The Sundance soiree was absolutely delightful. If you missed it, you have my sympathies. Don’t make the same mistake next year. However, just because you might not have made it to Sundance for the third annual Food & Wine Festival doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on the wines. Many are available in Utah’s wine stores. There were far too many worthy wines to write about, but here are a few highlights, old friends and new:
Old: What better way to kick off a wine festival than with Champagne? So my first stop was at the Southern Wine Spirits West table to visit Madam Clicquot. A splash of classic Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne NV ($49) is a terrific launch for any afternoon with its yeasty Pinot Noir-dominated structure elegantly balanced with Chardonnay.
New: Somehow, I’d managed to make it all these years without ever tasting Gosset Grand Reserve Brut NV Champagne ($65). Well, I’ll be making up for lost time drinking plenty of this complex, elegant and subtle bubbly. Nice apple and pear flavors with a smidgeon of baked bread on the finish.
Old: Judd Finkelstein was pouring his family’s Judd’s Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2004 ($34) while simultaneously strumming his ukulele—an impressive feat in itself. It’s nice to find a California Cab so restrained in its use of oak. Intense fruitiness makes this Cabernet positively yummy, particularly when you can buy it here for $10 less than elsewhere; at the winery itself, this wine sells for $45.
New: I tasted a number of fine Syrahs from a Berkeley-based outfit called A Donkey and Goat Winery. All were killer. Particularly memorable was A Donkey and Goat 2005 Reserve Syrah Brosseau Vineyard Chalone ($55). It’s inky purple with abundant cherry and blueberry aromas and meaty, gamy, intense mouthfeel and flavors would be beautiful with a serious steak. Not sure if this is in the Utah wine stores yet, but Greg Neville has some Donkey and Goat selections on his Lugäno wine list.
Old: I feel like Paul Pillot is an old friend, although I never met him. Oh Lordy! What I wouldn’t do to sit down with his Chassagne-Montrachet La Grande Mont Blanc 2004 ($55) and a plate of lobster Thermidor. It’s the essence of elegance.
New: Parker liked Els Guiamets Montsant Isis 2004 ($23) enough to award it 92 points, but I beg to differ. I’d score it higher even at twice the price. This Spanish Syrah/Garnacha/Cariñena/Cabernet blend just oozes sweet fruit, silky tannins and a hint of smoked meat and cinnamon. Oh, my gosh, this is luscious juice. It would be great with duck or game or a big bison burger. Another very appealing wine for the price ($20) is Bodegas Medrano Irazu Rioja Reserva: 100 percent Tempranillo with an intense, spicy nose and a creamy, full-bodied mouthfeel.
Old: At an entry-level price, it’s hard to beat Mano a Mano 2006 Tempranillo ($11). But for a bit more dough, you get a lot more wine with Emilio Moro 2004 Ribera del Duero ($35). Blackberry and currant aromas lead to a rich, full-bodied, long-finishing mouthful of glory. Man, oh man, this juice rocks!
New: If you can find a better Pinot Noir for $29 than Kent Fortner’s Road 31 Napa Valley Pinot Noir, buy as much as you can. This small-batch Pinot is simply gorgeous.