Wine and beer reviews in the Vail Valley |

Wine and beer reviews in the Vail Valley

Daily staff reportsnewsroom@vaildaily.comVail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily2006 Lucente Toscana

Heres an Italian red thats as warm and inviting as the Tuscany area it comes from. The medieval town of Montalcino is the base for the Luce winery a recent joint venture between Napas Robert Mondavi family and Florences Frescobaldis. The collaboration has resulted in a small offering of wines and grappa Italys high-powered version of brandy.This 2006 Lucente is the kind of bottle you might pick up in the store and wonder what the heck it is: Cab? Merlot? Chianti?. The quick answer is its a blend: Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in oak for 15 months, the result is a $20 bottle thats worth every penny. Smooth and lush with just a tickle of tannin, the Lucente is a big red with a nicely balanced palette of fruit: strawberry, plum, currant and black cherry with a head of smoke. Its complex but not overly demanding, a highly drinkable table wine that would match well with a hearty meat dish or a big bowl of pasta.While this bottle is in excellent shape heading into 2009, itll only get better in the coming years, probably peaking in 2011 or 2012. Id buy a case and sit on it: In a couple of years youll have a casual dinner-party favorite in spades.You can find this wine at West Vail Liquor Mart, Pier 13 Liquors in Eagle-Vail and Eagle Ranch Wine & Spirits.Alex Miller, Summit Daily Editor

In this space last week Alex Miller reviewed the Martin Codax Tempranillo, which he didnt particularly like: Try it if your desire to canvass the globe and try all kinds of wines compels you to or, perhaps, if youre roasting a goat, he wrote. While the Tempranillo didnt quite jive, Codaxs Albarino shines. This isnt surprising considering the wine comes from the Rias Baixas region of Spain where Albarino which some consider to be Spains most respected white wine grape flourishes. Drink the wine cold, straight out of the fridge, to taste a pear and citrus medley along with a distinct minerality. Dont worry though, the wine isnt sweet, its nice and dry, the fruit flavors just convey an impression of sweetness. When many wine peeps hear the name E. & J. Gallo the largest exporter of Californian wines and, in this case, the company that distributes Martin Codax they shudder. Its a knee-jerk reaction most of us have to the big boys, said Jarrett Osborn of Riverwalk Wine & Spirits. But in this case, Gallos importing a very nice wine, made by a group of grape growers who got together in 1986 and formed Bodegas Martin Codax.(Gallo) just wanted to expand their international portfolio, which is good, Osborn said. Ill make fun of them with the best of them, but we have to give them props when they do it properly.SInce this wine has a subtle acidity, pair it with a slightly sweet seafood, like shrimp scampi, scallops or crab legs, Osborn suggests. You can find this wine at Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards, West Vail Liquor Mart and Eagle Ranch Wine & Spirits.Caramie Schnell, High Life Editor

With temperatures in the Vail Valley consistently dipping into the single digits, its a perfect time to pick up a winter beer. You might want to consider the latest seasonal brew from Full Sail as a way to warm up after a day on the ski hill.Wassail the Hood River, Ore., microbrewerys winter offering has a deep mahogany flavor. The beer is darker than I expected and smells as hoppy as it tastes.Full Sail started brewing Wassail in 1988. Its brewed with Pacific Northwest hops, which was the first thing I noticed when tasting the beer. The strong hoppy flavor is complimented by an almost sweet malty or syrupy taste.This beer doesnt have as much flavor as some other winter brews Ive had Alaskan Brewing Companys Winter Ale or Samuel Adams Winter Lager but if you want your winter beer to taste more like an Indian Pale Ale, this might be the winter brew for you.Matt Knapp, manager of the West Vail Liquor Mart, said he tasted a little bit of caramel flavor in the beers malty taste.Its good, its not too spicy for being a holiday beer, Knapp said. Its full bodied and easy to drink.At 7 percent alcohol by volume, Wassail is on the strong side another reason to grab this brew to warm up.Full Sail Wassail is available at West Vail Liquor Mart.Chris Outcalt, Daily staff writer

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