Vail Red, White & Brew: A ‘Mirth’-ful Chardonnay |

Vail Red, White & Brew: A ‘Mirth’-ful Chardonnay

Vail Daily staff reportnewsroom@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyVail Daily reviewer says 2008 Corvidae "Mirth" Chardonnay is a rare commodity - a moderately priced Chardonnay that drinks beautifully

A project of Oregon’s Owen Roe Winery and offshoot Corvidae winery, “Corvidae” is named for the family of birds that includes crows and ravens. Crows have a long history in folklore and mythology. David O’Reilly, the vintner, was inspired to name the label Corvidae by the many crows that circle the sky over his winery in Yakima. Mirth Chardonnay is a rare commodity – a moderately priced Chardonnay that drinks beautifully. The 2008 vintage, made from all Washington grapes, is clean and crisp and not over-oaked. This actually tastes like chardonnay – good, crisp, lemon-bright chardonnay with ripe, sweet apple flavors and vibrant, citric acidity. O’Reilly, the vintner behind Owen Roe as well as the value-priced O’Reilly brand, is a master at sourcing great fruit at affordable prices and passing the savings on to the consumer. Taste it alone, and the flavor of the fruit fills the mouth, ripe and sweet; later, with clams, potatoes and chorizo, it feels crisp and lively, cutting through the richness and matching the bracing, sea-salt tang of the shellfish. Fermented almost wholly in stainless steel, there’s no oak to get in the way of the grape’s true character – and it proves that good chardonnay does indeed have character. Amazing at the price, this less-than-$15 Chardonnay has appealing freshness and elegance.You can find this wine at Avon Liquor and Beaver Liquors in Avon.Kevin Lawrence, Avon LIquor

My wife and I were holding onto this bottle for a special occasion -namely our 10th wedding anniversary. A friend had given us a bottle of ’96 Michele Schlumberg Cab (Dry Creek, Calif.) to open on our special day in 2010, but we weren’t at all convinced the 14 years this one had spent in the bottle would be kind to it, so we had the Chateau Montelena as a backup.Good thing. While an anniversary bottle like this is a great wedding gift, be sure to do a little research first on a likely candidate to go the distance. The Schlumberg was wan and rather off, so we turned to the other. The Chateau Montelena is a spendy bottle – in the $45 range – so, try as we might to avoid letting that cloud our judgment, expectations still ran high. It’s a nice bottle, to be sure, but socks remained firmly in place, and we reminisced about some of those $20 California Cabs and Zins we’d enjoyed recently.This wine is a garnet color with medium tannins (pull the cork a good three hours before you drink it). It’s not especially complex and seemed a bit tart for its age. Perhaps we should have held onto it for our 20th? Nevertheless, it has nice, spicy top notes of clove, licorice, cinnamon and leather and a firm finish. It continued to open up in the glass and is certainly a wine one can warm up to. But 45 bucks? It’s easy to find two or even three California Cabs just as nice if not better than this for the price.But perhaps it’s the marquee value of Chateau Montelena: If you’d like to know more about the origins of this winery, check out the film “Bottle Shock,” which tells how their Chardonnay beat out the French back in the 1970s.You can find this wine at Alpine Wine & Spirits in West Vail, West Vail Liquor Mart, Avon Liquor and Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards.Alex Miller, Summit Daily editor

We’ll start this week with a confession: For the past 20-some years, every time I hear the word “Stonehenge,” or anything with “henge” as the final syllable, I think of “This is Spinal Tap,” and the greatest fake band of all time’s tribute to the ancient Druid holy site.I’m guessing the guys at Deschutes share some of this affliction – they’ve built a replica of Stonehenge out of bales of hops, and every year they brew Hop Henge, a monument to hoppiness few craft brewers can match.If you’re a fan of hoppy beers, there are any number of brewers who can scratch your itch (and believe me, playing with hops vines in short sleeves will make you itchy). But few monster-hop beers combine both hoppy bitterness and real smoothness. That’s what makes Hop Henge special.Hop Henge is rich and red, with a delicate, almost creamy head. The hop aroma hits your nose as soon as the first splash hits the bottom of the glass. But the hoppiness isn’t overwhelming. Rather, the guys at Deschutes have managed to combine the hoppiness of a kangaroo on steroids with other flavors. The brewery calls this a “biscuity characteristic,” but my inner redneck (OK, it’s not that inner) tells me last thing you want to do with this beer is serve it with sausage gravy.Deschutes brews this beer every year, and every year it’s a little different. And it’s always worth the tasting.Celebrate the henge, beer-druids!You can find this beer at Alpine Wine & Spirits in West Vail, Eagle Ranch Wine & Spirits, Avon Liquor and Beaver Liquors in Avon. Scott Miller, Daily staff writer

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