The horizon is ‘sparkling’ on the West Coast. As wine drinkers continue to celebrate the success of the Vancouver Island wine industry, it seems fitting that more corks are popping here. Whether using the traditional style or the tank-fermented Charmat Method, the climate and soil structure in this region are prime for producing crisp, clean, sparkling wines.
Vancouver Island has an ideal cool climate to grow the same varietals that were made famous by Champagne: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. It seems like a natural progression for the region to take sparkling production to the next level.
Several wineries in the region have found success in a collaboration called “Charme de L’ile”. The concept is to create a Vancouver Island regional bubble – affordable, approachable and fruit forward sparkling wines. Participating wineries produce their own signature base wine but share equipment used in the Charmat process. A second fermentation in tank and bottling under pressure give the Charme de L’ile a natural carbonation, its spumante zest and refreshing appeal.
Averill Creek’s Charme de L’ile is a unique blend of their estate grown Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. A delightful Prosecco-style sparkling wine, fresh and fruity with notes of sweet orange blossom and succulent pear. The palate is typically lively featuring a vibrant mousse and flavours of crisp apple, white peach and a sprinkle of citrus zest. The quintessential summer wine, it is best when paired with fun, friends and food.
In addition to Charme de L’ile, Averill Creek has also produced a Traditional Method sparkling wine. The 2010 Averill Brut, released in 2016, was first barrel fermented and aged in French oak. It then spent over four years aging in bottle, sur lie. This extended aging was key to producing a wine that has aromas of toasted brioche on the nose, and a rich palate full of citrus and nutty-vanilla. With an extra-fine mousse, the elegant bubbles melt on your tongue.
Averill Creek is inspired by the quality of sparkling wines produced from their Mt Prevost site and have increased plantings in Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Focusing on these traditional varietals, they hope to increase their bubbly production.
The goal is to achieve ideal ripeness each year, creating a sparkling wine with flavour and richness, balanced by high acidity yet relatively light in alcohol – signature Vancouver Island.
(pictured: Andy Johnston pouring bubbles for guests.)