Kelly J. HayesThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – The buzz is back this year under the Big Top. As the circus that is the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen slides into its second day it would appear that last year’s concerns about the GEC (the dreaded global economic crises) have been replaced with a renewed sense of optimism.Let’s all raise a glass to that.My first taste in the tent yesterday was a perfect pour. A Ros from the Cte de Provence that was unlike anything I ever had. The wines are made by Sacha Lichine, the son of the late Alexis Lichine, a legend in the world of wine, under the Chateau D’ESCLANS label. Fresh, subtle, and refreshing, tasting through them sent me to the Med in my mind.As we are in the middle of the World Cup football season, a natural next stop at Grand Tasting would be the middle of the east wall of the west tent (got that?) where the wines and foods of South Africa are being proudly served. South Africa is one of the world’s sweet spots for wine and the nation boasts a number of significant regions with the Stellenbosch, just outside of Capetown, being perhaps the most notable. Ken Forrester of Forrester Vineyards noted that the Stellenbosch is “the Napa Valley of South Africa” as he poured me a taste of his Pinotage, a signature wine of the region that is a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault. It was deep, dark and delicious with a bite of spice. When I said I liked it Ken blew his vuvuzella for me.In the east tent I found a complete table of wines from Greece. Assyrtiko, anyone? It seems that the government of Greece, the European Union and the Greek growers have partnered on a three-year project to promote the wines of the region. There are eight different winemakers from Greece here and it is a wonderful opportunity to try the “new Wines from Greece.”Finally, though it is a state and not a country, Tennessee is well represented here. Blackberry Farms, one of America’s top resorts, has partnered with Lexus to bring their chef and cheesemaker to the Classic. The food, from the incredible charcuterie to the incredible house-made blue cheeses, is the best I’ve had in any tasting I’ve ever attended here. It is a definite not miss stop. Indulge.