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Wine and beer reviews in Eagle County

Daily Staff Reports
Vail CO, Colorado
Theo Stroomer/Vail DailyThe Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest
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Now this is more like it.

Last week, we took on a misspelled, and not great, “Octoberfest” beer. This week we have another entry, the properly spelled “Imperial Oktoberfest” from Avery Brewing, which the folks there call “The Kaiser.”

For those of you who need a quick update on their beer jargon, calling something an “Imperial” means it’s got more of everything. Especially alcohol. But upping the octane can sometimes affect a beer’s taste.



And buzzworthiness isn’t everything, you know.

Despite the kicked-up nature of The Kaiser, it’s fine, drinkable stuff, with a deep amber color, a big malt taste offset with some nice hoppiness, and a nice, lacy head on the glass.



That’s what we’ve come to expect from Avery, a company that generally does every style of beer about as well as anyone else does. The company’s White Devil Belgian-style ale is one of my favorites.

The Kaiser is a fine American take on a traditional German seasonal beer. But here’s the thing. At the real Oktoberfest, the one in Munich, people in the beer halls drink and eat ” but especially drink ” for hours at a time. Paulaner’s Oktoberfest ” the class of this kind of beer, in my opinion ” is served in Munich, and it’s smooth, delicious, and you can have several over the course of an afternoon without undue harm. Try that with The Kaiser and there’ll surely be hell to pay.

But unless you’re settling in for a marathon of schnitzel and suds, The Kaiser is a good way to greet fall.



This beer is available at Village Warehouse Wines in Avon, Avon Liquors, Beaver Liquors in Avon and West Vail Liquor Mart.

Scott N. Miller, Daily Staff Writer

My first thought was really, the peeps at Clif Bar make wine? What’s next ” maybe a nice syrah from Smuckers, or a Pizza Hut pinot? The Hut folks seem to be trying their hand at lots more than ‘za lately, so it really wouldn’t surprise me.

All kidding aside, this Zinfandel blend ” it’s 59 percent Zin, 20 percent Syrah, 9 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 6 percent Merlot and 6 percent Petite Sirah ” is pretty tasty.

So what prompted the owners of Clif Bar (they make those yummy LUNA bars, too), a company focused on making portable, packaged foods, to make wine? Enter their Web site.

” … life is not only about portability and convenience. Much of our life is ‘slow,’ as in the slow food movement. We enjoy working in the kitchen, preparing delicious artisan foods and enjoying meals with family and friends. Wine plays a big role in these occasions.”

Fair enough. The company isn’t growing their own ” yet. Instead they sourced grapes from Mendocino County, Russian River Valley and Napa Valley. The resulting ruby hued vino has red fruit and nice spice flavors and is fairly balanced, too. It was enough to charm the judges at the Los Angeles International Wine Competition in 2007 where it garnered gold.

“It’s a pretty simple, straightforward wine,” said Pete Cuccia, manager of Village Warehouse Wines in Traer Creek Plaza. “The Zinfandel component gives it nice jammy, raspberry and strawberry flavors. Without having a huge component of cabernet to it, it’s going to be a softer, more fruit forward wine.”

Cuccia said the wine will pair well with any barbecue dishes or simple, grilled meats.

I wonder how it would pair with “bar” food?

This wine is available at Village Warehouse Wines in Avon, Avon Liquors and West Vail Liquor Mart.

Caramie Schnell, High Life editor

The Chook Raffle is a popular diversion in Australia ” and I’m not talking about the wine. For a dollar, Aussies can buy into the Chook Raffle fundraiser and take their chances at winning a frozen “chook,” or chicken, or any number of random prizes the host gathers.

The Shoo Fly Chook Raffle Chardonnay is a step up from a frozen chicken, I dare say, and takes none of the defrosting to enjoy.

“It’s a nice chardonnay,” said Pete Cuccia, manager of Village Warehouse Wines in Traer Creek Plaza next to Wal-Mart. “It has small hints of oak. While it’s a chardonnay, it lets the citrus and melon notes show brightly.”

Throughout the great debate that is wine, we must remember all palates are different. Cuccia tasted fruitiness all over the Chook Raffle, though the hints of grapefruit came most as an aftertaste to me. The chardonnay’s oakiness and crisp acidity were the first flavors and sensations to play on my tongue.

While Cuccia recommends the Chook Raffle with a grilled chicken Caesar salad or spinach salad with goat cheese, I advise pairing this chardonnay almost exclusively with fish ” maybe mussels if you’re feeling adventurous.

Still young, the 2007 is certainly a palatable drink now and promises to develop more complexity over the next three years. A small portion of this Adelaide Hills chardonnay was matured in older French oak to add layers of aroma and texture, and then small amounts of Riesling and Verdelho were added to lend bright, juicy flavors.

Although such an acidic wine wouldn’t be my first choice, against the winning price of $9.99 a bottle, how can you go wrong?

“Dollar for dollar, I think it’s a great wine,” Cuccia said.

This wine is available at Village Warehouse Wines in Avon.

Nicole Frey, Daily Staff Writer


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