Sip Into Spring Wines

BY Montana Rae

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The snow is melting and the city’s appetite for sipping wine on sun-drenched patios is emerging in full force. This time of year wine lists shift gradually while the vintages we crave can change as quickly as Colorado weather patterns.

These three Denver establishments beckon wine lovers, each offering remarkable vintages and a unique ambiance. From vino on an exceptional patio to finding ourselves nestled in a cozy interior lounge, now is the time to hunker down with a glass and wait for the end of snowy weather.

Bon Ami Bistro and Creperie

wood menu with bottle of white wine, glass of white wine and salt and pepper shakers
Bon Ami Bistro and Creperie serves great French wines alongside provincial fare. | Photo by Montana Rae

A staple of the West Washington Park neighborhood, Bon Ami offers quaint French food and a wine experience in a casual and sophisticated setting. The air of European authenticity facilitates an ideal spot for a weekday lunch or weekend brunch, making it a must-try this Spring.

The restaurant’s selection of wines by the glass hit the keynotes of seasonal French delights. For example, a Loire Valley sauvignon blanc, Macon Villages (chardonnay), provincial rosé, a slightly less well-known option such as Alsatian Pinot Blanc, and the remarkably delicious vouvray from Marquis de Goulaine.

The latter is a slightly sweet wine made from the chenin blanc grape, a testament to the value of stepping outside the box and trying something new. This wine comes well-chilled, a perfect accompaniment alongside Bon Ami’s warm salad Niçoise, made with seared ahi tuna, roasted potatoes, cucumbers, green beans, hard-boiled egg, greens, Niçoise olives, capers, and house-crafted Dijon vinaigrette. If that’s not your preference, a plate of oysters complements the wine’s bright acid and subtle sweetness. 295 S. Pennsylvania St., Denver, bonamidenver.com

Sienna Wine Bar & Small Plates

blue facade of red brick building
The charming Sienna Wine Bar & Small Plates shouldn’t be missed. | Photo by Montana Rae

This whimsical bar offers an impressive selection of wines by the glass and bottle. With plenty of rotating provisions and an array of flight options, you’re bound to come across something you’ve never tried before. That’s the beauty of tasting in a space like this. The well-informed and friendly staff will eagerly introduce you to something new and different.

For many oenophiles, trying wines from parts of the world they long to visit can be the next best thing to booking a flight. After drooling over countless photos of Croatia’s sandy beaches and sunny vineyards, I often feel drawn to opportunities to taste the country’s wines that make it stateside. In my glass at Sienna, a pour of The Dalmatian Dog Pošip. The crisp, delicious white comes from the true Dalmatian white grape variety. This indigenous grape was discovered 150 years ago in the Croatian village of Smokvica, where the winery is located.

If sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, and other lively whites speak to you, you’ll likely enjoy this vino as much as I did. A pairing as simple as a dish of assorted Mediterranean olives is enough to enhance the complexity of the wine. For something more substantial, try it with Touhami’s Famous Chicken from Sienna, served with sun-dried tomato, pesto, and Kalamata olives alongside freshly baked baguette. 3434 E. 12th Ave., Denver, siennawinebar.com

Neighbor’s Wine Bar

glass of red wine on bar
Sip into spring reds at Neighbor’s Wine Bar. | Photo by Montana Rae

In the Park Hill neighborhood, Neighbor’s Wine Bar’s atmosphere is perfectly welcoming, no matter if you’re catching up with a friend on the sunny patio or nestled up to the bar to enjoy wine-friendly small plates.

Italian red wines are an excellent choice when enjoying the cool, crisp air of transitional seasons. We no longer need to cloak our palates in the rich, robust layers of flavor found in a glass of Australian shiraz or opulent Napa Valley cabernet. Instead, the tart profile and bright red fruit flavors of a Northern Italian tinto meets us right in the middle.

At Neighbor’s, I chose a pour of the dolcetto d’Alba from Fontanabianca winery. The dolcetto grape is easygoing and elegant yet offers the more intense undertones expected from wines of the Piedmont region. A bit floral, the wine rolls aromas out of the glass in waves crashing on the nose and tongue. Tart red cherry, dried herbs, and a mild savory touch make it divine with a plate of meats and cheeses. The refined tannins make it suitable for a straightforward, delicious entry to happy hour all by itself. The patio, which sits on the east side of Kearney Street, maximizes the opportunity to soak up the afternoon sunshine. 2202 Kearny St., Denver, neighborsparkhill.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Montana Rae

Montana Rae is a CMS Certified Sommelier and WSET Level III residing in Denver, Colorado. She offers private wine tastings, classes, and dinners at clients’ homes and businesses around Colorado, as well as product recommendations, tips, recipes, and more through her company, The Wine Ship. Montana is also a commercial real estate broker specializing in sales and leasing of restaurant and retail spaces in Denver. Contact Montana at montana@thewineship.com and follow her on Instagram @montana.rae.sommelier

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