Friday, December 30, 2011

Ben's Bubbly: The Jumping Grape

Well, with my family in town and four different Christmases to attend I am finally getting around to this week's (well, last week's wine) bubbly write-up. Ben enjoyed having the grandparents, aunts and uncles around all week, but that is for next week's post! If Ben knew that I was posting almost a week late, he would probably throw a mini temper tantrum. That, after all, is his new thing of the week. He is quite fascinated by the TV remote control, but when we try to take the thing away from him he throws the biggest hissy fit. He screams and glares at you. We've tried coaxing him with other remote controls, but the TV remote is the only one he wants. This makes watching TV a bit difficult when he keeps his little fingers pressed down on the channel up button. The only way to get it away from him is to really stoke his interest in something else. We are hoping that this little temper control problem is only just a phase, but we shall see...

The Jumping Grape, Sparkling Red Wine, Padthaway, South Australia

Most sparkling wine is white, although some is pink. A few Australian wineries are trying to make a new trend with sparkling red wines (yes, I know Italy produces some sweet red bubbly). Unfortunately, I am not a fan. This blend of 80% shiraz and 20% cabernet sauvignon would be a very nice still wine, but it was not to be. The base wine for this bubbly was aged five years in oak, and you could taste every year. Lush red raspberries are accented by sweet vanilla and a hint of cracked black pepper on both the nose and the palate. I like Aussie shiraz and I like sparkling wine, but I do not like the outcome when they combine forces. I am hopeful that next week's (New Year's Eve's) bubbly will more than make up for this disappointing bottle. 12.5% abv Purchased $16. Average

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Meet the Winemaker: Brian Stevens (Talon Wine Brands)

Brian Stevens
As you may or may not know, one Colorado winery has some serious California connections. In 1976, W. Reed Foster helped found the icon Ravenswood winery. A few decades later, his son Glenn worked as a winemaker at several small wineries in Colorado. In 2008, after owning and operating a retail store in Fruita, CO, Glenn bought three small wineries of his own. As the Talon Wine Brands grew, Glenn brought on a second winemaker. Brian Stevens was an elementary school teacher and home brewer, but is now the winemaker for one of the state's largest wineries.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Meet the Winemaker: Steve Flynn (Vino Salida)

Steve Flynn
Like many of Colorado's winemakers, Steve Flynn started as an amateur home winemaker. In 2009, Steve decided to start Vino Salida in Salida, CO. One of the unique characteristics is the winery's location. Most of the state's wineries are located in the Grand Valley AVA, the West Elks AVA or along the Front Range between Fort Collins and Colorado Springs. Salida is a old mountain railroad town and at almost 6,000 residents is Chaffee County's most populous city. Even at such a small size, Salida was already home to another winery, Mountain Spirit Winery. It is not the center of the wine industry or a large metropolis bustling with consumers eager to drink wine, but Steve has decided to make Salida home for his young winery.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ben's Bubbly: Domaine le Capitaine Vouvray Methode Traditionelle Brut

Ben just keeps getting cuter each week. One of his new things is sharing. He loves offering his Cheerios or water bottle to us as we feed him. He gets super excited when we gladly accept his goodies. One of his new food goodies is tofu. We dice up the tofu into pea-sized cubes and dust them with crumbled Cheerios to make them easier to grab. While he enjoys eating the tofu, he also loves throwing it and smashing it on his high chair tray. He is really enjoying feeding himself and often ends up with the spoon in one hand and food from ear to ear and hair to chin.

Domaine le Capitaine Vouvray, Methode Traditionelle Brut

Yes, France makes sparkling wine outside of the Champagne region. This sparkling Vouvray is made from 100% chenin blanc (as is all Vouvray, still or sparkling). This wine is a lovely golden color and has fine bubbles. The nose is a bit richer than Champagne with notes of honey, baked pear, and orange blossom. The flavors are equally unique. The minerality and acidity combine to yield a pleasant saltiness, along with flavors of rye bread and orange marmalade. This is not going to be confused with top-notch bubbly, but at a fraction of the price it is a tasty alternative.12.5% abv Purchased $16 Good

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Key is Tasting (blind)

There are a lot about misconceptions of Colorado wine. First, and most egregious, is the quality factor. Sure, just as with any wine region, Colorado wineries produce some not-so-tasty juice. But consider Bordeaux. There are somewhere on the order of 10,000 producers just in the broad Bordeaux wine region. 10,000. That is more than all of the wineries in the United States! When most wine aficionados discuss Bordeaux, we are referring to less than 100 producers. The current evolution of the 1855 Bordeaux Classification includes 61 châteaus. A handful of right bank producers in and around the towns of Saint-Émilion and Pomerol are now as highly regarded as the classified châteaus of the Médoc. My point is, only about 1% of the wineries are Bordeaux are considered to produce high-quality wine. The rest is probably mediocre to less than mediocre (or at least by the standards of the wine tastemakers). The same concept can be applied to the wineries of California. There are more wineries in California producing plonk than meticulously crafting fine wine, and I bet you can name a few wineries in both camps. The good news is, if you know which wineries to seek out, you can find wine you like.

Colorado is no different. With over 100 wineries in the state, I'd be willing to bet (not $10,000) that the average wine consumer in the state could not name more than 5 wineries. If they were to taste wines from all 100, consumers might find wines that they consider to be at the same quality level as wines from California or even (gasp!) France. One of the best ways to get wine drinkers to try new wines is through restaurant wine lists. When I worked in the retail tier of the industry, I was surprised how often people came into the store and said they tried a wine at a restaurant and wanted to by a bottle. I was relieved when people actually new which wine it was and not just that it had a red label. Unfortunately, one of the problems with the idea of getting Colorado wine onto reputable restaurant wine lists is convincing the wine buyers!

Luckily for Colorado, there are more than a few chefs and sommeliers who are open to the idea of adding more local juice to their lists. With the help of Colorado Wino (Jacob Harkins) and Swirl Girl Denver (Kendra Anderson), we've put together the #DenverWineCru where we blind tasted Colorado Wine against the world. Our goal is to see how Colorado wines compare to wines from established wine regions.

We were joined at the first by a group of eager winos and Jensen Cummings, Executive Chef at Row 14. We tasted a lineup of five different wine styles with wines from Colorado and elsewhere around the world in each flight. When things were all said and done, everyone left impressed with Colorado's quality. Colorado didn't "win" every flight, but even when it didn't there were many more home runs than strike outs (and there were a few...).

