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Vail Daily beer and wine reviews

Vail DailyVail, CO Colorado

There are beers in this world that are sort of like all-inclusive vacation packages – they provide what passes for an exotic experience without any real challenge. Welcome, friends, to Club Primo.The folks at Pabst – which owns the Primo Brewing & Malting Co. – have the requisite glowing press materials about “rediscovering” the original recipe for Primo, making it only with Hawaiian cane sugar and so on. The result, though, is a lot like what you get with, say Corona – if you were weaned on Bud, Coors or Miller, you’re going to like this just fine.That said, this is a perfectly acceptable mass-market beer. It’s perhaps one or two shades darker than, say, a Rolling Rock – my favorite drink-’em-by-the-12-pack American brew – and about the same color as a Coors Extra Gold. It’s smooth across the palate and oh-so-easy to drink, perfect for a languid afternoon on Waikiki Beach watching people who really should wear revealing swimsuits (as opposed to, say, me).It would be fine, too, for drinking on a mountainside bar’s deck apres ski, or bringing home a case along with a big pizza and a load of wings for an afternoon of football, or … you get the idea.You aren’t going to find Primo at January’s Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines fest, or even at Beaver Creek’s Blues, Brews & Barbecue in the spring. But that’s not the point. Like an all-inclusive tropical vacation, Primo is just fine for what it is, just right for people who don’t get more than a club-length off the beaten path.There are some surfing legends in town from Hawaii Thursday and Friday to celebrate Primo’s Colorado debut. They’ll be at local liquor stores and bars letting locals sample the brew. For a full schedule, visit http://www.primobeer.com.You can find this beer at Avon Liquor, Beaver Liquors, West Vail Liquor Mart, Alpine Wine & Spirits in West Vail, Bottle & Cork in Edwards and Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards. Scott N. Miller, Daily Staff Writer

In a little experiment, my wife and I tried two Rancho Zabaco Zinfandels from Sonoma County – one the $24 Reserve and also the economy model: the $18 “Heritage.” First the fancier ride:Big and bold but not overwhelming, this very nice Zinfandel from Rancho Zabaco is a little outside my usual cheapskate price range. It may just be worth it, though. With a pretty high alcohol content (15 percent) and a tart flavor that’s still mild on the acid, this wine can make friends with just about any kind of food. It’s strong enough to stand up to a full-flavored meat dish but I can’t see it overpowering anything, either. There’s cherry in here, as well as blackberry and spice, but this is not an over-complicated Zin.Rancho Zabaco does a few other wines, but mostly they stick to Zins – and a nice job they do at it. This bottle has 11 percent Petit Syrah and was aged in French and American oak. It’s jammy, but not cloying, with a nicely balanced mouth feel and a clean finish. Dry Creek Valley is becoming more and more well known for its Zinfandels, and Rancho Zabaco is near the front of the pack. This 2007 is a result of a dry summer and cooler nights that allowed the grapes to ripen nicely but mature more slowly – a good combo for Zinfandel.Rancho Zabaco, by the way, is named for one of the original Mexican land grants in northern Sonoma. It’s a good name to remember next time you’re in the mood for a good California Zinfandel. Now the Heritage: Instead of just Dry Creek Valley grapes, this one is sourced from different Sonoma vineyards, and it shares many of the characteristics of the Reserve, albeit with somewhat higher tannins and a slightly less firm identity. So is the Reserve worth the extra six bucks? I’d have to say yes. The Reserve is silkier, a bit more refined and still a decent value for a pretty elegant wine. That said, I’ll be returning to Sonoma Zins from this winery, and the Heritage is no slouch. You can find this wine at Avon Liquor, Eagle Ranch Wine & Spirits, Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards, Beaver Liquors in Avon and Pier 13 Liquor in Eagle-Vail.- Alex Miller, Summit Daily News editor


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