2019 Lieb Cellars Estate Sparkling Pinot Blanc, North Fork Of Long Island, New York, USA (Alcohol 12.2%, Residual Sugar 16 g/l) LCBO Destination Collection $40.75 (750ml bottle)

We don’t see too many sparkling Pinot Blancs in the Ontario market, and that’s a great pity as when they are done well, as is certainly the case here, they can truly sing.

Although Jancis Robinson MW refers to this grape as “useful rather than exciting”, the Pinot Blanc grape’s use for sparkling makes complete sense to me, as for many decades (and in many winemaking regions) it was often mistaken for that noble sparkling variety, Chardonnay. In Italy, as Pinot Bianco, it is often blended with Chardonnay to produce many excellent bubblies.

Which brings us to this really terrific traditional method sparkling from the North Fork of New York’s Long Island. Again it’s one of those hidden treasures of the under-the-radar Destination Collection, so you’ll have do a little extra work to locate some (by clicking on the LCBO inventory link above). Much of the grapes are sourced from a vineyard planted in 1983, making them some of the most veteran vines on the North Fork. It’s also a reasonably small production, with only 431 cases being produced.

22 months ageing on lees give the wine a gentle bready/yeasty bouquet, the autolytic notes sitting in perfect harmony with the green fruit (quince/apple/pear) with touches of white peach and clementine. The mousse is deliciously creamy and mouth-filling, and there’s a pleasing warm breadiness present on the crisp, snappy palate. The dry finish is extended and most rewarding.

Lieb Cellars view the 2019 vintage as being exceptional, and that is certainly reflected in the exquisite balance expressed in the glass here.

A bloody excellent bottle of wine that drinks well by itself, but would be a fine foil for all manner of lighter dishes.

(Four and a half apples out of a possible five)