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Uncorked

May Eynon

On Saturday, Feb. 28, Carbondale restaurant SIX89 hosted an imaginative benefit evening. Adapting an idea from Wall Street Journal Weekend wine writers Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, the staff at SIX89 invited the public to take part in “Open that Bottle Night.” The concept described by wine experts Gaiter and Brecher involves “finally opening that special bottle of wine you have been saving” to enjoy it with a memorable meal.

Explained SIX89 sommelier Bill Bentley, “There comes a time when you need to pull that cork” so you can savor the special occasion. Bentley and chef/owner Mark Fischer helped provide that occasion.

Fischer prepared the special meal, and patrons were invited to bring in their own bottles of wine. Bentley used his flair for fine wining and dining to pair guests’ special blends with Fischer’s dishes. A $20 corkage fee was charged to those who took advantage of the offer, with the funds earmarked for nonprofit organization Lift-Up of Aspen and Carbondale. Dedicated to providing emergency services to support the social and humanitarian needs created by unemployment, underemployment and poverty in Garfield County, Lift-Up is a network for thousands of people in need of temporary help. “It’s a great organization, which is why we chose to support it,” stated Bentley.

By law, Colorado doesn’t permit customers to bring their own liquor to a restaurant or establishment. “We were hoping to get into a little trouble tonight,” revealed the wry Fischer. “There’s nothing quite like taking the bullet for a good cause.”

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It was a stormy night with unfavorable road conditions, so several tables of upvalley diners called to cancel their reservations. But for those who braved the black ice and brought wine from home, it truly was a special occasion.

Ken and Vicki Upchurch of Old Snowmass made the drive with a vintage bottle. “We brought this from the French Laundry in Napa,” explained Vicki as she sampled a glass of Kongsgaard Chard from the famous northern California restaurant. Their dinner companions for the evening, Mary and Rob Rose of Basalt, added to the collection with another California wine.

“This is from Cakebread Cellars, called Rubaiyat, which is named after a poem,” said Mary, citing that it’s only for sale at the winery.

“This is a great opportunity to drink from our collection,” added Rob.

Front Rangers Roger and Kris Barondess drove to Carbondale all the way from Evergreen expressly for the occasion. To take part in the festivities, they brought along a Meritage recommended by a wine connoisseur friend. “We weren’t sure what we would order for dinner so we went middle-of-the-road with our wine selection,” explained Roger. “We wanted to play it safe.”

Despite the mild turnout due to the wintry conditions, bartender Klinton Wheeler deemed the evening a success. “We’ll do this again in better weather. It’s an opportunity to enjoy great wines while knowing it’s going to a great cause.”

For information on Lift-Up, visit http://www.liftup.org.

To contact May to send info, insight or invites, e-mail: allthewaymaymay@hotmail.com


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