Celebrate Colorado's harvest with the perfect wines
We just finished celebrating EatDenver's Harvest Week, where more than 40 independent restaurants fêted the harvest of the summer season's very best produce, alongside some outstanding Colorado meats, fish, and cheeses. Each participating chef put his or her own unique spin on the event, producing a bevy of mouthwatering dishes using Colorado ingredients, some of which we bet are in your refrigerator right this very minute. Use these tasty components to whip up a Colorado menu of your own, pairing them with these recommended wines.
1. Colorado trout: This delightful river fish was featured on numerous Harvest Week menus, in smoked, roasted, grilled, and pan-fried versions. Since trout tends to be mild and has a flaky texture, the wine that comes to mind as its ideal mate is none other than pinot noir. Like trout, pinots are insanely versatile and can harmonize with just about any dish you pour it with. The Tohu Pinot Noir 2008 ($21), is a silky, smoky gem of a wine that's truly representative of the New Zealand fruit & winemaking.
2. Palisade peaches: It almost goes without saying that a Harvest Week menu in the state of Colorado would feature the famous peaches of Palisade, known for their ginormous size and juicy-sweet peachy goodness.These golden beauties showed up in both savory and sweet applications, and your best bet in terms of wine would be something that showcased a similar palate of stone fruit flavors along with balanced acidity. A fine choice would be a riesling, so before you toss off that suggestion based on your misconceptions that all rieslings are sweet, check out one from the Old World (Germany, France, Austria, you get the picture), like the refreshing, minerally Hugel & Fils Riesling 2007 ($20). Two words: oh, yeah!
3. Tomatoes: There are an abundance of Colorado farms featuring some truly fantastic conventional and heirloom tomato varieties, and this just might be the perfect time of the year to scoop some up. Because of their acidity, almost every tomato dish is simply desperate to be paired with a wine that can match its acidity while bringing a measure of fruitiness to the table. Hardly any region does acidic-yet-fruity wines like Italy; an exemplary choice would be a nero d'avola. This grape is indigenous to southern Italy, where tomatoes feature prominently in the regional cuisine. A great one to try? The extraordinary La Spinetta Il Nero di Casanova 2007 ($16), which showcases a lively blend of berry fruits, tannin and acid that'll make those tomatoes sing.
4. Olathe corn: Another Colorado veggie all-star is the ridiculously good corn from Olathe, where the corn is so sweet and fresh that you could eat it straight off the cob without regret. The only thing that might make 'em taste better would be douse those ears with loads of butter -- which would set you up perfectly for a glass of an equally lush wine: viognier. This is a grape that feels almost luxurious on the tongue, along with a hint of exotic fragrance. You will adore the McManis Viognier 2008 ($9), for its round texture and creamy finish, which'll set off the corn perfectly.
5. Colorado lamb: There's hardly another protein that exemplifies Colorado like lamb: It's hearty, rustic and flavorful. A big cut of meat wants to be paired with an equally big grape, so why not choose one that grows so wonderfully right here at home? The Balistreri Cabernet Franc 2006 ($28) fits the bill perfectly. You want bold fruit? In-your-face-spice? Plenty of tannins? This wine's got all that and more. The combination of the earthy meat with this slightly herbaceous-yet-jammy wine is like money in the bank.
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