Last weekend’s Crested Butte Wine & Food Festival included some engaging wine seminars held at the base of Mt. Crested Butte, with the “woo-hoo” of mountain bikers, zipliners, and hang gliders filling the air above the tent. The whirring shutters of photographers and hikers walking through blankets of waist-high wildflowers rounded out the scene. Crested Butte was a vibrant place before the first bottle of wine was uncorked.
Two of the wine seminars held on Friday, July 22, included Old World v. New World and Bubbles. Master sommeliers Damon Ornowski, Brett Zimmerman, and Sean Razee, and wine representative Shelley Sale led attendees through an Old World v. New World tasting of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Syrah, and Merlot. The gross generalization that Old World wines are better food wines because of their subtlety, minerality, and acidity, and that New World wines are better cocktail-hour wines because of their fruit-forward nature, was both refuted and supported with each flight.
The Old World 2008 Venica & Venica “Ronco del Cero” Sauvignon Blanc, Collio’s lean and crisp style begged for food, while the unusual 2009 Scholium Project “The Price and His Caves” Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma, was syrupy, like a dessert wine. The panel recommended pairing it with pork belly. In contrast, the brisk New World 2008 Belle Pente Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, won raves over the late-harvest style 2007 ZindHumbrecht “Herrenweg de Turckheim” Pinot Gris, Alsace, which had the nose of a Sauternes.
The New World fared well among the red wines, with the 2009 Arnot-Roberts “North Coast” Syrah displaying umami in its spicy pepperoni nose and violet hue being described as good value for its lower price over the 2006 Domaine Belle “Louis Belle” Crozes-Hermitage. The 2007 Burgess Merlot, Napa Valley, offered up plum, olive, and sage, compared to the 2006 Chateau Plince Pomerol’s minty-clay earthiness. Overall, the tasting was an interesting study of contrasts.
The Bubbles seminar, led by master sommelier Sean Razee, toured attendees through a comparison of the styles of Spain’s Sara Cava Brut, Italy’s Rustico Prosecco and Bellavista, California’s Laetitia Brut Rose, and France’s Simonnet-Febvre Crémant de Bourgogne Brut and Heidsick & Co. Monopole Champagne Blue Top. Attendees appreciated all six glasses as they learned how one goal of sparkling wine production is a delicate, neutral wine with high acidity, and how smaller bubbles indicate a finer process of slower carbonation and slower fermentation. Because of its high acidity, Champagne and sparkling wine pair well with food.
Other seminars offered over the four-day festival included Pinots: Noir and More, The Wines & Spirits of Southwest France, Wines of Tuscany, and Italy: The Road Less Well-Traveled.
The weather was as perfect as the spectacular display of wildflowers, which set the scene for a perfect weekend of wine, food, and outdoor activities in between.