Summer in a Glass
Hinterland Ancestral 2015
Prince Edward County, Ontario
$25 at the winery and some farmer’s markets
It’s finally summer. Sure it’s been hot for a long time, but we passed the solstice so we can officially start celebrating. And you know what I like to celebrate with? Sparkling wine.
But not just any sparkling wine. How about a sparkling wine made from my favourite grape, Gamay? How about a sparkling wine with low alcohol and flavours of summer strawberries, cherries, and cranberries? How about a sparkling wine made at an incredible winery that specializes in sparkling wine?
Sounds pretty great, right? It is.
But before I get to all the deliciousness that is this bright fuschia sparkly sipper, a few facts. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t sneak in a little educational content.)
Remember way back when I started this blog and I said that the traditional method used to make champagne wasn’t the original method of getting bubbles in wine? Meet the ancestral method (nope, not just a catchy name).
This is how the original Dom Perignon would’ve been adding fizz to his wine. It’s old. It’s simple. And it’s gaining popularity around the world. You might’ve heard of Pétillant Naturel (Pét-Nat for short)? It’s the same thing.
In this method, rather than creating a dry wine and putting it through a second fermentation, the wine is allowed to ferment until a certain point before being bottled while there’s still active yeast and sugar working their magic (when yeast eats sugar, it creates alcohol and CO2). The winemaker will stick a crown cap on the bottle and allow the fermentation to continue, trapping the CO2 in the wine.
These wines are incredibly drinkable. They usually retain a bit of residual sugar, but they’re lively and fruity and delicious. These aren’t fancy bottles; you’re not meant to save them for an occasion. You’re meant to buy them, chill them, and drink the fuck out of them as soon as possible. And you should, often.
They’re harder to come by in Ontario than I’d like, I’ve gotta say. But that’s not just what makes the Hinterland Ancestral so special. Plus it’s made by some of the nicest people in the industry at a kinda magical winery. The first time my husband and I visited them, we saw a toddler chasing a kitten chasing a butterfly and we were smitten. But how’s the wine? Well, they’ve managed to capture the flavours and colours of summer in each delightful, balanced sip. It’s pretty fantastic.
I served this as an aperitif in the garden when my husband’s sister and her husband were visiting us this week, and it was a hit. They live in Berkeley and have easy access to great wine, so I wanted to make sure they got a glimpse of some of the stellar wines coming out of Ontario. They both commented that it was sweet but not overwhelming, refreshing and delicious. And they were immediately reminded of summer picnics with strawberries and cider. It was Proustian, sure, but we didn’t dwell too long. There was still half a bottle to enjoy!
Nose: Strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, and cherries. All the damn berries, please. There’s also a yeasty quality, that’s closer to cider than champagne.
Palate: SUMMER! Each sip is like plucking an overripe strawberry off the vine (or out of the bowl, whatever) and letting the juice run down your chin. It’s like cherries sat out too long in the sun, with a glass of cranberry juice to wash it down. It’s delightful and oh so easy to drink, and there’s some nice acidity that keeps the sweetness in check. Luckily, it’s around 8.5% alcohol, so you can drink a few glasses without feeling like a goon no problem. It’s fruity and delicious, balanced and flavourful. It’s not overly complex, but it’s not meant to be. It’s meant to be drunk, so drink it. You’ll love it.