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Booze reviews from Eagle County

Daily Staff ReportsVail, CO, Colorado
AE Booze PU 11-8-07
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My first thought when I held this bottle in my hands was what is Fifth Ridge? As much as I like trying new wines each week, I love hearing each winerys story, and how they named the wine. Fifth Ridge refers to to the Mayacamas Mountains range, which is the fifth ridge east of the Pacific Ocean in the Alexander Valley in California. This bottle is an inaugural blend of mostly Merlot, 14 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and a touch of Syrah and Cabernet Franc. The grapes grow on Stonestreets Alexander Mountain Estate, from soil that is extremely rocky. Yields from the mountain vineyards can be low, but the rewards are great. The ancient volcanoes that created the Mayacamas Mountains where our vines are planted deposited mineral-rich soil. Our wines reflect that complex, interesting earth, according to the website.The wine itself smells of raspberry, with a hint of chocolate and coffee. The first sip reveals ripe, concentrated fruit, like fresh plums and cherries, with a hint of vanilla. I tried the wine alongside sharp cheddar cheese and a few crackers. The wine paired especially well with the saltiness of the cheese. Mickey Werner, Winewiz at Alpine Wine and Spirits, met Graham Weerts, Stonestreets winemaker, a few months ago. He was a very nice guy and the wines are as great as theyve ever been. I carry the chardonnay and merlot from them and its just stunning, stunning stuff. Caramie Schnell, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Sometimes you just need to celebrate; maybe it was a great powder day (I can hope and pray, OK?) or a day where everything at work goes right. One of those happy, yet small, occasions that makes you want to pop open a bottle of bubbly. But not so special you want to drop some serious cash. Unfortunately for all, the only thing scarier to navigate than cheap wine is cheap champagne (or sparkling white wines). But never fear, I have a suggestion that will help you commemorate all of lifes little victories, without breaking the bank. Barefoot Bubbly, a 100 percent sparkling chardonnay, is one of the better inexpensive options at $8.99. And I know, you are skeptical, as was I. I am quite certain that practically everyone has experienced cheap champagne, and remembers the morning after not so fondly. But I had two glasses (enough for a buzz) of the sparking chardonnay and was pain-free the next morning. Dan Ryan, night manager at West Vail Liquor Mart agreed that it is a great entry level champagne.It has a clean, crisp taste to it, he said. It has good fruit notes, like sweet apple. And it has clean bubbles.And champagne pairs well with turkey. Actually, champagne is good with everything. Ryan favors fruits like apples and pears. Add a little cheese to the fruits and you have a snack, meal or dessert. This is also a great champagne to serve in mimosas or to make bellinis with. Barefoot recommends a blueberry bellini, which sounds scrumptious.At $9 a bottle, you can afford to have a few bottles hanging around the house, just in case you need to celebrate. It is available at West Vail Liquor Mart. Jessica Slosberg, Daily Staff Writer

I, for one, am ready for winter. And since the weather doesnt appear to be cooperating with my desire for cool temperatures and snow, I will usher in winter in my own style with beer. And there are plenty of winter ales out there to sample, but if you desire golden hops look no farther than Deschutes Brewery. The brewery once again has a winner with Jubeale.The beer is made with dark crystal malt and whole flower hops, which gives it a rich, full flavor. Brian Kruse, co-owner of Avon Liquor said he likes the spicier, yet sweet, aspects of the beer, which is a great accompaniment to a night spent at home in front of a fire, hanging out with friends. Now in its 20th outing, Kruse notes that it is so good, it could be sold year round. In addition to the high quality beer inside the bottle, the label is a work of art, literally, and you cant help but admire it. Every year the company chooses a Northwest area artist to design the label. This year features the handiwork of Lindy Gruger Hanson of Bend, Oregon.I was thinking of winter festivities and fun, and that for me, brings up images of snow and being outside, Hanson said. I love mountains and celestial images, too. So snowflakes and sky and blue mountains were a natural progression from these thoughts, and I combined all these ideas into creating the Jubelale painting.This beer has developed a loyal following, and, according to Kruse, is one of the first that customers snatch up to take home. It is available at Avon Liquor for $7.59 a six-pack. Jessica Slosberg, Daily Staff Writer


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