Many of you probably started the year with a glass of bubbly… many even went as far as to blow the usual budget on wine and opted for a French Champagne. As for myself, I opened a bottle of Louis Roederer Brut Premier ($68.95 – #268771). It is everything you want in a bottle of Champagne: almond biscotti notes, crusty bread, and even some flaky pastry thrown in for god measure – I know it sounds like you should be able to bite right into it, but I assure you it is a drink – the combination of the yeast, secondary fermentation in the bottle and time create an almost “bakery sensation” in the glass.
What really surprised me was what my wife had to say. I figured the addition of Champagne to the New Year’s Eve menu would impress her (what woman has ever said “no” to a glass of bubbly?), but it was her reaction to her first few sips that surprised me: “It’s not much different from what we’ve had recently.” This caused me to think back a few weeks (we make it a policy to celebrate at least one weekend a month with a bottle of bubbles) to the bottle we most recently had: Cave Spring Blanc de Blancs Brut ($29.95 – #213983)… a bottle that prompted me to rush out and pick up six of my own upon trying it.
It was at an Ontario sparkling wine luncheon where 18 Ontario bubblies were poured – this one stood out as the most Champagne-like of the bunch. Winemaker Angelo Pavan, who was in attendance at the event, explained that 2008 (on which this wine is based, although it has no vintage date) was a banner year for Ontario sparkling wines: it was the growing season he would take 10 times out of 10 if all he was making was sparkling wine. Pavan’s exact quote was: “I’ll take a vintage like 2008 for making sparkling every time”.
If you’re a fan of bubbles but not of Champagne prices, enjoy the flavours of Champagne, but don’t want to shell out that kind of dough too often, the Cave Spring Blanc de Blancs Brut is the closest thing you’re going to find for half the price. On the other hand, if you want to put Champagne on the table, the Louis Roederer is a great choice, but based on the value, I have to give the nod to the Cave Spring Brut.
Louis Roederer Brut Premier – $68.95, #268771
(Rating: ****+ = Very Good Plus)
Cave Spring Blanc de Blancs – $29.95, #213983
(Rating: **** ½+ = Excellent Plus)