Taking Wine to New Heights at
By Nick Como
A bottle of wine is like a passport through both geography and time. Not that any of us are in a rush to leave Little Cottonwood Canyon, one sip and you can be in a European vineyard or a Napa estate, or perhaps the nose transports you to a childhood memory or memorable meal. Billy Joel may have said it best: “A bottle of white, a bottle of red. Perhaps a bottle of rosé instead...” Yeah, let’s do that!
Wine List Choosing the right wine is a challenge for most of us, and Snowbird’s Food and Beverage Director Frederic Barbier knows this. At 8,000 feet atop The Cliff Lodge, he’s built a collection of over 6,000 bottles deep, with 1,300 different options. Whether you prefer to leaf through 44 drool-worthy pages of wine, or go digital and use The Aerie’s custom app, Barbier and his educated staff are there to help you navigate the extensive list. Using the app is a breeze: you can search via winemaker, region, varietal and tap on any bottle for a description of what the wine will taste like. Swipe right (actually, you “add to cart”) to select a few you are interested in and Barbier’s team can help you make your final selections based on what might best pair with your meal. Hailing from Normandy, France, wine is in Barbier’s blood. In fact, the bottle of 2013, Blanc de Noirs, a Brut sparkling wine, we began our meal with was from his brother-in-law’s vineyard, Domaine Ansen, in the Alsace region of France. This small winery produces only about 600 cases a year, and 60 of them are at Snowbird: the only place you can find them in the U.S. It’s unique selections like this that have earned The Aerie the 2017 Wine Spectator “Best of Award of Excellence,” and are a testament to the wine program Barbier has built that is routinely one of the best in Utah.
Paired Dinners Continuing the passport analogy: the paired dinner that began in Alsace, ventured next to Idaho (not a typo) for a Cinder Viognier and a peach salad. The lamb shank entree called for a trip back to 2006 in the Rhône Valley for a Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas Syrah, reaching its peak drinkability now, and ended with sipping a port zinfandel from Napa for dessert. These selections were not just thrown together. Barbier had a story and relationship with each of these wines. Unique vintages offer the chefs the opportunity to showcase their skills as well, creating dishes to complete a unique pairing. Crab cakes and calamari work with the acidity in sparkling wine the same way the dessert course benefitted from the sweet port wine. Gourmet food and rare wine are always a winning combination, but it’s Barbier’s relationship with winemakers that have elevated Snowbird’s pairing dinner series. Guests can choose from seven pairing dinners at The Aerie, as well as a couple at the Steak Pit and The Lodge Bistro, with winemakers from half a dozen wineries, as well as a scotch dinner featuring Glenfiddich. One caveat we appreciate: winemakers and brand ambassadors invited to attend must be skiers. Barbier explains, “Our passion at Snowbird is skiing and their passion is wine or spirits. We want them to share their passion with us, but also share ours with them.” If you’re like us, have a passion for skiing and fine libations, The Aerie is the place where the two meet, unlike anywhere else in the world. But, don’t take just our word for it. Instead look to the names of winemakers who have presented at The Aerie and you’ll find names like Hahn, Krug and Mondavi.