The F&W Classic in Aspen is the premier wine and food event in the country. Over 5,000 people descending on Aspen, Colorado every June to attend demos from superstar chefs like Andrew Zimmern, Tyler Florence, and Jacques Pépin—as well as stop in at wine seminars on topics ranging from “Blanc de Blancs Champagne” to “Blue Chip Wines to Start Collecting Now.”
And yes, many of the wines on show here are pricey (or super-pricey), famous and sought-after—for instance, the wines for the “Wines for IPO Trillionaires” seminar this year, purchased in a store, would run more than $8,000 all told. But there are values to be found at the Classic, too, particularly in the daily Grand Tasting, where hundreds of wineries pour samples in the big tents just below Aspen Mountain. Below are a few of my favorites from this year—and even if you can't make it to the mountains, you can find them in stores around the country.
NV Broadbent Vinho Verde ($11.99)
It's hard to find a better summer white than vinho verde, with its faint not-quite-effervescent tingle, low alcohol (about 9 percent) and refreshing citrus fruit flavors. Broadbent's version is a hit every year at the Classic.
NV Mionetto Prosecco Brut ($12.99)
With its apple-scented aroma and lively sparkle, this affordable Prosecco is a perfect party pour. Or combine it with equal parts Aperol (the bright orange Italian digestif) and seltzer over ice in a big glass for the classic drink of Venice, the Aperol spritz.
2012 D'Arenberg The Stump Jump Red ($13.99)
Aussie winemaking wizard Chester Osborn crafts this juicy, intensely flavorful red with a combination of Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvèdre from the McLaren Vale region just south of Adelaide.
2013 Firesteed Oregon Pinot Noir ($14.99)
A perennial value favorite in the big tent at our Aspen event, this raspberry-inflected Pinot proves that while good under-$20 Pinot Noir can be tough to find, it does exist.
2014 Joel Gott Pinot Gris ($15.99)
Aging in stainless steel (that is, not oak) and harvesting early to keep alcohol levels moderate makes this Oregon white zesty and fresh—throw it in a cooler on some ice, and it's an ideal summer cookout wine.