Here are my notes of the wines that I took as we tasted without know what was in each bottle:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Meet the Winemaker: Debra Ray (Desert Moon Vineyards)

Debra Ray
One of the common misconceptions about the Colorado Wine industry is that all of the wineries are located on the western slope of the Rockies. Yes, most of the vineyards are located in the Grand Valley and West Elks AVAs, but 60% of the wineries are actually located east of the Continental Divide. The major reason for this is the customer base is located along the Front Range. This fact was motivation enough for one winery to relocate from Palisade to Centennial. Desert Moon Vineyards was founded by Paul Hilbink and Debra Ray in 2002 with the first vintage released in 2004. Last year, they decided to move the production facilities (i.e., winery) to the Front Range to better meet consumer demand while maintaining the vineyard in Palisade. Debra designed a stylish tasting room where they host events, including wine education seminars, business meetings, weddings, dinners, & social get-togethers. Keep your eye on Groupon and Living Social to take advantage of great deals on their selection of educational, yet entertaining classes. And with that, this week we welcome Debra Ray from Desert Moon Vineyards in this edition of Meet the Winemaker.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nothing beats Champagne for sparkling wine

It is that time of year again when all of the newspapers start publishing their Champagne stories in time for the New Year celebrations. Both the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle have gotten in on the action. The NYT piece focused on how the big négociants (they buy grapes from independent growers) are dealing with the push for terroir-driven wine, whereas the Chronicle described how grower-producers have gained ground in the Champagne conversation. Several weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend a tasting of importer Terry Theise's grower-producer Champagne selections. I think these wines offer some of the best value (not necessarily inexpensive) for sparkling wine from around the world, and I wanted to share the highlights of this tasting with you.

There is a lot of sparkling wine in the world. Unfortunately, only a small portion of it is Champagne. Champagne is sparkling wine from the Champagne region in northeast France. True Champagne is made predominantly from three grapes (chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier) though up to seven cultivars are permissible (more on that later). Sparkling wine from other regions can be made from any number of grapes, and while the style may be similar to Champagne, it is not Champagne. If you're drinking sparkling wine from Germany, it is called Sekt, Spanish bubbly is called Cava, and the most predominant Italian sparkling wine is called Prosecco. Even in other French regions, the term Champagne may not be used. One of the main reasons for the seemingly strict semantics is terroir. Champagne's distinctive natural characteristics are based on its exceptionally northerly location (it is France's most northern viticultural area) and its location in a geologic formation known as the Paris Basin. Here, the grapes take root in Cretaceous chalk, which is key to true Champagne. While the method of production may be duplicated elsewhere, the terroir is unique.

Despite this uniqueness, there is an increasing dichotomy of Champagne. Most of the Champagne that you and I see on retail shelves or on restaurant wine lists is dominated by a few brands. The big luxury négociants produce millions of bottles of wine each year in an industrial process that rivals the biggest wine factories of Modesto, California. These négociants own very little of the vineyards and buy most of their grapes from grape growers and blend grapes from all over the region. Only 3.8% of the Champagne sold in the United States is made by small growers that handcraft their Champagne from individual vineyards and villages. Terry Theise is one of the main U.S. importers of this "farmer fizz," and sells some of the best Champagne that money can buy. After tasting over 50 different wines, I found 6 that should be purchased when spotted on store shelves. I used to think that most bubbly was the same (and still do to some extent), but these 6 wines are well worth their cost and will open your eyes to what Champagne really means.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ben's Bubbly: Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Sofia Mini

Ben has really started to discover his voice. Rarely is there a quite moment in our house anymore. While he has babbled for quite some, he is learning how to adjust his volume. When mom and dad are talking and Ben is not included in the conversation, we usually are notified of the injustice by very loud baby noises. When we recognize Ben's presence (and usually pick him up), we get a smile and quiet from the little man. He also lets us know when he wants our attention by cruising the furniture and attempting to pull himself up our legs. He definitely makes sure that we don't ever forget about him!

Our sparkling wine (or at least the packaging) this week is also trying to insert itself in the wine conversation. Canned wine has been around for almost 75 years, but is recently seeing a resurgence. Last week, The New York Times, Palate Press: the online wine magazine (written by yours truly) and The San Francisco Examiner all published articles about the revitalization of putting wine into aluminum cans. Just as with Ben, canned wines are starting to discover their voice. I predict that we will start to see more wines in cans in the near future.

Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Sofia, Blanc de Blancs, California

This funky little can should fool you about what is inside. With less than 1% residual sugar, this is true sparkling wine and not a gimmick. This fruit forward bubbly also comes in a tradition glass bottle, but the straw-adorned travel-size cans add a bit of zestiness to the boring row of bottles on the liquor store shelf. This blanc de blancs (82% Pinot Blanc, 10% Riesling, 8% Muscat) is very aromatic with pear and flowers tempting your nose. The bombardment of fruit continues in the mouth with pears dominating the show, but golden apples and zesty lemons make a cameo. We drank it with the straw, from the can and poured into a flute. I definitely recommend using a glass. But, when you’re in the mood for something different, yet familiar, grab a can from this reputable produce and try drinking from a straw. You might have more fun than you think you can with wine. 11.5% abv Purchase $5 (187 mL) Good

Thursday, December 8, 2011

‘Can’ Packaging from Beer World Work with Wine Too?

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but does an aluminum can always signal a low brow beverage? Less than ten years ago, canned beers were limited to low-flavor, mass-produced macrobrews. A small craft brewer decided to change that stigma. In November 2002, Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons, Colorado launched its “Canned Beer Apocalypse.” Dale Katechis decided to can an assertive and flavorful Pale Ale, one can at a time. With an expanded lineup of bold and critically acclaimed canned brews, great canned beer is no longer an oxymoron. Now, over 130 craft breweries can beer, including Oskar Blues’ much larger neighbor to the south, New Belgium Brewery.

The company that helped Oskar Blues break the mold, Broomfield, CO-based Ball Corporation, thinks that they can (pun intended) do the same for the wine market that they did for craft beer. Dan Vorlage, Director of Business for Ball’s Beverage Packaging Division thinks, “canned wine offers an elegant way to deliver wine and ultimately allows consumers to have a ready-to-drink package that can go places where glass bottles can’t go.”

Continue reading at Palate Press: the online wine magazine.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Meet the Winemaker: John Garlich (Bookcliff Vineyards)

John Garlich
Well, after a week without a winemaker interview, we are back with one of Colorado's elite winemakers. Last year, Bookcliff Vineyards won Colorado's second ever Jefferson Cup for their 2009 Petite Sirah (their Ensemble red blend was also a Jefferson Cup Nominee). They continued to rack up top honors as they won two best of category awards at this year's Colorado Governor's Cup. While starting to gain a national reputation for producing excellent wines (see Daily Grape #77), they remain a local favorite. They produce a argosy of wines, their robust reds and luscious muscat-based dessert wines are some of my favorite in Colorado.

