Wine and beer reviews in Eagle County |

Wine and beer reviews in Eagle County

Daily Staff Reports
Vail CO, Colorado
Theo Stroomer/Vail DailyLa Vendimia Rioja is a nice red wine for summer.

This medium-bodied red is a very drinkable wine, with a sharp nose on the top end but a nice finish. It’s probably a good one to uncork a few hours before serving to let it mellow a bit.

Hailing from northern Spain, Riojas are a nice group of reds to explore (Rioja does produce some white wines, but nearly 85 percent are red). The region where the grapes are grown has produced wines for well over a thousand years, and it’s OK to imagine some of this wine’s strong flavor with a little historic twist. Borrowing some from the Bordeaux vintners, Rioja has long been associated with oak-aging, which gives the wine a touch of plum and vanilla flavor.

The La Vendimia Rioja is a blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo grapes. It’s a nice red for summer, since it’s smooth and not overpowering. We tried it with a spicy pasta dish, and it held its own against some pretty strong flavors. After the pasta was gone and I let the wine stand on its own, its flowery character and light fruit-appeal became more apparent. Not a bad wine at all to enjoy in the kitchen or over the grill as you prepare a meal.

La Vendimia Rioja is available at Beaver Liquors in Avon, where wine guy David said they love it over there year-round, but especially now as a summer barbecue wine.

“It’s goes well with ribs or even burgers,” he said. “It has a lot of body and so stands up to anything grilled. But it’s not a cloying, heavy winter wine.”

He added that the duo of grapes is not unlike a blend of Cab and Merlot ” lush and easy to drink.

This wine is available at Drink! in Edwards, Beaver Liquors in Avon and West Vail Liquor Mart.

“Alex Miller, Vail Daily Editor

Brilliant, fresh, herbaceous and aromatic. That’s Uriondo in four words, at least according to winemaker Roberto Ibarretxe Zorriketa. And I’d have to agree. This pale, straw-colored wine smells of lime zest and has fresh citrus and mineral flavors.

Overall, it’s very clean and crisp and, since it’s aged in stainless steel, there isn’t a hint of oak.

The wine hails from the Basque Region of Spain’s northern coast where it’s the white wine of choice in tapas bars around Balboa. If you’re looking to expand your grape varietal portfolio ” this wine is for you. It’s made from local grapes ” 70 percent Mune Mahatsa, 25 percent Ondarrabi Zuri and 5 percent Txori Mahasa. Say those names five times fast.

“It’s definitely an interesting wine,” said Jeffrey Barwig, the local rep for Baroness, a Colorado-based company that distributes Uriondo. “It really stands out because of its bone-dry characteristic. People with distinct palates, who are looking for something unique, will enjoy this wine.”

Though Barwig emphasized how unique this wine is, he said it most closely compares with Albarino, which is also a Spanish grape varietal.

Try this wine with shellfish like scallops or clams, or settle on a sunny deck with a bowl of dried fruits and nuts, Barwig said.

“It’s a really good sipping wine for out on the porch on a nice, sunny day,” he said.

You can find this wine at Beaver Liquors, Avon Liquor and Drink! in Edwards.

” Caramie Schnell, High Life Editor

In my fevered imagination, I can see the genesis of this brew. It involves two tanker trucks and a flock of sheep, and ends with one driver saying, “Hey, you got lemonade in my beer!”

The truth is the “shandy” beer is about as old-school as they come, a combination of beer and lemonade mixed up especially for summer. In some cases, the resulting brew is weaker than regular stuff. In fact, this might have been among the first junior brews, since in some cases in years past, a shandy was exempt from minimum age laws governing alcohol.

In this case, Leinenkugel, a regional brewery in Wisconsin that’s now a part of the Miller brewing empire, has mixed its wheat beer with “natural lemonade flavor.” It’s still full-strength, with just more than 4 percent alcohol by volume. It pours well, with a nice wheat-beer cloudiness in the glass.

And then comes the drinking, and the point where opinions diverge. A good friend of mine enjoys this version of a shandy quite a lot. I don’t.

It’s refreshing, all right, and the combination of lemonade “flavor” and beer seems to be OK. But it’s too sweet for my taste. It also involves a practice I don’t care for: adding things to beer. I’m on record as being suspicious of beer that has fruit flavoring, although I’ve tried a few I liked a lot lately. But the idea of adding something to beer just doesn’t agree with my palate. I know a lot of folks enjoy a “red beer” ” beer mixed with tomato juice ” but as far as I’m concerned, if you have to make a beer red, you’ve ruined it.

I’m with the guys who drafted the German beer purity law back in the 1500s: Beer has water, hops and barley. Anything else and you’re messing with success.

So use your best judgment. If you like something sweet and fizzy with a little kick to it, try this one. It’s got a different mouth feel, taste and attitude than hard lemonades or ciders.

But if it was my beer on those two trucks that collided, I’d smack both drivers with a shovel.

You can find this beer at Avon Liquors, Beaver Liquors and West Vail Liquor Mart.

” Scott N. Miller, Daily Staff Writer

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