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Aspen: Day 1 Report

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OK. So here's how the first night of the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen feels if you're a wine editor:

 5:30 PM. Stop by Betts & Scholl wine party. Gawk at Dennis Scholl's extraordinary collection of modern art. Taste some B&S Hermitage Blanc, Aussie Riesling, Aussie Grenache and Côte Rôtie while munching on hors d'oeuvres made by James Beard award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein, of Michy's in Miami. 6:15 Jump into car, drive over to the big F&W welcoming reception. Exchange about fifteen words apiece with about two hundred people. Taste a rum cocktail that turns out to have lavender in it. Decide once again that lavender is meant for soap, not food. 7:15 Jump into shuttle bus, zoom over to the Wines from Spain shindig, where chef José Andrés is presiding over paella for three hundred people, which entails a paella pan literally big enough to seat four adults comfortably, if they wanted to be turned into paella. Taste Spanish wines, among them the 2006 Portal de Montsant Sant Bru Blanc, a fragrant blend of Garnacha Blanca, Garnacha Gris and Macabeo, and decide that yes, it was a good idea that you chose this particular wine to pour in your "Spain's Profound White Wines" seminar tomorrow morning.

8:10: Realize that time is passing! Jump back into shuttle and head to the hot-ticket F&W Magnum party, at which wineries bring magnums of their top wines—many, many magnums. It is jammed, but the wine is fantastic. Feel very fortunate indeed to find oneself tasting a '73 Freemark Abbey Bosché Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon at one moment, and a 2002 Hourglass Cabernet Sauvignon the next. Somewhere in the midst of all this, inhale enough snacks that dinner becomes superfluous. 11:45: Head over to Montagna at the Little Nell, where master sommelier and wine world fixture Richard Betts is having a release party for his new artisanal mescal. Taste the mescal. Decide the mescal is good. Also decide that in order to arrive at your ten AM wine and chocolate pairing seminar the next morning looking like anything other than a troll newly escaped from his lair under the local bridge, you'd better step away from the glass. 12:40 AM: Do so.

And rise the next morning feeling full of vim, especially because the weather has turned, the day is beautiful, Aspen Mountain is visible from your bedroom window, and it's the first actual day of yet another Classic, and really, things are only just getting started.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.