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Jan 4, 2008 06:02 AM

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.