Under the Tent: The moon is made of … crack?! | AspenTimes.com

Under the Tent: The moon is made of … crack?!

Kelly J. HayesSpecial to The Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN Friday at the 2008 Food & Wine Magazine Classic began and ended in the same place and in the same way: over Aspen Mountain with a ride in the gondola. The opening of the mountain in June for skiing and the flying of the EPIC flag was, perhaps, a once-in-a-lifetime event. If you missed it yesterday, its time to ski. Lifts open at 10 a.m. Saturday. The end of the day featured a ride down the mountain in that same gondola, under the three-quarter moon following the Publishers Party at the Sundeck. Only in Aspen. Friday, we spent time looking at Australia and tasting some of their wines. Saturday, lets go local and taste the wines of America. While the tent is largely unchanged from years past, look for a sprinkling of some smaller, high-quality winemakers among the offerings. The editors at Food & Wine Magazine (you know who you are) made a concerted effort to include a few of these top-notch, low-volume producers. Try the wines from Cliff Lede Vineyards, as well as those from Vineyard 29. Both vintners make outstanding wines in the Napa Valley. Villa Creek Cellars, from Paso Robles, Calif., produces just 3,000 cases a year of its Rhne- and Spanish-influenced wines and is another example of a small, high-end producer new this year to the Classic. Villa Creek is owned by Chris Cherry, who grew up in the restaurant business in Vail, where his father, Bob Cherry, used to run the Minturn Saloon. Also, stop by Kendall Jackson. While hardly limited in their production (the family-owned winery sells close to 3 million cases per year), they nonetheless produce many of their wines with the care of a boutique winery. Today they will be pouring offerings from both their Highland Estates Collection, which features vineyard-specific bottlings of wines that showcase terroir and are produced in very limited quantities, and their Grand Reserve Wines, which are 100 percent estate grown. As far as the seminars, there was great buzz about Laura Werlins American Raw Milk Cheeses, where she offers a cheese that is and I quote as addictive as crack. Kind of like skiing.