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Sparkling wine is welcome any time of year, but the holiday season is especially festooned with fizz. Fortunately, our cool climate is ideal for growing the grapes that make the best bubblies. The four featured here brilliantly illustrate why Ontario is increasingly known for sensational sparklers.

Featherstone named their Joy Premium Cuvée after the winemaker’s mother, Joyce, in the tradition of the great sparkling wine houses of Europe where wine is often named after a woman at the heart of the family. The wine is crafted in the traditional method of Champagne and is a blanc de blancs, meaning it’s made from 100% Chardonnay, which gives it lovely brightness and focus. The fruit comes from the winery’s estate vineyards in Twenty Mile Bench, whose limestone soils lend the wine a subtle mineral character. This bubbly would be a great choice for a traditional turkey dinner. It’d also suit fish and chips, pork chops with apples and onions, or butternut squash ravioli with sage and Gruyère.

Another bubbly made in the traditional method using only Chardonnay is the Cuvée Catharine Carte Blanche from Henry of Pelham. It spent an impressive four-and-a-half years ageing on the lees, which gives the wine wonderful richness and toasty overtones. Much like Featherstone’s, this sparkling wine was grown on estate vineyards in 2013 and it, too, shows a touch of mineral thanks to the limestone of the Niagara Escarpment. In fact, tasting these two sparklers side by side would be a great way to compare their nuanced differences. The Carte Blanche will also be outstanding with turkey dinner, so a holiday feast just might be the perfect side-by-side tasting opportunity. The team at Henry of Pelham suggests salmon caviar with sour cream as another pairing idea.

Broken Stone is a small family winery situated in Prince Edward County. They craft their Exuberance sparkler from Riesling grapes using the Charmat method, whereby the second fermentation takes place in a tank, much the way Italian Prosecco is made. The Riesling imparts a racy, mouth-watering edge to the wine, which, along with the wine’s light body and the Charmat method’s emphasis on fresh fruit character, makes it wonderfully food-friendly. This would be a particularly good match for baked or pan-fried lake fish, scallop ceviche with lemon and lime juice, or pork tenderloin with a garlic and lime marinade.

Also fashioned in the Charmat method is the Venture Series Starlight Sparkling, which Magnotta makes from Riesling and Vidal grapes. What results is a light-bodied, zesty, off-dry bubbly with a bit of extra mouthfeel from the Vidal. With its kiss of sweetness, this makes a good pairing option for moderately spiced dishes like fish tacos with roasted poblano salsa, sweet-and-sour dishes like honey-glazed sausages with sauerkraut, and flavourful dishes like chicken cordon bleu. Meanwhile, the gleaming golden bottle brings an extra element of festivity to the holiday table.


The Finer Points

MAGNOTTA VENTURE SERIES STARLIGHT SPARKLING
Charmat method, VQA Ontario
582098 (M) 750 mL $25.95

Fresh, zesty and long, with apple, peach, lemon and orange tones. A 50/50 blend of Riesling and Vidal.

91 points (David Lawrason)

Light & Fruity

New at VINTAGES

BROKEN STONE EXUBERANCE SPARKLING RIESLING 2017
Charmat method, VQA Ontario
627083 (D) 750 mL $24.95

Lemon peel, apple, nectarine, lime citrus and racy acidity. Fresh and lifted, with a lively mousse.

Light & Fruity

New at VINTAGES

HENRY OF PELHAM CUVÉE CATHARINE CARTE BLANCHE ESTATE BLANC DE BLANC 2013
Traditional method, VQA Short Hills Bench, Niagara Escarpment
315200 (D) 750 mL $44.95

Racy lemon and lime adorned with white nectarine, nutty and mineral notes. Classy, elegant and complex.

93 points (Vic Harradine)

Medium-bodied & Flavourful

FEATHERSTONE JOY PREMIUM CUVÉE SPARKLING 2013
Traditional method, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment
310334 (D) 750 mL $34.95

Crisp, clean and refreshing, with lemon curd, mineral notes and ripe apple and pear. Finishes in a blaze of delightful tanginess.

89 points (Vic Harradine)

Medium-bodied & Flavourful