Colorado Wine Tasting: Three thumbs up

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The menu: roasted fennel soup with toasted walnuts, crumbled Stilton, and lemon zest; herb salad with Herbs de Provence vinaigrette; roasted chicken Thomas Keller style (trussed!); brick chicken (a science experiment!); roasted mushroom risotto made with cauliflower “rice;” and pan-roasted Brussels sprouts with pancetta. For dessert, dark chocolate and dessert cheese with cranberries.

It was the perfect opportunity to open a few Colorado favorites and see how they paired with the food: Guy Drew Metate Blanc 2011, Jack Rabbit Hill M&N 2011, and Two Rivers Port 2006.

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Guy Drew Metate Blanc 2011 – This blend of 70% unoaked Chardonnay and 30% Riesling is a dry, food-friendly wine with mouth-watering stone fruit on the nose and palate. Fresh and smooth, it paired nicely with a cheese tray, especially with the salt and firm texture of aged cheddar and aged Gouda. The wine was a good complement to the vinaigrette in the salad and cut through the creaminess of the soup to where the flavors in the wine and soup made for a happy-mouth tasting experience.

Guy Drew’s vineyards and winery are located in Cortez, Colorado, near the Four Corners region. Metate is the name of the base stone the Native Americans who lived in the area used to grind maize.

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Jack Rabbit Hill M&N 2011 – This certified organic and biodynamic wine is a blend of 58% Pinot Noir and 42% Pinot Meunier. It smelled and tasted of ripe raspberries and coffee. As you may know from the movie “Sideways” and other sources, Pinot Noir is notoriously finicky to grow, so not many Colorado wineries offer Pinot Noir. Fortunately Jack Rabbit Hill does.

Jack Rabbit Hill is a 72-acre diversified farm in Hotchkiss, Colorado, in the North Fork Valley. Jack Rabbit Hill Estate Winery, Peak Spirits Farm Distillery, and Jack Rabbit Hops call the farm home.

Aside before dessert, two words about brick chicken: fire alarm! Wrapping real bricks in foil and placing them on top of the splayed-out chicken, skin side down in a cast iron skillet, served to crisp the skin. In the process, it created a lot of smoke! The verdict on the two chickens was that the Thomas Keller recipe was impossibly moist and juicy, while the Brick Chicken had superb flavor. Next experiment: combining the two…

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Two Rivers Port 2006 – This silky-smooth ruby style port was the perfect way to cap the meal, especially when paired with dark chocolate. The wine paired nicely with cheese with cranberries, but port was made for chocolate. There is a little chocolate on the nose, which serves to reinforce the luscious pairing of port and chocolate.

Two Rivers Winery & Chalet is located in the Redlands area at the base of the Colorado National Monument in Grand Junction. Surrounded by the Chateau Deux Fleuves Vineyards, the winery produces Bordeaux-style wines in the shadow of some of the state’s most dramatic scenery.

Until our next adventure in wine and food…

Read more about Guy Drew Vineyards, Jack Rabbit Hill, and Two Rivers Winery:

http://www.examiner.com/article/two-rivers-winery-chateau-a-taste-of-france-colorado

http://www.examiner.com/article/two-rivers-winery-chateau-beautiful-site-for-a-wine-country-wedding

http://www.examiner.com/article/guy-drew-vineyards-living-history-the-montezuma-valley

http://www.examiner.com/article/colorado-wine-jack-rabbit-hill-wines-featured-at-taste-of-vail-festival

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