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Wine column: 'Secret' sparkling wine is exposed

Secretly, over the past three years, Kelowna's Sandhill Wines has been busy meticulously making its first-ever sparkling wine.

Well, the secret is now divulged with the release of the 2020 Blanc de Blancs ($35) -- a spectacular Champagne-method bubbly.

Sandhill winemaker Sydney Valentino calls the 100% Chardonnay sparkler "fun," "exciting," "good-looking" and "good tasting."

She's spot on.

</who>Sandhill winemaker Sydney Valentino calls the new 2020 Blanc de Blancs sparkling fun, exciting, good-looking and good-tasting.

The typical aromas and flavours of a well-made Champagne-style sparkling are there -- green apple and lemon.

But there are also beautiful secondary flavours and aromas from cherry and honeysuckle to fresh-baked croissant and lemon cream.

It's all wrapped up in finesse with long-lasting, crisp, fine bubbles.

Champagne-method means the second fermentation that gives the wine the carbon dioxide to make bubbles happens in the bottle (rather than in a big, stainless-steel tank like Prosecco and many other sparkling wines).

The bottle fermentation allows the wine extra time and surface area to the yeast cells used in winemaking.

That additional yeast contact gives the resulting bubbly more texture, pleasing brioche aromas and flavours and creamy mouthfeel.

</who>Sandhill 2020 Blanc de Blancs sparkling ($35).

Sandhill made only a limited amount of the 2020 Blanc de Blancs -- 255 cases.

With such small quantity, it's available only at Sandhill's wine store at the winery in Kelowna's North End and online at

Valentino prefers to drink the Blanc de Blancs on its own or only with cheese to keep it simple and let the bubbly shine.

But, it's also food-friendly and a divine pairing with scallops, pasta in cream sauce or even four-cheese pizza.

Fall wine fest kick-off

The Fall Okanagan Wine Festival kicks off tonight, 7:30 to 9:30 pm, with Apres Crush South -- a walk-around, sipping-and-grazing event at the Penticton Trade & Convention Centre.

Tickets are $95 at

This weekend there are also $65 Taste Passport self-guided tours and tastings at wineries throughout the South Okanagan.

On Nov. 3, Apres Crush North comes to Kelowna's Manteo Resort.

Again, check the website for tickets and other events.

Culinary fundraiser

Vancouver Island and the Okanagan meet for a collaborative fundraising dinner Nov. 5.

The dinner will be held at The Courtney Room, the restaurant in the Magnolia Hotel in downtown Victoria, with wines from Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards in Peachland, Stag's Hollow in Okanagan Falls and Phantom Creek and Culmina, both in Oliver.

Tickets are $200 at and $100 from each ticket will go to Central Okanagan Wildfire Relief.

The multi-course, wine-paired gala dinner will be prepared by The Courtney Room's chef Brian Tesolin in conjunction with visiting chef Geoff Malloy of 19 Bistro at Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards.

On the menu are fresh-shucked oysters, fois gras parfait, crispy tuna sushi, ling cod, roasted venison and puff pastry (mille-feuille) with dark chocolate for dessert.

Steve MacNaull is a NowMedia Group reporter, Okanagan wine lover and Canadian Wine Scholar. Reach him at His wine column appears every Friday afternoon in this space.

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