Six red wines from around the globe
Editor’s note: This column should have run in last week’s Times Weekly, but the editor mistakenly hit the “delete” key one too many times while clearing his mailbox. WineInk picks up this week and will be a regular fixture in this space.Buy wine now.The reds.Two weeks ago we introduced a two-part series to get summer sipping suggestions from the guys who work the floors at Aspen’s wine shops.To recap, I went to the six wine shops in town and asked whoever was on the floor that day to select one red wine and one white wine that they thought would be perfect choices for drinking in the summertime. The wines could be from anywhere in the world, but they could not exceed $20 per bottle.The goal was to get a mixed case of great wines for under $250, while at the same time getting a taste of the varied thoughts and personalities of the folks who sell wine in this town. After having done the drill and tasted the wines, I am happy to say that we live in a town with great wine shops populated by passionate sales people who drink what they sell.Now for the reds. Marco, at Specialty Foods of Aspen, stayed close to home – his home in Italy – and chose a Marchetti Rosso Conero 2004, which he sells for $16.99. Marco raves about the soft tannins and the delicate oak finish of this wine and is made from 90 percent Montepulciano grapes and finished with 10 percent Sangiovese. The feel, he says, is similar to a light Syrah, and, with an alcohol level of 13.6 percent, not too big. Marchetti, the producer, is in the Marche region on Italy’s eastern coast, which borders the Adriatic Sea.Bill Reilly (no, not O’Reilly, but Irish nonetheless) at Aspen Wine and Spirits raised my eyebrows when he presented his red selection, a Van Duzer 2006 Pinot Noir Rosé from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, priced at $16.99. Pinot noir was a natural choice and one from Oregon made perfect sense. But a rosé? This wine was as beautiful on the palate as it was in the glass. Just a baby, it was a product of the hot summer of 2006 and has hints – more than hints, statements – of fresh berries. Rosé is red-hot right now, and this offering from Oregon shows why.At Carl’s, Kyle, like Marco, went Italian for his summer red, selecting a Argiolas Costera IGT Isola dei Nuraghi 2005. This wine is from a producer in Sardinia known for their use of indigenous varietals. In this case, the dominant grape is Cannonau, sometimes referred to as the “the Italian Grenache.” The wine has been highly acclaimed, and Robert Parker scored it a 91. Impressive for a wine selling for just $16.95.Gary, Jason and Johnny at of Grape and Grain selected the first French wine in our case, a Chateau Pesquie Les Terrasses 2003 Coté Ventoux at just $12.80. This wine is from the sloping foothills of Mount Ventoux, which is known as “The Giant of Provence” and is famed as a site of numerous Tour de France killer climbs. It is also the dominant mountain of the Rhone Valley. The wine is made from 70 percent Grenache and 30 percent Syrah, classic grapes from the Rhone region. It is imported by Eric Solomon and his European Cellars Selection group, which selects specialty producers and even participates in the blending. Their name on a bottle almost always ensures a quality wine.While the “Sideways” phenomenon may have put the kibosh on merlot for a time, Roger Carlsen of The Grog Shop loves it, and his choice of a Chateau Ste. Michelle 2003 Indian Wells Merlot from the Columbia Valley in Washington is proof. This is a meat eater’s summer wine with amazing complexity, ripe cherry and currant flavors, and a round finish. At $16.29, it is a big wine at a fair price.Even bigger was Local Spirits manager Scott MacCracken’s selection. Since it was clear that my budget would not be exceeded, I allowed MacCracken and his store some slack because he swore this was a must-try Zinfandel. The wine was a Four Vines 2004 “The Biker” Zinfandel from Paso Robles, Calif. Yes, it weighed in at 15 percent alcohol and $22.99, but, as MacCracken said, it is “big enough to stand up to anything you can grill.”So there you have it. The locals’ choices for a dozen wines from more than a thousand vines spanning the globe, all for a total price of $208 for the case. Sip early and sip often.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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