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Meet Niagara’s King of Fizz, plus 40 fabulous sparkling wines from Ontario and B.C. for New Year’s

Niagara sparkling wine

By Rick VanSickle

He is the undisputed King of Fizz in Niagara, expanding a bubbly portfolio at Angels Gate Winery that started with a sparkling rosé in 2007 and has grown to 12 different sparklers at two wineries.

Philip Dowell, winemaker at Angels Gate Winery on the Beamsville Bench and the sparkling wine focused sister winery Kew Vineyards Estate, has slowly and methodically built a portfolio that is by far the deepest in Canada for bubbles.

He is at the forefront of the sparkling wine revolution in Ontario that saw 80 of Canada’s top sparkling winemakers travel to Brock University on Dec. 6 for the annual Fizz Club — a members-only gathering where winemakers compare notes, discuss triumphs and challenges relating to sparkling wine production and learn about new research developments.

Canadian sparkling wine

Dowell did not attend this sitting of the Fizz Club organized by Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) and led by senior scientist Belinda Kemp (above), but it was the largest gathering to date with attendees from Ontario, B.C., Quebec and Nova Scotia.

“When we started this, most of the winemakers who attended Fizz Club were based in Niagara,” said Kemp. “Now in its sixth year, we have winemakers coming from all across Canada, including more than 20 wineries from Quebec.”

As the Fizz Club grows in popularity, so do fizz-loving consumers. More than 90 local wineries are now producing sparkling wines and sales are surging with overall sales of VQA sparkling up 13 per cent year-over-year.

Ontario sparkling wine

The idea behind the Fizz Club is to share the latest research CCOVI is doing to help local grape growers and winemakers produce quality sparkling wine, including new results from studies regarding how different soil types affect sparkling wine flavour, mouthfeel and texture.

Dowell began his bubbly program with a Pinot Rosé sparkling wine at Angels Gate because “the market was hot for rosé. We expanded from there.” He now makes an even dozen between the two wineries, including a pair of sparkling ciders.

And when he says: “There is a lot of diversity in our portfolio,” he’s not kidding — there may be wineries in Canada that make more sparkling wine, but no winery has the depth of style of traditionally made sparklers that Angles Gate and Kew has.

After his first sparkling Pinot (a staple at Vintages stores), he next moved on to a Blanc de Blancs, 100% Chardonnay, then to a Blanc de Noirs (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier). It took off from there, with Kew winery making sparkling wine a focus.

Added recently to the portfolio is a sparkling Muscat — “my version of Prosecco,” says Dowell — plus an organic sparkling Riesling, an Icewine dosage Riesling, a traditionally-made cider and a wild fermented, bottle conditioned cider.

By 2017, Dowell was making so much sparkling wine, Angels Gate decided the prudent thing would be to purchase Niagara’s largest custom sparkling wine operation, Millesime Sparkling Wine Processing Inc. and can now start and finish all the sparkling wines in house (and do custom work).

I tasted through Dowell’s sparkling program this month and here’s what I liked.

Note: A full list of Wines In Niagara’s favourite sparkling wines tasted in 2018 from Niagara, Prince Edward County and B.C. follows these reviews. Looking to celebrate with bubbly this New Year’s? Make it a great Canadian sparkling wine; you won’t be disappointed.

Angels Gate Archangel Sparkling Chardonnay 2012 ($27.45 at Vintages on sale until Jan. 6, 92 points) — This spends an incredible six years on the lees but maintains freshness from start to finish. The mouse is soft but persistent with a nose of green apples, sharp lemon and grapefruit with minerals and brioche/yeasty notes. The palate reveals toasty biscuit notes with pear, apple, citrus and terrific length. Nicely aged bubbly.

Kew Vineyards Blanc de Blancs 2014 ($30, 93 points) — This barrel-aged Chardonnay has a gorgeous, irresistible nose of brioche (four years on the lees), pear, apple, lemon, toasted spice notes and vanilla. The mousse is generous and soft. It’s a nicely mature sparkler with creamy pear notes, baked apple, spice and integrated citrus with length on the finish.

Kew Vineyards Pinot Meunier Brut Natural 2014 ($30, 91 points) — So, “natural” here means zero dosage — no back sweetening was added to the wine. The nose shows crushed berries, lemon drops, apple and citrus with an explosive bead. It’s fresh on the palate and textured with layers of bright, crisp fruit and length on the finish.

