Sunday, July 21, 2013

Aftertaste: Denver’s Urban Winery Rolls Out New Wines With Haute Cuisine

Guests arrive in the cellar

Denver, Colorado, Thursday May 16, 2013.

It was like a set from an HBO miniseries, filmed inside a working wine cellar. There were fourteen rounds set to feed about seventy wine and food lovers, the tables displayed amongst towering racks of new and old oak wine barrels, curtains flowing from the ceiling amongst soothing light to soften and section the dining area, and vases full of freshly cut flowers decorated the cellar. Guests eagerly awaited to taste Balistreri’s newest wines from barrel, many months before they are to be bottled, offering a rare glimpse of future wines.

The talent was abundant that night. Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” Season Five Winner, Hosea Rosenberg, created a spectacular six-course pairing menu with his team at Blackbelly Catering. Chef Rosenberg has remained true to his roots after his win propelled him into culinary stardom just five years ago. There have been no automobile endorsements, just honest hard work transitioning from a chef-employee into a businessman and chef-farmer. In addition to his successful catering business, Rosenberg now owns a farm and raises Berkshire pigs. Chef Hosea’s philosophy is that less is more. He focuses on ingredients more than techniques to bring the flavor experience to the diner. 

“We are cooking it simply and purely - making sausages, bringing and smoking hams, etc. with the knowledge that our meats were raised and fed well and will make the final product unbelievably good.  I raise the Berkshire pigs for three main traits:  flavor, marbling, and fast growing. Their meat is very red and almost looks like beef. There is a ton of marbling and a great fat cap on the cuts, so it always cooks up juicy and flavorful.  It also works amazingly well for our sausage making and charcuterie. They eat a lot and grow up quickly - which cuts down on our feed cost.   We also utilize local breweries for spent grains and a cheese maker for the their whey.  Other than that, they are fed 100% organic grains and vegetables. They are very happy pigs!” commented Chef Hosea Rosenberg.
John Balistreri extracts wine
The Balistreri family has worked hard building a vibrant wine business for the past decade. Their persistence and unique winemaking style has cultivated a terrific and devoted base of customers. A massive new winery was constructed and completed in 2012 to cater to the strong clamor for their wines. Demand is so strong, in fact, that it is difficult for them to age their wines for more than a year after they have completed fermentation. Winemaker John Balistreri likens his practice of releasing wines early to Burgundy’s Beaujolais Nouveau, France’s popular, youthful wines. The main difference is that in France the wines are made exclusively from Gamay and the wines undergo a special type of fermentation known as carbonic maceration, which gives them a very soft, fruity profile. Balistreri’s range of wines includes Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and a first-time Malbec, and the style is generally rich and full-bodied.

John’s charismatic and lovely daughter Julie calls herself “The Winemaker’s Daughter”. She has her mother Birdie’s looks, but is the less shy, colorful host of the evening. The winery expansion is also creating opportunities for the next generation of Balistreris. Julie’s nephew, Mason, and her daughter, Angelina, were properly introduced to guests and took part in providing guidance and wine descriptors during one of the main courses.
Hosea Rosenberg & Julie Balistreri
The food and wine pairings were jaw-dropping. The expression, “God is in the details”, came to mind several times throughout the evening. Many of Chef Hosea’s courses took the better part of the day to create. They were intricately layered with flavors and textures, using locally grown ingredients. The pairings were so brilliant it almost felt like the wines were created specifically to match the food.

2013 Spring Barrel Tasting Dinner
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Chef Hosea Rosenberg, Founder of Blackbelly Catering
Wines Presented by Winemaker John Balistreri

Welcoming Wine
Balistreri 2012 Colorado Sangiovese, Talbott Vineyard, Barrel #11255
Wine Notes: **** | 90pts| A great, fruit-forward, well-balanced wine!

