Taste Test: B.C.’s Best Sparkling Wine

We popped bottles to find the best bubbly in town.

We popped bottles to find the best bubbly in town.

We can’t technically call them “Champagne,” but the sparkling wines produced by our local vintners are craftily creeping up on their French counterparts. Here’s what happened when we asked two local wine experts and one VanMag reader to find B.C.’s best bubbly.

Best in Show

Summerhill Cipes Brut NV

Our judges weren’t sure what to think of this one at first (“It tastes kind of funky, doesn’t it?” asked Green), but the more they drank, the more they loved this riesling, chardonnay and pinot blanc blend. “It’s got character,” said Hertscheg, noting it would be best enjoyed “when you’ve had quite a day and need something to chew on.” $30, 4870 Chute Lake Rd., Kelowna, summerhill.bc.ca

Honourable Mention

JoieFarm Quotidien Brut 2016

With hints of orchard fruits (apple, peach, pear) and citrus, this wine’s “clean, bright” Okanagan Valley flavour impressed all of our judges. “If I came with a preconceived notion of what a B.C. bubble would taste like, this would be it,” said Taylor. “The nose, the palate—it tastes like B.C.” $25, 2825 Naramata Rd., Naramata, joiefarm.com

Haywire The Bub 2015

Its pale copper colour, its “gorgeous” nose, its mild complexity—our taste testers liked everything about this offering from Okanagan Crush Pad. “It’s lovely,” said one judge, “very crushable.” And they all agreed that it’s “really brunch friendly.” $30, 16576 Fosbery Rd., Summerland, okanagancrushpad.com

Fitzpatrick Fitz Brut 2014

Our panel didn’t have anything negative to say about Fitzpatrick’s signature cuvée, but they didn’t have a ton of praise for it, either (“There are no fireworks,” said one). If you’re looking for a “simple” bottle of bubbly to start a meal with, though, this is the best choice. $33, 697 Highway 97 S, Peachland, fitzwine.com

Unsworth Vineyards Charme de l’Île

This unique Vancouver Island blend (pinot gris, pinot noir, sauvignette) is “interesting,” but the judges would have preferred for it to have more time in the bottle. It’s “youthful” with a medium, too-dry finish. “The more I go back to it, the less I like it,” said one. $25, 2915 Cameron Taggart Rd., Mill Bay, unsworthvineyards.com

Meet the Judges

Harry Hertscheg is the executive director of the Vancouver International Wine Festival; rather than focusing strictly on flavour, he judged the day’s offerings based on emotion and “the goose-pimple factor.”

Shane Taylor, wine director at CinCin, dropped all sorts of Champagne jargon (mousse, nose, Charmat) during the tasting, but it’s crushability that he’s really after.

Catherine Green is our Instagram contest winner! She normally saves sparkling wine for special occasions, but lucky for us, she made an exception for our Thursday morning tasting.