One of only four Boulder wineries, Bookcliff Vineyards has sort of a split personality. The winery is located in an urban industrial park in North Boulder next to Upslope Brewering Company, but they also own and manage 24 acres of vineyard in Palisade, CO, growing ten different varieties. If you haven't tried a wine from Bookcliff, I urge you to go get a bottle and come back to read our interview with owner and winemaker, John Garlich.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ben's Bubbly: Humberto Canale Extra Brut

Each week, Ben is developing new traits. During the past few weeks, he had four top teeth come in, and he's developed a funny face where he opens his jaws with his lips tightly pulled over top and bottom teeth. We call it his turtle face. We assume that he is doing it because of the odd sensation of teeth against his lips, but either way it is still funny. The other new thing that Ben has started is pointing, but in a style that is truly his own. Instead of using the traditional pointer finger, he uses his whole arm with this hand open, palm side up a la Vanna White. Mom likes to think that he is channeling his inner Steve Carrel from when Michael Scott (The Office) meets Holly and realizes that they have a lot in common, raises his arm and says, "Acting!" (sorry, can't find a video to link).

Humberto Canale, Extra Brut, Patagonia, Argentina

I always keep my eyes out for interesting wines, so when I saw this bottle on clearance at local retailer I didn't hesitate. This blend of 50% semillon, 30% pinot noir, 10% merlot, 10% sauvignon blanc comes from one of the southernmost wine regions in the world. It is pale yellow with greenish tint. The nose is very floral and full of fresh peach and apple aromas. White peaches and tart pineapple flavors dominate the palate. Overall, this unique bubbly is very dry (too much so for my wife at first taste), yet very smooth. I quite enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it as an unusual blend of grapes.

12.6% abv Purchased $12 Good/Very Good

Friday, December 2, 2011

2009 J Vineyards and Winery Pinot Noir, RRV

2009 pinot noir from California and Oregon are slowly being released. The past few months have seen several reviews of 2009 pinot noir from Jon Bonné, in the SF Chronicle and Allen Meadows just released Burghound #44 (subscription required) with his reviews of CA and OR 2009 pinot noir. Consensus among most pundits has been that following the smoke-tainted 2008 vintage (I was in the Russian River Valley during the fires) the 2009 vintage offers some spectacular wines. Sad to say that I haven't had many. However, I did have the pleasure of drinking a 2009 pinot noir from J Vineyards and Winery several months before its January 2012 release date. I know that it is inappropriate to judge an entire vintage based on one sample, but given that this wine is produced under the broad, and newly expanded, Russian River Valley appellation when most wineries save their best grapes for vineyard-designate and special cuveé releases, I would think consumers should be on the lookout for well-priced 2009 California (and Sonoma-based producers in particular) pinot noir.

2009 J Vineyards & Winery Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

The first thing you notice in this medium red elixir is the complex aromas of cherries, cedar, cloves,  raspberries. Only a slight bit of alcohol noticed on the nose causes pause. Luckily, the alcohol is nowhere to be found on the palate. Lots of red fruit (cherries, raspberries, dark strawberries) are complemented by hints of spice and black tea. This basic pinot noir offers an excellent value from a producer with pedigree. Look for it to be on store shelves come February. 14.3% abv Sample $35. Very Good

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Colorado winery wins Jefferson Cup for third year in a row!

Two weeks ago, Doug Frost (one of only three people in the world to hold both the Master of Wine and Master Sommelier credentials) gathered a group of wine experts to taste "the best of the best among wineries from all of America’s wine regions." This year, Frost selected (wineries need to be selected and not just submit wine and an entry fee) wine from twenty-two states and award the Jefferson Cup to wines made from both Vitis vinifera and non-vinifera grapevines. For the third year in a row, a Colorado winery walked away with top honors. Congratulations to Canyon Wind Cellars for winning a 2011 Jefferson Cup and joining the ranks of Colorado's previous Cup winners: Boulder Creek Winery and Bookcliff Vineyards.

While Canyon Wind Cellars was the only winery to earn a Jefferson Cup, all of the other Colorado wineries that were invited earned an impressive array of awards. Below is the list of Colorado winners. To view the complete list of awards, please visit Doug Frost's website here.

Anemoi Wines
Medal of Excellence, 2009 Boreas

Bookcliff Vineyards
Medal of Excellence, 2009 Cabernet Franc Reserve
Medal of Excellence, 2010 Petite Sirah
Medal of Merit, 2010 Syrah Reserve

Boulder Creek Vineyards
Medal of Excellence, NV Consensus
Medal of Merit, 2008 Merlot
Medal of Merit, 2009 Syrah

Canyon Wind Cellars
Jefferson Cup Winner, 2009 Petit Verdot
Medal of Excellence, 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon
Medal of Merit, 2009 47-Ten Red

Reeder Mesa Vineyards
Medal of Excellence, 2009 Petit Verdot
Medal of Merit, 2009 Land's End Red
Medal of Merit, 2009 CabSyrah
Medal of Merit, 2009 Petite Sirah

The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey
Jefferson Cup Nominee, 2009 Merlot
Medal of Excellence, 2009 Cabernet Franc Reserve
Medal of Excellence, 2009 Cabernet Franc
Medal of Excellence, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Medal of Merit, 2008 Syrah
Medal of Merit, 2009 Merlot Reserve
Medal of Merit, 2009 Revelation

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ben's Bubbly: Redstone Meadery Black Raspberry Nectar

Ben has been quite busy this past week. He continues crawling all over the place and is starting to cruise. His favorite game continues to be playing with the cats. One cat still wants nothing to do with Ben, but the other is a good sport when he gets a handful of fur. This past week at daycare he discovered that his friends have hair, too. The caregiver told mom that as she was laying one of the other babies down for a nap she heard a scream from the other room. She rushed out to see what was the matter only to find our dear little Ben on top of one of his older classmates smiling away with two fistfuls of hair. I guess we shouldn't be surprised as the easiest way to get him to laugh at home is letting him pull our hair. In terms of new life skills, he has started to understand how to high five. He now slaps any open palm near him. He really is getting cuter every week!

Redstone Meadery, Black Raspberry Nectar

This is the first time I've posted on mead. For those of you that don't know, mead is often considered honey wine. While most purists would claim that mead is not wine, meaderies (along with those that make cider and perry) are licensed as wineries. In fact, Redstone Meadery might be biggest winery in Colorado. They have an advantage as they can produce mead year round and don't have to wait for a short harvest season.

Dark pink color, this slightly sparkling mead looks like the color of a jolly rancher. It smells like a low-sugar natural soda with a bouquet of raspberries and honeycomb. I was expecting lots of sweetness from the nose, but only a hint of raspberry and loads of dried honey were to be found on the palate. This is not going to make oenophiles scratch their heads while deep in thought, but it is refreshing and might make a good change of pace or simple summertime sipper. 8% abv Purchased $20 Average/Good

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ben's Bubbly: Taltarni Brut Taché

It is a few days late, but I didn't forget about Ben's Bubbly this week. Traveling and the holidays can really mess up your schedule. I was in Napa last week (more on that visit in the coming weeks) and in Grand Junction a few days after getting back. A lot happens when you're out of town with a baby at home. A day after leaving, I got a call from my wife telling me that our teething boy had not one but four teeth coming in on top! He looks like such a little person now with his toothy grin.

