Vail Daily column: Fruity Frambozen can ‘light up your taste buds’
Fruity beers. For many heavy-hop-seeking beer nuts, they don’t even register on the “real beer” radar. I find this to be short-sighted and, frankly, idiotic. I have come across some that are, indeed, too gaggingly sweet or overpoweringly fruit-forward to really even be considered beer. But why let a few bad apples spoil the whole genre? When balanced correctly, fruit beers can be absolutely delightful.Case in point, New Belgium’s Frambozen. I look forward to the release of this beer every year, as it’s one of my favorite harmonious blends of sweet and malt. With the first sip, you taste the very subtle raspberry bits, but the finish is all smooth, mellow brown ale. I picture this beer pairing well with a holiday dinner, sort of how the sweet-tartness of cranberry sauce pairs well with turkey and stuffing. I wouldn’t go plowing through a full six-pack because the raspberry hints will eventually stack up and fill your mouth, somewhat banishing that brown ale flavor. But a few at a time, especially with a savory, home-cooked meal, can really light up your taste buds. This beer sells for $8.99 to $10.49 per six-pack and is available at Alpine Wine & Spirits in West Vail, Avon Liquors, Beaver Liquors in Avon, Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards, Village Warehouse Wines in Avon and West Vail Liquor Mart.Krista Driscoll, Daily Staff Writer
There is an argument that champagne is only Champagne if it comes from the Champagne area of France and everything else is just sparkling wine. I am sure the French take great offense to us plebian Americans using their fancy moniker for our attempts at recreating the bubbly stuff. So, we’ll meet halfway. Reserve Champagne, with an upper-case C, for the French and slap the more generic champagne on everything else. Hopefully everyone is happy now.To oversimplify, on the more affordable end of the scale, champagne (note the lower-case C) is generally lumped into two varieties: a sweeter spumante and a dryer brut. Spumante in Italian literally means “sparkling,” and brut means “rough” or “raw” in French. And now that you’ve had your vocabulary lesson, let’s focus on this Woodbridge Brut. I grabbed this bottle as I was heading out for my first day of gobbling gnarshmallows at Keystone. Opening Day is always a cause for celebration, and what better way to celebrate than with a bottle of champagne? The Woodbridge was packaged with a half-dozen metal straws, apparently a new trend in sparkling wine but one that seemed pretty pointless and absurd, so I left them at home. Popping the cork as we headed up the mountain, the first sip was more of a slurp, as the gondola rocked slightly and I dumped half of it down the front of my shirt. Karma’s kick in the face for breaking the rules, I guess. Straight from the bottle, the wine was dry but not saliva deadening and had a lightly fruity finish.We passed it around, sharing with our new gondola buddies, and then mixed the remainder with orange juice for a refreshing afternoon mimosa. I always fancied myself a spumante drinker when it came to mimosas because I thought the sweetness went better with the orange juice. But after one or two of those, the sugary gut rot usually sets in and you no longer want anything to do with it. Not so when mixing with a brut. The dryness balances the acidity in the O.J. and almost completely eliminates that mouth-puckering tang. It’s delicious, and at this price point, you can grab a couple of bottles to help take the edge off your hangover on those early-morning ski days. This wine sells for $8.49 to $8.99 and is available at Avon Liquors, Beaver Liquors in Avon and Eagle Ranch Wine & Spirits.Krista Driscoll, Daily Staff Writer
It’s sometimes staggering to contemplate the variety of wine available on the shelves these days. New labels seems to pop up daily, and even the most avid wine drinker can find something new to try. Sometimes, one even comes across a previously untried grape. That was the case for me when I tried this bottle of Carmenere from Chile.Carmenere? A quick online check reveals it’s a member of the Cabernet family and often used as a blending grape – like Petit Verdot. Turns out Carmenere is big in Chile, with a lot of blending going, particularly in Cabs.But how does it stand on its own? This bottle from Casa Silva may not have been the best intro the grape. Despite a claim on the product sheet that it had “sweet, soft tannins,” I found them to be rather too much. The high acidity made me wonder if this bottle would be better in a year or two, but I can’t claim great optimism. Of course, some folks don’t mind a more acidic wine, especially paired with strongly flavored foods. But typically the tradeoff is realized in other areas of the palate. Where I looked for some more complexity in the middle of this bottle I found only flatness, making me curious as to what some other Carmeneres might be like.My wife may have rendered the most succinct verdict, though: She wrinkled her nose, made a face and pushed the glass away. Carmenere, it may be awhile before we give you another try …You can find out more about this wine at http://www.casasilva.cl.Alex Miller, Summit Daily Editor
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