Vail wine and beer reviews |

Vail wine and beer reviews

Daily staff reportsnewsroom@vaildaily.comVAIL CO, Colorado

Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot has plenty of characteristics in common with the creature whose name it bears, but stealth and camouflage are not among them. No, you’ll know for certain when you’ve encountered this beast of a beer, with a 9.6 percent alcohol content that you can taste and smell and that you’ll probably feel before you finish your glass. The rest of the beer is generally in-your-face as well, with a big, malty, syrupy-sweet body and a pronounced Northwest-hop bitterness to boot. However, all that pontificating could describe just about any barleywine – big, sweet, bitter, intoxicating. Bigfoot, though, is a special specimen with a mystical nature, each sip imparting understanding along with renewed curiosity and confusion. The brew itself is a mesmerizing, deep, golden red that turns to a dark brown if you look at a full glass straight on. It is capped by a strong, thick and intricately laced head that coats the side of the glass with hundreds of tiny bubbles well after the beer has gone. Like Sierra Nevada’s other beers, Bigfoot tastes and smells gloriously earthy, its fruity, piney aroma giving way to rustic hop and caramel flavors ensconced in an almost chewy and sticky body.The verdict: this is absolutely one of the best young barleywines I’ve ever had. I’m interested to see what a year or so of aging will do to mellow out some of the sharp edges, but Bigfoot is extremely enjoyable and dangerously drinkable as it stands. It’s nice that this beer comes in six-packs instead of just 22-oz. bombers as a lot of big beers do – it gives you the freedom to savor one or two or three now (fair warning: 12 ounces of this may be enough for one sitting) and still have some bottles leftover to cellar for subsequent years. In my case, I drank two bottles and stashed away four for later times (if I can keep my hands off them). For such a big, meaty beer, Bigfoot is also refreshingly affordable – I paid $12 for a six-pack.Bigfoot is a hairy and somewhat intimidating beer to be sure, but it’s a big teddy bear at heart – sweet, comforting and sleep-inducing. Just be sure to respect its size, and don’t be afraid to hold on to some – it will almost definitely improve with age.This beer sells for $11.99 to $12.99 a six-pack and is available at Avon Liquors, Beaver Liquors in Avon, Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards and Village Warehouse Wines in Avon.Aaron Butzen, Daily Correspondent

South America is producing some incredibly tasty and affordable wines these days. But that wasn’t always the case.Argentina is now the fifth-largest producer of wine in the world but has a relatively short history of export outside its borders. Up until the 1990s, the country’s winemakers were cranking out copious amounts of, well, crap. Using a few varieties of easy-to-grow grapes and mashing and fermenting them into various boozy states, the Argentine viticulturists seemed more concerned with quantity than quality. Ninety percent of the wine produced in the country stayed in the country and, according to one online resource, Argentinians were consuming it at a rate of 12 gallons per year per person, perhaps because no one else wanted to buy it.At some point, someone down there must have thought, if the French can do it, so can we, and they started improving the quality of the wine in an effort to establish an international market for it. So, along came a new era in Argentine wines and the advent of the two most notable exports from the region: Malbec, a spicy, rich, raven-colored red, and Torrontes, an enigmatic white that I tried for the first time in this 2010 bottle.Torrontes is known for being an aromatic varietal, and the Alamos Torrontes was a fine example of that. In the glass, it exuded a lovely floral bouquet with hints of fruit. The texture of the wine was somewhat puzzling: on first sip, the wine was a nonevent, almost watery in nature, low in acidity but with a heavy body that sat square on my tongue. It was almost as if my taste buds had fallen asleep and then, suddenly and inexplicably, awakened joyously to an onslaught of stone-fruit and honeysuckle flavors. I paired this wine with tequila-lime chicken tacos with corn-cilantro salsa. When halving the marinade recipe for the chicken, I forgot to cut the amount of chili powder, so the tacos had a bit of a kick to them, but the wine did a masterful job of washing all of the spiciness away and giving me a fresh palate for each bite. It enhanced the meal by allowing me to focus on different flavors, starting anew with each wine-chased mouthful. This wine sells for $11.99 and is available at Beaver Liquors in Avon, Eagle Ranch Wine & Sprits and West Vail Liquor Mart.Krista Driscoll, Daily Staff Writer

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