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It’s a busy week in Aspen and Carlson brings home the gold

By Dave Buchanan

This is the weekend thousands of wine and food enthusiasts anticipate all year, the annual Food & Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen.

This year is the 28th annual and I'll be among all the hundreds of wordsmiths and photographers covering this unique event that features who-knows-how-many wines from around the world and dozens of wine seminars, cooking demonstrations and special tastings of wines you probably won't may never see again.

You'll find daily updates, photos and videos on this blog and my other site at wineopeners.wordpress.com.

Here's a sample of what goes on each day: Thirty-three 45-minute seminars are scheduled on Friday and Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m. and going until 4:15 p.m. Eleven of the seminars run simultaneously, so the hardest part is deciding whether you want to learn about caviar from Jacque and Claudine Pepin, take a world tour of Riesling with Paul Grieco, discover Argentina's best-kept wine secrets or learn about great grilled cheese with Laura Werlin. And that's only part of the Thursday morning offering!

In addition, there are two two-hour Grand Tastings each day, under the huge white tents where winemakers show off their latest and greatest. Name a country and you'll probably find something. Well, maybe not Dubai, although there likely will be some Dubai money floating around Aspen this weekend.

Evenings are spent at special tasting events or get-togethers sponsored by importers, distributors and wineries. There are many private parties and the ultra-exclusive Caribou Club is even more exclusive this weekend. Never been there, which doesn't hurt my plans any. I'll be busy writing,editing and tweeting away, at wineopeners@twitter. You can follow all the tweets at #fwclassic. If you're headed to Aspen, I'd like to get your comments and perspective on the Classic.

So stay tuned, it's a busy weekend.

On the local front, Parker Carlson at Carlson Vineyards again brought home some heavy metal with his Riesling. Parker's 2009 Carlson Vineyards Riesling won Double Gold at this year's prestigious International Eastern Wine Competition, the same competition where his 2004 Riesling won the Riesling World Cup, placing the Colorado wine among the best Rieslings in the world.

Parker's 2009 Gewurtztraminer took a silver at the Eastern, a terrific showing for this popular wine. Parker's gewurtztraminer has twice (2008 and 2009) won the Best of Fest award at the Colorado Mountain Winefest. According to a press release, it was the first time in the Fest's history that a winery won top honors for the same wine with two different vintage two years in a row.

And this year Parker is introducing, in addition to his sweet and semi-sweet gewurtztraminers, a dry gewurtztraminer. It has only 1.7 grams of residual sugar compared to the semi-sweet with 2.5 grams, according to cellarmaster Ian MacDonald.

"We didn't get the chardonnay grapes we wanted this year so I talked to (Parker) about making a dry gewurtztraminer," MacDonald said. "Gewurtztraminer is so versatile, it makes a great sweet, semi-sweet and dry wine, it's hard to screw up."

And finally, the Colorado Mountain Winefest has announced chef Kelly Liken of Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail will be the headline chef at this year's Fest Sept. 16-19.

Liken recently appeared on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America and is considered among Colorado’s most promising and influential young chefs.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have Kelly headlining this year’s Colorado Mountain Winefest,” said Sarah Catline, Winfest executive director. “We wanted to put additional emphasis on food this year and Kelly knows high-end Colorado cuisine that complements our Colorado wines.”

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