Balistreri 2012 Colorado Dry Muscat, Talbott Vineyard, Barrel #2044
Sweet Corn Custard Wrapped in
House Made Culatello

Wine Notes: VT***1/2 | 86pts| An Old World-style wine.
Food: Inventive, petite, and fills the mouth with delicious flavors.

First Course

Balistreri 2012 Colorado Roussanne, G. Parker Vineyard, Barrel #222
Spring Salad
Peas, Radish, Potato, Grilled Shrimp, Arugula
and Charred Scallion Vinaigrette

Wine Notes: VT****| 90pts| Old World-style, elegant and subdued.
Food: If only Mom made vegetables taste so good! A great fusion of fresh ingredients!

Second Course

Balistreri 2012 Colorado Tempranillo, Talbott Vineyard, Caspari, Barrel #11257
Hot Smoked Rainbow Trout
Fennel Sausage, Spicy Braised Greens and Blue Corn Grits

Wine Notes: VT****1/2 | 96pts| A powerful, full-bodied red made from Colorado-grown Tempranillo that rivals the top examples from Spain. Dark, rich in color with ripe red fruit, tobacco and chocolate notes. Ready to drink now!

Food: Red wine and fish? You bet! Tasting this pairing was like taking a trip down the taste highway. Amazing scents of fennel and smokiness meet tender, perfectly cooked trout seated on a layer of blue corn grits. Multi-orgasmic! One of the best food and wine pairings that I have tasted in a decade.

Third Course
Balistreri 2012 Colorado Malbec, Bookcliff Vineyard, Barrel #2174
Coffee Cured Duck Breast
Duck Confit and Beet Hash, Apple Mostarda

Wine Notes: VT***1/2 |86pts| Balistreri’s first-ever Malbec is a well-balanced, medium-bodied red wine, showing layers of fine tannins and fresh acidity. This is a young wine that will benefit from cellaring for nine months to a year.

Food: Incredibly enchanting, brilliantly prepared coffee crusted duck, served medium rare, moist and juicy, pairing perfectly with the wine. The apple’s sweetness tied all the flavors together beautifully.

Fourth Course
Balistreri 2012 Colorado Petit Verdot, Avant Vineyard, Barrel #11258
Balistreri 2012 Colorado Cabernet Sauvignon, Lovies Vineyard, Barrel #12269
Grilled Colorado Hanger Steak
Porcini Gnocchi, Local Mushrooms, Chimichurri

Wine#1 Notes: VT***1/2 |86pts| A dark red grape variety that is commonly used for blending, this wine has wonderful black cherry fruit flavors. This is a young wine that will benefit from cellaring for six to nine months.

Wine#2 Notes: VT**** |90pts| Move over Napa, this wine is proof that Colorado Cabs are world class! The fruit is selected from Balistreri’s favorite grower, Lovie’s Vineyard.
A tasty, big wine that shows no signs of flabbiness!
Food: Perfectly cooked steak fuses with rustic, local ingredients, making me feel like I am dining in Argentina! The food paired best with Balistreri’s bold Cabernet.


Balistreri Port Barrel #986
Salt Caramel Budino, Dried Cherry and Chocolate Crumbs
Balistreri Ice Wine

Wine#1 Notes: VT****1/2 |96pts| Amazing port-style, fortified red wine with walls of fruit and flavors of cherry Lifesavers.

Wine#2 Notes: VT**** |90pts| Yummy white dessert wine with caramel and tart apple flavors.
Food: Breaking through this layered dessert revealed a surprising finale of sweet and salty flavors. Chef Hosea delivered a creamy, velvety blend of sweetness and textures that paired well with both wines.

Everyone who attended will remember this well-executed event fondly. For $95, it was an exceptional value for the money.

Many of the attendees ordered futures of these new wines. Wines will be bottled and ready for pick-up by November. For information about these new wines and upcoming events visit

For information about Chef Rosenberg’s catering business and farm visit:

Chef Hosea with his team

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