Last weekend, the crème de la crème of the food and wine world descended upon Colorado for the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen’s 35th annual celebration of everything food, wine and fun. Here are a few of our favorite finds, discoveries and delights:
Jack Edwards Collection, a wine importer from Napa, brought some amazing Rhone Valley wines to the tent including those of Pierre Gaillard and Francois Villard. On Saturday it was #DrinkChenin day at the Wines of South Africa tent with standouts from Craven Wines and Ken Forrester’s fantastic FMC. And, finally, on the domestic side, Scheid Vineyards from Monterey, California, was a standout with a stellar range of wines including my new favorite pinot noir.
Les Trois Petits Cochons, an artisanal pate and charcuterie shop in Brooklyn showed up en force this year serving, among other treats, decadent truffle cupcakes iced with Mousse de Canard au Foie Gras and a few currents sprinkled atop.
The strong portfolio of wines served at Wines of Georgia – an up-and-coming region for both wine and adventure travel.
Exploring Chateauneufe-du-Pape: Sommelier Andy Chabot of Blackberry Farm brought with him a selection of the best of Chateauneufe-du-Pape (en.chateauneuf.com) to perhaps the year’s most coveted of wine seminars. Chabot’s expertise, dry wit combined with great stories of small villages, hardy farmers and a revered history of winemaking transported us to the famous French region and dropped some serious knowledge on his guests in just 45 minutes. (www.blackberryfarm.com)
Wine for Zillionaires: Oh, Mark Oldman. Part wine expert, part author, Broadway-caliber entertainer, and tattooed cell mate from “Soused State Prison,” you are always guaranteed a show when Oldman is on the docket. This year, he brought out the big guns (wines fit for Zillionaires), spoke about how to detect fraudulent wines (famous vintages with misspelled labels should raise a red flag) and formed a Champagne sabering conga line to close.
Outside of the tents and seminars is a food and wine party culture all its own. New wine and spirit brands, hotels, and even clothing labels host parties around town, hoping to lure pass holders to their soirees. Opening night began with a party for the new Source Hotel in Denver at the Aspen Art Museum. On Friday night we took the Silver Queen gondola and rode 13 minutes to the top of Aspen Mountain where we ate shaved lamb and dolmas at Dubai in the Sky, where Food & Wine magazine editor in chief Nilou Motamed toasted some of Dubai’s most interesting cuisine.
Brunch at Aspen Kitchen: Deep fried stuffed French toast, farm fresh egg omelets, a dripping bacon clothesline, and a Breckenridge Distillery Bloody Mary bar paired with the best patio view in all of Aspen, made our mornings of the Food & Wine Classic not only tolerable, but absolutely lovely.
Dinner at Jimmy’s: Celebrating 20 years in Aspen: Saturday night meant a raucous party at Jimmy’s – an Aspen dining institution. Not only is a feat to survive 20 years, but I would argue Jimmy’s is better than it’s ever been with an expanded American wine list and local beef by Kurt Russell’s Home Run Ranch in Snowmass, Colorado.
Most “Classic” Moment:
Popping a bottle of Armand de Brignac “Ace of Spades” Champagne on a sunny afternoon at Ajax Tavern. People were so enthralled by the gold bottle and the finesse of what was inside they took pictures and fawned over the label owned outright by Hova himself.