Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Bubble Rap

Jen Powell, our Wine Specialist for the Lamar Street Store in Austin, Texas, cut her teeth in the wine industry in Chicago, then moved on to own her own wine shop in New Orleans.  She has a passion for food and wine pairings with a deep love for cooking.  Jen views wine as living art – “Each bottle is like a little painting that you are able to see, smell, taste, touch and if you listen closely, it will speak to you.” As we wrap-up 2008 and quickly approach New Year's Eve, my palate dances with glee in anticipation of all of the delicious bubbly waiting to be discovered or remembered. The pop of the cork, the gentle bubbles in the glass, the beautiful elixir that we sip as the clock strikes midnight and the hope of the New Year fills us all. From Champagne to Cava, here is a bit about the bubble and some of my favorites for 2008. {C}Champagne is the name (strictly reserved for French wines made in this specific region) we often use when referring to the beverage that sparkles in our glass.  However, Champagne is actually the place where sparkling wine was born somewhere around 1700.  There, the "blind monk" Dom Perignon discovered champagne, exclaiming “Come quickly, I am tasting stars!” Dom Perignon is now known as one of the most famous House Champagnes., long-standing Champagne establishments that strive to blend the best grapes (chardonnay, pinot noir & pinot meunier) from the different regions within Champagne. This house style or house blend is what we love about them.  My house pick for this season is the Nicolas Feuillate Brut Extrem’ Champagne from one of the top three champagne houses.  Fresh and rich with very fine bubbles, this is predominately a Chardonnay blend sourced only from Premier and Grand Cru Vineyards.  Showing a very persistent, fine mousse, rich spice, baked-bread, citrus and white flowers. The Feuillatte is vibrant and fresh with a purity of fruit; it screams for oysters or French Brie (my mouth is watering as I write). In the last 10 to 20 years we have had another gift from Champagne.  Some call it farmer fizz, I call it art in the bottle; the proper term is Grower Champagnes.  Grower Champagnes focus on blending grapes from their tiny parcels of terroir. These farmer/winemakers bring us their small parcels and give us a taste like no other and they do it all at a very affordable price.  Every time I take a sip of a Grower Champagne, my heart leaps and I feel truly grateful for the gift! This year’s show stopper is the Gaston Chiquet NV “Tradition” from Dizy (a small region within Champagne).  Only 7,500 cases were made of this gorgeous blend (35% Chardonnay, 45 % pinot meunier, 20% Pinot Noir). Soft and round with layers of flavor: fresh orchard apples dipped in caramel, a hint of cardamon, full-bodied with a walnut finish; truly special.  To identify grower champagnes, look for RM (recoltant-manipulant, or grower-producer) on the label. Looking for a more affordable bubbly, something easy to drink and fun to celebrate with? I bring you Italy’s Prosecco and Spain’s Cava! Prosecco wines are perfect for New Year’s festivities. Prosecco is a term applied to a specific type of wine as well as the grape that is used to make it. The Prosecco grape is primarily grown in a region of Italy known as Veneto. It is also grown in the Valdobbiadene and Conegliano wine regions, both north of Venice.  It's a type of sparkling wine that's light, simple and easy to like. Prosecco grapes are used to make two types of sparkling wine. They can be used to make spumante, a dry sparkling wine, or frizzante wines, which are semi-sparkling. I adore the non-vintage Presto Prosecco Brut. It is made in the spumante style, but with only 11% alcohol, it is the perfect palate pleaser! Not too dry, not too sweet, pretty effervescence, bright and refreshing – easy on the wallet. The dazzling fizz produced in Spain’s Catalonia region under the collective name Cava may not be entitled to use the name Champagne, but it’s a superb party wine, made with a whole lot of delicious Spanish passion that shows in every bottle.  The grapes used to produce Cava include local Catalonian varieties such as Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel-lo, plus newcomers Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for certain wines.  The Organic Tarantas Cava Brut gets my pick!  It is made with the three classical Cava grape varieties (organic Macabeu, Xarel-lo and Parellada) following the "champenoise method" and laid to rest for more than 9 months.  This might be the best deal in the store.  Apple and spice tickles your tongue with the most pleasant hint of warm licorice! Try anything fried with this firecracker! Oh so tasty!

Leave a reply

To provide feedback or ask a question about our company, a store or a product, please visit our Customer Service page.

For more information about posting comments to our blog, please see our Comment Posting Guidelines.



Blissful Details says …

Love the info on Champagne! It'll help us this New Year's eve.

Olivia says …

I would like to get in touch with Jen Powell. I currently live in New Orleans, and I had an inquiry for her regarding her previous store, Sip. If I could obtain her email address, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you, Olivia