Colorado Wine Tasting: BookCliff Vineyards Barrel Tasting Dinner


Attending a barrel tasting is like visiting an artist in the studio for a preview of what is to come. In the wine world, “raw wine” is the unfinished canvas. Colorado’s BookCliff Vineyards hosted its Spring Barrel Tasting Dinner on May 2 and 3, 2014. Attendees sipped multiple creations from BookCliff’s owner-winemaker John Garlich paired with delectable courses from Black Cat Farm Bistro’s chef, Eric Skokan.

BookCliff owners John Garlich and Ulla Merz, and Black Cat Farm Bistro owners Eric and Jill Skokan, welcomed diners to an evening rich with flavor. Merz likened a barrel tasting to “tasting futures” and described how it gave them the opportunity to look for the potential in their wines before bottling them.

Eric described a good pairing as seamless, where the taster can’t tell where the food ends and the wine begins. We had the opportunity to experience this more than once during the evening!


First Course: Friday’s Folly White Table Wine paired with Arugula Salad with Fig and Goat Cheese. The lighter, picnic-style wine had notes of pear. The wine was a blend of Muscat Blanc, Viognier, Chardonnay, and Riesling grapes. It paired well with the peppery arugula, buttery homemade croutons, and rich goat cheese rolled in fresh herbs from Black Cat Farm.


Second Course: Three samples of 2012 Cabernet Franc paired with Pork Ragu and Polenta with Green Peppercorn Sauce. The samples came from the same block in the same vineyard. The first sample was aged in American Oak with grooved staves, while the second and third samples were aged in French Oak by two different coopers. The group had fun comparing samples and tasting the effects of different oaks on the wine. The luscious fruit qualities shone with the pairing with the braised pork and spinach and creamy polenta. John encouraged those with any wine left in their glasses to mix them into one to create a red blend.


Third Course: Two samples of 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Beef Tenderloin and Grilled Beets with Red Wine Sauce. Cabernet Sauvignon is the last grape to be picked, and needs the most time on the vine. The two samples were aged in different types of French Oak. John described how to blend the two samples as diners enjoyed faro salad with stridolo.


Fourth Course: Two samples of 2013 Merlot paired with Grilled Quail with Currants. The differences in these two samples included the techniques of Hard Press, where the wine is fermented with the skins and punched down four to five times daily, and Free Run, where the wine runs out of the fermenting vessel. John described how the tannin in the Merlot and oak helped the wine age. Eric discussed how the tannin grips the mouth and needs fat to offset it. The quail was poached in cream to boost its fat content. The dish was served with currants stewed in red wine and black lentils. Yum.


Fifth Course: Souzao port-style wine paired with Chocolate Torte with Candied Cherries. This rich dessert punctuated the evening nicely. The Portuguese grapes in the wine were a natural fit with the chocolate. Irresistible.


Until our next adventure in wine and food…

BookCliff Vineyards
1501 Lee Hill Road #17
Boulder, CO 80304
Neighborhood: North Boulder

Black Cat Farm Bistro
1964 13th Street
Boulder, CO 80302
Neighborhood: Pearl Street Mall, Downtown Boulder


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