Red, White & Brew: A cabernet that complements Thanksgiving fare | VailDaily.com
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Red, White & Brew: A cabernet that complements Thanksgiving fare

Daily staff reportsnewsroom@vaildaily.comVAIL CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyCoors launched the first Winterfest in 1986, just as craft brewing started to tempt the tastebuds of American beer drinkers, and less than a decade after this Colorado-born brewer had started marketing its products nationwide.
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Though the label of this bottle makes allusions to the annual World Cup race in Beaver Creek, the wine is not affiliated with the alpine ski event. It’s the brainchild of a Napa Valley vineyard and Beaver Liquors in Avon.”It makes sense where we’re at,” said David Courtney, of Beaver Liquors. “We’re right at the bottom of Beaver Creek, and it’s a cool name, so we thought we could play off of that.”The wine was made and blended specifically for the liquor store, Courtney said. “It’s 100 percent Napa fruit,” Courtney said. “We’re sourcing the wine from a winery that presently sells its wine for $30. Part of the deal is that we can’t tell who.”Courtney said this quiet marriage of named vintner and silent vineyard isn’t uncommon. When the economy took a nosedive a few years ago, people started buying fewer $90 or $80 or even $50 bottles of wine. To continue product sales without compromising brand names or price points, many vineyards created virtual wineries or partnerships to move their fruit, he said.”You can’t discount your wine to sell more because it’ll take you 15 years to get back up to 80 (dollars per bottle),” Courtney said. “So they sell their fruit or make their own virtual wineries, and that’s kind of what this is.”The result is the Birds of Prey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a full-bodied, deep plum-colored wine. Courtney said cabernet was a natural choice, as Beaver Liquors sells more California cabernet in store than any other varietal.I paired this wine with a bone-in New York strip steak and mashed potatoes, both garnished with brown sugar-butter caramelized onions. The light spice and bold fruit of the wine worked well with the steak without drowning out the subtle sweetness of the onions. Because this is a bigger, richer cabernet, Courtney said it would pair well with anything off the grill, but don’t limit yourself to red meat.”Thanksgiving dinner has many, many components to it,” Courtney said. “If it was just turkey, then we’d have a perfect pairing for that, but we know that there are about 15 different things (on the table). Cabernet and pinot will be on more people’s tables this year than any other varietals.”This wine sells for $15.99 and is available at Beaver Liquors.Krista Driscoll, Daily Staff Writer

Don’t let the fancy packaging or clever, micro-brewery-type name fool you – Winterfest comes to you from the same folks that give us the Sam Elliot-pitched “Banquet” beer and the disco-music-on-a-train light beer. But please, don’t hold that against it.Coors launched the first Winterfest in 1986, just as craft brewing started to tempt the tastebuds of American beer drinkers, and less than a decade after this Colorado-born brewer had started marketing its products nationwide. It’s still something of a surprise to those who enjoy Coors’ mass-market products. Winterfest doesn’t need a special thingamajig on the label that tells you it’s cold enough to drink. In fact, this beer is best when it’s poured into a glass and allowed to breathe a little. Winterfest is still a lager, a bit out of the ordinary for a seasonal beer, but the folks who make it understand how to give this lager more smoothness, body and color than a Banquet, while still leaving a bit of lager-ish snap. It’s satisfying, but still refreshing, a good trick, indeed.It’s been years since I’ve had a Winterfest – like Coors’ Blue Moon products, it seems there’s always something more interesting out there. And with the consolidation of the major brewers over the last few years – Coors is actually Coors-Molson-Smith-Wesson-Phillip-Morris or some such – it’s easy to forget that the big companies still have some talented, inventive brewers in their employ. But this is a tasty beer, and well worth your time and tasting.Colorado has a wealth of craft brewers these days. The state’s oldest surviving brewery’s mainstream products may not suit the tastes of micro-drinkers, but it can still do interesting work, even if it’s just for one season a year.This beer sells for $7.99 per six-pack and is available at Avon Liquor.Scott N. Miller, Daily Staff Writer


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