The Grapevine: Aerie’s Abundance 

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When French-born Frederic Barbier took over The Aerie at Snowbird (see Dining) as general manager, he also took over its wine list. And, since that time, that wine list has grown into one of the finest in the state. What makes a great wine list? Let’s look at The Aerie’s for some clues.

Price range: A good wine list will offer not only wallet-busting wines for high rollers but also inexpensive selections for folks like me. At The Aerie, wine bottle prices range from $25 for a bottle of Fetzer Vineyards Valley Oaks Gewürztraminer 2005 to $580 for a bottle of Penfolds “Grange” Shiraz 1999. There are certainly restaurants around with pricier, rarer wines, but The Aerie has a broad selection with plenty to choose from, including wines by the glass for as little as $5.

Breadth: Perusing The Aerie’s wine list, you’ll travel from French Champagne through non-French sparkling wines stopping next in the United States. The Aerie has a formidable selection of U.S. whites, with more than 30 American Chardonnays on the list alone. European white wines at The Aerie range from Bordeaux and Sauternes to Burgundy (check out the Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, Louis Latour 2002) and Alsace, with stops in Italy and Germany on the way to the Southern Hemisphere: Australia and New Zealand. As for reds, this wine list is a Cabernet lover’s dream, with well over 100 selections to choose from. Cabernet Sauvignon from California and French Bordeaux dominate the red-wine selection. But there is plenty else to choose from for fanciers of Pinot Noir, Meritage, Rhone wines, Spanish Rioja and Tempranillo, Italian Chianti, Barbaresco, Dolcetto D’Alba, a range of Merlot, Grenache, Shiraz Mourvedre, Malbec and Cabernet from South America and down under, as well as a lot more. The bottle of Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella ’01 I had (decanted by Barbier, of course) with braised lamb was out of this world. The selection of Ports, dessert wines and sake really rocks, too.

Informative: A good wine list should be informative, helping to steer the customer toward sensible food and wine pairing combinations. The Aerie’s list is peppered with understandable descriptions of wine types and varietals. It’s very customer-friendly, even if I don’t quite agree with statements like the one about Jacob’s Creek Merlot: “Will go well with anything on our menu.” Maybe, but I’d prefer something else with my diver scallops and lobster ravioli. However, armed with The Aerie’s marvelous wine list and his personal knowledge of wine and food, Barbier will help you to find exactly the right stuff.

Sips: Sundance Resort’s 2nd annual Food and Wine Festival takes place on Saturday, Sept. 1, from noon-4 p.m. As part of Sundance’s Food and Wine as Art program, the festival will showcase vintners including Mer Soleil; Sundance Late Harvest Viognier; Bethel Heights, Sundance Redford Reserve, Justice Vineyard Pinot Noir; Selby Winery, Sundance Chardonnay; Judd’s Hill Winery, Sundance Merlot; Honig Winery, Sundance Sauvignon Blanc; Belle Glos Winery, Sundance Pinot Noir; and Altamura Winery, Sundance Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition, wines from Caymus and Hagafen wineries will also be on hand. Participating restaurants include the Tree Room, Foundry Grill, Zoom, Chimayo, Ghidotti’s, Grappa, Lugano, Monsoon Thai Bistro, Pine, The Paris, Tony Caputo’s Market and Deli, Bangkok Thai and Wahso, among others. Admission is $65 and includes access to all vintner and restaurant booths. Proceeds from the event will benefit the nonprofit Sundance Preserve. Phone 801-223-4567 for tickets. 
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