Collaborative Blends From Illinois Sparkling Co.

Ed.'s note: City Provisions Deli has closed, and Cleetus Friedman has relocated to Fountainhead. ISC's sparkling wines are available at wine shops across town, and online.

The Chicago drink world is full of collaborative spirits and brews.

But collaboratively made Midwest wine was something we hadn't come across until a recent sipping session at City Provisions Deli.

Last month, owner Cleetus Friedman debuted a wine made with Illinois Sparkling Co., a producer of standout sparklers located 100 miles southwest of Chicago. Friedman brought in another player to the project, too: Rare Tea Cellar, its oolong tea flavoring the brandy-based dosage Friedman added to the wine.

The resulting wine, called Freak of Nature, is a brut-style sparkler with plenty of ripe stone-fruit flavor. The first batch of 120 bottles is dwindling ($40 for 750 ml), but another round will be released next month. Our advice: Stock up on this food-friendly bubbly pre-Thanksgiving, as it's one that can stand up to a meaty, savory spread.

The winery's second cooperative effort launched last week, this time crafted with River North Champagne bar and shop Pops for Champagne. Ensemble ($40 for 750 ml) is a bone-dry blend with soft effervescence, solid acidity and weighty body courtesy of Chambourcin, an indigenous red grape.

Coming collaborations include one of the spirited variety: Evanston's Few distillery is currently transforming its Cabernet Franc grape skins into grappa.

Buy Illinois Sparkling Co.'s Freak of Nature online. Pick up a bottle of Ensemble at Pops for Champagne, 601 N. State St.; 312-266-7677 or