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Sparkling Wines at the LCBO?

There was an interesting thread on the Wine Board asking what Champagne people enjoyed for New Years. I would be interested to hear what "sparkling beverage" people in Ontario enjoyed. I keep reading about "farmers fizz" and a variety of decent California sparklers, but they just aren't available in my local. I like sparkling wine - I think it goes well with a range of food that would otherwise be hard to match. That said, I don't have $50 extra to spend on weekend dinners for the real stuff. Has anyone tried an Ontario or California sparkling wine lately that they really liked? Prosecco? Cava? I think Asti is probably too sweet, but I'd still like to hear. It's frustrating reading the Wine Board and then realizing that the LCBO doesn't carry what's being discussed...

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  1. My fave is prosecco, that's what I had a lot of over the holidays. I don't "save" it for special occasions. I always have some on hand for when friends drop by or when my book group meets or just when I feel like having some. I can't remember which one and I'm not at home, La Villa something I think, brown label. Nice and dry and very tasty, especially when well chilled. It's just over $13 at lcbo.

    6 Replies
    1. re: JamieK

      Two that I think are excellent - "Catherine" a sparkling pink champagne-style wine made by Henry of Pelham, and the Cave Spring VQA sparkling Chardonnay Brut. I defy all but the most educated Champagne expert to tell this from a good French Champagne.

      1. re: ekammin

        We had the 'Catherine' and a NV 'real' Champagne (Piper Heidsieck) on New Years Day. All 12 attendees (some virtual non-drinkers) could easily discern the difference!
        And yes, the French was preferred by 11 out of 12 (the 12th being the person who brought the Catherine).

      2. re: JamieK

        Agreed. Prosecco is by far the best cheap sparkling wine. Two years ago, they were all good and differed little , so it didn't matter which one you got. Then they got popular in new, inferior and more expensive ones are showing up. Don't pay more than $14-15 for a bottle.

        1. re: wordsworth

          I disagree with your comment about not paying more than $14-15 a bottle. The Nino Franco is definitely worth the $18-19. Zardetto Prosecco that is only available from the agency is well worth the $19-22 it runs. They have a couple different labels, but the higher-end label is fantastic.

          1. re: futronic

            I agree... the Nino Franco is deelish. I loved the tiny bottles they used to sell.

        2. re: JamieK

          The LCBO has a sale on Nino Franco Prosecco. It is regularly 20.95 and is now 17.45. It is one of the better proseccos around.

        3. Bubbly is everyday drinking chez Rabbitz. I like:

          1. Sigura Viudas Brut, a Spanish cava
          2. Cordoniu, another Spanish Cava
          3. Val D'Oca Prosecco Di Valdobbiandene (Mr. Rabbit has a thing about prosecco being "too sweet," but it's my preferred sparking when I have a whole bottle to myself)

          Any of the aforementioned cost under $15, but for a $25ish upgrade I also like:

          4. Trius by Hillebrand, very respectable bubbles from Ontario

          - we also have great success mixing "champagne" cocktails at home with a hit of cassis or chambord
          - I would love to find an inexpensive pink that's not icky-sweet... any suggestions?

          9 Replies
          1. re: Rabbit

            Rabbit and JamieK - I like your style! I don't save it either...:).

            Thanks for your suggestions - I will hunt down the mentioned wines and try them, with and without cassis or (my favorite) Chambord.

            As to the pink stuff, the cheaper bottles do seem a bit sweet...and the "better" names are even more costly than the white Champagne. But I have been eyeing them myself. I'd love an answer on that one too.

            Anyone else?

            1. re: Rabbit

              I'd definitely second the Segura Viudas Cava and the Cordoniu. Cordoniu makes a decent rose as well that's available at most LCBOs.

              Not sure what your frame of reference is for "expensive", but at around $90, the Laurent-Perrier Rose is a pretty good brut.

              1. re: Rabbit

                I'll second Rabbit on either the Sigura Viudas or Cordoniu.

                I find Cava to be the best value priced bubbles around. We had the Sigura Viudas at Terra for a mere $35 - think of it as a $20 corkage fee.

                1. re: qman

                  Excellent point, qman... sparklers like cava and prosecco are often a total bargain on many wine lists. And they go with everything!

                  1. re: qman

                    Apologies for the bump, and I don't mean to be a pain, but I just wanted to clarify the spelling in case some festive readers want to go after these great recommendations. The LCBO website lists it as Codorniu, not Cordoniu. (It's spelled both ways in this thread, but I don't know what it actually says on the bottle.)

                    However it's spelled, I need to get myself a bottle already!

