Wines to bubble over with

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Sparkling wines are made in many regions of the world, but real Champagne comes only from the most northerly wine region of France, about 200 kilometres northeast of Paris. It’s produced from three grape varieties—two reds (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) and one white (Chardonnay). Periodically, someone will fashion a sparkling wine from just one of the three, most often Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.

Case in point…

Bella Wines Oliver West Side Sparkling Chardonnay 2012 ($23.90, specialty listing)

It’s described by the winemakers as “an honest expression of the single vineyards we source from” and is a new and very impressive wine—100 percent Chardonnay from Secrest Mountain Vineyards in Oliver, a unique microclimate in the south Okanagan. This is a stunning sparkling Chardonnay, one of the best to be made in B.C., well worth the reasonable price, and well worth seeking out; the agency is Icon Fine Wine & Spirits. Great for a special occasion or just if you love good sparkling wine. You won’t be disappointed, especially not for the price.

Ex nihilo is Latin for “out of nothing” and is the name of a boutique winery in the Okanagan. It’s an unusual name for a brand that burst onto the scene with its Sympathy for the Devil icewine, which came about through a partnership with the Rolling Stones. As John Schreiner said at the time: “Seldom has a new B.C. winery opened with such great publicity.” Bottles are still lingering in collectors’ cellars. Here’s a new white vintage…

ex Nihilo Pinot Gris 2012 ($23, specialty listing)

According to a company brochure, “the 2012 growing season started off cool and wet, but a late-bud break ensured grapes were off to a good start. Excellent weather conditions in August and September allowed the grapes to achieve optimal ripeness and a higher yield than previous vintages.” The 2012 Pinot Gris was fermented in stainless-steel tanks. The result is a luscious wine, juicy and crisp, offering a mix of pineapple, citrus, mango, and passion-fruit flavours. It goes well with pork, chicken, and fresh cheese.

The Seeker Red Blend 2012 ($16.99, specialty listing)

More and more blends are showing up on our store shelves; here’s a new one from Argentina. Good-value, everyday table and lunch wine with a cool label and some smoky cherry aromas, as well as deep and rich flavours. Lovely and round, with just the right amount of tannins. If you were my age, Lowney’s Cherry Blossom would come to mind. Slightly tart and perfect with hearty stews, big sandwiches, oily or smoked fish and other heavy meats, Cajun cookery, or even Costco’s barbecued chicken (a bargain at $7.99).

Luccarelli Negroamaro 2012 ($14.99, specialty listing)

An uncommon grape from “the heel of Italy” that’s not so well known in our market, Negroamaro has a combination of sweetness and darkness, as the name implies, which suggests it would go with anything from chocolate and stewed plums to roasts and ribs. An exciting and unusual wine with a unique and different edge. Roast eggplant works well with it, and so does anything spicy. A delicious, hearty red that’s been absent from our shelves for too long. Time to discover it for dinner this week. Excellent value too, well worth the quest.

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