Pops Suggests Best Summer Champagnes
by rachel gillman
Champagne is the quintessential addition to all of life’s celebrations, but it’s downright de rigueur when the occasion is commemorating the bubbly beverage itself. Pops for Champagne, Chicago’s most revered spot for all things sparkling, has hit the big 3-0, maturing from a small Lakeview bar to an upscale downtown destination that boasts one of the most comprehensive Champagne selections in the country.
To help customers navigate the list of 150-plus varieties, Pops employs a knowledgeable staff captained by resident sommelier and beverage director W. Craig Cooper, who has become accustomed to coupling Chicago’s celebrations with Champagne.
“I regularly get asked what Champagnes I would recommend,” says Cooper. “At Pops, our mission is to show that Champagne can and should be enjoyed year-round, so my typical answer is, ‘Your favorite.’ As for what to recommend for a party, that is one that deserves a certain consideration.”
Have a celebration coming up? Contemplate this selection of standouts from Pops’s expertly curated Champagne list.
Bellavista Franciacorta Cuvée Brut: This pale sparkling wine from Lombardy, Italy, captures the essence of easy drinking with a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, and Pinot Noir grapes and a hint of spice and acid. It’s an ideal pairing for an alfresco meal of Italian fare.
Ayala Rich Majeur Demi-Sec: For sweeter palates, this offering from Ayala finds the balance between honeyed and cloying with a taste of sparkling nectar. The higher sugar content also accelerates the effervescent feeling that comes from sipping Champagne.
Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut: If the ocean produced Champagne, this would be its selection. Bone dry, acidic, and slightly briny, this seafood-friendly wine pairs perfectly with oysters. It is a rare Champagne produced without added sugars, from a blend of very ripe Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Pops makes the pairing wallet-friendly with $1 oysters on weeknights 3–7 pm.
H. Billiot 2004 Grand Cru: A vintage wine aged for five years and composed entirely of that year’s harvest. This particular selection comes mainly from Pinot Noir grapes with an intense, layered flavor. The rich and rewarding taste is worth the investment.
photography by jimmy fishbein (pops); stockfood.com (bottle)
Michigan Avenue celebrates with cover star Harrison Ford at Chicago Cut Steakhouse.