                    Thanks too for the suggestions on Cafe de Paris and Sigura Viudas. Grabbed a bottle of each for a cheap and cheerful party recently, and found them both very easy (even too easy...) to drink. Definitely reconsidering my practice of saving bubbles for 'special' occasions!

                    1. re: CuriousCat

                      Codorniu is correct... we have a bottle in the fridge right now, and while I'm a bad speller, the bottle is still a delicious bargain. Wish the LCBO would start stocking it in pink too!

                      1. re: Rabbit

                        You've yet to steer me wrong... I'll likely pick up a bottle this week, thanks!

                        1. re: Rabbit

                          Oh, and I noticed the LCBO is carrying a gift pack of Codorniu right now... a bottle each of Reserva Brut and Pinot Noir Brut, sold together for $34.

                    2. re: Rabbit

                      Count me in on the cava bandwagon - my local LCBO seems to carry more cavas than proseccos. The cheap bubbly I keep finding myself going back to is Freixenet. Under $15, dry, fruity, and goes with anything.

                      Rabbit - when I was home (in the States) over Christmas, my dad had something like what you're looking for - a cheap, dry sparkling French rose (I believe his exact words were "pink Frog bubbles"). Unfortunately, I don't think we can get it here...I'm on a hunt for something like it, though, so I'll let you know if I find anything.

                    3. I look to Australia for decent sparklers below $25. Once in awhile they send over some sparkling shiraz, and that's a real treat.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jayt90

                        I've had a Wolf Blass, yellow labled sparkling wine, that was great and I don't normally go for this stuff, not widely available but if you find it, will be under $20

                      2. My favourite beverage! For true Methode Champenoise, my two non-French (and therefore cheaper) choices are the Domaine Carneros Brut and the Catherine Brut Rose (mentioned above). The former is only occasionally available through Vintages, but is fantastic. It runs about $35 and is made in Sonoma, but through partnership with Taittinger, hence the style and quality.

                        For other French sparklers, you might want to explore the "Cremants" (e.g., Cremant d'Alsace, Cremant de Loire). These are non-Champagne regions, so can't be called champagnes, but they are usually excellent. And cheaper than "true" champagnes.

                        For cheaper, everyday drinking, the Aussie and New Zealand sparklings are great value at around $13 - $15. Seaview Brut is a easy drinker.

                        I find proseccos a tad too sweet for my taste, so can't make any recs on those. Happy drinking!

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: TorontoJo

                          prosecco is becoming quite trendy here in Italy, and I must admit that I really enjoy it.
                          A good prosecco can be very dry indeed.
                          I cannot abide sweet wines.
                          I am not sure what is available in T.O. at the moment, and would love to find an extra-dry one when I return.
                          Anyone know if any are available?

                          1. re: erly

                            The Nino Franco is off-dry. I would call up Halpern Wines (you can google their website), give them a call and see if you can order some Zardetto Extra Dry or Zardetto Brut. The Prosecco Z is what I ordered last time and it was really good. You need to order in 6-packs for most wines.

                            1. re: futronic

                              Rogers and Company carries Nino Franco, not Halpern

                              1. re: sloweater

                                Yes, I know that. I was referring to Zardetto's wines.

                        2. First Post...
                          If we are looking at everyday drinking and you are, like me, budget limited AND you like your wines dry, then most Spanish Cavas or French Saumurs provide excellent value for money.

                          1. Billy Munnelly recommends the Lily sparkling wines from Colio Estates. I've been meaning to try it and kept forgetting, but now I'm inspired. Good value at $15.
                            (scroll down til you see 'The Lovely Lily')

                            1. Apparently Rabbit and I share tastes...

                              We also don't save bubbly for a special occasion.

                              I'm not so into sweet, brut all the way, and generally I'm big into Cava's

                              Until recently it has all been about Sigura Viudas Brut

                              But this season I discovered Cordoniu and I'm a convert. I particularily love their pinot noir rose, but the white is lovely too.

                              When I feel like splurging a little bit I indulge in Trius a traditional method wine from Ontario. YUM.

                              1. My wife loves the "Pink" sparkling wine from Australia. Its a rose, and is around $13 a bottle.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Love it Spicy

                                  This recommendation didn't even register with me back in January but I've since had the opportunity to try this "Pink" again --- and again and again -- and it's winner! It's my current go-to sparkler. Lovely dry but fruity taste and looks oh so pinky pretty in a flute.

                                  It's by Australian Yellowglen but go for the Pink not the Yellow (just didn't work flavourwise). Just under $13. With the warm weather coming (really!), this will be great very chilled at BBQs and on patios and the deck.
                                  LCBO #15867

                                  1. re: JamieK

                                    If you like "Pink" you'll probably also like the Jacob's Creek Sparkling Rose available now as a "Seasonal" item.

