Bubbles for New Years eve 2010

We are on the precipice between the 2000’s and the 2010’s New Years. Shouldn’t we be celebrating the end of the first 10 years of 2000 with some Champagne or other sparkling wine? What fun things could you try? How about buying a vintage champagne, or other sparkling wine from the year 2000. It might be difficult and cost a bit more money but it would be memorable.

If you don’t have the time or money to hunt down one of the 2000 vintage bubbles, I have a few suggestions. The wines I list below, I’ve tasted and have tasting notes on http://www.MyWinePal.com under the Wine Reviews tab. The reviews are stored in a spreadsheet format which you can freely download and use to help you select bubbles and other wines. Please download and make use of my notes.

Some sparkling wines I enjoyed:

New Zealand Lindauer Brut Sparkling NV Biscuity and citrus aroma and flavours. The bubble was small and elegant.
Australia Banrock Station Sparkling Chardonnay NV Pale straw colour. It has pleasant acidity. There are flavours of peach, lime and melon.
Australia Skillogalee Sparkling Riesling NV Petrol and citrus nose. Good acidity, bright citrus flavour with lingering petrol. Medium length.
South Africa Graham Beck Sparkling -Brut Pinot Noir /
Chardonnay
NV Brillant golden colour and had honey, apple, biscuity aromas and flavours.
Italy Cantina Breganze Prosecco Extra Dry Prosecco NV Pale lemon in colour with a
tinge of green. Lemon and juicy orchard fruit on the nose. Orange, lemon, and rose petal flavours.
Italy Cantina Breganze Blanquette de Limoux
Demi-Sec
NV This is a semi-sweet, organic
sparkling wine. This one has a nice white flower nose. Bright lemony colour. Flowery, light spice, and orangy flavours. Nice.
Spain Codorniu Sparkling Brut Pinot Noir NV Light orangy pink in colour.
Light strawberry aroma. Very bracing in your mouth, with strawberry and raspberry flavours.
Hungary Hungaria Grand Cuvee NV Quite a deal for this sparkler.
Light lemon in colour, with lemon/lime aromas. Light bubble with lemon flavour.
France Cuillier Pere et Fils Brut Selection Pinot Noir / Chardonnay NV Fine bubble with green apple
and pear aromas. Fine bubble with lemon and pear flavour. This wine was like enjoying a fresh pear. Very tasty!
South Africa Moreson Blanc de Blancs Brut Method
Cap Classic
Chardonnay NV It had a very fine bubble. Red
apple, citrus, light spice and bready flavour. It had a long finish. Nice.

If you are in the Vancouver, BC area, you should be able to get these wines (but not necessarily some of the exact vintages) at a BC Specialty liquor store, or some private wine stores like Everything Wine.

You may also want to celebrate the coming of 2010 with a BC sparkling wine. Here is a list of some sparkling BC wines from Everything Wine (you may be able to get these at BC liquor stores too):

Blue Mountain Gold Label Sparkling 750 mL Sparkling $29.99
Charles Meunier Sparkling 750ml Sparkling $13.99
Gray Monk Odyssey Brut Sparkling 750 mL Sparkling $26.99
Starling Lane ‘Celebration’ Brut 750 ml Sparkling $30.99

I hope I’ve given you a few ideas for a sparkling wine for New Year’s Eve. FYI, I’ll probably be enjoying a bottle of Summerhill Cipes Brut N/V from the Okanagan. Cheers!

A Good Time for Ice Wine

With snow falling here in Vancouver, I thought I’d talk a bit about Ice Wine. Ice wine’s origin is in Germany where it is called Eiswein. Eiswein production began in the late 1700s and more fully in the 1800s in Germany. The first Canadian ice wine was made in BC by Walter Hainle in 1973 at the Hainle Vineyards.

How is ice wine made? The short answer is the wine is made from frozen grapes, but of course there is more to it than that. The grapes are typically a white varietal, such as Riesling or Vidal, but you can now find some red ice wines, from Pinot Noir and other grapes. Riesling is the traditional grape for ice wine due to its high level of acidity. This high level of acidity is important to balance the high sugar content from the concentrated grape juice. The high acidity made the ice wine refreshing instead of cloyingly sweet (imagine drinking maple syrup).

There are rules for when a grape can be picked for ice wine. As I mentioned the grapes have to be frozen before being picked, but the temperature at the time of picking has to be at least -8 degrees Celsius. Any warmer and you legally cannot call the wine, ice wine. Grapes harvested at say -6 degrees Celsius can be called Late Harvest. Late Harvest wine tastes very much like ice wine, but is less aromatic and sweet. Some people prefer Late Harvest, plus the price of Late Harvest is usually half the price of the same size of Ice Wine.

Ice Wine and Late Harvest are more expensive than a traditional bottle of still wine, but it takes many more grapes to produce these wines. Whereas it could take one bunch of grapes for a bottle of wine, it may take 8-10 bunches of grapes for one bottle of ice wine or late harvest wine. Imagine how hard these grapes are when they are being pressed. As the water in the grape is frozen, just a small amount of concentrated grape syrup is left. I think of it like someone trying to squeeze water from marbles. Very hard!

Some wineries in the BC Okanagan that produce ice wine:
Mission Hill (their 2006 Reserve Riesling Ice Wine won the International Wine Challenge in London in Sept 08 as the Worlds Top Ice Wine)
Quail’s Gate (their 2006 Reisling Ice Wine won a Bronze Medal – Canadian Wine Awards 2007)
Gray Monk Estate Winery (Kerner ice wine – a white grape)
Summerhill Estate Winery (Pinot noir, zweigelt, chardonnay, and riesling ice wines)

And last but not least, every January, there is an Ice Wine Festival at Sun Peaks Resort in the Okanagan! The next festival will be January 13 – 18, 2009. You can try a wide range of ice wines, together with learning about ice wines, join in some wine dinners, and if you have any energy left, go skiing. You can contact Sun Peaks Resort at 1-800-807-3257 about the Ice Wine Festival, or go to the Ice Wine Festival website http://www.owfs.com/festivals/winter_festival.html

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!