Stony and mineral-driven, with bready, biscuity aromas. The creamy mousse is like sea foam – beautiful tiny bubbles. The autolytic notes continue on the palate, with lemon-lime and green apple flavours. Classic traditional method bubbly that would make the perfect partner to takeout Chinese food, a celebration with that special person in your life or served well chilled on the patio.
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are commonly blended together to produce sparkling wines around the world. The best cuvées are typically made in the traditional méthode champenoise. Wines made in this style can be crisp and fresh-tasting in some examples, steely and mineral-driven in others, or have characteristics of bread, toast and butter. Some of the best wines will have elements of each of these and be rich, integrated and ageworthy. Grapes used in sparkling wines are picked earlier than those used in still wines to maximize acidity. The style is therefore suited to cool-climate viticulture. Chardonnay provides the palate weight and aromatics, Pinot Noir gives the elegance. Pinot Meunier contributes structure and mouthfeel.
The Finger Lakes region of New York State is an exciting, emerging area for cool climate wines of freshness and elegance. Despite its relative anonymity, it is a region that has been around for some time. Less than a 5 hour drive from both Toronto and New York City, this bucolic area is now home to over 160 wineries. Grapes here range from the obscure (Rkatsiteli) to the familiar (Riesling) and plenty in between. Regardless of the variety, the wines all exhibit Old World freshness, bright flavours and elegant structures that are perfect accompaniments to a wide variety of foods and festivities. The sparklers from New York are garnering critical acclaim and offer a glimpse of what this cool-climate region can offer.
The Keuka Lake Estate Vineyards are planted in mineral-rich slate. The protective bubble of Keuka Lake moderates temperatures, particularly in the cool evenings. Starting close to sea level, the vines are densely planted (for added stress) on a gentle climbing slope.
Hand-harvested grapes were whole-cluster pressed, with care taken to ensure the grapes stayed cool and unclean fermentation odours didn’t develop. The still wines were then bottled from steel tanks, a pinch of sugar was added and secondary fermentation under crown cap was allowed to take place. After a couple of years on its lees, with regular riddling, the wine was disgorged, a touch of dosage added, then further bottle aging to harmonize all the flavours before release.
Kostantin Frank arrived in New York from Ukraine in 1951. A PhD holder in viticulture and doctor of plant sciences, Frank was the first to experioment with vitis vinifera in the state, where plantings had been confined to vitis labrusca and Concord varieties. Situated at the heart of the Finger Lakes region, on the south-western hills surrounding Keuka Lake, the winery has a collection of old vine plantings that few others in North America can rival. The work is done in the vineyard, with a very deft touch by the winery, focusing on food-worthy, lively wines of elegance and depth, wines that keep the palate fresh, inviting another sip. Grapes are sourced primarily from the original estate Keuka Lake vineyards, where shale soils provide minerality and acidity, but also from Seneca Lake vineyards, which are warmer, imparting more weight and up-front fruit.