Photo: Blue Mountain winemaker Matt Mavety
Recently, an executive from Champagne producer Lanson was
asked by a radio reporter if the Champagne
houses should be concerned at dramatic rise in Proseco sales.
Not at all, he replied. The quality of Champagne
simply puts it in a different
league than Proseco, the Italian bubbly.
I would not argue with that, other than to say we expect
more from a $50 - $100 Champagne
than we do from a $20 Proseco.
Having said that, we don’t need to go offshore if we want a
classy sparkling wine for New Year’s, or for any other occasion. Blue Mountain
Vineyard & Cellars, right in our own back yard, is one of Canada
sparkling wine producers. Its wines certainly compete with Champagne
In fact, the wines in its reserve sparkling program are
nudging toward the price of Champagne.
However, good sparkling wine is never going to be cheap. There is at least
twice as much labour involved in making bubble than in making still table wine.
Secondly, when the sparkling wine is aged for years in the
cellar before release, capital is tied up for years. The three current Blue Mountain
from the 2006, 2007 and 2010 vintages. The cost of capital inevitably will need
to be reflected in the price of the finished wine. In fact, the volumes of the Blue
reserves are so modest – 100 to 200 cases – that winemaker Matt Mavety may be
making these more for the prestige than for the profit.
wines have always delivered value for money. This is illustrated by the two
table wines, a Pinot Gris and a Gamay, also released this fall.
Here are notes on those wines. R.D. means recently
Blue Mountain Pinot Gris 2013
($21). The style of
this wine deviates slightly from the fruity, drink me now, style of most
Okanagan Pinot Gris wines. Forty percent
was fermented and aged six months in French oak (new to four years old). The
wine in barrels also was left in contact with the lees, but with minimum
battonage. The other 60% was fermented and aged in stainless steel. The barrel
portion gives the wine a rich texture. The wine has herbal and citrus aromas
with a bready note from the lees contact. On the palate, there are flavours of
pear and citrus. The finish is dry. This wine is built to age four to six years,
developing even more complexity. 90.
Blue Mountain Gamay Noir 2012
($23). This wine was
fermented entirely with the wild yeasts from the vineyard. The technical notes
refer to a 20-day maceration period, indicating a moderately slow fermentation.
The wine was aged nine months in four-year-old French oak barrels. Aside from a
touch of mocha on the palate, there is no significant oak flavour. However, the
fleshy texture results in part from time in barrel. The wine has aromas and
flavours cherry and blackberry. 90.
Blue Mountain Rosé Brut 2010 R.D.
($33). This wine
gets a lovely rose petal hue from the 65% Pinot Noir in the cuvée (the rest is
Chardonnay). The wine spent 36 months on lees in individual bottles after
completing secondary fermentation. The dosage is 10 grams a litre, enough to
flesh out the flavours without making the wine sweet. The wine begins with
toasty and strawberry aromas, leading to a creamy mouthful of fruit flavours,
with a crisp, clean finish. 91.
Blanc de Blancs 2007 R.D.
($40). This wine is just as elegant and complex
as fine Champagne
Made with Chardonnay in the 2007 vintage, the cuvée was bottled for its
secondary fermentation in February 2008. The wine spent six years on the lees
in individual bottles, to be disgorged in May 2014. The prolonged time on the
lees has given this wine toasty, nutty aromas and flavours and very fine
bubbles. The finish is crisply clean and dry. 93.
Blue Mountain Reserve Brut 2006 R.D.
($40). This is
30% Pinot Noir, 70% Chardonnay. The wine spent seven years on the lees in
individual bottles before being disgorged in May 2014. It is almost creamy on
the palate with toasty notes on the nose. The flavours include appealing hints
of strawberry and citrus. The wine, which finishes dry, is exceptional in its
If you can’t find any of this in good wine stores, the
winery plans to release a Brut 2007 R.D., followed by a 2008 Brut R.D. You
might want to get on a list for this wine.