Taltarni Brut Taché, Victoria and Tasmania, Australia
This Australian sparkler is made from the same traditional varieties as Champagne (52% pinot noir, 42% chardonnay and 6% pinot meunier). Fermented as a white wine, when the bottle was disgorged it was stained (Taché is French for stained) with red wine. The final result is an orangeish copper color. It has a bouquet of fresh strawberries and cherries. The palate has the same fruit combined with a slight yeastiness. This is a simple, yet entirely pleasant and refreshing wine. 13% abv Purchased $17 Good/Very Good

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Meet the Winemaker: Michelle Cleveland (Creekside Cellars)

Michelle Cleveland - Creekside Cellars
There is a misconception in Colorado that most of the state's wineries are along the western slope in the Grand Valley. It is true that most of the vineyards are located there along with a critical mass of wineries, but almost half of the state's wineries are spread out along the Front Range between Fort Collins and Pueblo. The reason for this is simple: the Front Range is where the consumers are found. While not surrounded by picturesque vineyards as the wineries in the Grand Valley, these "urban" wineries are found in Quonset huts, industrial parks and even in quaint little mountain towns. If you live in Denver, you don't have far to go to find a winery producing world-class wine. And if you haven't had the pleasure yet of having a glass of local wine along with a plate of charcuterie while overlooking Bear Creek, I suggest you get up to Evergreen to visit with our guest this week, Michelle Cleveland.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Meet the Winemaker: Kyle Schlachter (Colorado Wine Press)

As you may have noticed from the title, I am interviewing myself today. I thought it would be interesting for me to answer the questions I pose to Colorado's winemakers. And, no, I am not a winemaker. I would love to give it a go with a very small batch, perhaps as early as next harvest, but my winemaking skills are limited to mixing the dredges of leftover bottles to see what happens. Turns out I'm no master blender...

CWP: How did you get into winemaking?

Well, I am not a winemaker, but I got into wine about ten years ago when I met the woman would be become my wife. I tried so hard to impress her that I would cook her dinner and as she had just returned from a semester in Spain, I usually bought the best Spanish wines I could afford (i.e. $20). One of these wines, a 1994 Conde de Valdemar Rioja Gran Reserva, really knocked my socks off and made we want to learn about why this particular bottle was so much better than any other wines I had previously. I started reading wine books and taking wine classes and the rest is history.

CWP: If you weren’t in the wine business, where would you be working?

I would probably have finished my Ph.D. by now, be teaching at a university and researching how the environments of Colorado's or Costa Rica's mountains ecosystems have changed over the past 20,000 years using lake sediments. While I enjoyed the thrill of scientific discovery, using hazardous chemicals and staring through a microscope for hours at a time were not all that thrilling.

CWP: What do you do when you’re not at the winery?

When I take my wine hat off (which is not very often) I enjoy playing tennis, running, gardening and, of course, playing with Ben.

CWP: What is a wine that you currently do not make that you want to make?

As I make no wine, I think sparkling wine would be a fun challenge to undertake. I think Colorado has the potential to make good bubbly, but we need someone to invest the intensive labor and capital involved to do so properly.

CWP: If you could make wine in any wine region in the world, other than Colorado, where would you be making wine and why?e

I thought I would say Spain, but as I learn more about Friuli I think that there are a lot of interesting wines being produced there. I would love to break the mold and make orange wines in amphora buried in the ground. Plus, the sheer diversity of varieties and styles will allow Friulian wines to really become popular in the future.

CWP: What is the best bottle of wine you’ve ever drunk?

Best and most memorable are so different. The wine that I still think about to this day is that 1994 Conde de Valdemar Rioja Gran Reserva. It may not be the most exceptional wine that has ever crossed my lips, but if I had to choose only one wine experience to carry with me the rest of my life, I'd forget all the others if I could keep that one with me.

CWP: To what style of music would you compare your wine lineup?

If I were making wine, I think I'd like to make wine in the style of Queen. I think that Queen is perhaps one of the, if not the, greatest band of all time. They made unique music that is underrated. Every time I hear a Queen song, I think, "what a great song." I would want people to do the same with my wine.

CWP: What do you think consumers should think of when they think about Colorado Wine?

I would like Colorado consumers to think of it first when they think of wine. So much has been made of the locavore movement, but wine is often an afterthought.

CWP: Where do you see the Colorado wine industry in 10 years?

In ten years, I see consumers not questioning the quality of wine with Colorado on the label. While we will never be as big as California, Washington, Oregon or New York and sold all over the world, we will at least be able to consistently produce wines that can compete in quality.

CWP: What question would you like to ask me and my readers?

What wine publications/media to you regular go to for wine information?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ben's Bubbly: Scharffenberger Cellars Brut

This week, drooling Ben was back in full force. One of his front upper teeth is coming in and boy is he teething again. If he is not slobbering all over his hand, he is chewing on something else to help him with the tooth. Thankfully, he hasn't been too crabby about it this time around. We've also expanded his diet by adding peas. He wasn't too excited about the canned peas he had tried previously, but the frozen peas that I made for him have been a big hit; though not quite as well liked as sweet potatoes! Finally this week, he has moved on to knee crawling for almost all of his self-locomotion. He loves crawling around after his rubber soccer ball. He even enjoys kicking it when he is walking while holding on to one of us. Before we know it he'll be running around on his own.

Scharffenberger Cellars Brut

We decided to go back to California with this week's sparkler. Founded in Anderson Valley by current chocolatier John Scharffenberger in 1981, Scharffenberger Cellars is now owned and operated by Roederer Estate owner Maisons Marques & Domaines. I've had and enjoyed the 1998 Brut before, so I figured I'd give the non-vintage Brut a try. Unfortunately, by comparing the label with the image on the website, I think this bottle is not a recent release and had been on display in the store a bit too long. It smells toasty with notes of lemon and apples, but tastes slightly musty, bordering on chemically. The citrus and apple flavors are still there, but are leaning towards being almost cidery. The wine was not terrible, but I wouldn't recommend buying it. I am hopeful that I can find a newer release and give Scharffenberger another shot. 12% abv Purchased $16 Average

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Meet the Winemaker: Blake Eliasson (Settembre Cellars)

Small and boutique is how one might describe all of Colorado's wineries, but Settembre Cellars is the epitome of small and boutique. Founded in 2007 by Blake and Tracy Eliasson, Settembre produces just a few hundred cases annually. They sell almost all of their wine from the winery and even offer a bicycle delivery service to local wine lovers in Boulder. In addition to recently starting one of the hottest wineries in the state, Blake and Tracy welcomed their first child, Oliver, into the Settembre family a few months ago. Having a recent addition of my own, I am especially appreciative that Blake took the time to be my guest for this week's winemaker interview.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ben's Bubbly: 2006 Marenco, Pineto, Brachetto d'Acqui

Ben trying to escape...
It has only taken seven months, but Ben is now fully mobile. He is crawling everywhere. He wants to walk everywhere (with the aid of mom or dad's hands to steady him). Nothing is safe. He is pulling himself up on furniture and everything left on the furniture is fair game. His newest trick, mastered this past week, is sitting on his own. Now, when we hear him making noise in his crib he is usually sitting up in the middle when he should be sleeping. I don't know if you've tried, but it is difficult to fall asleep while sitting up! It is amazing how time flies and how much he has grown in just a few short months.

