Archive for December, 2016

Heading into the New Year with three winter-worthy wines

December 29, 2016 Leave a comment

Sagrantino grapes are grown primarily in and around the commune of Montefalco in the central Italian region of Umbria. Fewer  than 1,700 acres are planted to the grape, according to the local consortium.

With the New Year upon us and winter settling in, it’s nice to find some sunshine in a bottle. A brief flurry through some unopened boxes revealed these three bright notes for what may be a dreary political season.

2010 Arnaldo-Caprai Collepiano Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – On those austere winter nights when temperatures plummet and the grill is working overtime providing steaks for a hungry post-ski holiday crowd, nothing says warmth like the full-bodied warmth of a Montefalco Sagrantino. The history of Sagrantino the grape goes back at least 400 history in the Montefalco region of Umbria and probably more, if some of the oldest texts are correct about vineyards existing in the area prior to 1100.

The Montefalco area was designated DOCG (denominazione di origine controllata e garantita) in 1992. The DOCG area includes the commune (municipality) of Montefalco along with parts of Bevagna, Guild Cattaneo, Castle Ritaldi and Giano dell’Umbria.

You don’t need to be a historian to enjoy this ruby-dark wine from Arnaldo-Caprai, with its velvety mouthfeel, smooth plum and blackberry notes with hints of spice (a seasonal mix of clove and nutmeg). It’s a wine made for red meat and hearty meals, with assertive, chewy tannins and even six years after release still capable of further aging. $54, sample.

2013 Kit’s Killer Cab – Think of Clif Bars and the image most people get is of the high-energy bars found in backpacks, briefcases and lunchboxes around the world.

Today, though, there’s a whole ‘nother Clif world, thanks to the efforts of Clif Bar founders Gary Erickson and his wife Kit Crawford, also happen to be the CEOs behind Clif Family Winery, the duo’s high-energy Napa Valley winery.

Most Napa winemakers rated the 2013 vintage as “ideal” and this Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the family’s Croquet and Cold Springs vineyards on Howell Mountain reflect those near-perfect growing conditions. Lush and smooth, with dark fruit balanced by even tannins and a bright future. Drink it now or hold it for a few years. $75, sample.

2015 Pessimist – This affordable red blend (Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Tannat, Grenache) is a second label from the much-respected Daou Vineyards of Paso Robles. The Daou team of winemakers makes this very much a first-tier wine, with dark berries, vanilla bean and black pepper notes tucked around smooth, seductive tannins. Your friends will guess you spent much more. $20, purchased.





Take your time with New Year’s resolutions

December 26, 2016 Leave a comment

In 2017, take the time to make some memories. You’ll never get a second chance meet new friends, whether it’s at your local winery or a dusty, farm-country bar in Brazil.

If the recent political season wasn’t sufficient impetus to get you thinking about improving your drinking choices in the coming year, maybe a few New Year’s resolutions will do the job.

Even if you’re not someone prone to make resolutions, already knowing how stark end-of-the-year choices can seem when viewed with a few month’s distance, there are several painless things you can do to ease into what so far certainly promises to an interesting New Year.

Get to know your local wine industry – Yes, I know this sounds obvious if you live in the wine-country of the Grand Valley and North Fork Valley, but after several recent visits to local wineries (and a boatload of comments heard during the Colorado Mountain Winefest), I’ve noticed there are many people from both sides of the Continental Divide who admit to have never (never!) visited any of the wineries.

Yet many of these same people boasted about visiting Napa or Sonoma and paying (paying!) to taste whatever was pushed across the tasting room counter.

Pay-to-taste hasn’t yet taken over the Colorado wine industry. Most places gladly offer free samples although there are some wineries who charge for their premium or reserve wines. But they usually credit you if you actually buy a bottle or two.

Branch out – Meaning, know what you’re drinking. Instead of absently blurting, “I want a red wine,” ask for a Pinot Noir or a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Malbec or something else, red or white, but ask for it by name. You can even practice saying the name before entering the winery.

Most wineries you visit are pouring several different reds and whites, and engaging in a few minutes of conversation will not only improve your knowledge but your experience, as well.

Seek out cold-hardy varietals – Some growers will tell you the future of Colorado wines lies in cold-hardy varietals, at least until climate change reaches the point the Grand Valley consistently produces the traditional European varieties like Cab Sauv or Merlot.

Some growers already are vinifying cold-hardy varietals such as Marechal Foch, Cabernet Franc, Aromella, St. Vincent’s, the list goes on. Grape grower Kaibab Savage is growing nine cold-hardy varieties east of Palisade, trying to see what produces and what sells.

Join a wine club – I wouldn’t have said this a few years ago because (IMHO) choices were limited and the wines often over-priced and under-valued. Besides, how hard is it to drive 10 minutes to the local winery?

However, I’ve changed my mind. The number of clubs has increased, which may be an indication of their popularity. Chosen wisely, the right wine club offers convenience (home delivery on a regular basis), variety you might not try if left to yourself and, as I saw this past year, in most cases fair pricing. Not always the best, but fair, especially considering you’ll often get a higher level of wine than what’s expected.

There are many other possible suggestions but this will be enough to add a little viniferous sparkle to your New Year. Heaven knows, we may need it.

There are many other possible suggestions but this will be enough to add a little viniferous sparkle to your New Year. Heaven knows, we may need it.

VinCo Conference and Trade Show – Jan. 16-19. Register online. This four-day conference offers growers, winemakers and the public topical seminars on viticulture, enology, business and marketing. This year’s conference includes a half-day seminar on phylloxera, recently discovered in the Grand Valley and in Front Range vineyards. Held in conjunction with the Western Colorado Horticulture Society at Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction.









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