Photo: Serendipity's Sparkling Truth
A big sparkling wine trend is sweeping through the British
Columbia wine industry.
In recent weeks, I have blogged first time release of
sparkling wine from Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards, Meyer Family Vineyards and
Orofino Vineyards. As well, I have posted effusive reviews of sparkling wines
from Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars, one of the most experienced
producers of bubbly in the Okanagan.
I have also posted enthusiastic reviews of Maverick Winery’s
Ella, a very fine sparkling wine; of Tantalus Blanc de Noirs 2013; and “I Do”
from Intrigue Wines.
I have reviewed the Steller’s Jay Sparkling Gewürztraminer
and the same winery’s Sparkling Shiraz. And I have been promised a bottle of
the soon-to-released Daydreamer Sparkling Shiraz. I will post reviews shortly of
two new sparkling wines from Evolve Cellars.
That is just scratching the surface. There is a burgeoning
choice of sparkling wines from B.C. wineries. That is a very good thing, for we
now get to try Champagne quality wines without always paying Champagne prices.
The proliferation of sparkling wines also tells me that
consuming patterns have matured. We are no longer restricting these wines just
to special occasions like New Year’s Eve or weddings and birthdays. Many of us
have discovered that these are versatile food wines.
I recently washed down a meal of pierogies with a few glasses
of bubble. I suppose you could open a bottle of vodka with your pierogies,
given the Polish roots of the cuisine, but you risk inebriation.
And there is no better aperitif. I am reminded of the
classic line from Harry McWatters, the founder of Sumac Ridge, the winery that launched
Steller’s Jay. “Sparkling wine,” he once told me, “is what I drink while I am
deciding what wine to have with dinner.”
The usual objection to opening a bottle of bubbly is the
mistaken notion it has to be consumed within the hour. In fact, most good
kitchen stores will have a device that snaps onto the top after the cork or
screw cap is removed. Such a device keeps the remaining bubbles in the bottle
and the wine can be left in the refrigerator for a day or two.
The latest producer to release a bubbly is Serendipity
Winery of Naramata. As an aside, it is surprising how few of the Naramata Bench’s
wineries actually produce sparkling wine.
No matter the technique, there is no easy way to make
sparkling wine other than carbonating it. And carbonated wine is just an inferior
bubbly, best used to launch boats or celebrate sports championships.
The Serendipity wine, called Sparkling Truth, is made in the
traditional way, starting with Chardonnay grapes. The wine has its secondary
fermentation – the one that produces the bubbles – in the actual bottles. In
this case, the winery made 2,107 bottles and riddled them all (likely by hand)
over 21 days. Riddling is the process of rocking each bottle gently until the
yeast lees are deposited in the neck against a crown cap.
The pressure in the bottle expels these when the cap is
removed during final bottling. Each bottle is topped up and then sealed with
the familiar mushroom cork.
A word of caution: there seems to be a lot of pressure in
each bottle of Serendipity Sparkling Truth. When I removed the wire cage that
holds the cork, it shot from the bottle on its own with loud explosion. This
was surprising, since the bottle had been in the refrigerator for several days
and was not shaken on the way to the kitchen. Fortunately, my face was not
above the bottle. I learned that bit of caution years ago. The wine, however,
Here is a note on the wine.
($50). This is a fresh and floral wine with a big, almost
creamy, mouthful of fruit – apples and green plums. The pressure in the bottle
makes for a lively display of bubbles in the glass. This is an elegant wine.