Kelly J. Hayes: WineInk |

Kelly J. Hayes: WineInk

Kelly J. HayesAspen Times Weekly

One thing we can be thankful for this Thanksgiving is the plethora of great wine shops that we have up and down the Roaring Fork Valley. And what better time to call some of the professionals in our local shops for suggestions on wines to drink with a Turkey dinner. We’ll start downvalley in Carbondale and work our way up the hill.Johnny Ivansco has done a terrific job turning Sopris Liquor & Wine into a worth-the-drive location. He offers up a pair of Chardonnays for the holiday repast. The first, a 2008 Dusted Valley Old Vine Chardonnay ($22.00) from a winery in Walla Walla, Wash., is a gem. Dusted Valley received accolades as the 2010 Winery of the Year by the prestigious and very savvy Norwest Wine Press. Johnny notes that this is “An awesome Chardonnay with just 210 cases made … sort of a cheap man’s Burgundy.”For those with a few more dollars to spend, Johnny suggested the 2008 Paring Hilt Chardonnay ($32.99). Made by the 101 Wine Company, the same folks who own Napa Valley cult Cabernet Screaming Eagle, these wines are sourced from vines in Ballard Canyon in the Santa Ynez region of Santa Barbara County. A great pedigree and, as Johnny notes, “a marvelous Chardonnay.”A little upvalley, at the corner of Highway 82 and Catherine Store Road, sits one of the most unique wine shops in the state, if not the country. Roberta Lewis of Catherine Store Wine & Liquor says the store has “compelling wines at compelling prices” and I can’t argue with either characterization. Through Thanksgiving Day, Catherine Store Wine & Liquor has a sale offering 20 percent off all wines $20 and under (net priced wines excluded). That could save you as much $48 on a case.Roberta traveled far afield for her wine picks. First, from the Marlborough region of New Zealand, comes a 2008 Craggy Range Fletcher Family Vineyard Riesling ($21.87). A wine she says has “vibrant, lip-smacking acidity with a balancing touch of pure fruit character that makes it the perfect turkey white. Each delightful sip makes you crave another bite of succulent bird.”For those who love a red wine of character with their bird, Roberta would pour a Gour de Chaule 2008 Cotes du Rhone Gigondas ($22.99). “There is a magical symbiosis that occurs between the earthiness of this Rhone and the rich bites of game bird,” she praises. “It has the lightness and versatility of a Pinot Noir, but the quality and character of a Gigondas. We are so very lucky to have this wine; only 250 cases come in to the U.S.”Those who live in Basalt have been blessed with easy access to the always-innovative Basalt Wine Shop. Richard Chelec has hosted Wednesday evening wine tastings every other week and drawn a solid local following. He too went to France for a white wine, the Chateau Moncontour, Vouvray (sec) 2008 ($18.75). It is a wine Richard calls “dry and bit floral, with honey notes.” For a red, Richard stuck a little closer to home, selecting a Colorado-grown Merlot. The 2008 Plum Creek Merlot from Palisade is “a smooth and full-bodied” bottling that will complement your meal with the aroma and flavor of a basket full of blackberries. Down on Puppy Smith Road in Aspen, Aspen Wine and Spirits’ Bill Reilly recommends a 2008 Van Duzer Pinot Noir Rose (16.99) from Oregon, which he notes “delights with a bright fresh scent of wild strawberries and a hint of raspberry. Bone dry, with firm acidity and light tannins, this Rose will complement the Thanksgiving turkey, yet clean your palate of the sweet and mashed potatoes.” Are you hungry yet?For those who want a Pinot, Bill suggests a bargain, the 2008 Sea Mist Pinot Noir ($15.99). A Russian River Pinot Noir, Bill says this wine features “lots of raspberry and dark cherry fruit with a hint of smoke and cedar. It is complex, yet polished and elegant.” And it will, according to Bill, “elevate thanksgiving fare to fine dining.”Pinot Noir is always a good choice and the folks at Of Grape and Grain in Aspen have a terrific offering as well. The 2008 Talbot Vineyards Kali Hart Pinot Noir ($21.50) hails from the Santa Lucia Highlands of California, one of the sweet spots for Pinot lovers. It is bright, fresh and lively with just enough body to stand up to your Thanksgiving feast.Serve any of the above with your bird, and you will drink well this holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be-designated appellation of Old Snowmass with his wife, Linda, and a black Lab named Vino. He can be reached at