Earlier in December I attended a sparkling wine tasting put on by Wine Country Ontario at Stock Restaurant in the Trump Hotel. It was one of those events that offered excellent company, great wine, and some useful information.
Angelo Pavan, Winemaker and Founding Partner at Cave Spring Cellars joined us for the educational and tasting portion of the lunch. Pavan identified two trends for Ontario sparkling wine that I think are worth examining from a consumer perspective.
In terms of grape varieties, Pavan told us we should “expect to see more Riesling sparklers.” Given that Riesling grows so consistently well in Ontario that’s an easy one to understand from the producer side. My guess is that in the glass we’ll get sparkling wine that is less austere, varies more widely from the standard palette of flavours (lemon, green apple, bread, etc.), and–here will be the controversial part–tends to be a bit sweeter.
He also thinks we’ll start to see fewer wineries stamping vintage dates on their sparkling labels. Much of the cava, prosecco, and champagne is non-vintage–juice from grapes grown in different years is blended to produce a more consistent product. At first, Ontario sparkling tended to be made in vintage batches simply because it’s easier to blend with a few years of experience under your belt but also because from a marketing standpoint there is a perception of quality attached to vintage wines in Ontario.
Throughout the tasting portion and lunch with pairings we were introduced to some interested flavour pairs. On the food matching side one idea that jumped out (out and connected to what Pavan said) was that the Riesling sparkler from The Grange (full details below) stood out as a particularly good match for the raw fish bite that came as part of the appetizer course.
I also noticed that the rosé Cuvée Catherine from Henry of Pelham was a particularly good match for some of the stronger, more dominant flavours that we go to try in the main course of small-portions.
Two messages that I took away from the event and am happy to pass on are: It’s worth walking past the special LCBO champagne display to search out a VQA sparkling wine to ring in 2013 with; and don’t wait for 12 to start popping corks. Sparkling is versatile and goes well with food so it is just as at home at 7 PM as it is at midnight.
The full list of wines served is:
- Casa-Dea Estates Winery, Dea’s Rosé 2011 ($19.95)
- Chateau des Charmes, Rosé Sparkling wine, Estate Bottled 2009 ($28.95)
- Angels Gate, Archangel Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs 2010 ($21.95)
- Mike Weir Wine, Sparkling Brut 2009 ($24.95)
- Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate, Entourage Grand Reserve Brut 2008 ($22.95)
- Cave Springs Cellars, Blanc de Blancs Brut (NV) ($29.95)
- Flat Rock Cellars, 2008 Riddled ($24.95)
- Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery, Cuvée Catharine (NV) ($29.95)
- Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery, Cuvée Catharine Estate Blanc de Blancs ‘Carte Blanche’ 2007 ($44.95)
served with lunch:
- The Grange of Prince Edward County, Sparkling Riesling 2010 ($24.95)
- Trius Winery, Trius Brut (NV) ($24.95)
- Tawse Winery, David’s Block Chardonnay “Spark” 2009 ($39.95)
- Huff Estates, Cuvée Peter F. Huff 2008 ($39.95)
- Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery, Cuvée Catharine Rosé (NV) ($29.95)
- 13th Street Winery, Premier Cuvée 2008 ($34.95)
- Cave Spring Cellars, Blanc de Noirs Brut 2006 ($34.95)
- Inniskillin Wines, Sparkling Vidal Icewine 2011 ($79.95)
- Hinterland, Ancestral 2012 ($25.00)