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

Daily Staff Reportsnewsroom@vaildaily.comEagle County CO, Colorado
Theo Stroomer/Vail DailySamuel Smiths Winter Welcome Ale
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Look at the label on this bottle, with the old-timey fisherman and his dog out working the snow-lined banks of his favorite stream. Now think about what youd really want to drink after an afternoon of winter angling. My choice would be some sort of toddy with lots of liquor, probably Irish whiskey.But if there wasnt any Irish whiskey around, a Winter Welcome would do just fine. Im not usually a big fan of English beers if Im buying, I want a little more hoppiness but this is nice stuff, with a medium-red color, a nice head and oodles of little carbonation bubbles rising up from the glass.Theres a nice, yeasty, malty flavor, too. Theres plenty of body here, and a nice liquid bread kind of aroma that floats into your nose as the beer cruises past your tastebuds.Theres an initial bitterness that mellows as the beer sits in your glass for a (short) while. This is beer after all it might need to breathe for a bit, but in America, beer isnt a room-temperature treat.As winter rolls around, many beer drinkers start to lean toward stouts or porters, in the way we prefer a good vegetable soup to a salad this time of year. This is a little unusual, because Winter Welcome is a winter-weight beer you can see through. Its a nice change from dark, dark beers. After all, the days are short enough now that a little light in theglass is a welcome change from the pitch-black-at-6-p.m. nights that greet us after work.This beer is available at Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards, Avon Liquors, Eagle Ranch Wine & Spirits, Village Warehouse Wines in Avon, West Vail Liquor Mart and Alpine Wine & Spirits in West Vail.Scott N. Miller, Daily staff writer

This is a nicely balanced, elegant Merlot from Sonoma Countys Bennett Valley. Aged a little over a year in French oak, the Matanzas Creek has a lovely array of accents ranging from black cherry and blackberry to sage and clove. Given the pedestrian nature of many a contemporary Merlot, this is a bottle with a more substantial character that pairs nicely with red meat, cheese and lamb.Not quite a pure varietal, this bottle is 85 percent Merlot with 12 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 3 percent Syrah. Its a good blend, with the Cab offering a bit of depth underneath the Merlot and the Syrah offering up a touch more acidity to aid in the balance. The tannins are rather mellow, making this a highly drinkable wine thats as versatile as it is ambitious.Not content to be a simple Merlot, this is a bottle with a particularly fragrant nose and enough spice to make it deliciously distinctive.Pick it up to enjoy one of the nicer Merlots Sonoma County has to offer. A few more years in the bottle will no doubt make it even better.You can find this wine at Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards, West Vail Liquor Mart and Avon Liquors.Alex Miller, Summit Daily editor

This Sauvignon Blanc from Chile is textbook for the grape dry with light citrus notes. At 14.1 percent alcohol, its not surprising that theres also a little heat in the finish. The Marnier Lapostolle family, founders and owners of the world-renowned liqueur Grand Marnier, obviously know how to produce great spirits and liqueurs, but you might not know that the family has also been making wine for generations, originally in the Loire Valley. Casa Lapostolles high end wine 2005 Clos Apalta Colchagua Valley was recently named Wine Spectators Wine of the Year 2008, said Jarrett Osborn of Riverwalk Wine & Spirits. This is their entry level wine and they know what theyre doing, Osborn said. I just finished a bottle a few nights ago. Theres no oak and its bone dry. Even though its dry, that grapefruit flavor is a little sweet, because its a sweet flavor,he said. Theres a little bit of lime in there and a little bit of mineral characteristic, which I think sets it apart.I also tried the wine with a spicy dish namely shrimp tacos with a chipotle pepper white sauce. The wine complimented the dish nicely. While the producer recommends serving this wine as an aperitif, you could also try serving it with goat cheese or even Caesar salad, which nothing goes that well with, Osborn said. You can find this wine at Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards, West Vail Liquor Mart and Village Warehouse Wines in Avon.Caramie Schnell, High Life editor


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