A guest blog post by Tracy
Now, let’s get to the important business of food and winefesting (if you will)!
I must say I was incredibly impressed with the organization of the entire weekend, although perhaps I shouldn’t have been, as this was the 35th Annual Aspen Food & Wine Classic. Nevertheless, it was such a nice touch (and incredibly helpful) that each laminated consumer pass listed our selected seminars and included an attached booklet with further details and an invaluable map indicating where each event was being held around town.
Below are our thoughts on the weekend’s festivities, all of which were included in the cost of the Consumer Pass:
Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Around the World with Bubbles hosted by Jordan Salcito. I seriously can’t think of a better way to kick off a weekend of food and wine than with bubbly! My aforementioned headache was quickly forgotten during this fun and informative panel-type discussion where we tasted through six sparklers, running the gamut from Lambrusco to Dom Pérignon!
Friday 11:30 – 1:15 p.m. GRAND TASTING NO. 1. All of the Grand Tastings were essentially the same: three very large tents set up in Wagner Park, with endless booths offering more tastings than you could possibly consume in a day (or three), including a myriad of still and sparkling wines of all varietals, beers, whiskeys, Patrón icicles (yes, you read that correctly), various cocktails and some very tasty food offerings (although in our opinion, a few additional food options wouldn’t have hurt). To be completely honest, the crowds were definitely an issue at times, but the lines typically moved quickly.
Friday, 2:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. Tim’s Chop Shop with Tim Love. Unfortunately, this was our single disappointment as far as seminars went. It was merely a cooking demonstration and, while Tim Love is a natural entertainer and undoubtedly an accomplished chef, we ended up sneaking out of this event prior to its conclusion. We don’t watch many cooking shows in general, so this type of event just wasn’t our cup of tea. (On that note, I felt the festival could have done a better job providing descriptions for each event.)
Friday, 3:45 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Wine Fiesta: Top Wines for Tacos hosted by Suzanne Cupps, John Ragan and Sabato Sagaria. This was a delightfully entertaining seminar that included five wines and five small tacos. After a brief introduction by our hosts (wearing sombreros, no less), they pumped up the music and for the next 15 minutes or so, we were on our own to taste through each of the 25 different wine/taco combinations and grade each of them using the very sophisticated grading method of “happy,” “meh” and “frowny” faces. Afterward, we informally debated the merits of each.
Friday, 4:30 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. GRAND TASTING NO. 2.
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Exploring Châteaneuf-du-Pape hosted by Andy Chabot. This was a slightly more sophisticated seminar as we tasted through six wines from the region of Châteaneuf-du-Pape. Host, Andy Chabot, was clearly very knowledgeable about the region. While this may not have been the most exciting of our seminars, the wines were certainly tasty and the information was interesting and very well-presented.
Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. GRAND TASTING NO. 3.
Saturday, 2:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. Red Burgundy hosted by Shayne Bjornholm. First of all, have you seen the documentary, Somm? If not, and if you have any interest in wine whatsoever, please find the time to watch. It follows the attempts of four candidates to pass the Master Sommelier examination, a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world. I came away with a newfound respect, to say the least! In any case, Master Sommelier, Shayne Bjornholm, appears in the documentary, and I’m a sucker for a celebrity sighting, so getting a selfie with him after the seminar made my day. And, as huge fans of pinot noir, we were beyond delighted to be drinking Red Burgundy for the duration!
Saturday, 3:45 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Affordable Agers with Andrea Robinson. So, here’s a funny story… This is the seminar we registered for, and literally ran down the street to get to this event on time (I don’t run!). There were two tents set up next door to one another, so of course we ended up in the wrong one and felt too embarrassed to walk out once we realized our mistake. I’m so happy we stayed! We ended up attending Cab Franc: The Godfather Grape hosted by Anthony Giglio. WOW. Anthony’s passion and energy level were unparalleled and so incredibly infectious! We tasted six Cabernet Francs from several locations around the world, ranging in value from $40 to $145 per bottle. I truly enjoyed every second of it and would highly recommend attending any seminars conducted by Anthony…anywhere.
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. GRAND TASTING NO. 4.
Sunday, 10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Northern Italy’s Greatest Whites hosted by Bobby Stuckey. This was an eye-opening seminar focused on seven white wines of the Friuli region of Northern Italy, which we’d honestly never even heard of before, but will absolutely be exploring from here on out. Bobby was very funny and engaging with the audience, which was delightful (and necessary) considering that most of us were likely hungover from the previous two days of endless drinking. Bobby was even generous enough to offer information and advice to any of us interested in visiting the region in the future.
Sunday, 12:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. GRAND TASTING NO. 5.
As you can see, there was a LOT included with the Consumer Pass, which I felt made the steep price a little easier to swallow. Overall, I’d recommend attending if you get the opportunity. We met so many lovey people throughout the weekend and made some great connections for possible future adventures. On a final note, I’d always been under the impression that Aspen was a town filled with snobby, rich people, but our experiences with those either visiting from out of town or who were lucky enough to be Aspen residents, were all incredibly positive. All in all, lovely people, breathtaking scenery, and arguably the most prestigious food and wine festival in the country…what’s not to like??? Cheers!
Now…where to next?!?
Tracy Thornton, Guest Blogger
Read a short bio on Tracy in Red Shoes. Red Wine.‘s Guest Contributor section here. Follow Tracy’s adventures in Travel, Wine, and Photography on Instagram: @texanstracy