• The wagyū beef industry in Colorado is only about four years old, said Tom Waldeck of Colorado-based Emma Farms Cattle Company. He owns roughly 200 purebred (98 percent or higher wagyū genetics) cattle, of which there's only some 5,000 in the country. Everything else, he said, is of lower quality — Japanese wagyū bred with American Angus cows, resulting in "American-style Kobe beef" or the like.
• Waldeck's beef — which he only distributes to 11 restaurants in the country, including three at The Broadmoor — isn't designed to compete with Japanese imports; apparently the Japanese, unlike Americans, prefer their steaks to be 75 percent creamy fat.
• Ranching is the second-largest industry in the state, said rancher Robbie LeValley. State Sen. Gail Schwartz confirmed it's a $16 billion industry, and that half of Colorado is used for ranching.
As for the dinner itself: "Maybe it's a French thing," said Summit chef Bertrand Bouquin, "but [the beef] smells like butter, and tastes like it, too."
Bouquin went with braised short ribs and grilled ribeye to show off the beef, as well as a few pre-meal canapés — tartare, short ribs brochette and Stilton sliders. As I wasn't there in a review capacity, I'll save my critical notes, other than to say I found the tartare the best way to sample the wagyū, not covered in other flavors as the others were.
The wine seemed the true highlight: Blanc de Blanc, Rosé and Chardonnay from Iron Horse Vineyards, and a trio of gorgeous Pinot Noirs from Emeritus Vineyards, both of California's Russian River Valley.
Emeritus' Brice Cutrer Jones was a lot of fun to sit next to. First — great name. Second, he says he was part of the United States Air Force Academy's first graduating class (later founding the 61st Tactical Fighter Squadron, apparently). Third, he knows wine inside and out.
He started Sonoma-Cutrer Wines before selling it in 1999 to buyers he now calls "Jack Daniels people." (Having been fired from the company, he says they're running it into the ground.) He said Oregon has the best Pinot growing conditions, but that the soil's all wrong for the grape. He dismissively called Napa Valley growers "muffler people," saying folks in California's wine-growing community aren't exactly friendly to each other, though Russian River producers tend to stick together.
And if you're brand new to wine, and are looking for reference points, here's some for the difference between Cabernet and Pinot Noir, according to Jones.
"Cabernets are about varietal flavor and intensity; being hit beside the head with a two-by-four," he said. "Pinots are about balance and elegance."
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