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British wine writer treated to world’s largest tasting of Canadian sparkling wines at Brock

Ontario sparkling wine
More than 130 bottles of sparkling wines from across Canada were part of a tasting at Brock University’s CCOVI.

More than 130 bottles of sparkling wine from four provinces were popped for a British wine writer at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute last Thursday, in what was described by CCOVI as the world’s largest tasting of Canadian sparkling wine.

The historic tasting was at the pleasure of British wine writer Tom Stevenson, regarded as one of the world’s leading sparkling wine experts, who simply asked CCOVI if they could set up the tasting for him and the only other person he wanted at the tasting — B.C. wine writer Treve Ring.

Stevenson travelled to Brock from Britain and Ring from B.C. at their own expense to taste sparkling wines from Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Nova Scotia.

“I am really pleased because there are a lot of really good sparkling wines here,” said Stevenson. “After the first flight I found a few potential gold and silver wines.”

Later, he posted these comments on his Twitter account @mrtomfizz

“A brilliant tasting, thanks. Some minor criticisms, but out of 135 wines, I found 20 that might win Silver medals and seven potential Gold’s. That’s damn impressive! Good on you Canada. Thank you for the record-breaking cooperation. @CSWWC18 @BKPinot @CCOVIBrockU @treve_ring”

“Many other very good wines, but my best of the best were @GrayMonkWinery Odyssey White 2016, @Township7 Seven Stars 2015, @lwwines 2015, @hinterlandwine BdB 2014, @Jackson_Triggs Entourage 2015, @TriusWines BdB NV (2011-12-13) and @TwoSisters_wine Franc Blanc 2016!”

Stevenson has been tasting top sparkling wines blind in the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships (CSWWC), which he founded and is the head judge for. He said Canada is a strong contender and hopes some of the producers he earmarked will be encouraged to participate in the global competition.

Canadian sparkling wine
Tom Stevenson, right, and Treve Ring, left, visited CCOVI this week for the world’s largest Canadian Sparkling wine tasting with CCOVI Senior Scientist Belinda Kemp, centre.

“It would increase the profile of Canadian sparkling wine. We haven’t typically had many entries from Canada in the past to really see what these producers have available from a competition perspective,” Stevenson said.

The tasting was organized and hosted by CCOVI senior scientist Belinda Kemp. Her lab, dubbed “The Bubble Lab,” is recognized for its leading sparkling wine research and outreach work, helping grape growers and winemakers produce quality sparkling wines through initiatives such as Fizz Club — a networking group for Canadian sparkling winemakers.

“I’m so pleased we were able to showcase wines from so many wineries, especially with our annual Fizz Club taking place (this) week,” said Kemp. “It is quite incredible to watch the progress of Canadian sparkling wines as we raise awareness of production techniques and tackle challenges with CCOVI research. This is just the beginning for Canadian sparkling wine.”

Stevenson and Ring, the only wine journalist and judge the British writer wanted at the “closed tasting,” tasted for about six hours in the sensory lab. They didn’t want any distractions, which is why it was closed to other Canadian and Ontario wine media, a spokesperson from CCOVI told Wines In Niagara.

Editor’s note: Information for this post was provided by CCOVI with some comments added by Wines In Niagara.