In the spirit of the upcoming holiday season, Whole Foods Market recently conducted a regional staff sparkling wine tasting, charged with the important task of finding the best bubbly for their customers. Six categories of sparkling wines, from prosecco to cava, domestic to imported, and champagne to moscato were sampled, rated and discussed, sifting through more than 200 sparkling wines, to find the top dozen to stock their shelves for holiday cheer.
This was an impressive team effort, with Roger Fawcett, Whole Foods Market’s regional wine and spirits buyer for the Western US, leading the tasting panel, which was comprised of representatives from several different stores. Each person brought their own perspective, sensitive to their local consumers palate, knowing what sells and what people like.
Roger, who is certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers, seeks out new wines personally through visits to local vineyards and winemakers. He gathered a broad selection of wines, divided them into categories, popped their corks, and the sipping and savoring began.
As the bottles were passed among the team members, the wines were tasted, and rated on a scale from 1-10. Then, tallies were done, the top wines in each category were identified, and then other factors were discussed, such as price point.
After careful consideration, the team tasting recommendations go to Whole Foods Market’s head office, where another round of tasting is done, and a consensus is reached. It’s a well thought out decision, targeted at what Whole Foods customers desire. What makes Whole Foods successful in their wine program is knowing their customer base.
While there was a difference of opinion on many of the sparklers, champagne still proves a crowd pleaser. The top champagne was Perrier Jouet NV Grand Brut, percolating a spiral of lively bubbles, with aromas and flavors of white cherry, ripe apricot, and a hint of ginger, with mineral notes, it’s a delicate, subtly complex wine with a toasty edge.
The second runner-up was Ernest Rapeneau Premier Cru Grande Reserve NV Brut, an elegant champagne full of golden apples and oven baked bread, with a persistent bubble stream. Another hit was the Perlage 2012 Col di Manza Millesimato Rive Di Ogliano Prosecco Superiore DOCG, with pear, apple, and almond notes, and a hint of apricot, with lots of tiny bubbles, a mineral nose, and medium finish.
Whole Foods Market is committed to providing quality and value in their wine offerings, shown by their thoughtful decision-making process, and also their partnership with local winemakers in their One Wine program. And if you need help picking a wine, just ask the informed wine specialists who work there, as they can find the right wine to fit any budget or occasion.