Ultra Vires


In Vino Veritas

Exquisite, ebullient effervescence

Sometimes, I wonder if people associate Champagne with celebrations because there is something exhilarating about popping a cork and spraying foam all over the place, or simply because it is so expensive that people cannot justify drinking it except on special occasions. If you are a student, then you probably cannot afford decent Champagne at all. But, that does not mean that you cannot celebrate with some fine fizz!

February is filled with toast-worthy occasions: Black History Month, the Lunar New Year is on the 5th, Valentine’s Day the 14th, and some of you stars will land jobs through the 1L recruit. Of course, there are those more minor victories, too: getting out of bed, being civil for more than two consecutive hours, not texting that fuckboy. That is why we reviewed some more affordable bubbly beverages you can use to enhance any occasion. You deserve it.


Long-time readers will know that I love Champagne. Bollinger Special Cuvée is one of my favourite drinks. It is a phenomenal bottle, but at $84.95 a (literal) pop, it is reserved for only the most momentous occasions. That is why I was thrilled to discover Peller Estates Ice Cuvée, a local sparkling white which, as its name suggests, is “kissed” with a little bit of Niagara ice wine to add sweetness. That oenological romance is magic. This VQA wine is a real pleasure to drink. It opens to notes of apples, peaches, lemon, honey and—bear with me—the scent of a man who has just worked up a sweat wrestling with some heavy furniture. With the exception of that last fragrance, most of those aromas carry through into the palate. Citrus leads the way followed by apples and stone fruit. As the fine, frothy, and persistent fizz subsided, I also tasted almond brioche on what turned out to be a remarkably long and sweet finish. The wine is slightly sweet, medium-bodied, and with a balanced acidity that makes it easy to pair with just about anything light and creamy or sweet and spicy. At $34.95, it is still a special occasion bottle, but it is also great value for sparkling wine.


If you really love popping bottles, then you should get acquainted with Veuve Ambal Crémant de Bourgogne Grande Cuvée Brut. This creamy Burgundian bubbly is supremely drinkable and tasty. The aromas of lemon and melon are apparent with pear and baked apple notes also coming through. The taste is dry, yet soft and smooth, with balanced acidity and length. There are notes of minerals, apples, and grapefruits. Refreshing! It would pair well with all classic Champagne dishes, such as oysters, trout, or caviar, and at the price of only $19.55 at the LCBO, it is definitely a great substitute for Champagne.

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