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  • Tom Firth

Making the Case in December: A Toast!

It always seems like we have high hopes for the year ahead, and the last few years have been rougher than most would have expected. Our lives in many ways have been upended, our lives might still be far from the norm, and many of our friends and neighbours might be out of work, their businesses might be struggling, and others might be missing spending as much time with friends and family as they would have liked.


We might not feel much like toasting with a glass of bubbly, but I think this is the perfect time to do it – even virtually, but the very act of raising a glass and sharing a moment with someone that matters, is a pretty powerful thing.


This month, I’ve chosen a number of sparkling wines (plus a few ports for the sweet tooth crowd) from around the world, that above all else, are exceptionally well-priced yet still tasty, that I sincerely hope that you get to enjoy with someone special.

Farewell to 2021, and all the best in the year ahead!


Find these wines by searching the CSPC code at Liquorconnect.com; your local liquor store can also use this code to order it for you. Prices are approximate.


 


Biutiful Cava NV Rosé Brut, Catalonia, Spain

Made from grenache grapes, this perfect little Spanish sparkler was also a Judges Selection at the 2021 Alberta Beverage Awards, and it is very easy to see why. Fresh strawberry fruit and a decidedly smashed blackberry character along with a smooth, rich finish – this hits the spot. A fine match with salty appetizers or light seafood dishes.

CSPC +799777 $19-22



 

Croft Pink Port, Douro Portugal

A lighter expression of port wine than most might be expecting with a little more berry fruit, in a bit more of a summery expression. Mild, brambly character show up along with softer, chocolate notes, in a very quaffable port. Try matching with milder cheese, nuts or cured meats. Think a fine charcuterie board, or just some snacks by the fire….

CSPC +785898 $18-21


 

Undurraga NV Rosé Royal, Leyda, Chile

The Best in Class for our Sparkling Rosé category at the 2021 Alberta Beverage Awards, is a super pale pink in the glass, and the aromas too are a little closed at first. Gentle berry fruits with a touch of rock candy and mineral on the nose become plump summer berry on the palate with a creamy mousse and some fantastic complexity on the finish.

CSPC +836096 $23-26




 

Cune NV Rosé Cava Brut, Penedes, Spain

Built around grenache with pinot noir, this pretty little number is bringing orange zest and plum fruits to the party, with a rich, creamy mousse, the berry fruits lead the palate and move into a tight, crisp finish that shows some serious curves and style. While I enjoy sparkling wines just on their own, this would be a fine evening indeed with seafood appies, or even creamy cheeses.

CSPC 844655 $19-21


 

Anna de Codorniu Brut Rosé Cava, Spain

Another judges selection from the 2021 Alberta Beverage Awards, this one made of mostly pinot noir with about 30 percent chardonnay, this is a bottle that over delivers at a very good price. A light, coppery pink in the glass strawberry fruits with a bit of blueberry and a little brioche bready character. On the palate, fresh and clean with a nice finish for a quiet afternoon, or boisterous evening.

CSPC +760243 $17-22


 

Graham’s 2015 Late Bottled Vintage Port, Douro, Portugal

Late Bottled Vintage Ports were the answer when consumers weren’t quite willing to age port before drinking. These LBV ports spend a few extra years in the barrel, softening and opening up, and are filtered, bottled, and released ready to enjoy. Deep and unctuous on the palate with herb and dense berry flavours, rather silky tannins, and balanced sweetness. Perfect for that charcuterie board.

CSPC +191239 $25-27

 

Dunes & Greene NV Chardonnay Pinot Noir, South Australia

This is good to have on hand, a well-priced sparkling wine to prove that one doesn’t need a special occasion to enjoy a glass of bubbly. Tart fruits with a strong, citrus presence on the nose and palate, it’s also rife with deep mineral and a tart, almost bitter finish. The sort of sparkling wine that is perfectly enjoyable for a toast, but just as at home as a complement to buttered popcorn and a guilty pleasure movie.

CSPC +776485 About $19-23




 

Segura Viudas NV Brut Reserva Cava, Spain

One of the best-known cava producers for Albertans, Segura Viudas was also one of the best-marketed wines for a long time with ground-breaking packaging. Cava of course is the Spanish version of sparkling wine, and the Reserva here is chockablock with green apple and melon fruits, limestone minerality and big, juicy citrus on the palate. A clean and refreshing sparkling wine – what else do you need?

CSPC +746962 $17-20


 

Tantalus 2018 Blanc de Noir, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

It’s not a very well kept secret, but a blanc de noir sparkling wine is a white wine made from red grapes, in this case, pinot noir. Pinot noir, traditionally in Champagne adds a little fruit, but also elegance to the wine. Here, the wine is barest pink in the glass, with mild blueberry, cider apple, and vanillin aromas, but a fine toastiness and salinity. Stunning and delicious, with a smooth mousse and clean citrus fruits.

CSPC +784083 $45-50


 

Fiol NV Prosecco, Italy

A lean and vibrant prosecco completely at peace with it’s lifted citrus and tropical fruit flavours, but what really sets this wine apart is the bright acidity and clean, almost steely mineral notes towards the finish. It’s the right sort of everyday sparkling wine for enjoying over dinner (think cream sauces or grilled poultry), but just as at home with popcorn and a movie. A Judges Selection at the 2021 Alberta Beverage Awards.

CSPC +812819 $17-22

 

Mionetto NV Brut Prosecco, Treviso, Italy

Justifiably, prosecco took the wine-drinking world by storm several years ago. Sure, many sparkling wine aficionados had already discovered it, or moved on, but for the “everyday” enthusiast, the combination of accessibility and value was pretty remarkable. Generous apple-style fruits with a touch of peach and plum while in the mouth, it’s all about those apples and a good frothy mousse, and a lingering finish. A heck of a buy.

CSPC +86256 $17-19




 

JP Chenet Alcohol Free Sparkling Pinot Noir, France

Whatever the reasons are for abstaining from alcohol doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Claiming zero percent alcohol by volume, it shows off the grape’s flavours well with plenty of berry notes, a touch of spice and a mildly jammy, but not sweet palate. A surprisingly well balanced sparkling wine alternative, that’s a touch more grown up than sparkling apple juice - I’d have no problems drinking this instead of soda in the afternoon.

CSPC +849643 $15-17

 

Freixenet Prosecco Brut, Italy

Freixenet (sounds like Fresh-en-eh) makes sense to expand from Spanish Cava production - remember their “Cordon Negro” with the frosted black bottle? Now they also make prosecco in Italy, and there is nothing wrong with knowing how to make solid sparkling wines at a great price. White peach fruit along with a yellow apple and slightly tropical styling, head into a very easy to manage palate with soft fruits and a long, creamy/buttery finish.

CSPC +819670 $26-28