Friday, March 30, 2012

Win tickets on the Colorado wine train from DrinkLocalWine.com

The California Zephyr
Not bad scenery for a regional wine state, no?
Who says regional wine can't be any fun? Obviously, people who don't read the blog -- or who have never enjoyed the Colorado wine train, which travels between Denver and Grand Junction on the state's Western Slope.The train goes through the Rockies, some of the best scenery in the country, before arriving in Grand Junction, the gateway to wine country in that part of the state.
 DLW is giving away two round-trip Amtrak tickets on the California Zephyr, between Denver and Grand Junction, as part of the fun for DLW 2012: Colorado. (Thank you, Amtrak, for the tickets). Entering is simple -- just go to the DLW Facebook page and fill out the form. If you don't like DLW already, hit the like button. It's not a requirement, but it would be nice. A drawing will be held during the conference to select the winner.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Meet the Winemaker: Matt Cookson (The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey)

Matt Cookson
Colorado's wineries tend be be found in homes, barns or industrial parks. One winery definitely breaks the mold when it comes to where wineries can be found. The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey is located on the grounds of the historic Holy Cross Abbey in Cañon City, CO. The Winery is also one of, if not the, biggest wineries in the state. They have a cult-like following amongst there customers and their popular events hosted at the winery are almost always sold out. One other characteristic that is unique to The Winery is that they buy grapes grown by prisoners at the Level V maximum security Colorado State Penitentiary located nearby. This week, we welcome winemaker Matt Cookson to the Meet the Winemaker interview series!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ben's Bubbly: Spirit of the Andes, Sparkling Torrontés

It seems like summer arrived before spring even had a chance to begin here in Denver. It has been in the 70s for the better part of March and Ben is enjoying every minute of the great weather. We are really going to enjoy our new yard this summer and Ben has been quite helpful as I try to rake up all the leaves that I didn't get to last autumn. He tries his hardest to use our extra rake as I do the heavy lifting! He also loves to go on walks and waves furiously at every dog he sees. His hometown grandma and grandpa just got a new dog, so I think it will take a while until Ben and I can convince Mom to get a dog for ourselves (on a sad note, the dog my family got when I was in high school is no longer with us. Rest In Peace, Cleo. I'll miss you!). Until then, our cats will have to do. At least one of the cats enjoys Ben's company. The other usually leaves Ben with a nice scratch on his face any time he gets near. He currently is sporting a Dr. Evil-like scratch under his left eye just for attempting to touch the cat's tail.

With Ben's first birthday coming up quickly, he is starting to get presents from his relatives. His grandma and grandpa in Wisconsin sent him a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe and Grandma insisted that I put it together for him asap. Turns out that gifts from grandparents are payback for how Dad acted as a child. It took me the better part of an hour, a bit of sweat and more than a few choice words to put the damn thing together. But, it was definitely worth the effort as Ben loves it. He likes pushing it around the driveway, but he really loves when he gets in and Mom and Dad play "catch" with him. He already knows how to get in and out and operate the door, though he hasn't quite figured out that the door is only on the left side and gets frustrated when he tries to get in from the right. He's really going to like it when I get around to putting together the trailer that came with it!

Spirit of the Andes, Sparkling Torrontés, Valle de Uco, Argentina

Looking through my archives, I found it hard to believe that I've only posted on one wine from Argentina and no torrontés over the past two years. I do enjoy many South American wines and find that they often offer great values, but for some reason I find Argentine wines to a be a bit too mainstream for my tastes these days. Well, this wine is anything but mainstream. Sure, torrontés is a very popular grape, but this was the first time I've seen one with bubbles. As soon as I saw it on the shelf at Mondo Vino, I knew it was going to be this week's post. This eclectic wine has a very interesting label that just looks very Andean. The wine itself is a very pale yellow with very fine bubbles. The nose is very subtle, but aromas of green apples and limes are ever so slightly present. The flavor might be even more delicate. For a few seconds you can taste tart Granny Smith apples and lime zest, but not for much longer. I like the wine, but it is hard to be really get into it with the flavors fading so quickly. My wife had to put slices of pear into her glass, which I reluctantly tried with my second glass. The pears didn't add much to the wine, but they were a tasty dessert at the end of the glass. 13.8% abv Purchased $18. Average/Good

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ben's Bubbly: Cara Mia Moscato d'Asti

It was good to get home this weekend. As I stated in Friday's post, I was out of town for most of last week on a work trip. Ben was home with Mom and got to enjoy the great Denver weather by going to the park and watching the geese. He loves watching those delicious waterfowl from the north. He's even toppled over a few times as he follows them with his eyes as they fly overhead. I guess he hasn't realized how top heavy he is. On a down note, he also had to go home from school early one day and miss the next. I usually stay home with him when doesn't go to daycare because of my flexible work schedule, but with me being gone, Mom had to line up a substitute and nurse the little guy back to health. He's just now starting to get back to 100%. Nevertheless, he was quite excited to see me walk through the door when I got home. He ran over to me and demanded that I pick him up. Is there really a better feeling than that?

