available in Ontario after December 10, 2016
As far as I’m concerned, sparkling wine is non-seasonal. But for me, as for most people I know, the price of Champagne tends to make it a “special occasion” drink. So when you do make a purchase, you want to make sure that you acquire a really good wine for your dollar.
Here I recommend five Champagnes selling at $79, $69, $50, $49 and $43, all very good wines. But at $48.95, the non-vintage Le Mesnil Brut Grand Cru Blanc De Blancs Champagne is an amazing combination of quality and price. My other four suggestions are: the non-vintage Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut Champagne, the 1996 Brochet-Hervieux HBH Champagne 1Er Cru, the non-vintage Marc Hébrart Brut Blanc De Blancs Champagne, and the non-vintage Gardet Cuvée Saint Flavy Brut Tradition Champagne.
As we step outside of Champagne, generally prices fall, although to be fair, so does absolute quality. But those of you who are aware of traditional method sparkling wines from Italy may want to make the case in favour of Franciacorta, and my next example will help you do this: the non-vintage Ca’ Del Bosco Cuvée Prestige Brut Franciacorta priced at $42.
At $20 or less, my final three wines offer lots of interest and pleasure for the price. The first two are traditional method sparklers, the non-vintage Domaine De Vaugondy Brut Vouvray made from Chenin Blanc, and the 2014 Tawse Spark Limestone Ridge Sparkling Riesling. My final wine is an excellent dry Prosecco, the 2015 Fantinel One And Only Single Vineyard Brut Prosecco.
If you are in Ontario, try our new “At Your Store” function when you shop. You will also find other recommended sparkling wines from earlier releases that are still in stock.
LE MESNIL BRUT GRAND CRU BLANC DE BLANCS CHAMPAGNE AC
Vintages #460840 • $49.95 • 750ml. • 93/100The vineyards of Champagne Le Mesnil are in the Grand Cru area of Mesnil sur Oger in the Côte des Blancs region, and this wine is a blanc de blancs — 100% Chardonnay — mostly from vintage 2012 with 15% from 2011. The wine is straw-yellow, with a bright nose that suggests lemon and apple fruit, toast, some caramel and white chocolate, with blanched almonds. The wine is quite dry, with bright acidity balancing a lightly creamy medium-weight body. The complex fruit, caramel and nutty character evolve into a crisp, mineral finish. A Grand Cru Champagne at an excellent price.
Tasted Oct 28, 2016 • B. COJOCARU AGENCIES INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
BOLLINGER SPECIAL CUVÉE BRUT CHAMPAGNE AC
Vintages #384529 • $78.95 • 750ml. • 93/100This blend of 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, with the balance Pinot Meunier, is mostly from Premier and Grand Cru sites. The wine is straw-yellow, with glints of gold. The nose shows both fresher fruit and toasty notes, with a floral lift, lemon, ripe yellow apple that shows a hint of bruising, and a light roasted almond tone. Vivid acidity focuses the palate to dryness, while a very small amount of residual sugar adds richness to the creamy texture. The fruit is ripe on the palate, while the toasty and nutty flavours mingle with emerging minerality on the finish. Such an elegant and harmonious wine!