Kew Vineyards Tradition 2016 ($30, 91 points) — The percentage of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay changes from vintage to vintage. The nose shows vibrant and ripe apple, peach and fresh lemon notes. The mousse is vigorous and lifts the creamy range of fruits that show texture and verve through the finish.

Kew Vineyards Roselie 2015 ($30, 92 points) — A 100% Pinot Noir Rosé sparkling wine with an intriguing nose of crushed red berries, subtle lemon and citrus accents with integrated minerality. It’s simply delicious on the palate with an energetic mousse to carry the range of red berries and savoury notes all leading to a vibrant, long finish.

Angels Gate Shine 2016 ($20, 88 points) — A fun Muscat made in the popular Prosecco style. The nose shows gooseberry, citrus, apples, peaches and subtle hints of mint tea. It has a gentle bead on the palate and loaded with refreshing fruits in an off-dry style.

Kew Vineyards Organic Sparkling Riesling 2017 ($20, 88 points) — “I’ve got so much Riesling I don’t know what to do with it … so, OK, I’ll make a sparkling Riesling,” says Dowell, half jokingly. I love the nose on this sparkler, so much lime, grapefruit, apple and tangerine with plenty of sparkle in the glass. It’s quite fresh and true to the varietal in the mouth with a perky, vibrant finish.

Angels Gate Snow Angel Riesling Icewine Dosage NV (price N/A, 92 points) — This new-to-the-portfolio bubbly, made with a sweet dosage of Riesling Icewine, wasn’t even labelled when I tasted it with Dowell. It’s finished at 30 g/l of residual sugar and 11% abv. It’s just lovely on the nose with lime, tangerine, peach and bright apple aromas. It has a range of orchard fruits all drizzled in wild honey on the palate but also good finesse, pop and laser-sharp acidity to keep everything balanced. A tasty semi-sweet bubbly treat.

North Cider Brut ($15 for a 750 mL bottle, 89 points) — This free-standing North Cider brand from Angels Gate is made from 100% northern spy apples and is crafted in the traditional method. The bubbles are rocking on the palate and give rise to baked apple and subtle spice notes on both the nose and palate. It has freshness and depth through the finish and the mousse holds to the end.

North Cider Wild ($30 for 750 mL, 91 points) — So, a lot happening here. The organic apples were fermented in used Kew Chardonnay barrels and aged in oak for five months. No sulphur was added, so basically a natural sparkling cider that feels like a pet-nat in the mouth. It’s quite spicy, like grandma’s fresh baked apple pie with cinnamon and a vigorous mousse that never quits. It has weight and texture and verve through the finish. Delicious!

Two new reviews of Niagara sparklers

Rockway Vineyards Brut Cuvée NV ($32, at winery, 91 points) — This is winemaker David Stasiuk’s first traditionally-made sparkling wine and he has debuted a beauty made from 67% Chardonnay and the rest Pinot Noir that spends 32 months on the lees. It has a gentle, persistent bead in the glass and shows notes of toasted vanilla bean, lemon chiffon, grapefruit, green apple and subtle brioche notes. It’s racy on the palate with electric acidity to carry all that lemony citrus, green apple and biscuit goodness through a long, crisp finish that has just a kiss of sweetness.

Trius Showcase Blanc de Blancs NV ($55, 93 points) — This traditionally made Chardonnay bubble was triaged in 2014 and spent 48 months on the lees. It’s a beauty with notes of baked apple, brioche, toasted nuts, soft lemon and pure elegance. It’s racy yet poised on the palate with delicate bubbles and lovely lemon, green apple, bready/yeasty notes, smoke and flinty minerality that is crisp and fresh through a long finish. Simply a gorgeous Niagara sparkling wine.

Previous Reviews of Niagara
bubbly released in 2018

Note: All reviews that follow here are in their original format and are sorted by region and score. Wines In Niagara is not certain of availability of these wines.

Flat Rock Cellars Riddled Sparkling 2011 ($35, 93 points) — This is a traditionally made blanc de blancs (100% Chardonnay) sparkling wine that spends six years on the lees before disgorging. The bubble is energetic upon pouring but fades to a small vigorous bead in the centre on the glass. Notes of bright lemon, brioche, green apple, toasty vanilla and biscuit on the nose. Such freshness and energy on the palate with flavours of zesty citrus, creamy pear, brioche and apple all delivered on an elegantly textured frame with length and finesse on the finish. Beautiful bubbles.

