Back Yard Vineyards: a fun, eye-catching label, plus plenty to please in the glass, Tim Pawsey photo

Looking for a special bottle for that hard to please wine geek in your life?  Yesterday we sipped a glass of the first vintage sparkling wine to (officially) come out of the Fraser Valley.

Maybe we really weren’t expecting much.  But came away very pleasantly surprised.  More to the point, if there was more 2007 Backyard Vineyards Blanc de Noirs Brut around, we’d probably tuck away a couple of bottles for the holidays.

The bubble is made by Neck of the Woods Winery, in rural Langley, just east of Vancouver, BC.

On the nose you can get some pear and quiet citrus. And there are plenty of tiny bubbles in this 100 percent Pinot Noir, that sports a pretty medium gold in the glass. (Blanc de Noirs is just that: white wine made from the juice only of black grapes—no skin contact.)

The palate is surprisingly generous and broadly textured with some toasty, yeasty notes and maybe a hint of waxy apple skin. Quite Champagne like, even if  a little light in acidity and possibly not dry enough for the serious ‘Big C’ crowd, at least not this vintage.

O'Doul's popcorn coated scallop, Tim Pawsey photo

Anyway, we liked it—especially with a popcorn coated Qualicum Bay scallop, fennel and bacon powder matched up by O’Doul’s chef Chris Whittaker. O’Doul’s is a bit of a sleeper in our book: one of the most under-rated West Coast kitchens in downtown Vancouver. Plus they conform to OceanWise and Green Table.  Smart bar, and great jazz too.  Oh, and they know their wines as well.

No surprise that the ‘godfather’ of BC bubble, Sumac Ridge founder Harry McWatters is somewhere in the background of this wine, which was made by Ron Taylor.

We’ve long believed there’s an opportunity to make good sparkling wine here on the coast, and we should emphasize that this is the first vintage sparkler, not the first sparkler overall.  This initial effort from Backyard more than proves the point.  And there could be others.  How about the old Victoria Estate Vineyards, now Church & State (on Vancouver Island near Butchart Gardens) for starters.

Only about 500 bottles were produced, which means you’ll have to talk to the winery to get some, at just $24.95.  We’ll let you know if it shows up at any private wine stores.

Update: And it has: Try any one of these, but fast: Dundarave VQA, Taylorwood VQA in Yaletown and Firefly on Cambie.

Backyard Vineyards, 3033 232nd St, Langley, BC, 604-539-9463

www.neckofthewoods.ca