be missed. A pioneer in 1996 as the first VQA (Vintners Quality Assurance) wine store, it remains a gateway to British Columbia wines and the choice of bubbly available is astounding. You’ll find champagne flutes, tulips, saucers, coupes and stemless glasses from which to sip plus other wine accessories and complementary products. www.pentictonwineinfo.com
Save On Foods offers four locations in the Okanagan including Penticton, Westbank and Kelowna – Lakeshore Centre and Orchard Plaza to check out an array of sparkling wine products such as 8th Generation Vineyard, Averill Creek Vineyard, Blasted Church, Evolve Cellars, Fitzpatrick Family Winery, Giant Head Estate Winery, Gray Monk, Intrigue Wines, Jackson-Triggs, Meadow Vista, Monster Vineyards, Robin Ridge, Rocky Creek Winery, Ruby Blues, Stoneboat Vineyards, Thornhaven Estates, and Unsworth Vineyards.
Many private liquor stores throughout the Okanagan pay careful attention to BC wines and you’ll find a varied selection within those stores.
For some expressions of bubbly, you’ll have to work a bit harder to source them. Bella is a sparkling wine house exclusively dedicated to sparkling and has a focus on single vineyard expressions of “Chardonnay, a classic Champagne grape, and Gamay Noir, an under-appreciated BC grape”. With an extremely limited production, you may find them in select restaurants and outlets, but your best bet is to join the wine club or visit in person early in the season. www.bellawines.ca
For me, BC bubbles are outstanding and a discussion of them not complete without mentioning more recent expressions. Don’t miss Township 7 Seven Stars Cuvée; Noble Ridge Vineyards The One and The Wild One; Okanagan Crush Pad The Bub or Ancient Method Free Form; Orofino Winery Moscato Frizzante: Tantalus Winery Blanc de Noir and Old Vines Riesling Brut; Poplar Grove Winery Blanc de Noir; Meyer Family Vineyard NV Méthode Traditionnelle; SummerGate Winery Moscato Frizzante; and Pentâge Winery Fizz Blanc and Fizz Rosé.
Oh my, and thinking of Pentage, how about those sparkling dessert wines such as Icewine Frizzante? But BC dessert wines are another whole category to examine another day. Cheers to you and may the holiday season bring you great joy.