Hidden Bench Blanc de Blanc Zero Dosage 2013 ($48, 93 points) — This is the first 100% traditionally-made Chardonnay sparkler made at Hidden Bench, a sister wine to the Chard/Pinot sparkler called Natur (also zero dosage). The wine spends 7 months in oak barrels and 47 months on the lees in bottle before disgorging this past July. This is a zero dosage sparkler, so no back sweetening. It has a gorgeous nose of brioche, green apple, toasted vanilla, cream, citrus and almonds all flowing from a fine bubble in the glass. It’s texturally beautiful on the palate with razor sharp acidity that yields crisp citrus and apple fruits that all framed by toasty/nutty/creamy/baked bread accents through a perfectly dry, lively and elegant finish. Can cellar 5+ years.

13th Street Blanc de Blanc 2016 ($28, 93 points) — This traditionally-made Chardonnay sparkler from the single vineyard L. Viscek site in the Creek Shores sub-appellation is quite something. The vineyard is owned and farmed by 13th Street (original site) neighbour Lado Viscek and was planted in the early 1990s. The vineyard shares many of the same micro-climatic influences as the estate’s personable June’s Vineyard, which is influenced by the moderating effect of Lake Ontario. Soils are also similar but instead of a mix of yellow limestone and clay loam, L. Viscek is composed of pure clay loam, and the clay is a bit lighter than that found at June’s Vineyard. 25% of the production of this wine was sent to a high-end grocery chain in Cleveland after the owner of the stores tasted it and fell in love with it at i4C this summer. The wine spends 12 months on the lees with zero dosage and full malo. It’s the minerality and freshness that shines on the nose, the beautiful brioche and toast, the flint and floral accents to go with cut citrus and green apple notes. It has an energetic mousse on the palate, pristine lemon and grapefruit, green apple, oyster shells, subtle toasty/leesy/baked bread notes and razor sharp acidity to keep this perky through the finish. It’s a fresh and elegant wine that will be even lovelier in a couple of years.

Herny of Pelham Carte Blanche Estate Blanc de Blanc 2013 ($45, 93 points) — Henry of Pelham’s top sparkler made from estate Chardonnay is barrel (20% of the Chardonnay fruit) fermented and then sits on the lees for five years before being disgorged. It is always one of Niagara’s top bubbles with an enticing nose of lemon chiffon, fresh-squeezed lime, chantilly cream, vanilla toast, brioche, fresh-baked bread, and baked apple pie. It has a vibrant, energetic feel on the palate with bright citrus and elegant apple notes that work well with the leesy/baked bread and brioche accents through the long, freshening finish. A beauty of wine.

Tawse Laundry Vineyard Blanc de Noir Sparkling 2014 ($30, 92 points) — Another single-vineyard sparkler from Tawse that sources this 100% Pinot Noir from the sustainably farmed Laundry Vineyard. It shows a vibrant and fresh nose of strawberries, lemon, grapefruit, biscuit, lovely minerality/salinity and creamy notes from three years of lees aging. It has a firm acidic spine that keeps the citrus, green apple, yellow pear and grapefruit lively and fresh through the finish. There is a vein of flinty minerality that shines on the mid-palate.

Hidden Bench Natur Zero Dosage 2013 ($39, winery, 92 points) — The blend is 70% Chardonnay and the rest Pinot Noir from Locust Lane and Felseck Vineyards. It spent 47 months on the lees in bottle and 7 months in barrel. Also, as the name suggests, there was no back sweetening, leaving the RS at below 1 g/l and providing little room “to hide any mistakes,” as owner Harald Thiel, above, put it. It is fresh and fragrant in the glass with bright apple and citrus notes but also underlying roasted nuts, brioche and toasted vanilla. It has an energetic mousse in the glass with broad flavours of baked apple, tangy lemon and lovely nutty/toasty accents through a crisp and clean finish. Very nice bubbly.

13th Street Premier Cuvée 2012 ($35, 92 points) — A 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that is made traditionally but has zero dosage (no sugar added) and no oak treatment. This is how winemaker JP Colas, above, likes to build his sparkling wines — completely naked and unmasked so you taste the grapes and the vineyard, not the masking oak and sugar. The nose shows bright citrus, a floral note, minerals and subtle brioche and cream from sitting on the lees for 4+ years. It’s razor sharp and taut on the palate with tight, persistent bubbles and electric acidity driving the citrus, green apple, minerals and creamy/toasty notes through a long, long finish.

