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The joys of sipping chardonnay in Vail Valley

Daily staff reportsVail, CO Colorado
2007 Allan Scott Marlborough Unwooded Chardonnay
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Its only champagne if its from the Champagne region of France everything else is just sparkling wine. Maybe it would be easier if chardonnays had stricter distinctions, like their fizzy cousins. At first sip, the 2007 Allan Scott Marlborough Unwooded Chardonnay hardly seems like a chardonnay at all too fruity (though enjoyably so) and wheres the oak? A closer glance at the label and a few things cleared up. Being a New Zealand chardonnay, I suppose a few differences from the French and Californian varieties Im familiar with are to be expected. And given a longer moment to play on the tongue, some of the traditional chardonnay characteristics emerge. It is subtly buttery and full-bodied with good acidity. On the nose and palate, the Allan Scott chardonnay is brightly citrusy with peach and melon notes and a crisp, clean finish. A little digging reveals the lack of oakiness. Allan Scott Family Winemakers chardonnays undergo oak free fermentation in stainless steel tanks, which softens the wine and increases complexity, the winerys camp said. Why not?This one is ideal for popping open for the sheer joy of sipping. Serve it chilled. Itll also pair well with white meats and fish. I tried it with grilled halibut, and it melded seamlessly. You can find this wine at Village Warehouse Wines in Avon and Avon Liquors.Nicole Frey, Daily Correspondent

A long time ago in a universe far, far, away OK, Greeley in the 1980s when my friends and I were starting to explore the world of beer more interesting than Hamms in returnable bottles, we read about Pilsner Urquell in Michael Jacksons seminal The World Guide to Beer.We found some of the stuff at the local liquor mart. It was idiotically expensive (probably $6 a sixer or something), but it was Eastern-bloc ambrosia. We just couldnt swing the price at the time, so it remained a rare, special treat.Fast-forward to the present, and Id largely forgotten what I knew about Pilsner Urquell. Fine stuff, but theres so much other interesting beer out there.Not long ago, though, I saw something on TV about beer brewing in the Czech Republic. The program took a trip to the Pilsner Urquell brewery and my memory was jogged. Since then, Ive enjoyed a few six-packs of Pilsner Urquell, and friends, its as I remembered it.The folks at Pilsner Urquell now part of the ginormous SAB-Miller-Coors brewing empire tout their beer as the original pilsner-style beer ever brewed, and, like most old-line breweries, they seem to have their recipes nailed down tight.If you like, say, St. Pauli Girl or Becks, youll probably enjoy this. Its similar light amber, fairly hoppy, and very refreshing but with just a hint of the German beers bitterness and skunky aroma.Delightful stuff.The best part is that Pilsner Urquell is no longer rare, expensive stuff. Thanks to the fall of the Iron Curtain, free trade and rampant capitalism, Pilsner Urquell is just as good as it used to be, but the price has fallen into the range of what youll pay for other good beer.Ahhhh … progress!You can find this beer at Avon Liquors, Eagle Ranch Wine & Spirits, Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards, Village Warehouse Wines in Avon, West Vail Liquor Mart, Pier 13 Liquor in Eagle-Vail and Alpine Wine & Spirits in West Vail.Scott N. Miller, Daily Staff Writer

Yes, its a bit pricey, but this is an exceptionally well-made merlot from Napa Valley with a texture and flavor that truly distinguishes itself from cabernet sauvignon. (Funny how many California merlots are just insipid cabernet wannabes.) This lush, ripe, complex wine offers intense, layered flavors of black cherry, raspberry and cassis. Its quite drinkable now but has the backbone to improve in the cellar for five to eight years. Serve it with beef or lamb dishes. Visit http://www.lunavineyards.com for more information. Michael Dresser, L.A. Times-Washington Post News Service


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