2006 Marenco, Pineto, Brachetto d'Acqui DOCG

It is also amazing how time flies when it comes to wine. I bought a case of this wine a few years ago, and had forgotten that a few bottles still remained in our "cellar." Brachetto d'Acqui wines, hailing from the same wine region that gives us both Moscato d'Asti and Barolo, are made to be drunk young, so I figured we should pop one open before it was too late. This bottle is clearly not at its freshest state, but still holding on nonetheless. The color has faded to a light garnet red, but the juice is still frizzante and lively. Fruity on the nose and the palate, this sweet red is dominated by red raspberries, tart cherries and sweet grapes. This wine goes down easy and before you know it they bottle will be gone. But don't fear, at only 5.5% alcohol a whole bottle is not out of the question for just one person to finish! Look for this and other Brachetto d'Acqui wines to pair with chocolate, a movie and a someone to snuggle with. 5.5% abv Purchased $19. Very Good

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Meet the Winemaker: Brooke Webb (Mesa Park Vineyards)

Brooke Webb
Twenty years ago there were only five commercial wineries in the state, so Colorado's wine industry is still in its teenage years. Today, there are over one hundred! Most wineries popped up organically as families decided to give the wine lifestyle a try. Eventually, some wineries changed ownership. Our guest today is the assistant winemaker at one such winery. Mesa Park Vineyards is the newest incarnation of Mesa Grande Vineyards. Bought by the Price clan (Chuck and Patty Price along with their daughter Brooke and her husband Brad Webb) in 2008, they handcraft red wines from the classic Bordeaux cultivars: cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc. Brooke, now juggles being assistant winemaker, mother and a job, but she found the time to answer our questions!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ben's Bubbly: 1998 Freixenet Brut Nature

Changing diapers is now officially a wrestling match. I thought it was a challenge a few weeks ago when he would keep rolling over. Now, with Ben pulling up on everything to stand, I am getting good practice at putting diapers and clothes on him whether he's vertical, horizontal or somewhere in between. He even likes to stand while nursing. He's not even seven months old and keeping the kid off of his feet is a task! Also, this past week Ben got to play with the snow for the first time. The ground stayed white for only two days after our big Denver storm (why are all the East coasters complaining about snow in October???). He liked to grab the snow, but didn't quite know what to think about the cold. What he really liked was dipping his wooden clothes pin in the snow and then chewing on it.

1998 Freixenet Brut Nature, Spain

Surprisingly bright upon opening, this aged cava was bright yellow and slightly carbonated. Different from regular brut wines, this wine saw no sugar in the dosage before being recorked and encapsulated. Unfortunately, not adding sugar when the wine would be better balanced with it is not a good thing. This wine is not bad, but it is exceptionally tart. Mouth puckering green apples and lemon peel dominate the palate. I was more surprised that this wine stood up for so long, especially after standing on the shelf of the non-climate controlled liquor store for most of its life.11.5% abv Purchased $12 Average/Good

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Meet the Winemaker: Jackie Thompson (Boulder Creek)

Jackie Thompson
Most Colorado wineries are small family operations and Boulder Creek Winery is no exception. Mike, Jackie and Will Thompson are the husband, wife and son team that is quickly rising to the top of the Colorado wine hierarchy. Only opened for 8 years, they have been consistently putting out award-winning wines, including Colorado's first ever Jefferson Cup for their 2006 VIP Reserve. They also offer a unique series of blending seminars in which their wine club members actually are responsible for choosing the cépage of Boulder Creek's top red blend. Jackie is the enologist and principal winemaker for Boulder Creek and she joins us this week in our Meet the Winemaker series.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ben's Bubbly: Barefoot Brut Cuvée

Ben has added a new weapon to his arsenal of mobility. One of his favorite new things to do is to stand on his feet. He mostly likes to hold onto mom or dad's fingers and pull himself up, but he is slowly starting to grab onto things, like the edge of the bathtub or laundry baskets, and stand up on his own. While holding on to our fingers, he has no balance, but still tries to lift his little feet and step towards a toy, or even more exciting: a cat. Speaking of the cats, they both are developing more patience with Ben although he still gets a paw to the top of the head when he gets too grabby. Pretty soon they will have their worlds completely upside down when Ben can run after them.

Barefoot Brut Cuvée

After drinking sparkling wines weekly 30 weeks, it is about time one of them actually disappointed. First, it annoys me to see the term word "champagne" on a wine label not from Champagne, France. Unfortunately, an agreement between the U.S. and the E.U. allows U.S. wineries to use the term "champagne"  in conjunction with an appropriate appellation, such as "California," if winery used the semi-generic name (i.e. Champagne) prior to 2006. I am hopeful that with the efforts of the Center for Wine Origins the use of eponymous place names will no longer be allowed on wines from anywhere else.

To top it off, what was in the bottle was also disappointing. I'm not sure what I was expecting, though I have been pleasantly surprised by Barefoot wines in the past. Too bad this sparkling wine isn't a part of that list. When a winery website features a link for cocktail recipes for the wine, you know that it is meant to be mixed. A disjointed mess of acidity and crisp apple make this wine something to avoid if you're planning on drinking it straight. I happen to enjoy mimosas, but feel that using quality wine to mix with orange juice does the wine an injustice. Well, that is where wines like this can serve a purpose.11% abv Purchased $8. Poor/Average

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Meet the Winemaker: John Barbier (Maison la Belle Vie)

John Barbier

Colorado is home to just over 100 wineries, most which are owned and operated by families that started careers in other fields. Some even see their winery as a retirement endeavor. Last week's winemaker/proprietor is the only winery to be run by the second generation. This week's winemaker comes from a long line of winemakers, but from an ocean away. John Barbier grew up in the Loire Valley of France where his family has been making wine for 150 years. John introduced the first vintages of Maison la Belle Vie (French for "House of the Beautiful Life") in 2006. He also owns and operates Le Rouge restaurant and piano bar in downtown Grand Junction. The food is very good, but I was surprised by the numerous spelling errors on the restaurant's fairly extensive wine list and the staff's apathetic response when I pointed out the misspellings.

