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As Champagne become a more rarified treat, a new generation of sparkling wines take up the slack.
Jansz Premium Cuvee $30If you get a bunch of professional wine people in a group, talk invariably turns to Champagne—they just can’t get enough of the stuff. To be honest, for the longest time I just didn’t get it. I liked it well enough but if I had a spare $250 in my pocket you can bet I’d be hunting for a Bordeaux with some age—a 1er Cru Burgundy or 3 bottles of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir—before I bought one of the very large number of bottles (some estimates go as high as 4,000,000!) that Dom Perignon makes in a vintage year.I’ll admit, though, I’ve started to inch towards the dark side—there is something so magical about an excellent bottle of bubbles and for the most part there are few unwanted surprises when you drop $100+ on a bottle of Champagne. But it’s important to me that bubbles not be a special occasion wine—especially when well-made dry versions are such superb accompaniments to food— so to that end, I’ve been casting about the world for affordable options to the real deal. We’re blessed with great option in the Okanagan, and Cremant from France is superb, but if you told me that Australia would be a reliable source a year ago, I’d have been skeptical. Like many people, I’d lazily categorized Oz as the land of the 15% Shiraz, but the highlighting of the region at the upcoming Vancouver International Wine Festival has had me rediscovering the region and I’ve found some wonderous things. A Nebbiolo for the Adelaide Hills, an Touriga Nacional from Barossa and a Fiano from McLaren Vale were three recent epiphanies.But in terms of ongoing drinking, it’s tough to beat this bottle of bubble from Tasmania: it’s widely available, it’s under $30 and it’s 100% cool climate Pinot Noir grapes stand in very nicely for “real” Champagne that costs three times as much. It starts with a nice citrus wave, but it’s a slightly toasty, nutty finish that brings the class to this bottle. A treat from down down under.
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