5 under $30 bubblies that will make you feel like a movie star
By Erin Henderson
Champagne tastes with a beer budget. Oh, was there ever a crueller fate?
Don’t despair star-gazers and socialites: just because you don’t have the funds of the beautiful people strutting their stuff all over Toronto right now doesn’t mean you can’t look like you do.
Of course, with TIFF in town, next to movies and scandalous gossip, the talk of Toronto is Champagne — and plenty of it. Even the cheapest stuff rings in at $50 a bottle. But we have a few sparkling hacks to get you through the next 10 days flawlessly and fashionably fabulous.
Don’t forget, dahlings, true Champagne is a style — and who knows style better than you? It means grape juice was fermented into still wine, bottled, and then fermented a second time to get the bubbles (we’ll have a master class on that a little later, but right now you’ve got a movie to catch).
It’s not hard to find reasonable facsimiles to true Champagne — for a more than reasonable price. Almost every wine growing region in the world makes a sparkler the same way Champagne makes their bubbles. Just look for “Traditional Method” (sometimes in another language) on the label.
Or you can just take our word for it and grab these delicious bubblies so you can get back to the business of being your sensational self.
Flat Rock Cellars “Riddled” Sparkling, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula 2010
$29.95 Vintages 383315
A 100% Chardonnay made in the traditional method and aged at least 5 years on its lees (the yeasts and sediment left in the bottle after fermentation), which gives a toasty, bread note. There’s also bright lemon and green apple along with an undercurrent of mineral.
Pair with: Raw oysters.
Ferrari Trento Brut Sparkling, Alto Adige, Italy NV
$24.95 Vintages 352153
Brut means dry in sparkling wine terms, and this “metodo classico” bubbly is a solid example of a fresh and crisp fizz. Citrus, pastry, golden apple and a hint of anise flavours all come through on the lively palate.
Pair with: Mushroom risotto.
Château des Charmes Rosé Sparkling, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Peninsula 2014
$29.95 Vintages 78055
Rosé is definitely having a moment — lucky us — and rosé bubbly ranks, for me, among the best things the world has to offer. A blend of classic Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (where the delicate pink colour comes from). Look for pretty notes of red raspberry, cherry and rose water.
Pair with: Prosciutto and burrata.
Bailly-Lapierre Pinot Noir Brut Crémant de Bourgogne, Burgundy, France NV
$23.95 Vintages 420984
Here’s a secret for you: Crémant simply refers to sparkling wines that are made in the style of Champagne but aren’t made in Champagne. They come from other regions of France. These sparkling wines are often a spitting image for the “real deal” but a pittance of the price. The wine laws aren’t as strict for these bubblies, so different grapes can make it into the blend depending on where it’s produced. But it’s in Burgundy — where the main grapes are the same as the main grapes of Champagne — is where you really find some delicious gems. May I present Exhibit A: Here is a “Blanc de Noir” (white wine made from red grapes) that is classy and poised with rich character and notes of stone fruit and mineral.
Pair with: Popcorn drizzled in truffle oil.
Graham Beck Brut Rosé, Western Cape, South Africa
$19.95 Vintages 175588
I am a huge fan of South African fizz. Not only is it bloody delicious but the value borders on obscene. Graham Beck is a leader in fine, quality bubbles for a steal of a deal. Flavourful and rich with inviting flavours of red berry, tangerine and melon, finishing with crisp, mouthwatering freshness.
Pair with: Spicy california rolls.