Last weekend, between all the skiing and the cooking, I had the pleasure of attending Copper Mountain’s Burger & Wine Challenge, part of their Copper Uncorked wine fest.  What could be better than throwing back some lovely plonk and stuffing my face with some well-deserved fat and carbs?

Six tents were set up in the main village, with twelve wines to sample, loosely paired with six different sliders, each using a different protein– salmon, bison, beef, pork, chicken, and lamb.  We headed to the farthest tent first, which happened to offer a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and a Lodi Cabernet Franc, as well as a fantastic, luxurious beef slider (more on this little treasure later).

The first thing the Michael David rep said to me as she poured the wine into my glass was the note of “graphite” in this Lodi Cab Franc.  And so immediately that’s what I tasted.  Actually, that’s not quite accurate– first I picked up on the smokey oakiness (it’s aged for 15 months in French oak), then quite a bit of red jamminess… then the what-would’ve-been-elusive-and-difficult-to-put-into-words-so-I-was-glad-she-mentioned-it-in-advance tasting note of pencil lead.


This was my favorite wine of the afternoon– pretty heavy duty stuff (see “concentrated blue-black nectar” description above) but such an excellent pairing to the stronger flavors of some of the burgers.  Most notably the Cambozola-topped beef burger with truffle aioli and caramelized shallots.  I didn’t get a photo of that one because I basically inhaled it the minute the chef handed it to me.  And I’m not ashamed.  I am powerless against the mighty duo of truffle and soft blue cheese.  

The second burger we tried– the bison slider– was tasty too, and since I didn’t scarf it down nearly as fast as the truffled beef one, I was able to snap a pic.

All in all, even with some disappointments, the burgers were creative and delectable. I’m definitely going to steal Chef Peterson’s idea of a grilled, bacon-wrapped pork meatloaf burger with cherry compote and creamy slaw.  And I’ve discovered an excellent Cab Franc that not only appeals to my fancy schmancy palate, but provides a little sentimental memory jolt of simpler days when picking out the coolest pencil box for the first day of school was my biggest worry.