Even cooler Cali pinot
Terrific deluxe meritage from Two Sisters
A cool California chardonnay
Pinot grigio beats chardonnay!
Frame-up: The Beer Store, beer tax and beer prices


Bubbles Roundup

The Champagne marketing association says about 40% of all champagne is sold in the month of December. This is probably broadly true for other sparklers as well: it remains a drink of parties and special celebrations. So here are a few champagnes - and their cheaper alternatives - currently on the shelves.

Get poppin' those corks!


Hungaria Grand Cuvee Brut
Light and fruity nose with candied peach and a flowery note initially, but then a turn to mineral notes over honey. It’s nicely dry and fresh on the palate, which is a little round but with enough fizz. There are also some biscuit notes and even a little nuttiness. Acidity is moderate, the mousse gentle, and the feel is clean and fresh. Great value. LCBO 217539 | $11.95



Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut Sparkling Wine
A consistent performer among California sparklers, Gloria Ferrer has a bready, yeasty notes under fresh citrus. The mousse is elegantly light and there are more citrus notes and some toast. Nicely dry and fresh, and a good price too. Vintages 192898 | $21.95




13th Street Cuvee 13 Brut Rose
13th Street Winery shines when it comes to sparkling and continues to put out some of Niagara's better bubbly. Nice lighter pink colour on this rose. Fairly lively nose with notes of red berry fruit followed by good mousse on the palate, which has good acidity and a fresh finish. Vintages 147504 | $24.95



Angel's Gate Archangel Pinot Noir Rose
Great salmon-pink colour and a very fresh nose with light red berry fruit and a bit of a herbal note. Fresh and dry on the palate, which is crisp, citrussy and lighter bodied. Vintages 203034 | $25



Roederer Estate Brut Sparkling
This is from the Cali outpost of champagne producers Roederer - swanky Cristal is one of theirs - so the pedigree is good. Rich and yeasty nose on the darker side, with ripe apple fruit notes. Fuller bodied and also darker on the palate, which has more ripe apple balanced with some crisper citrus note and good acidity. Like so many other California wines, this is "bigger". Vintages 294181 | $28.95


Ayala Brut Majeur Champagne
From a town with surely the shortest name in the world - Ay - this champagne is rich and creamy on the nose with yeasty notes under citrus and anise. Then it's super dry and fresh on the palate, which has very tiny bubbles. Lemon fruit dominates and there is a nice mineral note too. Vintages 4143 | $49.95



Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne
Creamy and toasty nose with yeast notes and apple fruit. Delicate mousse on the palate, which is dry but with a touch of honeyed sweetness as well as a bit of a mineral note. Lovely long finish. Vintages 36962 | $54.95


Laurent Perrier Brut Champagne 2002
Here's a chance to go "vintage" at a relatively reasonable price. Rich and bold nose with anise, white fruit and some darker notes too. Smooth and delicated on the palate, which is also creamy and layered - lemon, toast and an earthy hint followed by an incredibly long finish. Vintages 983874 | $74.95


And a couple of others...

Georges Gardet Brut Cuvee Saint Flavy Champagne
This champagne delivers solid quality at a price that's not bad for the real thing. Generally lighter feel with a lemony nose with some apple fruit, anise and a hint of mineral. This carries through onto the palate, which is dry and fresh, with more lemon and mineral notes and a nice clean finish. Vintages 924654 | $39.95

Godme Pere et Fils Brut Reserve Champagne
Cash in on the "grower champagne" phenomenon with this rich and darker number. Grower champagne is the product of a single vineyard, sometimes from a single vintage. The risk is that with a bad year or two, the grower is stuck with less than great grapes. Anyway, this one’s fine: yeasty, nutty and spicy notes, including some nutmeg on the nose. Smooth and fairly rich on the palate, which has citrus. Gentle mousse and a creamy quality and great crisp acidity. Good complexity and fresh finish. Vintages 243881 |$51.95





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