If a single category of wine could be said to unite Canada’s best from coast to coast, and attract significant international interest, sparkling wine is it.
It’s the single most improved style category over the last decade, and now the most consistently excellent. And it has attracted the greatest number of new players, with well over 200 making bubbly—that’s about 25 per cent of all wineries. Production in Ontario has tripled in the last decade. Dollar for dollar, Canada’s top sparkling wines are among the world’s best values.
I’m referring specifically to traditional-method sparkling wines—the Charmat (or tank) method is expensive and we can’t compete with traditional global specialists. With suitable cool-climate pockets across the country—essential for top quality—as well as growing technical expertise, Canada hits the sweet spot with traditional-method bubblies.
The majority are made with the classic varieties of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Three years on the lees is average, with many examples spending five or more. This far exceeds the minimums stipulated in the great sparkling regions, Champagne included. The extended ageing allows wines to soak up those complex toast-biscuit-brioche flavours in a process called yeast autolysis, the backbone of great bubblies in the traditional style. —JOHN SZABO
1. HENRY OF PELHAM CUVÉE CATHARINE CARTE BLANCHE ESTATE BLANC DE BLANC 2015, VQA Short Hill Ont.
$50 | 93
2. SUMMERHILL PYRAMID CIPES ARIEL 2000, VQA Okanagan Valley B.C. $115 | 93
3. ROAD 13 VINEYARDS SPARKLING CHENIN BLANC 2016, VQA Golden Mile Bench B.C. $46|93
4. LIGHTFOOT & WOLFVILLE BRUT ROSÉ 2018, Annapolis Valley N.S.
5. 13TH STREET GRANDE CUVÉE BLANC DE
NOIR 2013, VQA Creek Shores Ont.
$60 | 92
6. LIGHTFOOT & WOLFVILLE BLANC DE BLANC BRUT 2014, Annapolis Valley N.S. $45|92
7. BLOMIDON CUVÉE L’ACADIE BRUT, Annapolis Valley N.S.
$35 | 91
8. MIRABEL VINEYARDS BLANC DE NOIRS, VQA Okanagan Valley B.C. $48 | 91
9. THIRTY BENCH SPARKLING RIESLING, VQA Beamsville Bench Ont.
10. BLOMIDON BRUT RESERVE 2011, Annapolis Valley N.S. $45|91
11. CAVE SPRING BLANC DE BLANCS BRUT SPARKLING, VQA Beamsville Bench Ont. $30|91
12. LEANING POST ZERO DOSAGE TRADITIONAL METHOD SPARKLING 2017, VQA Beamsville Bench Ont.
13. KEW VINEYARDS BLANC DE NOIRS 2017, VQA Niagara Peninsula Ont. $30|91
14. CAVE SPRING RIESLING BRUT 2017, VQA Beamsville Bench Ont.
$25 | 91
15. SUMMERHILL PYRAMID WINERY CIPES BLANC DE BLANC 2012, VQA Okanagan Valley B.C.
16. 13TH STREET BLANC DE BLANC 2018, VQA Creek Shores Ont. $30|91