Category Archives: Libations

Changes are afoot at the Bull & Bush

I’ve lived within walking distance of the Bull & Bush for years, but I find myself going there more and more often these days. The staff is happier and more friendly, there are great new beers to try every week, and they seem to be entering a new phase in their 41 year history.

wholeHopOne innovative new way to experience beer is with their whole hop infusion (like a French press with a variety of hops from which to choose). 5280 recently featured Table 6 with the dry-hopping idea. My understanding, however, is that B&B was the first.

Currently the kitchen is closed for renovation. Most restaurants would simply close down or offer lame pub snacks. B&B has once again showed creativity by hiring food trucks to park in the lot. For now, you can bring your own food into the restaurant, which means that I can walk down to Sam Taylor’s for BBQ to go, then  enjoy it at the B&B with an excellent pint…heaven!

B&B is celebrating its 41st birthday this weekend with the Samples playing tonight at 9 pm. As of this post, tickets are still available.

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Colorado Urban Winefest

Yesterday, we attended the 2nd annual Colorado Urban Winefest in downtown Denver. I’m so glad we got there early, as it eventually got too hot to enjoy wine. The day started with coffee in Larimer Square.

coffee

I sported my new Audrey hat.

hat

After brunch at the always-charming Bistro Vendome, we headed for the Winefest on the grounds outside of the DCPA. We saw some Colorado favorites (Canyon Wind, Whitewater Hill) and discovered many amazing wineries that were new to us:

  • Guy Drew: the crispest whites around. I didn’t realize until we were leaving that the kind and knowledgable gentleman pouring for us was actually Guy Drew!
  • Col. Clifton DeBeQue’s Tart & Twangy bloody mary mix: if you secretly sip the pickle juice from the jar after all the pickles are gone, this is for you. Col. DeBeQue also has the cutest sales schtick that he does with his son.
  • Leroux Creek Vineyards: the My Cherry Amour will be perfect with barbeque later this week.
  • Maison Le Belle Vie: the Vin de Peche is summer in a bottle.

My one suggestion for next year: hold it in Washington Park or City Park if possible. The lack of shade caused us to leave much earlier than we might have otherwise. Overall, it was a great time with folks who are passionate about Colorado’s wine and produce!

Wine Bottling 101

Thanks to new friends we met on the Western Slope last weekend, we were invited to experience a wine blending/bottling party and to help with the process. It was so fun and I learned so much! (Blend #3 is going to be phenomenal!)

bottlingWine

Here’s a video showing the corking process.

Colorado’s Wine Country

I had already been itching to get to our Western Slope, Colorado’s fruit basket and home to our quickly growing wine industry. A quick check on Denver’s upcoming weekend forecast was all the arm-twisting that it took.

denverForecast palisadeForecast

The drive along I-70 is gorgeous. Some of my favorite sections are when you see the first 14-ers in Evergreen, going through Vail,

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and (of course!) Glenwood Canyon. We chose to stay at the Wine Country Inn in Palisade as opposed to our usual Grand Junction. As per our reservation package, they had a lovely snack and a bottle of wine waiting for us. The wine was made from grapes that had grown less than 100 yards from our window.

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Saturday morning, we woke to a breath-taking view over vineyards and mesas. While waiting for our Palisade Pedicab, we took a walk around the hotel and grounds.

porch wineCountryInn lobby babyGrapes strolling sam

The pedicab is a GREAT DEAL! For $135, Shawn will take you to various vineyards, lunch spots, and will point out local flora and historical interests. I was most impressed with the service that both Palisade Pedicab and the Wine Country Inn provided.

sam

It was a lovely, relaxing weekend getaway…perfect for two city dwellers/workers desperately in need of some R&R!

 

Papa Ross’ Mint Juleps

barDerby Day is always a little bittersweet for me, as the last conversation I ever had with my Grandfather Ross involved his giving me his mint julep recipe. I do like that it gives me an annual reason to toast him, however!

Ingredients:

  • the smoothest Kentucky bourbon you can find (I prefer Blanton’s)
  • fresh mint leaves
  • sugar
  • water
  • crushed ice
  1. Boil a desired amount of sugar into a pot of water, then cool in the refrigerator. (I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so my sugar water is rather weak.)
  2. Crush half of the mint leaves and rub them in the inside of the glass (which is preferably a sterling julep cup). Discard the leaves.
  3. Combine the sugar water and bourbon to taste over crushed ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Wishing everyone a safe and joyful Derby Day!

Dry Rieslings

Not a sweet wine fan (except for the occasional port or sherry), I was pleasantly surprised a few years ago when I tried a dry Riesling. As much as I liked the cool, citrusy, nectarine palette, I found myself refraining from buying them as it was almost impossible to know whether I was getting a dry or sweet Riesling. (Very few offer any distinction on their bottles.) My safest bet was Chateau St. Michelle (WA, USA), but I knew there had to be more.

CSM

Inspired this week by an article in Zite, (which I maddeningly cannot find again!) I decided to take the plunge and buy a few bottles with crossed fingers that they were all dry.

The first was Schmidt Söhne “Clean and Crisp” Riesling from Germany.

wine bottle

Given that their other labels included “Crisp and Fruity” and “Sweet and Luscious,” I thought for certain that this would be a dry wine. Alas, I was very wrong.

Next up was McWilliams Hanwood Estate Riesling from Australia.

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This was definitely dry, a bit heavier in color than the first, with intense citrus. It was quite good and I will likely buy it again.

The third and final (and favorite!) was the Pölka dot Crisp Riesling out of Germany. This wine just goes to show that you can’t judge a wine by its label. I tend to be turned off by “whimsical” wine labels, preferring more stately labels as with the McWilliams bottle. This Riesling came in two varieties: Sweet Riesling with the hot pink polka dot and the crisp, dry Riesling with the lime green dot.

polkadot bottle

A bit lighter in color than McWilliams, this semi-dry Riesling had lots of citrus as well as green apple and a hint of green grass. It was by far my favorite and it paired very nicely with Pappadeaux Creole Shrimp and Andouille Cheese Grits that we had for take-out last evening.

What are some other dry Rieslings that I should consider?

(While not the article I read on Zite, I did find this article from Bon Appetit while searching. It includes a very helpful breakdown of terms that will help you choose a dry Riesling.)

Gruet Winery

Tattered Cover Cherry CreekDenverites may well remember The Fourth Story, that cozy, bookish, foodie haven atop Cherry Creek’s Tattered Cover bookstore before they moved Uptown. I would often go up to their gorgeous mahogany bar with a new book and a glass of wine as a single girl in Denver. My husband and I enjoyed some of our first dates here and I celebrated my first brunch as a bride in one of their oversize booths. (Image from Tattered Cover.)

It was here one evening that I was perusing their list of sparkling wines and came across one from Albuquerque, New Mexico. I admit…I chuckled and doubted how good it could really be. The bartender encouraged me to try it, though, and I’m so glad that I did.

And so, for the past ten years, I have been enjoying Gruet sparkling wine, always wondering what it would be like to go to Albuquerque and tour the winery. A recent business trip provided the perfect excuse and I flew my husband out to meet me on Friday.

wineThe winery’s location is less than spectacular, nestled on a frontage road between an RV seller and a Tuff-shed store. The wines, however, make you soon forget your surroundings. My new favorites are the Sauvage (bone dry, low dosage) and the Blanc de Blancs 2007 (toasty, yeasty). We enjoyed the wines and atmosphere so much (thank you, Shelby!), that we joined their wine club. The Club is very reasonably-priced and even includes a few magnums (magna?) during the holidays.

(Image from Gruet)