Concise wine lists and boutique offerings by the glass seem to be the mood of the moment at high-end restaurants. But for those who respect the grape, tradition and commitment to excellence trump the new and trendy. Finding great wine and wine service in the metro area is easy when one of the top wine cellars in the world, located in Boulder's Flagstaff House, emanates its stellar reputation like a beacon from a hillside above the city. And that reputation has earned the restaurant yet another Grand Award from Wine Spectator magazine.
This is the the 31st year in a row that Flagstaff House has earned the award -- the first was in 1983 -- for its commitment to offering guests the best possible wine experience. And this isn't just a participation ribbon; only 74 restaurants worldwide earned the magazine's award this year.
In order to qualify, a restaurant must have a cellar selection of at least 1,500 wines in addition to providing stellar service in an atmosphere conducive to appreciating top-tier wines. Flagstaff house easily surpasses those qualifications, having had over forty years of experience to perfect every element of wine stewardship while boasting an impressive 15,000-bottle list. Don Monette, father of current owners Scott and Mark Monette, purchased Flagstaff House in 1971 and shortly thereafter began collecting wine in earnest, a rarity for this part of the country in that decade.
Scott Monette says it's part of why Wine Spectator continues to give Flagstaff House accolades, but also credits the current staff, including cellar master Melanie Kamen, with keeping the cellar current with new wines from up-and-coming vintners and wine regions. But the most important aspect, he adds, is maintaining the integrity of the wine collection by continuously sampling and evaluating older wines in order to serve them at the height of their condition and to offer fun tastings and reduced prices on wines that are beginning to fade.
"We're thrilled to be recognized -- again -- for the commitment we have to offering one of the best wine cellars in the world," says Scott, who's the general manager of the restaurant.
To see what kind of competition Flagstaff House is up against, a complete list of the 74 winners can be found in the August 31 issue of Wine Spectator, due to hit newsstands tomorrow.
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If you'd like to experience the restaurant's wine program firsthand, Flagstaff House offers regular wine dinners that combine chef-owner Mark Monette's menus with guest wines from premier regions. Tonight's dinner features guest Dina Mondavi presenting wines from her Folio Fine Wine Partners at 6:30 p.m ($125 per person). Upcoming dinners highlight Cornerstone Cellars at 6:30 p.m on August 5 ($118 each), and Robert Kacher at 6:30 p.m. on August 18 ($120). Complete information including menus and prices can be found on the Flagstaff House events website.