The world is full of snobs who think only the French can make a decent sparkling wine. There's no question that champagne is remarkable, but so is its price. For those of us who adore a glass of fizz before serious dining and drinking but are financially challenged in these subprime/post-bailout days, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate the quality of locally produced bubblies.
There's a big divide between sparkling wines made by fizz factories and those produced by artisans. With the former, regular wine is carbonated or vast volumes of it are bottled under pressure. With the latter, individual bottles are produced using the original methode champenoise, wherein each bottle undergoes its final fermentation in the very bottle from which you pour. The difference between the two types can be detected in the delicacy of the wine's flavour and the fineness of its bubbles. The best sparkling wines hail from the coolest wine regions of the world, which guarantees Canada a place on the podium. Here are my picks.
Sumac Ridge Estate Winery released its first bottle-fermented sparkling wine in 1989. Today, Steller's Jay ($27) is Canada’s bestselling vintage-dated bubbly. The winery, which is based in Summerland, B.C., also developed Canada’s first sparkling red, Sparkling Shiraz Brut ($30); it’s ideal for pairing with chocolate. For its 25th anniversary in 2006, Sumac Ridge unveiled Sparkling Pinnacle ($30), a premium, all-Pinot Noir wine and elegant sparkler that boasts a faint pink hue, creamy mousse and an abundance of rich flavours.