October 06, 2004

Denver wine scene is looking up

Suddenly, the wine scene in the Denver area is looking up.
The folks at Paris on the Platte have opened a wine bar right next to their caffeine cave - you'll see the neon wine glass in the window - with a long bar and cozy tables where the crowded bookstore used to be. The wine list, compiled by owner Fay Maguire with help from Rick Schieferstein from Corks wine shop down the street, fits on two pages. It's just enough to feel bountiful and not overwhelming, and it's well priced, especially if you go for the tasting flight of three wines, which come in generous pours.

Most refreshingly, there's no 'tude. Young, old, dressed up or down, beer drinker or wine geek, tattooed or wearing pearls, nobody blinks. And it's open from 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday.
If you're looking for a swankier wine experience, check out the list at Frasca in Boulder. It's hard to get a reservation, but plan ahead, or eat late. The wine list ranks at the very top in this area. The wine guy, Bobby Stuckey, is a master sommelier, which means he's passed a whole lot of ridiculously hard tests about wine. He's also manned the lists at Aspen's Little Nell and Napa's French Laundry, which means he's got connections in the wine world that land him stuff that rarely appears on these shores. But it's not expensive: you can drink as well here on $30 as you can for triple that amount.
If you missed Argonaut's recent Italian wine tasting, sign up for the store's newsletter (www.spiritsusa.com) so you won't mix the next one, a Champagne tasting on Oc.t 26. They were pouring everything from A-Mano Primitivo to Zeni Amarone, for $25 ($30 at the door.) It's not every day that people freely pour wines from the likes of Volpaia, Poliziano, Marchese di Gresy, Dievole, Allegrini, Masi, Vietti … the list goes on. And they give the net proceeds to the Diane Price-Fish Cancer Foundation.
You won't go thirsty waiting for Argonaut's next tasting, though, since Panzano started Wednesday wine tastings. From 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. every Wednesday, the restaurant will have a winemaker or wine importer pouring an array of his or her wines for free. If you're peckish, you can order a platter of assorted cichetti (the northern Italian version of tapas) for $12.
These are just the newest wine-tasting opportunities in the city. Check out www.localwineevents.com for more (and you people who are hosting events, post them up!).
On a different note, a number of wineries and importers are proving that supporting breast-cancer research doesn't have to be as hard as running a 5K. All you need to do is buy wine. Here are three ways: 

  1. For the rest of October, Click Wine Group, a Seattle-based importing company, will give 25 cents to breast-cancer research foundations for every bottle of Fat Bastard wine sold. The Australian brand offers a Chardonnay, Shiraz, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc for around $11.
  2. Two Brothers, a brand developed by brothers Eric and Alex Bartholomaus in memory of their mother, who died of cancer in 2002, gives 50 cents from each bottle sold to cancer research and hospice care. The program, which runs year-round, includes Big Tattoo Red, a Cabernet-Syrah blend from Chile, and Big Tattoo White, a Riesling-Pinot Blanc blend from Germany.
  3. Until Dec. 31, California's Sutter Home Winery is giving $1 to breast-cancer organizations for each capsule seal of their White Zinfandel. Just put the seal in an envelope (with the receipt) and send it to Sutter Home for Hope, Dept. 7375, P.O. Box 42904, Mesa, AZ 85274-2903. If you don't like White Zin, you can buy cool pink things like a purse made of silk roses, an angora cap or custom-made scarf, or even a Coach-designed pink Vespa scooter at www.sutterhomeforhope.com and they'll donate those proceeds, too.

Sources: Argonaut, 700 E. Colfax Ave., 303-831-7788; Frasca, 1738
Pearl St., Boulder, 303-442-6966; Paris Wine Bar, 1549 Platte St.,
303-217-5805; Panzano, 909 17th St., 303-296-3525.

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