Eric Dutton, the bar manager and sommelier at Vesta Dipping Grill, was featured in the latest issue of the Sommelier Journal, in a feature that explores barrel-aging when it comes to cocktails, a trend that Denver has certainly caught on to. Dutton launched the barrel-aging program at Vesta after receiving a medium-charred barrel from Colorado distillery Leopold Bros., which makes Vesta's house whiskey. He put the Vieux Carré, a traditional New Orleans drink that combines bourbon, cognac, and vermouth, in the barrel and after six weeks guests were asking for more. The barrel-aged cocktails at Vesta now are varied and change often.
Dutton is a wine guy at heart and his passion for wine comes through even in the way he barrel-ages his cocktail. He has earned Certified Sommelier certificate from the Court of Master Sommeliers, a Level 3 diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, and a Certified Specialist of Wine designation from the Society of Wine Educators. With the holidays so near and wine likely at the center of many dinner tables whether at home or in restaurants, Eater asked Dutton share some of his thoughts on how to pick a great holiday wine. Dutton also named some names as far as his favorite winter bottles.
"As the holidays approach, I tend to think of old and developed wines, those that have been cared for and saved for years, waiting for the right occasion to open them," Dutton said. Among his favorite white wines that fall in this well-developed category is the Trimbach Gewurztraminer 'Cuvee des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre' 1999, a wine from Alsace, France. "This cuvee is only produced in outstanding vintages and can age easily 20 years or more. The wine has developed a gentle floral bouquet, while holding true to its nature and showcasing wonderful spice aromas and flavors. The palate is defined by baked apples, ripe pears, and baking spices," Dutton said.
Another great bet for holiday celebrations is the Nicolas Joly 'Clos de la Coulee de Serrant' 2004. "This is one of the most famous expressions of Chenin Blanc in the world," Dutton said. This wine is produced by biodynamic methods, harvested at the very peak of ripeness, and fermented dry. Dutton describes the wine as having "amazing layers and textures, ranging from bright and floral, to mossy and earthy, with wonderful notes of honeysuckle and apricot, along with baking spice and ripe red apples."
Other highlights include the Louis Latour 'Corton-Charlemagne' Grand Cru and the Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1987 - Napa, California. All the wines mentioned above are on the wine list at Vesta Dipping Grill.
Eric Dutton [Photo: Courtesy of Vesta Dipping Grill]