                                    JACOB'S CREEK SPARKLING ROSE
                                    LCBO 92668

                                2. I love prosecco with Eggs Benedict. Don't think I'd pair it with dinner though.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. Not Ontario or Californian, but in our champers-loving home we love Cafe de Paris as our sparkling wine of choice. Made in France by Pernod and available at most of the larger LCBOs. La Grande Dame this 'aint, but you can't beat the price - $10.90.

                                    My Canadian choice is Jackson-Triggs Methode C.C., but will 'upgrade' to Hillibrand Trius if I feel like spending more $.

                                    1. This year for New Year's we went with the Henry of Pelham "Cuvée Catharine Brut" which I thought was very nice, but maybe not stellar. Last year we had a French "Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray Brut" which at only $20 was an amazing value and was excellent. I'm not sure if it's still available at the LCBO. Looking for non-Champagne French sparkling wines can be a good strategy.

                                      1. Codorniu, Cafe de Paris, Sigura, and the driest Freixenet are all both good tasting and cheap. Cuvee Catharine from Henry of Pelham is very nice. I've also had good Ontario sparklers from Trius, Cave Spring, and Konzelmann, though not recently. I've enjoyed a few Aussie labels also, but have blanked on the brands.

                                        Call me plebeian, but I can't see the value in most Champagnes vs. these bottles. Perhaps Dom is an exception. I find most proseccos too sweet, and I gag on Asti or Helkell.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: embee

                                          A friend is one of the top amateur wine makers in the country, regularly winning medals for his fine wines. He and the local club do blind tastings of commercial wines, and look at methode champenoise at times which of course include a few ringers like Dom or Mumms. Often the Sigura Viudas Brut takes top honours.


                                          1. re: dooGle

                                            Whoohoo - I have a bottle of that in the fridge right now. I walked to the Summerhill LCBO on Friday and I admit that the sparkling wine section was quite picked over and many slots were empty. That said, I brought home a Cafe de Paris (couldn't resist that $10.90 price tag) and a Sigura Viudas Brut. I drank the CdP last night (the husband wasn't feeling well, so I ummm...drank it myself) and, whereas it's not comparable to the real thing, it was quite passable. The bubble stream didn't last long, but for the price, well...buy two...or three...:). I look forward to trying the Cava....and picking up the Codorniu, Catherine, and even perhaps the Seaview. My local doesn't have near the selection, but now that I have realized how short a walk it is to the Summerhill location I might have to get more experimental.


                                            1. re: morrigan

                                              I agree - the Segura Viudas is probably the most consistent around at that price point.
                                              Now sold out (at Summerhill) was a Codorniu Pinot Noir Rose (at around $15) that I thought was worth the extra $3. It comes in irregularly at Vintages - bought my most recent 3 bottles at Bloor West Village.

                                        2. I like the prosecco Vino dei Poetti. Pretty bottle too, so it's good for gifts. Cafe de Paris is a very good and economical option (can one have a "house bubbly"? I think so!) but I'm having trouble finding it in LCBOs lately. Does anyone know of a reliable (east Toronto) source? Used to be able to get it at the Kennedy Commons branch but no longer.

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: voracious

                                            Is that the black bottle with the silver teardrop? Yes, I like it too, though it's a touch sweet. Better for drinking alone than with food...but tasty and economical.

                                            Okay - as to tracking things at the LCBO, they have inventory online. Go to products and either type in "cafe de paris" or, if it's something less specific, go to their advanced search. When you find what you want, click on it - to the right of the box that appears (beside tasting notes and price), there is a "find stores" window. Click and scroll down to "scarborough" for example, then click on find stores.

                                            According to that, the Cafe de Paris is available at:

                                            1. TORONTO-SCARBOROUGH 2356 KENNEDY ROAD
                                            KENNEDY & SHEPPARD (AGINCOURT MALL) (416)
                                            291-5304 Jan 6, 2008 16 bottles
                                            2. TORONTO-SCARBOROUGH 5 ELLESMERE ROAD
                                            ELLESMERE & VICTORIA PARK (PARKWAY MALL) (416)
                                            447-1941 Jan 6, 2008 14 bottles
                                            3. TORONTO-SCARBOROUGH 785 MILNER AVENUE
                                            MORNINGSIDE & 401 (416)
                                            284-5544 Jan 6, 2008 14 bottles.