John is in the process of selling Le Rouge to his brother-slash-restaurant manager so that he can focus on the winery and vineyards. John's wine philosophy is to produce old-world style food-friendly wines. The winery and vineyard also doubles as a wedding and event site dubbed Amy's Courtyard. If you are looking at hosting a beautiful event outside with food and wine as the main attraction, I highly recommend you inquire about John's services.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ben's Bubbly: Kluge Estate 2003 Brut

This past week was quite a week. First, I started a new Meet the Winemaker series to coincide with Regional Wine Week. Second, I attended a Terry Theise grower Champagne tasting with the likes of Pierre Gimonnet, Pierre Peters, Varnier-Fannière, Henri Goutorbe, Gaston Chiquet, L. Aubry, Henri Billiot, Chartogne-Taillet, Pehu-Simonet and Vilmart & Cie. I will report on my thoughts in a few days.

However, the biggest event of the week was Ben's first airplane ride. The three of us traveled to Lawrence, KS for a friend's wedding. We had originally planned on driving, but a deal on airfare convinced us to try flying. It could not have gone any better. Ben mostly spent his time either sleeping or smiling at our neighbor. On the way there, most of the people in the rows around us were actually surprised to see a baby on the plane when they stood up to deplane.

Ben was also lucky enough to spend most of the weekend with his grandma and grandpa who came to Lawrence just to watch him so that we could enjoy our weekend with friends. He was so excited to see them and poke them in their faces instead of just breaking my laptop while talking to them on Skype. The two days went by fast and the grandparents were sad to see him go, but we all hope that it won't be so long until the next visit.

2003 Kluge Estate Brut, Virginia

Much has been published about the winery recently acquired by Donald Trump. So, in the spirit of Regional Wine Week, we popped the cork on this trumped up Virginia bubbly. I decided to open this first of two bottles I recently purchased, because it showed several centimeters of ullage. After pouring into tulip glasses, the dark yellow juice yielded fresh baked bread and lemon aromas. On the palate, it presented bright acidity along with toast, lemons, grapefruit and a disappointingly short finish. This was a fun and decent wine and definitely could have held its own with some of the nondescript Champagne at the tasting, but is far from being mistaken as a top sparkling wine. 12% abv Purchased $18. Good

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Regional Wine Week 2011: Welcome to Colorado

In case you didn't know, this week is Regional Wine Week! Part of the festivities include a 47-word essay contest. DrinkLocalWine board members will select winners based on creativeness, inventiveness and whether they’re 47 words long. Prizes for the winners include tickets to DLW 2012: Colorado, a signed copy of The Wild Vine, copies of The Sipping Point, and Wine Shields. Have you submitted your entry yet? To celebrate Colorado Wine, here is my 47-word essay:

Welcome to Colorado

We have mountains, plains, dunes and trains.
We ski, hike, raft and bike.
But people experience a loss of words when they find
That we also produce world-class wine.

I'm usually quiet, but I’ll be vocal
When it comes to wine, please Drink Local

Carlson Vineyards

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Meet the Winemaker: Jay Christianson (Canyon Wind Cellars)

Jay Christianson
Starting today, and every Wednesday, I will pose nine questions to one of Colorado's winemakers and he or she will pose one to you and me. This new series is intended to introduce the people who make Colorado wine happen. Let the winemakers know that you care by commenting and responding to their question.

For the inaugural "Meet the Winemaker" interview, I ask Jay Christianson of Canyon Wind Cellars nine questions and he asks two! Canyon Wind Cellars was founded in 1991 by Jay's parents at the eastern edge of the Grand Valley. In 1996, the winery produced its first commercial wines. With the help of consultant winemaker Bob Pepi, Canyon Wind Cellars produces 14 wines utilizing low-intervention winemaking and sustainable practices. In 2011, Jay and his wife Jennifer took over the leadership and winemaking of Canyon Wind Cellars and started a new wine project called Anemoi Wines. The first Anemoi release, Boreas, is already a standout wine!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ben's Bubbly: Pierre Péters Cuvée de Réserve

This past week marked the sixth month point in our endeavor of drinking a sparkling wine every week for one year. It also marked Ben's half birthday! The little guy is all smiles almost all the time. He now has a few different smiles including an adorable new smile where he scrunches his eyes and reveals his toothless upper jaw. Almost any time you talk to him he busts out one of his grins and giggles. While he loves playing with toys, including phones and remote controls, what he really wants is to play with the cats. They are starting to realize that he is mobile, but he still sneaks up behind them and gets a handful of tail, which is usually met with a squeal and a paw on the head.

We also had to make the switch from his co-sleeper to his crib. He is now able to rock and move his co-sleeper, as well as pull himself up on the sides and reach out. That also means he can fall out if we're not paying close attention.

NV Pierre Péters Cuvée de Réserve

For this week's Ben's Bubbly, we picked a popular grower Champagne that I had been wanting to try for some time. One of the nice things about many Récoltant-Manipulant (RM on the label) Champagne is that they often put the disgorgement date on the labels. Although most multi-vintage bubblies are made to be the same year in and year out, differences do occur and the wine does change with time in the bottle. If you know when the bottle was disgorged, you have a little bit more information about what you are drinking, and I think that this is a good thing. The code on label of this wine was L.0303, so I believe this was disgorged in March of 2003. Upon opening, the nose shows signs of oxidation (nuts, mushrooms, almost sherry-like) and the juice is a light golden straw color. Tthe palate is still full of the great acidity and bright lemons, grapefruit and apples I love in blanc de blancs. After three hours, the sherry aromas blow off and it's all toast and fruit. If there is ever a reason to decant Champagne, this one would definitely have benefited. Wish I had saved half the bottle for a second night to see if the wine opened up even more. I can't wait to find a newer bottle to see how a fresher wine shows. I think I might have a chance as there is a Champagne tasting at a local distributor's office this week. I'll report back on what I find there. 12% abv Purchased $44 Good/Very Good

Friday, October 7, 2011

What is taste? (Steve Heimoff has no clue)

This morning, Steve Heimoff blew my mind. He wrote the following statement: "Younger drinkers, having bad taste, would naturally gravitate toward sweet wines." I expressed my disbelief to which he followed up by saying, "Colorado, you're on a slippery slope if you're arguing that there's no such thing as taste - that everybody's preferences are equal, so that no judgments can be made." This got me thinking about what is "taste."

While I fully believe that there are good wines and bad wines, such judgement should be left to each individual's taste. This is also one of my arguments against the 100-pt system, that that is neither here nor there. Taste is how something is perceived and relished. Just as lover of Monet may think Dalí's works are utter crap, both have a place in the world of Art. Just because someone prefers burgers and fries to caviar and foie gras doesn't mean they have bad taste. I may not agree with my mother-in-law for drinking Franzia chilled with an ice cube, but that is what she enjoys drinking. In each case, the perception of quality is very subjective and personal. Who am I, or Steve Heimoff, to say that someone else has bad taste?

Of course not everyone's preferences are equal. If they were, the world would be a very boring place. I give more weight to my preferences that I do to Old Man Heimoff's. My mother-in-law's preferences are superior to mine when it comes to drinking enjoyment. That is the way it should be.

