Wines for Toasting the Start of Ski Season

Two local wine enthusiasts share their picks for a perfect bottle as we head into winter.

By Tom Winter November 15, 2016

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So many choices, but what to drink? The bar at Root & Flower.

Image: Tom Winter

With colder weather on tap and the nights coming quickly, it’s time to revise what we eat and drink. Hearty warming stews and soups need a bolder complement when it comes to your bottle of choice. But just how bold? We spoke with two local oenophiles and asked what they’re drinking as winter's frosty breath finally descends on the valley.

The Distributor

Cathy Cohn is a Colorado native who has worked for a variety of wine companies during her time in Vail. Now the national sales director for Andrew Will Winery she admits that she’s found a job that’s wonderfully suited for her temperament.

“I love wine,” she laughs. “And I love to travel, so it’s perfect for me.” But while Cohn’s schedule takes her from New York to San Francisco, Vail remains the place she loves the most, especially when the snow starts to fall from the sky and there’s fresh powder to be had in the Back Bowls.

So what does she recommend for après ski or on-mountain picnics as we drift towards the darkness of January? “I like Italian wines,” she says. “They usually go well with food.” Still, that advice also comes with a caveat. “But I also like white wines with texture,” she adds. “And you don’t need to get the most expensive bottle.”

For Thanksgiving Cohn recommends a dry Riesling or perhaps a Syrah from the Northern Rhone. Her go-to bottles for the fall? A 2014 Andrew Will Cabernet Franc ($28 - $ 37 per bottle depending on retailer) and a 2014 Cuvée Lucia Sauvignon Blanc ($28 - $32). “You can’t go wrong with either of those,” she says.

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"Wine is for enjoyment," says Bobby L’Heureux, bartender at Root & Flower. "It's what tastes good to you."

Image: Tom Winter

The Bartender

Bobby L’Heureux is the guy you’ll most likely find behind the bar at Vail Village's hip and surprisingly understated wine bar, Root & Flower. He may be a mixologist at heart (and by trade), but he still loves a good vintage.

“Wine is for enjoyment,” says L’Heureux. “It’s what tastes good to you.”

Mixologist he may be, he won't shy from recommending a favorite bottle, especially during a time of year when we’ve left the bright chilled bubbles of an Italian Proscecco behind and are moving into the more nuanced tones of winter.

“You want something that’s not too overwhelming this time of year,” says L’Heureux. “A good transition wine is a rosé. I’m not ready for a big red yet, and need something light enough to go by itself.”

Other recommendations include a 2014 G.D. Vajra Langhe, Nebbiolo ($16/glass), fruity and accessible without being too dense, it pairs well with Root & Flower’s white cheddar polenta ($12) or their 2014 Forlorn Hope "Ost-Intrigen" Carneros, St. Laurent ($15).

“Anything from our ‘bright and polished’ section of the wine menu is perfect for this time of year,” he adds. “Those wines have lots of flavor without being overwhelming.”



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