Put the little-known Peller Estates Cuvée Niagara Brut at the top of your year-end best-of list. And then put it at the top of your shopping list for tomorrow. You can get a case of it for not much over $100 (and that is Canadian dollars). You could try to hang on to your purchase and open a bottle each month of 2006 but I warn that you might sooner pop open the entire case before the clock strikes twelve this final weekend of 2005. It's that good. With a bargain price, I have no qualms naming it my top choice of the year.
This sparkling wine made predominantly of Chardonnay grapes is on shelves at the LCBO or at the one hundred or so kiosks of Vineyards Estate Wines which are found throughout Southern Ontario. If you are in Niagara-on-the-Lake, you can also pick it up at Wine Country Vintners (scroll down) on Queen Street; go online to Wine Country at Home if you are a bit further afield and want it delivered (sorry, you must have an Ontario address for shipping). In an odd twist, you can find the bottle virtually everywhere in the Niagara region except the Peller Estates Winery. It is a confusing move of Peller's not to stock it. Instead, their image-generating sparkling wine called Cristalle, $30, with its dosage of icewine is what the winery chooses to showcase in their boutique and during their tours. I don't know why -- their modest Brut is simply better.
When I conducted a quick poll tonight at dinner no one could guess that this calibre of wine is sold for as little as it is. Tasters' comments were all positive, both when I served it alone and then with Paris toasts with cheese and chives. My parents agreed that it was fruity, crisp and nice and refreshing going down. My sister remarked on its bouquet -- alluring, herbal and enriched with a gamut of pleasing flavours, none of which bordered on bitter. Her boyfriend had the final say. It was the length of its lingering finish that made the cuvée so delicious. And what makes it number 1 in my books is $9.95 (that's about $8.55 to folks from south of the border).