What do you think about taste preferences? Is it acceptable for younger (or older) wine drinkers to enjoy inexpensive sweet wines as opposed to inexpensive dry wines, or does this indicate that "the country is dumbing down," as Mr. Heimoff claims?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A new wine is born: Anemoi Boreas

New wineries pop up all the time. Every year we see new wineries in California trying to sell the next big thing. New winery owners plop down several million dollars on a few acres of prime real estate, pay one of the state's top viticulturists to manage their grapes and finally pay a celebrity winemaker's ransom to consult on how to make a wine that will score 100 points from one of the wine world's tastemakers like Robert Parker, Jr. or Steve Heimoff.

More often than not, a larger winery or wine conglomerate will buy another winery and incorporate the new brand into its portfolio. The new management infuses capital and shakes things up to give the appearance of the brand being reborn. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn't. Very rarely do you see one producer operating two wine brands completely independent of each other.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wine writers are lazy

Wine writers are lazy. Not in the sense that they don't work hard at what they do (well, my posting has been rather pathetic of late), but they don't necessarily do what they should be doing. Wine writers' main goal should be evaluating and describing wines so that consumers get the best wine for their money. Many do this and do it well, but as a group the major wine pundits have been stuck in a rut. James Suckling claimed that he was going to find the next big thing before any one else and where has he been tasting? Bordeaux, Napa and Tuscany... Those are the current and past big things for sure, but not the next big thing. Most wine drinkers know that the wines from those regions which Suckling is reviewing are of high quality. Suckling is tasting the same wines year after year trying to distinguish which $100+ wines are worthy of his 100-point decrees. Rating swings from 92 points to 95 points drive business for many of these wines. Nevertheless, most of these wines sell well and are priced accordingly (or unfortunately overpriced). While many glossies and celebrity critics only publish wine reviews of wines rated 85 points or higher, Suckling has taken the threshold up to 90 points. Suckling knows that he can find more than a handful of these types of wines in his favorite regions. Yet, he is afraid to venture into uncharted territory for the fear of only finding one or two great wines in a non-traditional wine region. Life is too short to drink poorly made wine, but life is also too short to drink the same wines year after year. Good wine is worth the risk and effort to find it.

Other wine reviewers are so lazy that not even know that certain wine regions produce wine. Stephen Elliot of the Connoisseur's Guide to California Wine recently visited Palisade, CO without knowing it was in the Grand Valley AVA and home to 25 wineries. Now, of course Palisade is most definitely not a mecca of wine production, but I think that a wine "expert" would at least check to see if his vacation spot has any wineries. I don't claim to know of every wine region in the world, let alone the U.S., but when I drove to Wisconsin this past summer, I made sure to research any wineries along our route. Lo and behold, we stopped at a winery in Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin. I will forgive Mr. Elliot's mistake as he and his co-writers are so focused on California wine that it takes accidental encounters for wineries in other regions to come across their radar. But to his surprise, Stephen actually enjoyed the wines made by Canyon Wind Cellars in this little part of the wine world. Who'd have thunk that?!?

However, I was pleasantly surprised a few days ago when James Molesworth tweeted, "Looks like a flight of wines from the Finger Lakes, Virginia and Colorado lined up in the tasting room today..." Granted, James is the tasting coordinator for Wine Spectator and is stuck reviewing wines from non-mainstream regions such as Chile, Loire Valley, South Africa and New York's Finger Lakes. At least he has Kim Marcus' and Harvey Steiman's beats beat! Now, this tasting isn't going to change much, but at least Wine Spectator has Colorado wine on its radar! While there haven't been any "next big thing" proclamations about these regions, Molesworth was happy to report that, "Good, competent winemaking [is] now the norm more than not, thankfully."

Steve Heimoff, west coast editor for Wine Enthusiast, said he doesn't review Colorado wine because no one pays him to do so. I can understand that it is his job to review the top wines from California, but I bet he tastes wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy and other regions to keep his palate calibrated and not Calicentric. He should also be seeking out wines from Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, and New Mexico to see what California's neighbors are producing. You can bet that reviewers of American automobiles are keeping tabs on what German and Japanese manufacturers are making.

Even Robert Parker, Jr.'s heir apparent, Antonio Galloni, declared on Wineberserkers.com that he publishes content based on "what our readers have become accustomed to." Most wine consumers are not familiar with Turkish, Greek, Slovenian or Coloradan wine but how else will the broader public obtain information on what these other wine regions are producing? Sure, Galloni is charged to taste Californian wine, but is he tasting wine from Cucamonga Valley, Potter Valley, or San Antonio Valley?  We have almost gone back in time to the early 1970s when the French wine elite dismissed California wine as inferior to French wine. While the wine world has expanded incredibly in the past 40 years, we are at a new crossroads of wine evaluation and education. As David White said in his keynote address to the Nederbrurg Rare Wine Auction in South Africa recently, "As consumers grow more comfortable dismissing gatekeepers like Parker, the influence of local voices ... is becoming more important." If the gatekeepers wish to remain keepers of the wine gates, they had better start doing their jobs and expand their palates (and pens) beyond the traditional wine regions.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ben's Bubbly: Nicolas Feuillatte Brut

Some days are just boring. I've had a few lackluster days of late and as a result have not felt like writing. While I try to post 3 times per week, I've fallen behind. Ben, on the other hand, has had quite an eventful week. We started him on solid food last weekend. His first taste of non-milk was banana. He slowly has taken to eating the mushy Musa. This weekend we added rice cereal to his diet. He definitely likes the flavorless cereal mixed with mom's milk more than the fruit. He really has taken to eating from a spoon and a majority of the food actually stays in his mouth.

Also this week, Ben came home with an "ouch report" from daycare. He got into a tussle with his crib and did not win. The three striped bruises around his temple make him look like he has a tattoo similar to Mike Tyson. He's going to need that street cred pretty soon as he gets mobile and gets into it with the cats. He already gets an occasional handful of fur when one walks a little to close.  While the bruises have not seemed to bother him at all this week, any lasting trauma was erased while we watched the Green Bay Packers (of course sporting our Green and Gold) make Swiss cheese out of the Denver Broncos.

Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne

I wish I could say that this week's bubbly was also exciting, but this bottle was more on the boring end of the spectrum. Both the nose and the palate exhibited apples and toast, but most the aromas and flavors were muted. This is decent, but nothing special. There are definitely better wines at the same price point and even for less money. 12% abv Purchased $27. Average/Good

Friday, September 30, 2011

Colorado Fall Harvest Dinner at Delizios: recap

This past Monday, I helped moderate a wine dinner at Delizios Cafe and Wine Bar that featured Colorado wines and fresh Colorado ingredients. The owner of Delizios, Bob Mickus, is a home winemaker and wanted to pay homage to the hard working farmers (and yes grape growers are farmers) of the state. I worked with Bob to select a pair of Front Range wineries and a pair of western slope wineries to complement a specially prepared locally themed menu. The 13 diners who attended were enthusiastic and eager to taste Colorado.

