Red, White and Brew: Make friends with Don Julio |

Red, White and Brew: Make friends with Don Julio

Daily Staff ReportsVail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily/Caramie Schnell

When I rank all the different types of red wine, merlot is usually at the bottom of the list. But every once in awhile I relent and give it a try. Usually, I am reminded of why I dont drink merlot, but not this time. I sampled the Matanzas Creek merlot 2004 from Sonoma and now I need to redo my list, with merlot making its way toward the top.

The merlot is made from grapes grown in the Bennett Valley, which is situated over a short mountain range from Sonoma Valley and south of the town of Santa Rosa. The areas climate is cool and the soil great for merlot said Mickey Werner, manger at Alpine Wine and Spirit. The wine is so textured, it has a lot of layers, he said. The wine has flavors of black cherry, some coffee and dry spice. It boasts a great balance, Werner said. The winery specializes in merlot and chardonnay. The company has spent money in the past years buying more vineyards in the area and it has planted 50 extra acres of merlot.This wine pairs well with grilled lamb with a little bit of rosemary. Veal would also be a great choice. Werner said the wine goes well with a lighter fish, like halibut, which he suggested roasting with a pepper culee.But mostly, this wine is just plain tasty. It is a killer merlot, Werner said, and I cant agree more. At $29.99 it is an excellent bottle at an excellent price and its a good example of how good a good merlot should taste. Jessica Slosberg, Daily Staff Writer

I would like to introduce you to my friend, Don Julio. For those of you who dont know, Don Julio is a tequila, and a good one at that. He can be found in the three different types of tequila: blanca, anejo and reposado. With us today is Don Julio Blanco and he will help me dispel a few rumors.Rumor No. 1: Tequila is for college kids. Don Julio and I disagree; he is most definitely for adults with a fine-tuned palette. Dan Mahan, sommelier and cigar, beer and liquor specialist at Beaver Liquor said the flavor is very clean, a little spicy. And while Don Julio can be done as a shot without lime and salt he is better sipped. I suggest pouring it over ice, and finishing it with a little lime. Rumor No. 2: Tequila has a worm. Real tequila is made from the blue agave plant and never has a worm. All tequila originates in the town of Tequila in the western Mexican state of Jalisco and a regulatory council carefully controls production. Mezcal is also made from an agave plant, but uses a different process and is produced in Oaxaca. It will sometimes have a worm. Mahan said that the quality of agave plant used to make Don Julio is higher than what you likely drank in college, which should for a better morning-after experience.Rumor No. 3: All tequilas are the same. There are three main or traditional varieties of tequila: Blanca is young, meaning not aged in an oak barrel, and clear; Reposado is aged a minimum of two months in oak barrels; Anejo is aged more than one year, but less than three in oak barrels. Also there is oro, a young tequila that has artificial color and flavor added, which makes it look older.And for those of you who are still wary of tequila, Mahan said that this is a great place to start your conversion. It is a great drink to sip before dinner or with appetizers, particularly things with a citrus base. It is $51.99 at Beaver Liquors. And I am not the only one who thinks of Don Julio as a friend Mahan agreed. Don Julio has never given me bad advice, but Jose Cuervo and I dont see eye to eye, Mahan said.So the question is, are you adult enough to drink tequila? Jessica Slosberg, Daily Staff Writer

Its not often that I find a beer Id almost rather sit and smell then drink. Hop Trip is one of those rare finds and its not because it doesnt taste good its just the opposite, really. But the pleasing, intense floral aroma with a hint of citrus is quite alluring.The striking aroma of Hop Trip is likely due to the fresh-picked wet hops (most brewers use dried hops) the brewers use to make this seasonal beer each fall. The story is detailed on the front of the bomber bottle. Fresh Hop Pale Ale is all about celebrating the hop harvest in the fall. Fresh picked hops have to be added to the beer immediately, so one brewer starts the brew in Bend (Oregon), while another rushes the hops three hours back from the Willamette Valley. The result? Lets just say it was worth the drive, the bottle reads.Chris Williams, aka Willie, from Avon Liquors, described the Hop Trip experience perfectly.Its super fresh, it smells like youre in a garden of hops, he said. The beer is really well-balanced, with a clean finish. Caramie Schnell, Arts & Entertainment Editor

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