                                            As to the Cordoniu Pinot Noir Rose mentioned by estufarian above, it's available only at Leaside...which, sadly, is too far for me without a car...but perhaps someone else can use the suggestion...

                                            1. TORONTO-CENTRAL 147 LAIRD AVENUE
                                            LAIRD & EGLINTON (LEASIDE) (416)
                                            425-6282 Jan 6, 2008 8 bottles

                                            (I love this function of the LCBOs website - my local store is under construction, so knowing what they have before heading over is great...)

                                            1. re: morrigan

                                              Did you know that if you see something online from an out of town store more often that not, if you ask your local store they will have it shipped over for you. We've done this many times for vintage stuff when we want a couple of bottles of something that is unavailable here in the GTA. Excellent service!!

                                              1. re: millygirl

                                                Really? No I didn't...I was told that you could only do that outside of the GTA and Ottawa...but you have had it done? I should ask at my local...which is the Manulife Centre. It's usually quite well stocked, but half of it is empty and being drywalled. They are expanding, which is great, but it does mean that they come up a little short in the inventory department right now...

                                                I might just walk over and ask - the Cordoniu Rose sounds interesting...and you can't get the sparkling Shiraz here either...though I think they might still have some up at Summerhill...

                                                1. re: morrigan

                                                  Yes, I've arranged transfers several times. There's a time limit (IIRC you have to wait 2 weeks after a Vintages release, but after that no problem).
                                                  And I couldn't find the Codorniu at Laird - actually tried that before Bloor West - the people there were not particularly helpful - before New Year they insisted the 8 bottles had sold out since the last inventory update. At that time Bloor West had 240 bottles and I was visiting Cheese Boutique anyway, so bought it at that Bloor/Royal York store (still showing 80 bottles). Price $16.85.

                                                  1. re: estufarian

                                                    Ah - I only allowed it to search for Toronto - Central stores... But that's a better bet. I will wander in today and see if I can get them to transfer a single bottle...:). The Bloor and Royal York store is great. I used to live near the Runnymede location and we would subway out to Royal York anyway. Their Green Mango is better too... (And Merlot is a nice place too)

                                                    1. re: morrigan

                                                      Nino Franco Prosecco di Valdobbiadene is about as good as it gets for Prosecco that is available on LCBO shelves (there are others, but they're only available from agencies in case lot orders).

                                                      It was released again on April 26th for $19, and usually comes out a few times a year. Fantastic stuff, although it's too bad the price has creeped up a couple dollars over the past couple years.

                                                      1. re: futronic

                                                        We really like the Cremants. In particular, we just had one from Limoux, a Sieur d'Arques which was lovely. Unfortunately, LCBO is sold out or I'd grab a few more. Very good value, at approx $16 a bottle.

                                                        1. re: millygirl

                                                          Agree with comments above on Nino Franco, Codorniu, Sigura Viudas. The Jackson-Triggs Proprietor's Grand Reserve sparkler is generally reliable--in good years (e.g., 1999) it is awesome and even age-worthy.

                                                          Champagne-wise, the Piper-Heidseck NV is nice [though nothing spectacular] and often a good value at Duty Free in Europe (like 35 Euros for two bottles at FRA and AMS). The normal cuvee of Drappier is sometimes cheaper but it is a little....bland. The best cheapie one at the LCBO is the Lansen Black Label, which is about $45 and is generally always available at Vintages because it is part of the Essentials collection. For pink Champagne my stand-by is Nicholas Feuillatte NV--released on and off at Vintages but very widely available in the US at about $40 US.

                                          2. I think my wife and I have tried nearly all the sparkling's you guys suggested at LCBO (Nino Franco, all those Prosecco's, Seguras, Codorniu, Cafe de Paris and other cheap french sparklers, Crémant de everywhere, etc). I must've opened one every 2 weeks or so, and in the end we fell in love with the Crémants. Mind you, the Crémants themselves seem to vary from region to region, and some we preferred over others (Limoux was very nice). Can't wait to stock up again for the New Year's Eve party!

                                            1. The wines that Moet and Chandon are making out of Australia are a good bargain. They are similar to Champagne but can get as low as $25 a bottle. There is a 100% pinot that is sold at the LCBO for a around 30.

                                              1. For Christmas morning, we get Seaview Bruit, a dry sparkler, and have it with Orange Juice. I think it is around 10 a bottle.

                                                1. Seaview from Australia also does a really decent sparkling shiraz, my fave sparkler of them all. someone mentioned the shiraz, but Seaview seems to be the only consistent brand available for the shiraz. But I've seen others on lucky days.

                                                  Am drooling over this right now, esp. since I can't have any for a while--the drawbacks of pregnancy!