The first course paired Boulder Creek Winery's 2010 Dry Rosé with assorted Colorado cheeses and fresh fruit. The wine paired beautifully with both the cheeses and the fruits. I especially enjoyed the Haystack Chile Jack (goat cheese), with roasted mild green chilies. This wine was the crowd favorite as even after all four
courses guests were still asking me about it.

Next up was the black sheep of the night. Both the mixed green salad with roasted Colorado corn and red peppers and the Jack Rabbit Hill 2008 M & N were good on their own, but the raspberry vinaigrette clashed with the unique blend of pinot noir and pinot meunier. A handful of guests enjoyed the wine, but most said that they weren't a fan of the pairing.

The main course of brandied peach pork chops was served with the Garfield Estates Vineyard and Winery 2009 Cabernet Franc. I was afraid that the wine might over power the dish, but the smooth and supple new release paired well and was a hit with all diners. While no official poll was taken, I'd say that the cab franc was the second favorite of the night just behind the rosé and closely followed by the last wine. After seeing how well this young wine showed, I can't wait to break into my 2005 Garfield cab franc soon!

Finally, we finished the evening with Infinite Monkey Theorem's Black Muscat along with peach cobbler topped with Di Crema gelato from Boulder Ice Cream. Though this was the only wine I did not taste of for some reason, the guests were impressed with it. A few diners that said they often did not enjoy sweet wines, found the IMT muscat to be balanced and complemented the cobbler perfectly. Overall, the night was a success and I think the guests left with a new appreciation for Colorado wines. I am looking forward to hosting more wine dinners at Delizios and even exploring wine regions other than Colorado. I hope to see you at one of these events in the future.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ben's Bubbly: 2008 Gratien & Meyer Saumur Brut Rosé Premium Millésimé

The weather in Denver has been quite warm of late, and there is nothing worse than getting a cold in the summer heat. Well, I guess it is now early autumn heat. Unfortunately, I passed my congestion and cough on to Ben and he's been quite a trooper with his first cold. Even though his stuffy little nose sounded like an angry bear as he tossed and turned at night, but he was his usual bubbly self when he woke up. He isn't a big fan of us trying to wipe his nose, but he put up with us trying to keep his face clean. We're wiping his face more frequently now that we've started feeding him solid foods. First up this past week were bananas. He was not impressed with his first taste of the milk and banana mixture, but by the second attempt later that day he seemed to enjoy his new delicacy. Next week we'll add rice cereal to his menu.

2008 Gratien & Meyer Saumur Brut Rosé Premium Millésimé

To escape the Denver heat, we enjoyed this pink French sparkler from the Loire Valley. This blend of 80% cabernet franc and 20% grolleau is extremely bubbly. It has been the only sparkler to foam out of the bottle when I've pulled the cork over the past six months. The wine is a beautiful shell pink color. I found strawberries, cranberries and flowers on the nose. Tart red fruit and bright acidity fill the mouth and it almost tastes like a very floral perfume.12% abv Purchased $17 Good

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ben's Bubbly: Barbolini Lancilloto Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro

For some reason I did not really feel like writing this week. I guess that is why it has taken me all week just to finish this short post. Well, I finally did it an here it is.

Most parents believe their children to be above average. Hell, most people think they're above average. Well, as fun as it is for Ben to be an early sitter, roller and by next week I'm sure an early crawler, I envy the parents of nine-month olds that still just sit in one place. It is fun watching Ben explore the small, and dirty, world of our floor, but his eagerness to roll is having detrimental effects on our ability to change his diapers and bathe him. He usually lies still until his dirty diaper is removed and then he quickly makes a series of rolls off of his changing pad. We collectively hold our breaths and scramble to retrieve the rogue nudist to protect our dry objects from his indiscriminate spray. He also recently decided that bath time is meant to be spent on his stomach moving around the tub. This is all fine and good, until his head gets heavy and he decides to rest it in two inches of water. Needless to say, this does not work. It seems like each and every day he is getting a little stronger and a little quicker. New experiences and quick parental reflexes are the norm these days.

Barbolini Lancilloto, Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC

This dry red wine is made from 100% Grasparossa di Castelvetro (local clone of Lambrusco) and from the smallest of five Lambrusco DOC regions. I've had Lambrusco before, but I always thought it was sweet. Not this one. This interesting wine was a new experience for me. It is dark purple, almost black in color. The bubbles dissipate rather quickly. So really this isn't a sparkling wine, but red wine that foams when you pour it. It has aromas of plums, violets and a hint of meat. This is an interesting full-bodied wine with medium tannins with an ever so slight spritz. Dark fruits make up the palate combined with a slight butteriness. Next time you're looking for a dry sparkling red not from Australian shiraz, give Lambrusco a try. 11.5% abv Purchased $13. Good

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Colorado Fall Harvest Dinner at Delizios

So many restaurants proclaim to cater to locavores. But far too often local wines are nowhere to be found on the wine list. Even worse, is when restaurants create Colorado-themed dinners only to pair wines from California or France with the local fare. Here in Denver, we are starting to see a few establishments getting it right by pairing local wine with fresh local ingredients. Jacob Harkins, founder of Coloradowino.com, has put together a few Colorado Wine dinners at Sputino in the Highlands neighborhood of Denver. The bounty of winemaker dinners in Grand Junction and Palisade this past weekend was at an apex with the 20th annual Colorado Mountain Winefest drawing visitors from around the country. Other than a few of these events sporadically popping up around the state, local wines rarely get top billing at themed dinners. Next week, I am throwing my hat into the wine dinner ring by moderating the "Colorado Fall Harvest" night of Delizios' Regional Wine Dinner Series. I invite you to join me by indulging in some of Colorado's finest wines and tastiest cuisine Monday, September 26th at Delizios in historic downtown Littleton. The evening will include informal wine education and discussion of Colorado's wine industry.

Colorado Fall Harvest

Monday, September 26th


Delizios Café and Wine Bar
2299 W Main St., Littleton

$45 pp (plus tax and gratuity)

Seating is limited, so please call to RSVP (720-897-6550)

The menu for the evening will consist of:

1st Course:
Boulder Creek Winery 2010 Dry Rose
Paired with assorted Colorado cheeses and fruits

2nd Course:
Jack Rabbit Hill 2008 M+N (Meunier & Pinot Noir)
Paired with a mixed greens salad garnished with roasted Colorado corn and red peppers

3rd Course:
Canyon Wind Cellars 2009 Cabernet Franc
Paired with brandied-peach pork chops accompanied by fresh asparagus and roasted rosemary

4th Course:
Infinite Monkey Theorem Sparkling Black Muscat
Paired with peach cobbler topped with Di Crema gelato from Boulder Ice Cream