Tawse Quarry Road Pinot Noir Sparkling Rosé 2016 ($30, 91 points) — Traditionally made sparkler from single-vineyard Pinot Noir that spends 12 months on the lees. It shows a vibrant pink/amber hue in the glass with a modest but persistent bead. The nose displays delicate red berries, touch of peach and citrus with pretty red flowers. It’s vigorous and perky with red fruits dancing on the palate and stays lively through the finish. Fresh and delicious style.

PondView Bella Terra Blanc de Blancs 2016 (price NA, 91 points) — This first traditionally-made sparkling wine from PondView is 100% Chardonnay that spent 18 months on the lees and had a subtle dosage of 5-7 g/l of residual sugar back added. It has a nose of fresh-cut citrus, green apple, brioche and some toasty/melba notes. It’s fresh, dry and lively on the palate with a vigorous mousse, vibrant citrus and apple with perky acidity that keeps it popping through the finish

Vineland Estates Sparkling Pinot Meunier Reserve 2015 ($30, 91 points) — The range and depth of sparkling wine in Niagara, Ontario and Canada is staggering as more and more wineries join the bubbly revolution. It’s a category that plays to the strength of varietals that do so well in the cool-climate wine regions we have in Canada. This charmat method Pinot Meunier from winemaker Brian Schmidt is as delicious as it looks, with a lovely subtle pale salmon colour, vigorous mousse and nose of toast, red berries, apple and a squirt of citrus. There’s a pleasing sweet note on the palate that works well with ripe cherry and raspberry fruit through a clean and fresh finish. Vineland suggests trying with a steak Florentine, “if you’re courageous enough.”

Jackson-Triggs Entourage Grand Reserve Brut 2014 ($30, 91 points) — This Pinot/Chard blend spends 24 months on the lees. It shows an elegant combination of biscuit, citrus, apple, vanilla toast and brioche on the nose. It’s lively and perky on the palate with bright citrus, green apple and added toast and vanilla on a refreshing finish.

Redstone Pinot Noir Sparkling Rose 2016 ($30, 90 points) — The fine mousse lifts aromas of cherry, red apples, fresh herbs and wet limestone to the nose. A palate of vibrant fruit shows tart red apple, ripe cherry, and strawberry/cranberry with replays of fruit on the finish. It’s dry with refreshing acidity and an underpinning of mineral notes. (Review by Michael Lowe)

Chateau Des Charmes Brut Sparkling 2016 ($26, 90 points) — The fruit was hand picked specifically for sparkling production. It’s made in the traditional method and was recently disgorged by hand just before release after spending a minimum 18 months on the lees. Lots of energy in the glass with a persistent bubble leading to a nose of lemon, green apple and biscuit. This is such a lovely quintessential Niagara sparkler with poise and balance between the bright, fresh, zesty citrus and apple, toasty/bready notes and firm acidity that keeps it all popping through the finish. Good bubbly for $26? Yes, please!

Vineland Estate Sekt Sparkling Reserve 2015 ($25, winery, 90 points) — Sekt is the German word for sparkling, most of which, including this Vineland offering, is made by the charmat method. It’s a blend of Riesling (43%), Chardonnay (32%) and Pinot Meunier (25%). It shows wonderful energy in the glass with a lively expression of citrus, apple, toast and mineral notes. It pops on the palate with a vigorous bead of bubbles and a mélange of lemon-lime citrus, green apple, toasted almonds and pinch of tangerine sweetness to go with a creamy texture and bright and zesty finish. Pure joy in a glass.

Cave Spring Blanc de Blancs Brut Sparkling NV ($30, 90 points) — Winemaker Angelo Pavan launched Cave Spring’s sparkling wine program in 2002, working with several grape varieties including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling. He was, however, always been a fan of the great blanc de blancs wines of Champagne, struck by their rare combination of finesse, transparency and power. By 2008 he was convinced that similar results were possible from Cave Spring’s Niagara Escarpment vineyards. The evolution of the 2004 Chardonnay cuvée brought him to this realization, and as the years went by it was clear that the blanc de blancs style stood head-and-shoulders above the other contenders, whether blended or varietal in composition. This cuvee is a blend of estate 60% Chardonnay and 40% Chardonnay Musque, aged sur lie for 45 months and is made in the traditional method. It has an elegant nose of lemon, brioche, green apple, limestone minerality and grapefruit. It has a fine and vigorous mousse on the palate, lovely texture and verve with a nutty, fresh profile of citrus, apple, biscuit and vibrant energy through the finish. A lovely and versatile sparkler for celebrations or with raw oysters, lobster bisque, battered shellfish, sushi, grilled seafood, and smoked duck.

