Well, it’s September. But not to fret. We know the rainy days will come, but now we still have sunny days where we can sit on our patio with friends and sip sparkling wine. I shared two BC sparkling wines with friends. I picked these two as it shows some of the differences that you can get with sparkling wine in BC.
The first wine was Moon Curser Vineyards Moonlit 2021, a wine made with 100% Viognier grapes, fermented in stainless steel tanks and made sparkling in the Charmat method. This wine is vegan-friendly. The Charmat method is a cost-effective way for a winery to produce sparkling wine. In this method instead of a wine undergoing a second fermentation to make the bubbles in a bottle all the wine is placed in a tank and together undergoes the second fermentation. This sparkling wine is then bottled with or without any dosage and released. A fresh and crisp wine is produced. A cork, bottle cap/crown closure, or even a screw cap has been used to seal the bottle before selling the wine. Italian Prosecco is done using this method.
The second wine I opened was the Blue Mountain Vineyard Gold Label Brut 2018 made with 62% Pinot Noir and 38% Chardonnay grapes which are fermented separately then blended, inoculated with yeast and put in bottle for secondary fermentation (the Traditional Method). After secondary fermentation in bottle the wine lies sur lie for 24 months before being disgorged then released 6-9 months later. The Traditional Method is how French Champagne, Spanish Cava, and Italian Franciacorta are produced. It is much more costly to produce a wine as after the second fermentation completes in bottle and sur lie (which can go for several years) the dead yeast cells need to be removed and the bottle resealed. In the past a person needed to rotate each bottle by hand from horizontal to vertical, where the opening of the bottle faces downward (known as Remuage). There are now machines known as Gyropalette that are used by some wineries to make the remuage process shorter. Removing the yeast and resealing the bottle is known as Disgorging. The neck of the bottle is submerged in a cooling bath where the yeast freezes as an ice plug. The bottle cap is removed and the ice plug shoots out under pressure. The bottle then usually has a dosage added and a new cork inserted and anchored. The wine may then spend further months to recuperate from this traumatic event before being released to the public.
There is another method known as the Ancestral Method, also known as Pet-Nat, that is becoming more commonly undertaken by wineries. In this ancient method before the wine completes fermenting in tank, and has residual sugar in the grape must, it is placed in bottles for the fermentation to finish. There is no secondary fermentation. This is a riskier method to produce a sparkling wine as you usually do not tweak it with a dosage (if not disgorged) and the bottle could explode if there is too much carbon dioxide build-up. The wine may or may not be disgorged so you could have a cloudy bottle of sparkling wine, but that is part of the charm of the Ancestral Method. Several BC wineries produce sparkling wines this way, such as Bella, Whispering Horse, and Hainle Vineyards Estate Winery.
Grapes for Sparkling Wines
Finally, before getting to my wine tasting notes, the other thing I would like to bring up about sparkling wines in BC is that they can be made with many different varieties of grapes. In the Traditional Method approach of making sparkling wine, the grapes Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay are commonly used, as is done with Champagne. But you are not restricted to these grapes. These grapes have shown how well they produce sparkling wine in the Champagne region and this continues to other regions around the world for people looking for similar quality and style at a lower price point. In BC, I have seen sparkling wines made from Riesling, Viognier, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, L’Acadie, La Crescent, Gamay Noir, and more which I have probably missed. In general, when you look at this list of grapes they are primarily white aromatic varieties. Their character comes through in the sparkling wine and typically are made in the Ancestral or Charmat methods.
My Wine Tasting Notes
Moon Curser Vineyards Moonlit 2021 (BC $26.99)
Appearance: A lighter clear lemon colour.
Nose: Medium intensity fruity aromas showing, orange, pears, peaches, and citrus pith.
Palate: A little off-dry, round with medium-plus acidity, body, and flavours. Tropical fruit, oranges, pears, and honey on the palate. Medium-sized creamy bubbles. Mouthfilling.
Finish: Medium length with the same fruit flavours.
The winery recommends this sparkling wine as a perfect accompaniment to any patio, seafood dinner, or charcuterie board.
Rating: A lighter, clear lemon colour wine. Medium intensity fruity aromas of citrus and stone fruits. Slightly off-dry, round with medium-plus acidity, body and flavours of tropical fruit, oranges and pears. Medium-sized creamy bubbles.
Blue Mountain Vineyard Gold Label Brut 2018 (BC $28)
Appearance: A medium clear pear skin colour.
Nose: A medium intensity nose with stone fruit aromas.
Palate: Dry and round with medium-plus body and flavour intensity. Small, very creamy bubbles. Delicate flavours of stone fruits, pears in particular, citrus, and a touch of grape stem tannin.
Finish: Medium length finishing with stone fruits and a touch of grape stem.
A few food pairing suggestions by the winery are Pan-Seared Scallops and Mushroom Risotto, Oysters on the Half Shell with Cocktail Sauce and Shallot Mignonette, and Smoked Salmon and Caper Cream Cheese Toasts.
Rating: A medium intensity clear pear skin colour. And medium intensity stone fruit aromas. Dry and round with medium-plus body and flavours. Small, very creamy bubbles. Delicate flavours of stone fruits, pears in particular, citrus, and a touch of grape stem tannin.
Where Can I Buy These Wines?
You can order the Blue Mountain Vineyard Gold Label Brut 2018 on their website. It is also available at Everything Wine stores.
The Moon Curser Vineyards Moonlit 2021 is also available through their website.
Both wines may be available at your local wine shop, but you need to ask.