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April 6, 2010
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Vail Daily Red, White & Brew: A rum to be proud of

Ron Zacapa 23 is a beautiful blend of 6- to 23-year-old rum, formulated by Spanish doctor and chemist Alejandro Burgaleta in Guatemala. Zacapa is produced from virgin sugar cane honey. It is then aged in Guatemala using the Sistema Solera in old bourbon, sherry and Pedro Ximenez barrels. The Sistema Solera is a process also used in the production of sherry, madeira and other wines and spirits. The process is essentially a rotation of product - rum in this scenario, from younger batches to older barrels. When they pull the rum to bottle from the older barrels, the rum is replaced by younger rum from other barrels. In the end, the master blender chooses rum varying in age to produce the final blend. This unique process is very rarely used in aging rum, giving Ron Zacapa a special place in the premium rum market.Ron Zacapa Rum has a mahogany appearance with great butterscotch, oak and raisined fruit flavors. The nose is a mix of vanilla and caramel aromas accompanied by a very nutty, toasty and toffeed banana smell. On the palate, Zacapa has a complex, full-bodied feel in the mouth, more reminiscent of liqueur. In the mouth, raisined fruit and notes of tobacco and leather accompany the flavors of oak, vanilla and cinnamon. Zacapa has a very balanced flavor, allowing for a smooth and pleasant finish. Although Ron Zacapa 23 can be mixed in any traditional rum cockatails, I enjoy it either neat or on the rocks. Recognized as the "cognac" of rums, I treat this product as I would any fine brandy, scotch or any other sipping spirit. Ron Zacapa has received numerous accolades over the years, including a gold medal in the premium category at a rum tasting held in Barbados in 1998. It is gaining popularity and recognition across the globe, making the rum industry as well as Guatemalans proud along the way.You can find this rum at West Vail Liquor Mart, Alpine Wine & Spirits in West Vail, Avon Liquor, Beaver Liquors, Eagle Ranch Wine & Spirits and Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards. - Nicholas Agnew of West Vail Liquor Mart

Reviewing a bottle of wine is always an educational experience for me. Red wines that wander far from the basic cabernets, pinot noirs and merlots require a deeper understanding of sunlight and slope, climes and harvesting practices, but they are almost always worth the extra effort to understand where they came from.The background check on the Cotes du Rhone, or Banks of the Rhone, region revealed an area of vineyards in southern France dominated by the Grenache grape. This grape variety produces wines that are pale in color and high in alcohol content that are often blended with Syrah for a deeper hue and a boost of tannins. The Les Promesses is bottled unfiltered, with a medium red tint and quite a bit of sediment. Contrary to the most common definition of dregs, wine sediment is a wonderful thing. Rich in antioxidents, the dregs of red wine contain all the crystallized plant parts of the grape that settle out during the fermentation process. Tannins, which give wine it's "dry" flavor, often bond to these dregs and settle out with them. The wine can be stirred to release these tannins and enhance the flavor. If the prospect of pulp in your wine makes you recoil, decanting would be a recommended step and would also help the wine to breathe a bit. If you are feeling especially bold, the remaining sediment is also said to have antibacterial properties and can be used on the skin as a disinfectant. I'm not so sure I'm quite ready to be smearing wine dregs on my face, but perhaps I am passing up a yet-to-be-discovered beauty secret here. Back to the wine: The Les Promesses is a very smooth, drinkable wine with slight raspberry undertones that stem from the Grenache. Immediately after being uncorked, the wine gives off a rich, earthy aroma. Allow it to open up in the glass a bit to get the full hit of flavor, and pair it with a juicy ribeye or something a little gamier, such as elk or even venison.This wine can be found at Beaver Liquors.- Krista Driscoll, Vail Daily staff writer


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The VailDaily Updated Apr 6, 2010 02:31PM Published Apr 6, 2010 02:30PM Copyright 2010 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.