The Wines of Aspen

By Ray Isle Posted June 15, 2007

File this under tips to those who might choose to attend this event (the F&W Classic in Aspen, of course) at some point in their lives: the key to this whole shindig is balancing the desire to stay out all night drinking great wine with friends against the necessity of rising at some evil hour to taste great wine in fascinating seminars. After several years, I've obviously still got a lot to learn, as I woke this morning fifteen minutes before I was supposed to introduce our regular contributor and all-around wine savant Richard Nalley for his seminar on Grenache. I can tell you this, though: adrenalin works even better than a double espresso at blasting you into full consciousness.

I hoofed it over to the seminar room at the Little Nell, arrived just in time (full of pithy thoughts like, "wow, it's morning, how did that happen so fast?"), introduced Richard, praising him as the scholar and gentleman that he is, then sat back to taste through six truly impressive Grenaches from the Roussillon in Southern France, and the Catalan regions of Spain. I'm not going to give a rundown of the entire tasting, as once again time has fled and I need to zip off and moderate a sommelier panel that starts in fifteen minutes or so, but I can at least say this: if you've got $60 burning a hole in your pocket, you could do worse things with it than rushing out and buying the 2004 Capçanes Cabrida, from the Montsant region of Spain. It was the wine of this tasting, and justifiably: penetrating sweet-spicy cherry essence on the nose, followed by ripe, rich, raspberry-cherry compote flavors, and the kind of sleek lines that would make a Maserati envious. If Italian sports cars could be envious of Spanish wines, that is.

Richard pointed out in particular its extraordinary grace, which is all the more extraordinary given that the wine clocks in at 15.5% alcohol. He also provided one of the best descriptions of Grenache in general that I've ever run across, and which I hope to shamelessly steal should I ever give a similar seminar. To wit, "Grenache is the Moll Flanders of wine fruit-so generous with its pleasures, yet so touchingly misunderstood." Worth the price of admission right there.

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