Obligatory New Years Bubbly Report

Obligatory New Year’s Bubbly Report

(From Jarred Gild, Wine Manager at Western Market, 12/31/2011)

This is the time of year for people to ask about Champagne. We gladly show them to our selection here at Western Market (447 W. 9 Mile):

… and the folks looking for good Champagne are elated, because we focus on wines grown and vinified by small, passionate, independent operations, most of whom have very good “Grand Cru” vineyards.

Most people are not as excited as we are about “Grower Champagne” when they see the price, as these all hover around $50, which is totally understandable in this economy. We do have a nice bottle for $30 from Baron Fuente, and we highly recommend it for the price. We would encourage you to stay away from the big name offerings though- when you make a million bottles a year, how special can it be? We’re not going to name name, but if you see at every party shop and drug store, it’s probably not worth the money compared to our hand-made offerings.

If it’s not from Champane, France, it legally can’t be called “Champagne”, but you should know that if we carry it, it’s good. Some sparkling wines are made with the same technique as Champagne, referred to as méthode champenoise or méthode traditionnelle, and they have a similar, dry, crisp, toasty character. Our favorite is German Gilabert:

A special production of esteemed Spanish wine importer Jose Pastor, we love it’s balanced fruit and good cut. With a splash of our fresh-squeezed tangerine juice, it’ll make the best mimosa you’ve ever had.

Sparkling wines are made almost everywhere still wine is made, and we’ve found the best bottles for the money from all over; our favorite Americans are Pacific Rim’s “White Flowers” from Washington, made from Riesling with the classic varietal flavors and a dry finish, a special “Blanc de Blancs Sauvage” cuvee from New Mexican producer Gruet, and “Sex”, a rose from Michigan’s own M. Lawrence. Handmade on Leelanau Peninsula, it’s fruity, fun, and always seems to be finished too fast. These are each $15, so you could get all three for the price of a true Champagne.

For an interesting change of pace, try one of these dry sparkling Lambruscas from Lini. They’ve been making them since 1910, and we haven’t put them down since we discovered them a couple years ago. Not as sharp or bubbly as méthode champenoise wines, these are the real wine lover’s everyday sparkling option. For an Italian dinner we recommend the red, for seafood the white, but the pink is certainly the party wine, and the one we take home most often.

For the folks that like it a little sweet, we carry the finest selection of Moscato d’Asti in town. Nothing in gimmicky blue bottles, and no mass-produced “Asti Spumante”, just really good naturally-grown DOCG Moscato made by skilled traditional producers, not flash-in-the-pan operations with huge marketing budgets. Again, if they make enough to sell at 50,000 stores across the country, it’s not going to be your best option for the money. The “Bera” is even estate grown with organic methods, and very low in sulfites, the best we’ve ever had, and a steal for $18.

Whatever bottles you go with, have a safe and joyous celebration, and a happy new year.

PS- As a preventive measure or as a cure, the ultimate hangover remedy is Kombucha. Full of B vitamins and digestive enzymes, it can make all the difference.

Learn more about Western Market at www.westernmarket.net.


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