Drinks with Pat: Pop the bubbly

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With the New Year quickly approaching, it’s a good idea to prepare the sparkling wine and get it on ice.

GR Mag sat down with Tristan Walczewski, general manager at Bistro Bella Vita and beverage director of Essence Restaurant Group. He recently passed his level three sommelier exam, becoming one of just three level three somms in West Michigan.

He’s also the only one working in a commercial retail establishment.

Here are his suggestions for bubbly, whether it be for New Years Eve or simply enjoying the next time you need a glass of sparkles.

Pierre Moncuit Blanc de Blancs, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Champagne, France, non-vintage (NV)

The world would be a better place if we were all drinking grower Champagne. Pierre Moncuit’s vineyard holdings in the Cote de Blancs exclusively are produced from a single vintage, thoughtfully crafted in the grand cru commune of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and based on the Chardonnay grape. This is a wine meant for everyone’s glass.

Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, North Coast, California, 2018

Did you know Schramsberg is the most poured wine in the White House? We’re looking forward to pouring this by the glass at the restaurant on New Years Eve. Arguably one of the New World’s premier sparkling wine houses, Schramsberg is distinct in that it exclusively releases vintage wines produced via the traditional method, at exceptional value to Champagne.

Krug ‘Grande Cuvee’, Champagne, France, NV

An exercise in balance, Krug is the master of delicacy: a ballet dancer of fragility and beauty covered in glass. If Krug provides anything, it is the rationale for opulence (or an excuse). Wines individually are assembled from over 200 different single plots, before being masterfully blended and further developed over the course of nearly two decades. Choose life!

Andre Clouet ‘Un Jour de 1911’, Champagne, France, multivintage

A shining star in oxidative styles of Champagne, 1911 exists in 100% Pinot Noir form. Focused on the 1996 vintage (and bolstered with a healthy dose of 1995 and 1997), Clouet has created one of the world’s best kept secrets (and values). Dried apricot, toasted brioche, savory minerality, German stollen… An excellent exercise of prestige from one of Champagne’s finest growers.

Naveran Brut Vintage Rosado, Alt-Penedes, Spain, 2018

Estate-grown and produced via the traditional method, Naveran is one of the most prestigious estates in Penedes. Primarily focused on Pinot Noir, this is high-quality sparkling at insane value. A healthy dose of the traditional Parellada, experience complexity and depth that reach new levels. The best part? You can find it for $20 or less.

Champagnes might be hard to come by, perhaps, as there was talk of a champagne shortage earlier this year. Don’t shy away from a few, affordable American brands either: Mumm Napa, Gruet and L. Mawby Sex.

Also of note: Walczewski runs the Bistro Bella Vita wine club, a monthly selection of three wines.

What’s Pat sipping on this week?

At a recent dinner at MeXo, I enjoyed a delicious Paloma Clasico, a tart, yet refreshing tequila cocktail made with Mexican squirt, grapefruit, lime and salt. It well went with the original menu, especially the shrimp ala diablo I ordered.

At home, the High West Campfire has been hitting the right spots as a nightcap. The blend of scotch, bourbon and rye whiskey from Utah is unique in the way all the whiskeys come together on the nose, tongue and down the throat.

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