Vail Valley wine and beer reviews
Cinco de Mayo may already be a fuzzy, fading memory, but the seasonal reign of Mexican beers is just getting started. The crisp and refreshing character of light, bubbly, Mexican-style lagers such as Corona, Pacifico and Tecate is perfect for posting up by the pool all summer long. Enter Denver’s own Del Norte Brewing Co., perhaps the only commercial brewery in the United States that specializes in Mexican-style beers and Mexican-style beers only. No longer do you have to wait for your tequila chasers to make the long, agonizing trek from the headquarters of Grupo Modelo and get arguably skunky, bitter and generally unfresh in the moving process.Del Norte also brews a Negra Modelo-/Dos Equis Amber-like brew called Manana, but I tried their lager named Orale, which loosely translates to ‘Oh, yeah!’ (see: Kool-Aid Man). One immediate advantage this beer has over, say, Corona, is that it comes in a brown bottle. Indeed, Corona’s clear bottle is iconic and looks better filled with layers of colored sand, but tinted bottles protect the integrity of the flavor of the beer. The reason many commercial Mexican lagers are served with a lime is that they need one. They don’t actually taste that good on their own, exceptions being Dos Equis and … well, that’s it.The straw-colored Orale has a light and refreshing taste that does taste pretty good without a lime. This is nice because it saves you a few cents a beer, but if you’re addicted to the head rush that comes with sticking your thumb in a beer and turning it upside down, fruit and all, you may want to stick with the non-domestics. Overall, though, let’s be honest. There’s not a whole lot to the “cerveza clara” style of beer. It is what it is — quenching, mellow, slightly sweet and extremely drinkable. The real upshots to this beer are that it’s brewed right down the road in Denver and that it holds its own or better against the other beers in its class. For a frame of reference, I would say this beer tastes like an improved-upon Tecate with some added citrus or banana notes (seriously, and that’s as tasty as it sounds). Del Norte won’t ever produce your favorite stout or IPA, but it should earn a place in the pantheon of summertime brews, and it fills a niche that has heretofore been ignored by American craft brewers.Salud!You can find this beer at Avon Liquor.Aaron Butzen, Daily Staff Writer
Even if youre not a big fan of port, you should still try this wine, which tastes pretty darn similar. Thats because this wine is made from the same grapes used to make port. And dont expect the characteristic sweet flavor port is known for instead this wine is nice and dry. The House of Dow in Portugals Douro Valley is known as one of the top five port houses in the world and the Vale do Bomfim is their entry-level red wine, a blend of 40 percent Touriga Franca, 25 percent Tinta Roriz, 20 percent Tinta Barroca and 15 percent Touriga Nacional. The wine smells fruity with a hint of spice. Take a sip and slight berry flavors come through, along with a touch of chocolate and toasty oak. These grapes are Cabernet-style grapes, big red grapes, said Jarrett Osborn of Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards. It tastes like dry port, what a boring thing to say, but it should its made from the same grapes.And while the wine has some tannins, its not a monster and you can go ahead and drink it now. Given a few years in the cellar though, I feel like the wine would mellow just slightly and be even better. Osborn compared the wine to a rioja or a mellow cabernet sauvignon. Eat it with barbecue, ribs, even a good, spicy burger and it would be first rate, he said. This wine is available at Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards and West Vail Liquor Mart.Caramie Schnell, High Life editor
This bright, bubbly young wine at $20 a bottle is not being recommended for its sophistication or snob-worthiness.Its just a lively, fun wine that is perfect for serving on a spring day. Unlike some California sparkling wines, it does not seek to emulate Champagne.Made from pinot blanc, sauvignon blanc and muscat a blend foreign to Champagne it fills a niche all its own. Its unabashedly fruity, not at all yeasty, and there seems to be a little touch of sweetness while the wine remains essentially dry. Flavors include pear, peach, cherry, vanilla and marzipan. It would be an elegant wedding wine.You can find this wine at Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards, Avon Liquor, West Vail Liquor Mart and Alpine Wine & Spirits in West Vail.Michael Dresser, L.A. Times/Washington Post News Service
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