Fielding Estate Brut Sparkling NV ($37, 90 points) — Comprised of 63% Chardonnay and 37% Pinot Noir, this sparkler, made in the traditional method, shows a tight, persistent bead in the glass with a nose of bright apple, lemon, melba toast and brioche. It’s loaded with mouth-watering acidity that highlights the range of green apple and citrus notes with a creamy, toasty finish.

Tawse Pét-Nat 2017 ($25, 90 points) — This first pét-nat from Tawse is a single-vineyard, 100% certified organic and biodynamic Chardonnay that’s undisgorged (fermented in the bottle), unfiltered and essentially a natural, spritzy Pétillant Naturel made using the méthode ancestral that pre-dates Champagne. It shows a golden yellow colour in the glass with a mellow bubble and aromas of flint and white flowers followed by a melange of citrus, bin apple and subtle pineapple. It’s soft and mellow on the palate with a gentle bead that yields tropical fruits, citrus and a rich vein of minerality through a brisk finish. Nothing too fussy here, just good, honest, spritzed up Chardonnay with a bit of funk.

Vieni Classic Brut 2013 ($20, 90 points) — Made in the charmat method, this blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier has a nose of baked apple, pear, pie crust and brioche notes. There are lovely toasty notes on the palate but it still maintains freshness through the finish to go with flavours of bin apple, pear and citrus. Refreshing and well priced sparkler.

First Fruit: World of Fog Pét-Nat VQA 2017 ($25, 90 points) — In the glass, there is a gentle mousse, a light copper colour and some cloudiness, but not to the extent of last year’s wine. It is beautifully aromatic with pulpy citrus, fuzzy peach, grapefruit and with wonderfully funky, yet subtle, notes of smoke, gunflint and ginger/lychee. It’s bright and expressive on the palate with electric acidity and a slight reductive/mineral note to go with citrus, melon, crushed peaches and fresh-stomped grapes. It’s a funky vino and I’m so happy these kinds of out-of-the-box wines are being explored in Niagara. They deserve our attention.

13th Street Cuvee Rosé NV ($28, 89 points) — Made predominantly with Pinot Noir with a splash of Gamay for “visual effects,” and a low dosage of sugar (7 g/l) that keeps this refreshing sparkler fairly dry and fresh on the nose with aromas of strawberries, cherries and rhubarb. It has a dry, refreshing feel on the palate with a vigorous mousse that gives bounce to the bounty of red fruits through a super-charged finish.

Cuddy By Tawse Spark Limestone Ridge Riesling NV ($25, 89 points)— Made in the traditional method with 14 g/l of RS. Lovely understated aromas of pear, apple, biscuit, melon and lime. It has a vigorous bead in the glass and on the palate with lime, grapefruit and apple flavours in a fresh, approachable style.

Thirty Bench Wine Makers Sparkling Riesling NV ($39, 89 points) — This is a traditionally-made, non vintage sparkler that’s primarily constructed from the 2014 harvest and back sweetened slightly from a dosage of the 2010 Steel Post Riesling. Soft, persistent bubbles lead to an expressive nose of green apple, lime, grapefruit and toasty/leesy/mineral accents. All that citrus, apple and peach fruit on the palate is lifted by electrified acidity and leads to a fresh and vibrant finish.

Rosewood Nebulous 2017 ($25, 88 points) — This second edition of pét-nat (pétillant-naturel) wine was fermented without selected yeast, fining agents or added sulphur and is a blend of Gamay Noir and Pinot Noir. It was bottled before the end of alcoholic fermentation with its natural lees, causing the light pressure and integrated bubbles to form within the wine. Releasing the crown cap reveals a vigorous bubble both in the glass and for a long time after in the bottle. It pours a foggy salmon/rust colour and throws off heady aromas of strawberry, watermelon, peach and pulpy grapefruit slices. It’s tart and dry on the palate with soft red fruits, pink grapefruit, earth and bramble notes that are quite fresh and lively from firm acidity. You’ll want to drink the entire bottle, which is OK, as it’s made with only 11% abv.