Tasted Oct 28, 2016 • JOHN HANNA & SONS LIMITED (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
1996 BROCHET-HERVIEUX HBH CHAMPAGNE 1ER CRU AC
Vintages #385815 • $68.95 • 750ml. • 92/100It's often intriguing to drink older wine, and this 1996 vintage 1er Cru Champagne offers lots to contemplate. The wine was recently disgorged (02/2016), and so has spent at least eighteen years on lees in the bottle. The wine is deeply coloured, suggesting old gold. The nose shows evolved and almost resinous aromas of biscuit, toast, and sponge toffee, with some freshness at the upper edges, and underlying notes of lemon, baked and bruised apple, and dried herbs. The wine is dry, with high acidity that still drives the palate, giving a sense of liveliness. A hint of spearmint nestles on the toasty, biscuity and resinous core. Interesting rather than charming, but still very much alive.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • B. COJOCARU AGENCIES INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
MARC HÉBRART BRUT BLANC DE BLANCS CHAMPAGNE, AC, 1er Cru à Mareuil-sur-Aÿ
Vintages #231217 • $48.95 • 750ml. • 91/100Marc Hébrart is a Récoltant-Manipulant (a grower-producer) with premier cru vineyards in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, a village in the Marne valley. This blanc de blancs (100% Chardonnay) is lighter straw, with bright floral, green apple, lemon, brioche and white chocolate notes. The wine is dry, with some residual sugar masked by very crisp acidity. The palate has a creamy texture, and the layers of lemon, apple and brioche have a breadth and richness, balanced through to the finish by the fresh acidity.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • MIH SELECTIONS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
GARDET CUVÉE SAINT FLAVY BRUT TRADITION CHAMPAGNE AC
Vintages #924654 • $42.95 • 750ml. • 90/100The wine is a blend of 90% black grapes (half Pinot Noir and half Pinot Meunier) with the balance Chardonnay. It is medium straw, with aromas suggesting lemon, green apple, white flowers with a light toasty note. The wine is dry with some residual sugar that balances fresh acidity. The palate is lightly creamy, with herbal-spearmint notes supplementing the fresh, bright fruit. A very competent wine at an entry-level price for Champagne.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • VINEXX (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
CA' DEL BOSCO CUVÉE PRESTIGE BRUT FRANCIACORTA DOCG
Vintages #105353 • $41.95 • 750ml. • 91/100The wine is 75% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Nero and 10% Pinot Bianco. It is a lighter yellow in colour, with a rich nose suggesting lemon, red and yellow apple — slightly caramelized — with light toast and bready notes. The wine is rather dry, with fresh acidity that nicely balances the riper fruit on the palate, where peach notes add to the lemon and apple. A very pleasant expression of traditional method sparkling wine, that shows its heritage of a somewhat warmer climate than Champagne, but does so with elegance.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • PHILIPPE DANDURAND WINES LTD. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
DOMAINE DE VAUGONDY BRUT VOUVRAY, Méthode traditionelle, AC
Vintages #154567 • $17.95 • 750ml. • 88.5/100This is a very competent traditional method Vouvray. It is straw-yellow, with some Chenin Blanc character on the nose: honeyed apple, lemon and melon, with a hint of beeswax. The wine is technically off-dry, but the vivid acidity dries the palate, where the honey and beeswax nicely frame the fruit, and the lengthy finish is crisp, showing a mineral bitterness. Versatile and charming.
Tasted Oct 28, 2016 • S. SCHIRALLI AGENCIES LTD., (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2014 TAWSE SPARK LIMESTONE RIDGE SPARKLING RIESLING, Traditional method, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment
Vintages #370361 • $20.20 • 750ml. • 89/100Tawse's Limestone Ridge Vineyard is now certified biodynamic and organic. The wine is light straw, with a fairly reticent nose that suggests lemon, apple and dried herbs. While there is some residual sugar (12 g/L), the acidity is so high that the wine reads as dry. The palate is fresh, clean and subtle, with a modicum of Riesling character. A good value for a local, traditional method sparkler.
Tasted Nov 25, 2016 • TAWSE WINERY INC. (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation
2015 FANTINEL ONE AND ONLY SINGLE VINEYARD BRUT PROSECCO DOC
Vintages #390617 • $18.95 • 750ml. • 88/100This Prosecco is from Tauriano in Friuli. The wine is very light straw in colour, with aromas suggesting fresh red apples, lemon, honeydew melon, and white peaches. The wine is dry, with brisk acidity, and a lively palate, with the pleasant fruit evolving into a tart finish. Very pretty and attractive.
Tasted Oct 28, 2016 • DU CHASSE WINES & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBO • Share Recommendation