Thursday, December 1, 2016

Serendipity releases first sparkling wine

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 Gew├╝rztraminer 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, tasted fine.

Here is a note on the wine.

Serendipity Sparkling Truth 2014 ($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. 91.

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