On Friday night, October 14, wine-lovers gathered at Mile High Station in Denver to taste 68 wines from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Chile, France, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, and the United States. The event was sponsored by Bottlenotes, an online wine community. Bottlenotes features wine education through its Daily Sip e-newsletter, interactive wine ratings and tasting notes through its My Bottlenotes page, wine acquisition through its partner Sherry-Lehmann, and wine tasting at its Around the World in 80 Sips events for wine-lovers in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, Denver, and Washington, DC. Tweeters were able to follow the event on large TV screens posititioned around the room that displayed the live Twitter feed.

The format of Around the World in 80 Sips was similar to the monthly wine tastings offered by Denver’s Argonaut Wine & Liquor. Tables of wine lined the perimeter of the room, and wine-lovers sipped from table to table. The day of the event, Bottlenotes sent a reminder email titled “Tips for 80 Sips Tonight,” which encouraged sippers to devise a tasting strategy; the hyperlink took users to the online tasting list for the event. This list was sortable by price point, region, most noted, top rated, varietal, and alphabetical. Like the Argonaut tastings, Bottlenotes offered a list of the wines that listed price points and had room to write tasting notes. While the wine tables at Argonaut tastings are usually hosted by representatives from wine distributors, the tables at Around the World in 80 Sips were hosted by winemakers and other winery representatives.

Executive chef Morgan-leigh Norman, Greg Norman’s daughter, greeted sippers at the Greg Norman Wine Estates table. Both of its Australian Shiraz offerings were round and vibrant, especially the Greg Norman Reserve Shiraz 2006. The Greg Norman Santa Barbara Chardonnay 2009 had balanced oak, butter, and acidity. Ms. Norman offered sippers copies of the family’s roasted chicken recipe, noting its recommended pairing with the Greg Norman Eden Valley Chardonnay or Santa Barbara Pinot Noir.

Terry Spector and Ulysees Preciado from Clos Du Val Winery were on hand to guide sippers through their wines. While the full selection of six wines was definitely worth tasting to appreciate the Clos Du Val’s Bordeaux style of winemaking, there were two highlights. The Clos Du Val Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 was an elegant, subtle, beautifully extracted wine that would pair well with lamb and beef. The Taltarni Vineyards Brut Taché 2008 was a yeasty, salmon-colored sparkler from Australia.

Stopping at the Vinho Verde table of Portuguese wines was a highlight. Their sparkler, Broadbent Vinho Verde NV, tasted like a lime-infused spritzer. The HERA Grande Escolha Vinho Verde, made from 100% Loureiro grapes, was fresh and mildly astringent, and would pair well shellfish. All six wines were worth a sip.

Winemaker Stephanie Lopez hosted the Buscador Wines table. Buscador means “searcher.” Stephanie and her husband, Matt Kowalczyk, offered those searching for new wine experiences a fine New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc and a rich Grenache. The star was a big, bold, beautiful Petite Sirah that smelled of oak and vanilla and delivered blackberry and cassis on the palate. Definitely one of the event’s top sips!

Artisanal Premium Cheese shared samples of its Camembert, Aged Cheddar, and Valdeon cheeses. Other nibbles included various spreads, dips, crackers, and tortilla chips. This sipper would have preferred a larger buffet with more offerings of cheeses. More snacks enables more sipping.

The next Around the World in 80 Sips event is planned for November 4 at Espace in New York City. The next Argonaut Wine & Liquors tasting is scheduled for October 25 from 5:30-7:30pm at the Park Hill Golf Course in Denver. It will feature champagnes and sparkling wines.


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