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

Daily Staff ReportsVail CO, Colorado
Theo Stroomer/Vail DailyRuffino Il Ducale 2004, $17.99
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This is a medium-bodied red from the Tuscany region of Italy, which suggests its pairing with pasta and other such dishes would not be off the mark. In fact, this would be the kind of bottle Id have on hand for just such a purpose a fruity, mellow-tannin table sipper thats a nice accompaniment to something like a chicken cacciatore or creamy pasta.I liked the Ruffino Il Ducale for its nice balance between acidity and fruit. Its a pretty smooth drinker with hints of berries and nuts. A blend of 80 percent Sangiovese, 15 percent merlot and 5 percent cabernet sauvignon, the wine is a deep ruby red color with a fragrant nose and a nice, lingering finish. If you like Chianti, this is a nice bottle to try thats a slight step up. Plus, its always fun to let the word Sangiovese roll off the tongue!This wine is available at West Vail Liquor Mart and Eagle Ranch Wine & Spirits.Alex Miller, Summit Daily Editor

Theres always a bit of trepidation before you see an old friend. Will things be the same? Will the conversation prove awkward, or will you pick up right where you left off? I felt the same way about this wine. Its been quite some time since I tried chenin blanc. Thankfully, this bottle was like the best of those old friends, and I remembered immediately why I like the varietal at least when its made well. Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc not only falls into that category, it does so with a reasonable price tag. Sometimes chenin blanc isnt so good its overly sweet and not well-balanced. Not to worry; Pine Ridge, located in Californias Napa Valley, doesnt fall into that trap. They were the first winery to develop this unique blend of 80 percent chenin blanc and 20 percent Viognier. The chenin blanc gives the wine its acidity and pear and citrus fruit flavors while the Viognier gives the wine a supple mouth feel and adds peach and floral notes to the finished product. Theres a complexity in this wine that I doubt could have been achieved by using just one of the grapes. The wine is crisp and clean and a little sweet, too. Skip your usual sauv blanc or Riesling and give this bottle a try. This wine is available at West Vail Liquor Mart, Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards and Eagle Ranch Wine & Spirits.Caramie Schnell, High Life Editor

If you think about Europe, or especially China, 20 years is somewhere between a finger snap and an eye blink. But the in the world of American microbrews, 20 years in the business is something.The folks at Sierra Nevada, justly famed for the pale ale thats on tap at many local bars and restaurants, have hit the two-decade mark this year, which puts them in pretty exclusive company. In fact, theres a pretty short list of craft breweries that have been in business longer (off the top of my head, that list doesnt go much deeper than Anchor Brewing, Samuel Adams and Red Hook). To celebrate this big anniversary, Sierra Nevada has brewed up this ale, and its a pretty good anniversary present to us. Its a deep amber, and a steady stream of tiny, tiny bubbles rises to the top of the glass as you make your way to the bottom.The flavor is distinctive, too, but that doesnt mean everyones going to be a fan. A friend, whose beer tastes tend toward drinkable, found this anniversary ale too bitter for her tastes. That would be the hops talking.This is far more heavily hopped than most craft brews, and approaches the products from the hop-heads at Oskar Blues in Lyons for over-the-top hoppiness. Compared to Dales Pale Ale which is at the upper limit for heavily-hopped beers someone can still drink Sierra Nevadas Anniversary Ale is quite a bit smoother, and the hops dont overpower the rest of the beers flavor. Thats a good thing. If smoothness is your thing, youre probably better off with something else. But Sierra Nevada has made a strong statement with this beer, that these are brewers in control of their craft, and that they can make a highly-hopped, but not obnoxious beer.Thanks for the present, guys.This beer is available at Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards, West Vail Liquor Mart, Alpine Wine & Spirits in West Vail, Village Warehouse Wines in Avon and Avon Liquors.Scott N. Miller, Vail Daily Business Editor


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