New to this year's festival are a scotch and cigar tasting on Friday and a chocolate and wine pairing on Saturday.
"We're trying at the festival to reach out a little farther in our marketing," said program director Keith Hampton. "We think this will be something interesting to our guests, and fun."
The scotch and cigar tasting will be presented by Cigar Aficionado and Wine Spectator Friday evening, 9-10:30 p.m., at Las Montañas. Three scotches from Dewar's will be offered and three or four cigars selected by Cigar Aficionado.
"Dewar's is sending a representative here from Scotland, kilt and all, to do the presentation," said Hampton. "It should be pretty fun."
Another new and unique addition to this year's Wine Festival is The Ultimate Decadence, Chocolate Truffles and Wine, presented by Telluride Truffle chocolatier Patty Denny and master sommelier Jay Fletcher.
"The flavors in chocolate have a lot of parallels with the flavors we talk about in wine the bitterness or sweetness, for example," said Hampton. "Patty will be talking about different types of chocolate, cocoa contents and chocolate overall."
Fletcher will pair several wines of varying sweetness with the chocolates from Denny during the presentation. "It's a neat setup," said Hampton. "If you love chocolate and you love wine, you can't go wrong."
The chocolate pairing is Saturday in Heritage Plaza in Mountain Village, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
The Special Reserve Tasting Program will offer exceptional wines poured by the people who made them and discussed by some of the world's leading wine experts.
"There's a great story behind every great wine. This is something truly special," said Fletcher, who is a board member for the Court of Master Sommeliers and director of fine wine for Southern Wine and Spirits of Colorado. "Winemakers and master sommeliers will be there, too, throwing out their own evaluations. It's not only a great opportunity for the wine enthusiast, it's true entertainment, as well." The four-day festival will feature more than six-dozen wineries from around the world.
Some of the bottles being poured during the festival's four Special Reserve Tastings individual, hour-and-a-half sessions held Friday and Saturday, June 23 and 24 are worth $400 or $500 a bottle, said Fletcher, who'll be hosting Bordeaux: The World's Greatest Wine, the festival's fourth and final tasting.
"I'll offer a little tour of Bordeaux, talk about the climate and why it's one of the great places on Earth to grow wines," said Fletcher, who plans to pour wine samples from the six distinct communes of France's most famous wine region, with a special focus on 2003s. "That's one of the hottest vintages on record, and it's just coming onto the market."
Lindy Novak Lahr of Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery, in California's Napa Valley, will be hosting another Special Reserve Tasting, titled A 10-year Vertical Tasting of Spottswoode Cabernets.
"This is an opportunity to learn about a small, specific but well-known vineyard site and what it alone can produce over the course of a decade," said Novak Lahr, daughter of Mary Novak, who bought the Spottswoode vineyard in 1972, producing its first cabernet sauvignon nine years later.
Other wineries featured in the Telluride Wine Festival's Special Reserve Tasting Program include: Beringer Vineyards; D.R. Stephens Estates; Gemstone Vineyard; Walter Hansel Winery; and Rudd Estate.
Wine experts on hand during the Special Reserve Tastings who host their own wine seminars during the festival, too include: Richard Betts, master sommelier and wine director at Aspen's Little Nell Hotel; Frederick Dame, master sommelier, president of the Court of Master Sommeliers and winner of Wine Spectator magazine's Grand Award for wine programs; Doug Frost, author and one of only three people in the world to become both master sommelier and master of wine; Bobby Stuckey of Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder and winner of the James Beard Foundation's Wine Service Award in 2005; and Laura Williamson, master sommelier and senior consultant for Small Vineyards Imports.
Tickets to each of the 25th Annual Telluride Wine Festival's Special Reserve Tastings, $125 per person, are not included in any of the various other ticket packages. For more information, visit www.telluridewinefestival.com or call 728-3178.
Despite its stature among wine and culinary festivals and its reputation for haute cuisine, the Telluride Wine Festival is a nonprofit organization. This year, proceeds will be donated to the Telluride Medical Capital Fund and local youth organizations.