By Bronwyn Long, Examiner.com
Planning a day trip to Vail? Here are five great places for a glass of wine in Vail. Stopping at more than one of them offers the chance for a nice walking tour of Vail Village, which is in full bloom this time of year.
La Tour Restaurant & Bar, 122 East Meadow Drive, has been a top-rated restaurant in Vail for many years. One reason is its exceptional wine list, which includes some of the rarest and most sought-after Burgundy wines in the world, as well as bottles from the great champagne houses. Two of the notables on the list are a 2001 Romanée-Conti Domaine de la Romanée-Conti — only 600 cases produced from what has been regarded as the single-greatest site for Pinot Noir, and a 1959 Clos du Vougeot Grand Cru-Remoissenet. For the casual wine-drinker, they offer more than 23 wines by the glass, nine half-bottles, and more than 550 wines by the bottle. La Tour’s Collectors’ List, which contains top-rated wines, has been discounted for the summer. La Tour is located across from the westernmost entrance to the Vail parking structure.
Restaurant Kelly Liken, 12 Vail Road, a relative newcomer to Vail’s dining scene, is an energetic destination for wine and food. They maintain a focused cellar of American and French wines. Ongoing staff education assures assistance with navigating the list of 250 grower champagnes and other wines by the bottle, and more than 50 wines by the carafe, full, and half-glass. They pour five custom wine flights daily, including one of Colorado wines. Canyon Wind Cellars, Infinite Monkey Theorem, and Jack Rabbit Hill wines are among the Colorado wines available currently by the glass. Colorado ingredients are used in the cocktails seasonal cuisine. Summer Harvest Dinners, available on Sundays during the summer season, use items from that day’s farmers’ market.
La Bottega, 100 East Meadow Drive, offers 30 wines by the glass, 15 by the half-bottles, and 400 by the bottle. Seating choices include large and small bistro tables, bar stools, low tables with benches and chairs, and a large patio that runs the length of the restaurant along Meadow Drive. It is a relaxed and rustic environment, reminiscent of an old farm house in Europe, with its white stucco and exposed brick trim and fieldstone fireplaces and pillars.
Sweet Basil, 193 Gore Creek Drive, a longtime favorite among locals and visitors alike, pours 10-15 wines by the glass, 50 by the half-bottle, and more than 550 by the bottle. Located centrally in Vail Village, their selection of champagne and sparkling wine is unusually diverse, offering bubble-lovers the choice of new world sparkling wine, and vintage, non-vintage, and rosé champagnes by the full and half-bottles. After pouring wines by the glass, the bartender offered a sample of the Hendricks Haze, a tasty gin martini made with fresh cucumber, fresh lime, and coriander syrup. A nice alternative to a summer rose or white patio wine.
Terra Bistro, 352 East Meadow Drive, is located at the corner of Vail Valley Drive and East Meadow Drive, across from the easternmost entrance to the Vail parking structure. Terra Bistro is on the main level of the Vail Mountain Lodge & Spa. Happy Hour is from 5:00-6:00pm daily. During Happy Hour they offer six wines by the glass and nine appetizers. The bar is open until 9:30pm, offering 15 wines by the glass, 19 by the half-bottle, and 300 by the bottle, and innovative appetizers, including sprouted quinoa lettuce cups and an inside-out spicy tuna roll with watermelon.
Honorable mention goes to Up the Creek Bar and Grill, 223 Gore Creek Drive. Its waterside dining at the edge of Gore Creek lures diners to the restaurant, while seasonal wine specials and such menu items as truffle fries and gnocchi with duck confit, pine nuts, chives, bleu cheese, and lavender-honey cream keeps them there, sampling the extensive wine list.