Under the Steller’s Jay brand, Sumac Ridge Estate Winery has
released just its second Sparking Shiraz.
This style of wine has been produced for many years in Australia
The Liquor Distribution Branch used to list several examples. There are none in
its product catalogue now, which speaks to the limited popularity of this novel
style of sparkling wine.
The first Okanagan Sparkling Shiraz was released in 2006 under the Sumac
The second release, 1,000 cases, has just appeared under the
Steller’s Jay brand. Several years ago, Constellation Brands, which owns Sumac
Ridge, decided to turn Steller’s Jay into a stand-alone brand. The object is to
reinforce the eminence of Steller’s Jay as a leading sparkling wine producer in
Almost a decade between sparkling Shiraz releases? That also seems to speak to
comparatively limited demand for the wine that consumers hardly know.
It appears that Constellation Brands may allow another gap to
develop before the next release.
To quote the Steller’s Jay news release for the current
example: “… Holiday revellers are encouraged to add this exclusive wine to
their cellars early as Sparkling Shiraz will not be available again next year.”
Why not? There is no explanation. If the wine is not made
regularly, no one will expect to buy it regularly. Remember the chicken and the
If you do find a bottle or two in a private wine store, I
would encourage you to pick them up. Not for your cellar (it will not cellar
was long as a more acidic sparkling wine) but for the festive fun you will have
with this dark, frothy wine.
I think it would be a great base for cocktails and for punch
bowls, even though punch bowls generally are a waste of good wine. This wine
has such fruity flavours and looks so good that it will transform the punch
from an afterthought to something rather special.
This is a bottled-fermented sparkling wine (like Champagne). Jason James,
the winemaker who made it, is quoted as saying: “This is a very special wine
with a lot of depth and complexity. Only premium grapes were selected and blended
to produce this special sparkling wine. The base Shiraz was treated like a red wine; harvested
at 24 brix and fermented on the skins. As a result, there is more tannin than
in a normal sparkling.”
Both Jason and the back label recommend the wine be served
with food, such as beef short rib. This is robust sparkler.
Here is a note on the wine.
Sparkling Shiraz NV
($25.99 for 1,000 cases). Open this
wine carefully to avoid having the energetic magenta-coloured bubbles frothing
all over the table cloth. With its deep colour and its bubbles, this is a
spectacular wine in a Champagne
flavours are intense, starting with black cherry and going on to chocolate,
coffee and spice. The wine is technically dry, with its 25 grams of residual
sugar balanced with modest acidity. The texture is plush and rich. This is a
tour de force. 90-92.