‘Tis the season of twinkling lights, celebratory gatherings with friends and family, and endless canapés that deserve to be washed down with something as sparkling as the conversation. Here, three of British Columbia’s best bubbly wines to consider for any holiday congregations.
Noble Ridge Vineyard & Winery is located in the newly established sub-geographical indication (sub-GI) of Okanagan Falls (which sits within the much larger GI of Okanagan Valley). These smaller demarcated areas are carefully selected; they form singular boundaries that are based on physical features relating to landform, topography, and soils. Okanagan Falls is the second sub-GI in the Okanagan Valley (the Golden Mile Bench was the first), and it is very likely that more will soon follow.
Established in 2001 by Jim and Leslie D’Andrea, the Noble Ridge Vineyards estate in Okanagan Falls was born with 3.5 acres of vines; that has since grown to 24 acres, encompassing cabernet, chardonnay, merlot, pinot gris, and pinot noir. One of two fizzy wines that Noble Ridge makes, ‘The One’ Sparkling 2015 vintage is a tautly-strung bubbly that was aged in cellar on its lees (yeast cells from a secondary, in-bottle fermentation) for 28 months. Flinty with wildflower honey and bread dough aromas, it poses racy acidity on the palate, softened with creamy yellow-fruit flavours.
Indeed, it’s clear that some of the best fizzy wines in B.C. are coming out of Okanagan Falls; Noble Ridge and Meyer Family Vineyards are noteworthy brands, but another major catalyst in the area is Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars. The winery is known for its dry, Old World-style wines and unwavering quality—its table wines are classic not flashy, and its sparkling wines are precise and thoughtful.
The talented Matt Mavety, who has been toiling in his family’s estate since he was 14 years old, has long taken over winemaking from his father, Ian; excellence is a family trait. One of Mavety’s greatest sparkling achievements is the Blue Mountain Vineyard Reserve Brut. The 2010, made from equal parts chardonnay and pinot noir, and aged on lees for more than six years, was finally disgorged (lees removed, and then cork-sealed) in 2017—and then aged an additional year in bottle, prior to release. A superb offering, it weaves patisserie aromas with golden fruit, berries, and oyster shells. This wine has a developed palate, with nervy acidity along with a creamy mousse and fine beads of bubbles.
And speaking of winemaking families, after selling CedarCreek to Anthony von Mandl of Von Mandl Family Estates (a portfolio that includes Mission Hill, Martin’s Lane Winery, CheckMate Artisanal Winery, and just recently, Road 13 Vineyards), Senator Ross Fitzpatrick, his wife Linda, and their son Gordon relocated to Greata Ranch, their Peachland vineyard across the lake from CedarCreek. What emerged was a new brand under their name: Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards. Following that, a slick, state-of-the-art winery and visitor’s centre, complete with a bistro and sparkling wine bar, was erected.
The Fitzpatricks take bubbly seriously; they currently make three traditional method versions, and the elaborate Fitz Blanc de Blancs 2015, made entirely from chardonnay, is outstanding. Thanks to its 36 months spent aging on lees, the wine is creamy and complex with a pristine yet well-endowed palate.
So cheers to the holidays, and cheers to this province’s most tantalizing sips—true tastes of the land, from vine to bottle to flute.
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