Four surprising reasons Silver Oak wines deserve a spot on your table

Categories: Booze

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Silver Oak -- worth the hype.
Cult-favorite, pricey and snooty -- three adjectives you may have heard associated with Silver Oak Winery at some point in your life as an oenophile. The first two are true enough: A passionate set of followers obsess over the brand, hoarding prized vintages in cellars for future generations to savor; that its main bottlings typically run upwards of $50 certainly makes it tough to call them frugal buys. Given the paltry sum allotted to our monthly wine habit (and our oft-professed preference for old world style flavor profiles), we'd be lying if we told you that frequent -- okay, make that any -- consumption of this Napa Valley luxury wine takes place in our household. So when we received a recent, random invitation to a special Silver Oak wine dinner, we didn't exactly fall out of our seats with excitement. More than a little skeptical, we decided to take our own advice about making 2012 the year to live the fullest wine lifestyle possible, part of which involves drinking wines that typically fall outside of your comfort zone. Curious to know how the wines of Silver Oak managed to win us over? Read on for the details (and the winery's surprising Colorado connection):

"Even if the wine blows, at least we'll finally get to do some skiing," we griped to ourselves as we trudged up I-70 last weekend toward the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, the appointed setting for the Silver Oak dinner. We came to learn that our craving for fresh powder was a natural tie-in for the event, spearheaded as it was by local ski legend / Warren Miller athlete Chris Anthony. It was Anthony, in partnership with the hotel and the winery, who conceived the event as a way to bring together a few of his favorite things: the slopes at Beaver Creek, great food and good friends Kevin and Leeanne Duncan, with whom he'd bonded on an Italian ski-and-wine adventure a few years back (with absolutely zero awareness that Kevin's dad is none other than Silver Oak founder, Raymond Duncan).

At the start of the evening's festivities, co-host Kevin Duncan greeted the guests with a joke. "Several people have been asking me how our flight in was," began Duncan. "I told them the drive from Durango was pretty smooth." True story: The Duncan family are Colorado natives (surprise!), and their initial Napa Valley land purchase back in 1972 was fueled by the family patriarch's oil-and-gas exploration skills. Their decision to purchase the plot of land destined to become the home of Silver Oak was made after inquiring as to the location of most productive vineyards in the area (the theory being that vines would thrive as an oil well would).

Duncan's laid-back intro definitely knocked some of the air out of our perception that the affair would be full of pretentious wine snobs. In fact, it turned out that we had a lot in common with most of the guests (surprise number two) -- a bunch of die-hard wine and food fanatics who looked like they needed a drink as much as we did. After a brief description of the menu by Christian Apetz, the chef of the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek's signature restaurant 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill, we were thirstier than ever to sample these infamous wines.

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