Prince Edward County bubbles

Rosehall Run Stardust 2011 ($50, 93 points) — Winemaker/owner Dan Sullivan, above, loves his ’60s and ‘ 70s rock and prog-rock, British invasion music and sprinkles references subtly (or not so subtle, as is the case with this sparkler) throughout his portfolio. Stardust is the theme in Bowie’s album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Aside from the album name there is also Ziggy Stardust, the song, and Lady Stardust, another song on the album and the one I decided to reference and play on my iPhone for Sullivan as we sipped this gorgeous sparkle overlooking his vineyards. This is Rosehall’s top traditionally-made sparkling wine made from 55% Pinot Noir and the rest Chardonnay, all estate fruit and left to age on its lees for an incredible six years before disgorging. Such a gorgeous nose of baked bread, brioche, lemon, grapefruit and baked apple notes. The sexy bubbles tickle a palate that’s bathed in rich mineral notes, lovely texture, baked apple, richness and citrus that keeps everything lively through a peppy finish. The depth and persistence suggests cellaring a couple of years or more as it gains fat and complexity. A celebratory bubble that is worth every penny of the $50.

Rosehall Run Ceremony Brut Blanc de Blancs NV ($35, 91 points) — This 100% estate Chardonnay has a lovely biscuit note on the nose to go with lemon chiffon, fresh citrus, brioche and toasted vanilla. The tiny, vigorous bubbles are persistent in the glass and the sparkler shows bright acidity that gives a lift to the fresh lemon-citrus and green apple flavours.

The Old Third A La Volée Sparkling Wine 2014 ($75, 93 points) —The nose is an enticing mix of bready/brioche from extended lees aging/stirring, lemon, pear and subtle spice notes. It has a racy/fresh delivery on the palate with lemon and green apple to go with biscuit, smoky-flinty notes and lovely texture through the finish. Irresistible now but try cellaring a couple for two or three years. Exceptional bubbles.

British Columbia bubbles

Haywire Vintage Bub 2013 ($35, 92 points) — This is a special cuvee that was bottled in early January, 2014, and remained on its lees in triage for 52 months. No dosage was added at disgorgement. It has a vigorous/lively mousse with deep brioche and flinty aromas to go with baked apple, lemon and grapefruit accents. Even with aging, it shows an austere profile on the palate with zippy, zesty acidity and a clean profile that highlights the apple, citrus, minerals, baked bread notes and wonderful freshness through the finish.

Noble Ridge “The One” Brut Sparkling Wine 2015 ($40, Okanagan Falls, 92 points) — A traditional method sparkling made with 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir from estate fruit. The fruit was whole cluster pressed and sat on its lees for 28 months before disgorging. It has a toasty nose of lemon, grapefruit, biscuit and underlying lime zest with a vigorous mousse in the glass. There shows lovely freshness and saline purity on the palate with razor sharp citrus fruit, green apple, finesse and verve with a toasty but crisp finish. Gorgeous bubbles here.

Sperling Vineyards Sparkling Brut 2011 ($45, 91 points) — A traditionally made sparkler made with a non-traditional variety, Pinot Blanc (though it is a permitted grape in Champagne), that spends five years on the lees before disgorgement. A 6.5 g/l  dosage of residual sugar is back added to tame the highly electric acidity into check a bit. The nose is fresh and floral with lovely aromatics of green apple, citrus, tangerine and toasted notes. It’s all about the freshness on the palate with a range of citrus, pear and toasty apple flavours with sizzling acidity to keep it finesses and popping through the finish.

Free Form Ancient Method 2017 ($35, 90 points) — Nothing has been added “but love and hard work” to this 100% organic Pinot Noir. It was whole bunch pressed into 2,000 litre concrete tanks where it was wild fermented. Fermentation was completed in bottle and after six months it was disgorged with zero dosage. It shows a pale, pale salmon in the glass with aromas of green apple, citrus, tangerine, lime and saline minerality, like salty sea breeze. It has flavours and texture of pulpy grapefruit with notes of lemon, tart apple and stony minerality to go with a gentle bubble in a very dry and puckering — yet refreshing — style. A well defined, taut and laser sharp sparkler.