Vail Red, White & Blue: A ‘wolf among scrubs’ | VailDaily.com

Vail Red, White & Blue: A ‘wolf among scrubs’

Vail Daily staff reportsnewsroom@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyVail Daily reviewer Scott Miller says Pliny the Elder brings the hops like a slam-dunk festival
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VAIL, Colorado -Time for a quick quiz, Vail Valley, but just for the old liberal-arts majors among you:Who remembers the name “Pliny the Elder?”Good, good …Now, who remembers just what the heck Pliny the Elder is famous for? Not so many hands this time.Fortunately, the folks at Russian River saved me a Google search by putting a couple of sentences about old Pliny on the label of this ale. He was a Roman humanitarian – he died helping save people from one of Mount Vesuvius’ occasional eruptions – and naturalist. It was in that latter role Pliny discovered hops (mmm … hops …), which the Romans called “wolf among scrubs,” since it grew wild in the underbrush.And thus does Pliny the Elder have a hallowed, if unrecognized role in the taste and smell of modern beer.I don’t know if Pliny liked beer or stronger stuff, but the Russian River folks did him proud with this namesake beer.Pliny’s modern ale (which would also have been a good name for this stuff) is cloudy, deep amber in color, and brings the hops like a slam-dunk festival, which puts it right in the sweet spot of my beer-loving tastebuds.While I’m a lover of the old wolf among the scrubs, even I’ll admit you can over-hop a beer. The Russian River folks haven’t fallen into this thicket, though. The result is a brew that should appeal even to those who aren’t avowed hop-heads. It’s drinkable, even on a warm afternoon in Gypsum, although it made the Ska Brewery True Blonde ale I had right after it taste pretty week.Pliny would be impressed. Right after he’d gotten over his shock at electricity and refrigeration, that is.You can find this beer at West Vail Liquor Mart, Avon Liquor and Alpine Wine & Spirits in West Vail.Scott N. Miller, Daily Staff Writer

In a word, “yummy.”Some of us philistines immune to the Pinot Noir craze instigated a few years back by the film “Sideways” shied away due to Pinot’s often curious finish. How else to describe it? Unlike a friendlier Cab or Shiraz, Pinot Noir asks more from the drinker – sometimes quite a bit more. It’s a tougher grape to grow, so bottles often cost a bit more, and vintages are more prone to off-years.But yeah, a good Pinot Noir is a joy to behold, and this Carmel Road 2007 fits nicely into the category in the under-$20 range. Some believe it’s just not possible to get a good Pinot if enough money isn’t shelled out, but that’s not the case here. Monterey may be south of Napa, but it is along the coast, affording the cooling breezes and lower temperatures Pinot Noir grapes need. This bottle opens up in an hour so to a nice, warm fruit flavor of medium balance that’s low on the tannins. It’s got some spice and plenty of berry, but nothing that will club you over the head. Welcoming, highly drinkable and not overly complex, it’s the kind of bottle you may want to run out and buy a case of to make it through the coming months.The way summer’s going in the high country so far, a nice, medium red may be just the ticket for cool, wet days. And when the sun finally comes out, well, I’d not shun this bottle even when the mercury tops 80.You can find this wine at West Vail Liquor Mart.- Alex Miller, Summit Daily Editor

This widely available wine from Washington state shows a gentler side of sauvignon blanc, with fresh fruit flavors out front and the herbal notes in the background. In other words, it’s not a New Zealand-style sauvignon blanc. It is quite dry, with flavors of pear, lime and tropical fruit, and there’s a refreshing mint and mineral character. It’s a classy, elegant white wine at a modest price. Serve with: White-fleshed fish, shellfish.You can find this wine at Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards and Eagle Ranch Wine & Spirits.- Michael Dresser, L.A. Times-Washington Post News Service