Wine and beer reviews in Eagle County | VailDaily.com
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Wine and beer reviews in Eagle County

Daily Staff Report
Vail CO, Colorado
Vail Daily File PhotoArchipel is a classic French-style cabernet blend that is 55 percent merlot, 29 percent cabernet sauvignon and 16 percent cabernet franc.
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At first glance, Hop Henge looks to be another bomber bottle by a too-clever-by-half microbrewery. Happily, or hoppily, that isn’t the case.

Perhaps because of the hop-you-upside-the-head nature of Dale’s Pale Ale from Lyons-based Oskar Blues, my tastebuds were ready for another whack from Hop Henge. Instead, what we have here is a well-balanced, full-bodied beer that’s the best brew I’ve sampled in a long time.

This is a beer reminiscent of one of the original microbrews, Red Hook. Back in the 1980s, some friends and I developed a Friday afternoon Red Hook habit. I’m not sure what happened to that red, sneakily powerful ale ” the recipe has changed or something ” but I thought that distinctive taste was forever destined to be just a beery memory from my youth.

Hop Henge comes close.

The tightwad in me balks at a two-serving beer that costs nearly as much as a six-pack of on-sale microbrew, but this is well worth the money and time.

As an aside, Hop Henge’s label claims that the guys at Deschutes built a replica of Stonehenge from bales of hops out in front of the brewery in Bend, Ore. If true, it serves as a reminder that hops and marijuana are genetic first cousins, both capable in their own way of provoking silly behavior.

If this is the result, build away, guys. But don’t try to recreate the Washington Monument. The bales would fall over and a lot of perfectly good hops would go to waste.

As another aside, hops grows like mad in our climate and it’s a great vine for decks, dog runs and such. But it’s much better made into beer.

You can find this beer at Avon Liquors.

Scott N. Miller, Vail Daily Business Editor

There is little that pairs well with nice bright days quite as well as a nice, bright white wine. The Murphy-Goode winery, out of Sonoma County, Calif., brings you a sauvignon blanc, The Fume, which is perfect for the valley’s spring days.

“The wine has a nice lush flavor with a little grapefruit and some fresh grass,” said Mickey Werner of Alpine Wine and Spirits. “It is rounder and cleaner” compared with other wines. He said that the style of the wine is one that a lot of U.S. winemakers have backed off of in recent years. Winemakers have started to mimic more of the New Zealand white wine style, which is like “grapefruit in a glass.”

The winery lets the grape ripen a little longer giving the wine more weight, Werner said. He said this wine is a great shellfish wine. The winery’s Web site suggests oysters on the half shell, which are hard to find up here, but Werner had some alternative suggestions such as grilled shrimp. The wine also pairs well with spicy food, especially dishes using chili peppers or even pasta with a cream sauce” be creative and throw some blackened shrimp or chicken in there for fun.

But arguably the best part of the wine is its price; at $11.50 it is hard to go wrong. And while the price is attractive, the fact that the wine taste like more than $12 is quite the trick.

You can find this wine at Riverwalk Wine and Spirits in Edwards.

Jessica Slosberg, Daily Staff Writer

Archipel is derived from the French word Archipelago, which, if you remember from your sixth grade geography class, means a string of islands. Archipel is made from grapes sourced from high-altitude mountain vineyards that rise about the fog line like islands rise above the sea. Winemakers from wineries along the Mayacamas Mountain Range, which divides Sonoma and Napa Counties, contribute barrels of their best wine. The wine was originally crafted for the winemaking team’s enjoyment but in 2002 they decided to share the limited quantity wine with consumers.

The 2003 release is 55 percent merlot, 29 percent cabernet sauvignon and 16 percent cabernet franc. On the nose the wine smells of black cherry and cedar; in the mouth the wine luscious with a full body and silky tannins.

“It’s a very powerful, but very classic French-style cabernet blend,” said Mickey Werner of Alpine Wine and Spirits. There’s a meatiness to it and it’s real classic in terms of the fact that it has more herbs and cedar pencil shavings than big jammy fruit. It really compares to a bordeaux.”

While Werner said he’d love to drink this wine with a great chateaubriand (grilled or sauteed beef tenderloin for two), it would also pair nicely with leg of lamb. Archipel’s Web site recommends pairing the ruby-colored wine with ” grilled red meats, sausages, hearty stews and aged cheeses such as cheddar and Parmigiano-Regianno.”

You can find Archipel at Alpine Wine and Spirits and West Vail Liquor Mart.

Restaurants that carry the wine include The Lancelot, Sonnenalp and Zach’s Cabin.

Caramie Schnell, High Life Editor


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