Sizzle up the festivities with sparkling wines and champagnes!

Most of us forget to include sparkling wines in our otherwise well thought out dinner plans.

Only exceptionally sophisticated wine lovers will be sipping a glass of bubbly with their festive feast.  Pity, really, as most sparkling wines pair very well with almost any course from soup to nuts…

Reviewed last week and popping up again this week because it is simply such an exceptional value Opera Prima Brut (862144) $9.50 is without a doubt the most affordable and elegant sparkling Cava from Spain. Made in the more affordable ‘Charmat’ style, bright pale yellow in the glass, it offers an intense aroma of fresh citrus fruits, an expression of herbs and hints of flower petals.

Maybe because of the traditional hype around popping corks on New Year’s Eve – which just by the way is really a waste of the wonderful effervescence! – even the most recently converted wine lovers will probably find a bottle of sparkling wine to open on December 31st.

With its Germanic origins, the hugely popular, Henkell Trocken (122689) $12.90 is dependable, consistent and made today from classic grape varieties sourced from France – Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as Pinot Noir and Chenin Blanc. Although Henkell Trocken has changed over time, it became the market leader for sparkling wine in Germany over 100 years ago and sales just continue to grow. Talk about success!

Sparkling wines should be kept in the fridge – or, at the very least in a scintillatingly elegant wine cooler filled with generously iced water. Pour half a glass at a time, as needed, to keep the wine refreshingly cool and to keep the bubbles foaming and frothing!

Another ‘Charmat’ style bubbly, tank fermented in stainless steel and bottled under pressure, Enrico Celebration (746248) $20.35 is a tantalizingly tasty blend of estate grown Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris from just outside of Mill Bay on Vancouver Island.  Creamy yeasty ‘lees’ support an intriguing array of apple, pear and subtle strawberry fruit flavours.

The bubbles in all sparkling wines are one of the not so well known reasons they are widely used as ‘social lubricants’. A smattering of the alcohol in the wine is carried up into your sinus cavities by the tiny bursting bubbles. Being well supplied with rich bilateral blood circulation, your sinus cavities help the alcohol seep very speedily and directly into your arterial bloodstream and on to your brain.

A Silver Medal winner at the 2015 Fall Okanagan Wine Festival, Perseus Sparkling Chardonnay (91736) $22.30 delivers all the apple and lemon fruit character you’d expect in a Chardonnay with added sizzle of that steady stream of tiny bubbles floating up from the bottom of your flute!

The dominant chalky sub-soil of the Champagne region in France is punctuated by limestone in the southernmost zones and areas of heavier clay elsewhere, giving a real range of mineral possibilities throughout Champagne’s various sites. Champagne may be the world’s finest sparkling wine because it is largely a blended wine of many parts and myriad micro-terroirs.

Generally a blend of 90 per cent Pinot Noir and 10 per cent Chardonnay, Deutz Brut Rosé 2004 (481218) $77.90 is almost affordable.  Expect to find a medley of blackberry, pomegranate and red currant aromas leading into subtle strawberry and raspberry fruit flavours sizzling under the surface over a creamy mouthful of effervescent excitement!

Kick the celebration up a notch with a 1.5L Magnum of Pol Roger 2006 Vintage Brut Champagne (538108) $216.00. The 2006 Brut Vintage is a traditional house blend of 60 per cent Pinot Noir and 40 per cent Chardonnay. Aromas of apples, pears, grapefruit and dried apricots lead into an almost chewy, creamy, nutty almond mouth-filling experience!

Close to the top of the ‘Montagnes de Champagne’ Louis Roederer Cristal was created in 1876 to satisfy the demanding tastes of Tsar Alexander II. The emperor asked Louis Roederer to reserve the House’s best cuvée for him every year. To distinguish this cuvée, this exceptional champagne came in a flat-bottomed, transparent lead-crystal bottle – thus ‘Cristal’!

As it should at that luxurious price, Louis Roederer Cristal 2006 (268755) $275.15 has a seductive and silky texture and elegantly fruity aromas, complemented by a powerful minerality with white fruit and citrus notes.

Have a safe and happy Holiday Season! If you drink, don’t drive!

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