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Balistreri Barrel Tastings

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If Sunday night’s wine tasting at the Balistreri Vineyards tasting room in North Denver was any indication of how the Colorado wine industry is shaping up these days, we should be very proud of our local vino.

Hubby and I went to the 2006 sneak preview barrel tasting and food pairing last night, and both the food and the wines were delicious. Chef Andrea Frizzi, formerly of Via (and many others), prepared his creative Italian fare to go with each of five Balistreri wines. (And FYI to foodies in town – Frizzi will be opening his own bistro, Il Posto, on 17th Ave. in the former Dario’s location in late June or early July.)

First was the Colorado Viognier, a hefty white with a high alcohol content and plenty of tropical fruit, paired with salmon trout in lemon with pearl tomotoes and sunflower sprouts. The viognier isn’t really my personal favorite wine, but it paired well with the lemony fish. Next we tried the Colorado Sangiovese, with garganelli pasta in a spinach-and-almond pesto sauce. Delicious. The ruby-colored sangiovese was young and fruity, and at only $20 a bottle it was one I’d consider stocking up on for future sippage.

The third pairing brought a peppery Colorado Syrah along with my favorite dish of the night, a light, lovely risotto with bosh pears and crispy pancetta. The delicate, sweet dish was an opposite pairing to the spicy wine, and worked surprisingly well. The main dish was a roasted lamb with vanilla-infused cauliflower, and I’ve never seen hubby enjoy cauliflower any other way. The Colorado Cabernet Sauvignon was very young, naturally, but I can only imagine that the fruity cab will mature into a highly drinkable wine with a little age. Dessert was an American Port and tortino of chocolate with hazelnuts. I was in heaven. And though I generally don’t drink dessert wines, the pairing of the port and rich chocolate was simply divine.

I went home with a well-tended tummy, a pleasantly relaxing wine buzz, a bottle of the Cab, and plans to stock up on that sangiovese when it hits the stores. Until then, I’d recommend you keep an eye out at your wine shop and give a local wine a try; or hit the Balistreri Vineyards on weekends when they do free, open tastings every Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Stop by and see for yourself.

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