2011 Cara Mia Moscato d'Asti, DOCG

One of the hottest wine trends of the past year is the rise of moscato wines. Even after months of denial, Steve Heimoff admitted as much recently. Moscato d'Asti is the region best known for producing the sweet and slightly sparkling low-alcohol wine. The best provide good complexity and length, but most importantly are refreshing. While this wine wasn't the best moscato I've ever had, it is a very nice wine. The blue bottle leaves a bit to be desired, but thank goodness it is what's inside that counts. Lots of apple, peach and pear aromas fill the glass. The sweetness is balanced nicely with good acidity and a pleasant fruity creaminess (think peaches and cream and a slice of apple pie with vanilla ice cream) round out the palate. I think this is a lovely wine that most people will be able to enjoy. 5.5% abv Gift $14. Very Good

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ben's Bubbly: Iron Horse Vineyards, Blanc de Blancs

I've only missed one bubbly post over the past eleven months and I was not about to let it happen again. We actually drank the wine more than a week ago, but my work travels and a few other issues kept me from getting this posted on time. Even if it is going up at the end of the work week, I figured it is better to be late than not post at all.

Well, it is time to start thinking about the final bubbly; Ben's first birthday is less than a month away. We've had lots of different types, styles and origins of sparkling wine for each of the past 48 weeks. It is pretty amazing that we've been doing this little experiment considering most people only drink sparkling wine on New Year's Eve and a few other special occasions. If wine consumers really sit down and think about what is special in their lives, I'm sure that they will find many more reasons to drink bubblies. Not a week goes by that I am not reminded how special my little Ben is. He is growing up so fast and I love him more each day. It will be fun to one day in the distant future reread this entire series and reminisce about what he was doing each week for the first year of his life, but also to remember the wines we drank to celebrate. Ben will only have one first birthday and he of course will not remember it, but I want to pick a truly special wine to mark this momentous occasion. I was lucky enough to taste Krug a few months ago, so that might be the winner if I can find a bottle. I'll listen to suggestions, too.

Iron Horse Vineyards, Blanc de Blancs, Green Valley AVA

I stand by the statement that you should drink what you like. This 15-year old California sparkler is a good example. It was highly rated and not cheap ($33). My wife could only bear a few sips, whereas I thought it was fantastic. The dark gold color and distinct aromas of autolysis indicated that this was indeed a well-aged wine that saw a fair amount of lees contact. In fact, this bottle was disgorged after seven years (unheard of in all but the highest end Champagne and late-disgorged domestic sparklers). My wife thought there were funky aromas and a bit of kerosene. I thought it had much more complexity and personality than most of the sparklers we've had over the past year. Apples, pears, cinnamon, sourdough toast, lemon zest and sauteed mushrooms were just a few of the aromas and flavors that I enjoyed. Iron Horse Vineyards is one of the U.S. top sparkling wine houses and often are served at State Dinners at The White House (as it was this week, unofficially). I make no guarantees that you'll like it, but I definitely recommend picking up any Iron Horse wines you find. 13.5% abv. Purchased $33 Very Good

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ben's Bubbly: La Marca Prosecco

Well, we survived our first family bout of the stomach flu. We found out that playing pass the puking baby and then change your clothes is not fun. At least he was feeling better by the time we caught the bug. Three of the four babies at Ben's daycare were out last week and no less than eight other family members of the babes were stricken, too. I'm still not feeling 100% four days later.

In better news, Ben has started pretending to talk on our cell phones. He has always been fascinated by them and wanted to chew on them, but now he will pick up the phone and hold it to his ear and babble. It took me almost twenty one years to get my first cell phone, but I have a feeling I won't be able to keep Ben from getting one of his own for that long. Actually, he already has one as we gave him an old one (sans battery), but he still would rather play with one of ours.

La Marca Prosecco

My run of disappointment with Prosecco continues with this pretty little bottle. The robin's egg blue label is eye catching and as I saw in a liquor store yesterday, the La Marca received 90 points from a major wine publication. I don't do points, but if I did I can tell you that this does not strike me as an outstanding wine. Nice, sure. But definitely not outstanding, or whatever 90 points is supposed to mean these days. It is almost clear in color with only the slightest suggestion of a yellow tint. The nose is equally underwhelming. There is a bit of apple and lemon, but not much else. On the palate, faint flavors of baked apple, banana and a twist of lemon are noticeable for a few brief seconds before your taste buds reset. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this wine, but it is not at all that interesting. 11% abv. Gift $15. Good