Wine and beer reviews in Eagle County |

Wine and beer reviews in Eagle County

Daily Staff ReportsVail CO, Colorado
Special to DailyBlack Butte XX

Im a philistine.It says right on the label that this beer has a wealth of coffee as well as cocoa nibs. Its also aged in old bourbon barrels. To my unrefined palate, theres hops, you betcha, and nice, dark, roasty malted grain. The coffees there, too, but Ill be darned if my tastebuds can find the cocoa or the smoky, dusky taste of bourbon.But no matter. This is a darned good porter, brewed in the imperial style, meaning, basically, more of everything, including alcohol. That explains the XX in the name. The two xs also denote that this is Deschutes tribute to its 20th anniversary. That, and the wax-sealed top of the bottle, your guarantee of a classy product, and an assurance that youre going to have to hack away like Tony Perkins on Janet Leigh in Psycho to get the damned thing open.But the hacking is worth it. This black hole of a beer has a nice snap to the taste, but its still smooth enough to enjoy all the way to the bottom of the bomber.Black Butte isnt a summer beer in any way youd care to imagine. Youd spit it out if you had one of these after running the weed whacker or taking a shovel to that patch of dirt thats destined to become a flagstone patio. This brew lends itself to short days, long nights and a bowl of beef stew. But, like most everything else the Beer Boys from Bend brew, its delicious, and delivers on its promise of something special rolling across your tongue.Though we had a review bottle of this sent to us from Deschutes, it turns out no one in town carries this very limited release beer. You can find the Black Butte Porter, a similar offering but not the XX, at West Vail Liquor Mart, Beaver Liquors in Avon, Village Warehouse Wines in Avon, Alpine Wine and Spirits in West Vail and Riverwalk Wine and Spirits in Edwards. It retails for around $8.50 a six pack. Scott Miller, Vail Daily Business Editor

If your significant other is thinking about popping the till-death-do-us-part question, this is the bottle that just might convince them. At least thats Jarrett Osborns take on it. Osborn, the resident wine guru at Riverwalk Wine and Spirits, hosted a wine tasting last week at French Press in Edwards. Lucky participants got to taste 14 classic California Cabernet and Meritage wines, including Beringers Private Reserve. This wine, which Wine Spectator rated a 93, is fabulous. And it should be, considering the price. Its a damn good bottle, Osborn said. Mickey Werner of Alpine Wine and Spirits in West Vail, agreed.Beringer is an enigma in the wine world. They make everything from a great $7 bottle to an incredible private reserve and its consistent year in and year out, Werner said. This wine is mostly cabernet sauvignon with a touch of merlot and cabernet franc. Its exactly what a good Napa Valley cab should be big and rich with a little tannin.But soft tannin not Bordeaux tannin where it hurts a little bit. Both are good, just different. Theres a little bit of spice to it, clove or tobacco spice, Osborn said. Though Osborn said this wine doesnt need to be decanted, he recommends opening it and letting it sit with the cork off for about 30 minutes or so to let it open up. Itll go best with big, classic cab pairings a New York strip steak seasoned simply with salt and pepper or even with venison or grilled lamb, Osborn said. Mixed grill, as it were, Osborn said, chuckling. Just be careful with this one, it has the potential to be powerful, life-changing stuff dont open a bottle unless youre ready to be off the market for good. You can find this wine at Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards and Alpine Wine and Spirits in West Vail. Caramie Schnell, High Life editor

From South Australias McLaren Vale region comes a modestly priced white wine with a big flavor and a funny name. When Chardonnay or grigio gets a little predictable, this Viognier Marsanne may be in order for those who like a sweeter wine with a lot of body and a clean finish.This wine is a blend of two Rhone varietals, Viognier and Marsanne both of which do well in McLaren Vales soil and climate. Viognier is an ancient grape, legendarily brought to the Rhone Valley by the emperor Probus in 281 A.D. Marsanne made the leap from France to Australia in the 1860s, and its broader character blends well with the higher-acidity Viognier.So whats the result? On first taste, this bottle comes across very sweet it wouldnt be bad as an apertif at all. As it grows on the palate, the more complex notes start to come through: tropical fruits, honeysuckle and underlying nuttiness. The winemaker notes on the Web site that its important not to serve the bottle over-chilled, and it definitely improves as it nears room temperature and has time to expand.Only about 5 percent of the Hermit Crab is exposed to oak, with the result being a clean and refreshing, very drinkable white. Try it with shellfish or Asian food, by itself or with a cheese tray. The hardest thing about it might be remembering the name. Just think Hermit Crab, so named because of the creatures presence on the coastlines near the dArenberg vineyards.You can find this wine at West Vail Liquor Mart, Avon Liquors and Riverwalk Wine and Spirits in Edwards. Alex Miller, Vail Daily editor

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