Nothing makes me happier that hearing the energetic “pop” of a bottle of sparkling wine freshly uncorked. For the purists reading, yes, I do know that you are not supposed to be hearing anything but a light stream of gas escaping the bottle. I just enjoy that sound so much that I am willing to take the risk of spilling a few drops of precious wine in exchange! After all, isn’t it what bubbly is all about? Happiness! Nothing says “welcome home”, or “congratulations”, or “let’s spend some time together” like a well chosen bottle of sparkling wine.
Even though Champagne (the name exclusively reserved for the sparkling wines produced in the region of Champagne, in France) is a delightful treat, it is not necessarily the best choice for every palate, occasion, or budgets. Considering that most of the Champagne on our Canadian market retail for over 50$ a bottle, we decided to build a fun Friday night tasting of alternatives to Champagne that sell for 30$ or under. But with over 80 different sparkling wines in the store, it was almost impossible to select only 7 wines! However I persevered and somehow managed to restrain myself and selected my 7 favourite wines from the old-world countries of Italy, France, and Spain.
Fattori Ronca di Ronca Sparkling Brut $29.99
Made from 100% Durella grapes (also called Durello), and a KWM exclusive, this terrific bubbly is the entry level for Fattori’s (one of the Veneto’s top producers of excellent regional wines) sparkling wine range. Look for a pale straw hue. On the nose you’ll find a hint of balsamic aromas leading into whiffs of yellow and green fruits. The overall sensation is exotic! The taste is bright and consistent with a lovely finish of green almonds and white flowers, with a briny character. This one is perfect as an aperitif and ideal with sushi.
Kuentz Crémant d’Alsace Brut $29.99
Pinot Gris & Pinot Blanc
The Kuentz estate winery, another KWM exclusive, has been producing wine since 1680. Their vines are located in four different villages: Pfaffenheim, Gueberschwihr, Rouffach and Herrlisheim in the Alsace region of France. This extremely well priced cremant, the name given to sparkling wines made in Alsace, is made from a blend of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris and offers a fresh and vibrant taste making for a charming, sparkling quaffer. Its great price means you can find more everyday reasons to celebrate! Enjoy at brunch with a traditional quiche Lorraine. (Pssst… If you have a sweet tooth for brunch, I highly recommend to try the crémant rosé from this producer. Just a little bit over 30$, but absolutely gorgeous, bursting with red apple, strawberry and rose petal).
Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut $14.99
50% Macabeo, 35% Parellada, 15% Xarel-lo
Cava DOC, Spain
The Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut is medium to full-bodied with notes of apple and rich honey complemented by hints of spicy ginger and orange. It’s richly flavored and benefits from a balanced, clean dry finish. Serve chilled, with a variety of appetizers, as an aperitif wine… and maybe keep the leftovers for your Sunday brunch Mimosa!
Il Follo Vino Spumante Rosato Brut $25.99
85% Glera, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon
Il Follo produces a small portfolio of precisely crafted, classic sparkling wines from its own vineyard in the cru of Cartizze as well as from fruit purchased from some of the finest growers of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene and Treviso. This alluring pale rose petal pink wine is marked by a gentle fragrance of strawberry, wild cherry and a note of red apple reflected on the finely balanced palate. A KWM exclusive and one of my personal favorites!
Domaine des Aubuisières Vouvray Brut $25.99
100% Chenin Blanc
Loire Valley, France
Here’s an exceptional sparkling wine from the Loire Valley and one that is exclusive to KWM. Made from the Chenin Blanc grape, the most important grape variety of the Central Loire Valley, it is positively brimming with flavors of crisp apple and firm acidity. And, what a surprise – one sip and you’ll discover a big burst of creamy center with a touch of pear. The finish is dry with a touch of citrus. Although there’s just half the pressure of Champagne, this sparkler has plenty of exuberance!
Andreola Mas de Fer Prosecco Extra-Dry $29.99
A multi-award-winning sparkling wine from Italy, and a Kensington Wine Market exclusive! A fine 88 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, too. The review: “Brilliant luminosity and moderate aromatic intensity. This sparkler plays its strongest cards in the mouth where it shows bright acidity and pretty floral and peach endnotes. The effervescence is creamy and rich.”
Cantina Paltrinieri, Solco Lambrusco $21.49
100% Lambrusco Salamino
Emilia Romagna, Italy
So much fun to drink! This dry, delicious frizzante is dark purple-red in hue and hails from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, just outside of the city of Modena. Pair with Italian cold cuts (mortadella sandwich!!!) or barbecued steak, ribs, Italian sausages. You get the picture. From a family-owned winery that has been making fine vino for three generations. Touch of sweetness and truly delicious.
The Favourites of the night as chosen by our guests:
#1 (by a !!!large!!! majority) Il Follo Spumante Rosato Brut $25.99
Once again, the two favourites of the night were Italians, and I must admit that I agree with the vote! KWM has an extraordinary selection of exclusive Italian wines from Proseccos to top quality Metodo Classico sparkling wine from Tuscany that are worth exploring. So don’t miss an occasion (or even better: create one!) to buy a bottle of bubbly and explore the diversity of sparkling wines from the world. And for those who are afraid that they will not be able to finish the bottle as a reason not to buy sparkling wines: we also sell champagne & beer stoppers for $4.99!