Champagne isn't all that sparkles

December 16, 2009 (CHICAGO) Champagne has the cache, of course. The name, the reputation- but you could also seek out prosecco from Italy, cava from Spain, or even a sparkling wine the West Coast - or perhaps Michigan.

Celebrating the season with something bubbly is commonplace, but at Pops for Champagne - which occupies the corner of the legendary Tree Studios building in River North - they can legitimately celebrate everyday of the year.

"I think it's historically been a wine of celebration, here at Pops we try to really promote it as a year-round beverage," said Craig Cooper, of Pops for Champagne.

Cooper recommends three different bottles of bubbly for the holiday season. Let's start at the top with Gaston Chiquet.

"This is a true Champagne in the sense that it is from the Champagne region of France, that's always something we try to reiterate again and again. It's 100 percent chardonnay and it's actually from a Grand Cru village that isn't known for chardonnay. Middle of the road in flavor, very accessible, you're never going to put anybody off with this and you're also going to impress a lot of people with it I think. This is probably going to be about $50 retail."

Next tier: an Italian rose from the producer Cesarini Sforza.

"This is from Italy but it is not prosecco, it's a trento spumanti; they would call it "trento" just means "sparkling" in Italian. Its 100 percent pinot noir and Trento is a region in the north of Italy. This being in Trento, they grow a lot of pinot noir and it's cooler climate better for pinot noir so they can make really nice rose. Retail it's about $25 to $30 per bottle probably."

And finally, two sparkling wines from Michigan: L. Mawby and Good Harbor.

"These are both from the Leelenau Peninsula in Northern Michigan, not far from Traverse City, and surprisingly enough they've been making wines up there for decades. It's the climate up there, it's especially good soils and a cool climate for sparkling grapes; for sparkling grapes you need a cool climate because you need a long growing season. 100 percent pinot noir, and what you'll notice about it is a slight copper color to it, its not a rose' because there's no maceration with the skins; this is just the natural color of pinot noir juice. These will both be in the $18 to $20 range."

"One of our old slogans from years ago was there's always something to celebrate, there's always a reason to celebrate, and of course this time of year it just ties in."

Pops always has a number of sparkling wines and champagnes by the glass on their menu.. They also have an impressive number of half bottles for sharing.

Pops For Champagne
601 N. State St.

Gaston Chiquet

Cesarini Sforza
$25 - $30

L.Mawby - Blanc de Blanc
Good Harbor - "Moonstruck"
Michigan Sparkling Wines
$18 - $20

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