Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Photo credit: Telluride Tourism Board/Ryan Bonneau 

If you haven't been to Telluride, Colorado, you may not know that it is a town of almost year-round festivals; the Telluride Film Festival, Brews and Blues Festival, and Bluegrass Festival are but a few of the better-known ones. There are so many busy weeks filled with exuberant fun fests to attract visitors to this remote Southwestern Colorado ski town, that a local threw up his hands and petitioned for a "Nothing Fesitval," which ends in a naked bike ride through the charming town's main street. I don't know about you, but I don't call that "nothing."

I went to Telluride at the end of last month for the Telluride Wine Festival hoping to discover some good Colorado wines. Alas, I arrived a day after the only event that focused on local wines, so was able to taste wine from just one in-state winery, Guy Drew Vineyards, located in southern Colorado near the New Mexico border. I quite liked the Unoaked Chardonnay ($16) and Pinot Gris ($18), and enjoyed talking to Mr. Drew, an impassioned vintner. More than a few of the Colorado residents I chatted with at the festival said they preferred California wines to their own state's. But the Colorado wine industry, like those in most other U.S. states, doesn't have the distribution, name recognition or track record of the mighty California wine industry. Someday, it may.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Eastern Townships, Quebec

 I had never heard of the quiet, rural area east of Montreal known as the Eastern Townships before I visited in late June, but I went there in search of the local wine. 
 What I found was much more.
 The farm-to-table and locavore ethos is very strong in the Eastern Townships, or Cantons-de-l'Est, an area sprinkled with lakes, mountains and hamlets that serves as a convenient getaway for harried Montrealers.
  Everywhere I visited, from a chocolate shop and museum, the Musée du Chocolat de Bromont, to Bleu Lavande,  a picturesque lavendar farm, a commitment to local products was evident. Even cheese made by resident Benedictine monks from the Abbaye de St-Benoît-du-Lac, was incorporated in dishes at local restaurants, such as Le Hatley, the fine dining room at the Estrimont Suites & Spa.

 One of the greatest commitments of all is being made by the vintners establishing wineries and growing estate wine grapes in the Eastern Townships. I had the pleasure of visiting Domaine Les Brome, situated on a hillside of Mount Brome with views of Lake Brome and the Eastern Townships. European-styled wines are made from a variety of grapes the vintners here are still experimenting with to see what grows best in the local climate and soils. Domaine Les Brome's dry Vidal, Seyval Blanc/Chardonnay blend and Baco Noir were especially good.
 With more vineyards than any other area in Québec Province,  the Eastern Townships area even has an official wine route that links 16 vineyards in Brome-Missisquoi with five in Dunham, where Québec's first vineyards were established in the early 1980s. The small towns brim with antique shops, artists' studios, French-style cafes and Victorian architecture, so there is plenty to do and see.
 A recently established network of cafes, The Cafés de Village des Cantons-de-l’Est, akin to the cafés de pays in France, requires members to emphasize local products, such as produce, coffee, beers and wine.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Wines That Love Oysters

You've probably enjoyed Champagne with oysters, maybe a California Sauvignon Blanc, a French Sancerre or perhaps a dry Chenin Blanc. But if you have not tried Muscadet from France's Loire Valley with oysters, you should.
Below are four Muscadet (pronounced moose-kah-day) wines I paired with both raw and cooked oysters. They were all great companions for both the fresh-from-the-sea flavor of the raw oysters and those I barbecued or baked with spinach and cheese. All of these wines come from an appellation called Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine, which is situated in the western Loire Valley. And all of them are made sur lie, a winemaking process that results in a creamier, deeper tasting wine than if the grapes had not gone through this process. But these wines are still subtle, fresh and a perfect match for the brininess of the oysters. And as an added plus (in my book, anyway) all of these wines have a low alcohol of 12%.

2010 Domaine de la Garniere Muscadet Sevre Et Maine. $11.99. Available in New York.
2010 Savion Muscadet Sevre et Maine. $11.99. Available in Texas, New York, New Jersey, California and other states.
2010  Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet Sevre et Maine, $11.99 and available in Florida, Colorado, Massachusetts and other states.
2008 Les Clissages D'Or Muscadet Sevre et Maine, Guy Saget Estates. $12.99 and available in Washington, Colorado, California, New York and New Jersey.