Best Blogs: Wine Openers September23, 2008

Posted at 8:17 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 21.

I just returned from a few days in the far northwest Colorado, another of the few places I know where cell phones and Internet don’t interfere with life.

The late days of summer (this is being written on Sept. 21, officially the eve of the start of autumn, but in the high country the season unofficially began a couple weeks ago) mean hunting seasons, and you’ll see upland bird hunters camping near archery hunters camping near black-powder rifle hunters.

You’ll be out pounding the sage, your favorite dog sweeping back and forth through the brush nosing out sage grouse and blue grouse, and occasionally the mindful reverie is interrupted by the distant and distinctive “boom” of a black-powder firearm.

I saw lots of deer, especially some magnificent bucks still in their small bachelor herds, but only a few elk.

The moon was full during my stay at camp, which means plenty of light at night and the animals feeding and moving around after the moon rises and then heading back to their hiding places before sunrise.

Although this was camping, I didn’t need to avoid glass bottles the way I did in Nevada, where I drank a boxed Delicato 2005 Shiraz ($17) I purchased at a well-appointed Raley’s grocery store in Fallon. The wine was surprisingly good, meaning I don’t always expect much from a boxed wine although that’s evidently unfair to Delicato, which produces some very drinkable and enjoyable wines.

The shiraz was fruity with notes plums, blackberries and spice, not greatly complex but at the equivalent of around $5 a bottle, it was very enjoyable. And in spite of temperature swings between the 90-plus heat in the day and 35 or so degree temperature at night, frequent dust storms and conditions generally not favorable to wine storage, the wine held up well, although the box itself took a bit of a beating.

I kept the wine snuggled against a block of ice in the cooler and it was delicious right to the final glass.

Next year, I’ll take two boxes.

This last trip, I grabbed at the last minute going out the door (more of a second thought rather than any real planning) a bottle of the Barefoot California Zinfandel. This is a non-vintage bottling, which in part explains the $6 price tag. But it drank well, with flavors of dark raspberry fruit, a bit jammy, and undertones of coffee and dark chocolate. For $6, a great buy.

Harvest (vendemmia) has started in the valley, and last night my friend Sal hosted his annual Vendemmia Party. Lots of friends and good food and, of course, plenty of great home-made wine. We’ll start picking his grapes this week

Today I’m off to visit vineyards here and near Paonia to see who is picking what. I’ll talk about the local harvest next week.


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