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As in Champagne (of course).
I was a relatively late convert to the pricey draw of Champagne. As a novice drinker, I was enticed by its allure. But as I learned a bit more, I began to posit that if you gave me $80 I could source a more compelling red or white table wine. Then, as I continued to learn, I was sucked back into the draw of Champagne, this time thanks to its deft use of acidity and almost unparalleled ability to match with almost every type of food.
And that’s where I exist todayI adore Champagne. I love the $73 bottle of Veuve Cliquot, I am gaga over the $68 bottle of Pierre Paillard, and don’t even get me started on the nonpareil of Dom at a cool $260. If I had the funds I’d drink them weekly.
I don’t. But I’m here to let you in on a little secreton a quality/price ration B.C.’s sparkling wine can stand toe-to-toe with the best in the world. I’m not even kidding. And I propose a fun (but expensive test): choose one of the below three under $40 bottles and taste them blind paired next to your fave entry level Champagne like the $73 Pol Roger and tell me I’m crazy.
When I was thinking of this article, this was the bottle that was front and centre in my mind. When Senator Fitzpatrick and family sold CedarCreek to Anthony von Mandl he did so with the idea of creating a new winery that would master the potential of B.C. sparkling wine, and they’ve wildly succeeded. This flagship bottle has everything: it’s made in the classic method of Champagne (once called methode Champenoise, now method traditionalle thanks to diligent French trademark attorneys); it’s made from the classic Champagne grapes of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and a bit of Pinot Meunier; it’s aged at least 24 months to bring out some complexity to the obvious freshness; it’s widely available at BC Liquor Stores… and it’s $35.
If Fitzpatrick Family Winery is the paradigm for this category, then the new(ish) sparkling program from Township 7 is the most pleasant surprise. Not that I don’t have love for the winery, but just that making sparkling wine well is a challenge, and when you’re also making a full slate of red and white still wine, you will have a lot on you plate. But bubbles are a passion with winemaker Mary McDermott and it shows in their sparkling slate of wines. I’m choosing the Polaris because it’s what the Champenoise call a blanc de blancs a wine made from 100% Chardonnay. The result, in Champagnes like Pierre Peters Blanc de Blanc and here is pureness and elegance of minerality, apple skin, lemon peel. A winner.
I think it’s safe to say that the bubbly trails blazed by this legendary wine made it safe for the above two wines (and most of the other BC sparklers) to thrive. That this OG of bubbles is under $28 is just beyond the pale crazy (in the best sense for a consumer) but the Mavety Family has a long tradition of serious underpricing. The only wrinkle a Champagne purist might have is the teeny tiny amount of Pinot Gris (4%) in here. But if you’re that didactic (try not to be), I encourage you to explore some of their other sparkling wine like the Pinot/Chardonnay 2016 Brut Rosé, or the off-the-charts 2012 Blanc de Blancs, which is the greatest under-$50 steal in the valley.
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