Food & Wine Photo Credit:

How An $85 Bottle Of BC Sparkling Wine Turns Out To Be An Amazing Deal

Hint: it has to do with the insane price of its comparables.

Summerhill Cipes Ariel

Summerhill Cipes Ariel 1998 $85

There are two types of Champagne out there (and damn the French patent lawyers here, I’m using the protected name of the specific region in France—Champagne—as a catch-all for sparkling wines here). The first is the recently released, non-vintage iteration—this is best represented by Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label, Pol Roger or locally by, say, Blue Mountain Gold Label. Even when this category does have a vintage on the label, the goal is the same, which is to express the freshness through crisp apple or pear with the zip of some citrus. There may be some richness, often expressed through some baking analogy (bread-y and brioche-y are trotted out frequently), but such characteristics are definitely secondary. This category account for the vast majority of Champagne consumed in a given year.

The second category is something different altogether. These are aged Champagnes, and not only do they ramp up seriously in price, but their taste profile is altogether different. Examples of this category are the amazing Bollinger RD (on the 2000 vintage now-if you can find it), the highly collectible Dom Perignon Oenotheque (currently on the 1996 vintage and the six bottles in BC are currently $381 at the BCLDB), but in BC there’s was nothing—until this wine came along. A skeptic might ask, why would anyone age what amount to a sub-$30 bottle of BC sparkling wine? The answer lies in a short story about a dinner where the acclaimed Sommelier Terry Threfall brought a bottle of non-vintage Pol Roger which he had meticulously stored for over decade—the bottle was immediately recognizable but the contents had dramatically evolved into a deep yellow hues with rich notes of light brioche and roasted hazelnuts. The citrus was still there and some apricot, but those once dominant characteristics had now faded into the background. It was memorable to say the least and memorable is also what this bottle of Summerhill is. it’s got classic Champagne components (59% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 1% Pinot Meunier) and the age has brought a mellow richness that simply has no comparison in these parts (unless you know some sommelier nuts enough to hide away bottles of Pol Roger for 10 years, and even then I don’t think they’d sell it for $85).

That’s how an $85 bottle of BC sparkling becomes a smoking deal.

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