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Selections for Valentine’s Day start from the heart

By Dave Buchanan

It's a three-day Valentine's Day weekend and there are places to visit and wines and chocolates to taste.

Carlson Vineyards is offering its tantalizing sweet-tart Cherry wine paired with Enstrom's semi-dark chocolates as well the popular Cherry N' Chocolate Heart.

Both are available online or at the winery, 461 35 Road, open daily from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

The Valentine Wine, Buffalo and Chocolate Lover's Trail is noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at three locations on Rogers Mesa, east of Hotchkiss.

Yvon and JoAnne Gros open their Leroux Creek Inn winery and Leroux Creek spa for wine tasting, Yvon's hand-made chocolates, terrine and paté and JoAnne's custom blended beauty products.

Liliputian Winery will be offering handmade truffles and wine tasting at their shop near Hardin's Market on Colorado Highway 92.

Also, Dave and Sue Whittlesey of High Wire Ranch (just up the road from Leroux Creek Winery) will be showcasing their elk and buffalo sausage and their too-fun "meet the animals" farm tour.

In addition, Kevin Doyle of Woody Creek Cellars will be pouring his wine.

For information on the WBC Trail, call 970-872-3019.

Brent and Karen Helleckson of Stone Cottage Cellars on Garvin Mesa have closed their tasting room for the winter but don't let that deter you from enjoying their online Valentine's Day specials on wine and shipping.

Wines featured for the weekend include the 2008 Merlot ($22), 2008 Gewurtztraminer ($20), 2008 Syrah ($22) and the newly released 2008 Pinot Noir ($22, 500 ml).

Shipping is $14 for all wines ordered through Monday.

Sparkling wines always make a hit on Valentine's Day, and in this time of wise budgeting, buying wisely says more than splurging on something more expensive.

Robert Mondavi has an affordable ($10) American-made, 100-percent Chardonnay sparkler, Brut Sparkling, in that company's popular Woodbridge lines of wines.

This bubbly has crisp green apple and pear notes with a bit of toasty note, similar to higher-priced sparkling wines. This one is good enough (and priced right) to open every day.

If you want something a bit more European, it's no secret my favorite sparkling wines come from Italy's Conegliano-Valdobiaddene Prosecco DOCG (Certification of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin) region.

Two delightful Proseccos (well, Prosecci, if you're picky or speak Italian) that crossed my table earlier this year are worth mentioning.

Santa Margherita, perhaps best known for bringing Pinot Grigio to the American market, offers their Valdobiaddene Prosecco Superiore ($18.99) made from 100 percent Glera grapes, which formerly were called Prosecco grapes. This lively wine (floral notes with lychee and lemon, says the tasting notes) is delicious before and during meals.

Mention Prosecco and you can't ignore Mionetto, which sells an amazing 30 percent of the Prosecco sold in the U.S.

Among the Mionetto family of Prosecco are IL Prosecco del Veneto ($12.49), Prosecco Organic (from Treviso, $16) and the Valdobbiadene Superiore Prosecco DOCG ($13).

Mionetto and Santa Margherita often are the only brands of Prosecco found on store shelves here in flyover country, which is a credit to distribution systems but leaves American consumers wondering what else is out there to explore.

In the latter wine, "Superiore" must refer to where the grapes are sourced. They come from vineyards along the famed Cartizze, a 260-acre hill of vines owned by 140 growers.

Wines from this tiny area are considered to be the best of the Prosecco, and if you even get the opportunity to taste a Cartizze Prosecco, you'll understand why such a fuss is made over this sub-regino of Valdobiaddene.

Two brands to search for are Drusian Prosecco Superiore di Cartizze ($24) and Ruggeri Prosecco di Valdobiaddene Superiore ($35).

But enough already.

There really is only one perfect wine for Valentines Day and that's any bottle you share with a loved one.

Spend less time fretting about the wine and more time focusing on the person across the table and and your Valentine's Day won't be forgotten.

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