Prince Edward County’s first sparklers are incredible: you’d swear you were drinking champagne
(Image: Jack Dylan)
The first three sparkling wines to come out of Prince Edward County are taut, tender and dance across the palate: they taste more like champagne than any non-French bubbly I’ve ever tasted. The secret is in the dirt. The sunny farming region south of Belleville has almost as high a concentration of limestone in its soil as France’s Champagne district. Limestone is fissured and spongy, which allows vine roots to penetrate deep into the bedrock, and the wine it yields is full of refreshing minerality. The similarities in terroir and climate were so striking that two expat Torontonians, Jonas Newman, a former maître d’ at Scaramouche, and his partner, Vicki Samaras, have opened Hinterland winery, the County’s first dedicated exclusively to bubbly. It’s one of 14 launches in the past year, bringing the total number of wineries to 31. The region once considered laughably marginal is full of undercapitalized but pioneering vintners. Many are eking out fewer than 1,000 cases from small acreages, making their wines scarce (most are unavailable at the LCBO) and expensive. But low yields create better quality wines. Here are some examples of PEC’s finest to seek out on your next, or first, trip.
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