Food & Wine Classic: Experts pour perfection from bubbles to rose |

Food & Wine Classic: Experts pour perfection from bubbles to rose

Kelly J. Hayes
Special to The Aspen Times
Ray Isles, left, of Food & Wine at a past seminar.
Jeanne McGovern/The Aspen Times

One thing you can always be sure of at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is that the wine will flow like beer.

Of course, there are a number of ways to take advantage of all that wine. You can simply make the rounds of the tents, pick up a glass and taste the offerings of the close to 300 exhibitors. You can secure golden ticket invites to any one of the many parties, or you can even book a table in a local restaurant and order your own bottle from one of the outstanding wine lists that dot the Aspen culinary landscape.

But for my money, the wine highlights for the Classic all take place in the tents and presentation venues that host the seminars. Consider that many of America’s top wine experts come to pour you six tastes and teach you something about each.

Here are a few “don’t miss ’em” presenters and their seminars:


Jordan Salcito, the head wine geek at Momofuku and palate behind the canned, grapefruit-tinged Sicilian spritzer RAMONA (you can try it at Of Grape and Grain in Aspen), Jordan will be throwing out the book in her “Rose without Rules” seminar. Meanwhile, Paul Chevalier, who introduced Aspen and America to the Whispering Angel at the Classic over the years, will bring the wines of Château D’Esclans in a seminar titled “The Rosé Lifestyle of Saint Tropez.”


Master sommeliers seem to have a thing for bubbles, and three of the best in the MS world will be popping caps. Shayn Bjornholm, the examination director for The Court of Master Sommeliers, will pour the good stuff from the source in his “What a Year! The Best of Vintage Champagne” presentation. The Little Nell’s master sommelier, Carlton McCoy, will tickle our noses with “Bring on the Bubbles,” which likely will include some non-Champagne-produced sparklers. And leave it to Boulder’s Bobby Stuckey to take the path least traveled and introduce us to “Great Grower Champagnes,” those produced in the region by local growers.


Wine writer Kelli White literally wrote the book on Napa Valley, 1,255 pages and 12 pounds of book, titled “Napa Valley, Then and Now.” Naturally, she will focus on the region with her “From the Cellar: Great Napa Valley Cabernets Over Time” seminar. You may say “Grenache,” but Andy Chabot returns from Blackberry Farms to tell you it’s “garnacha.” Or maybe “cariñena”. Or perhaps both in his “The Priorat: Amazing Reds from Spain’s Ancient Vines.”


While we bask here in the summer sun, the vines of the Southern Hemisphere lie dormant as the solstice approaches. But there is nothing dormant about the wines from South America that New York-based wino Paul Grieco will pour in the seminar “Discovering the Great Wines of Chile and Argentina.” Staying Down Under, Ray Isle, executive wine director of Food & Wine magazine, will address “The Australian Revolution.” We assume he means in wine.