Friday, November 12, 2010

With a little help from my friends

The wine industry can be a pretty cutthroat business. Just as new wineries open up on a weekly basis, others close due to competition. A winery's bottom line depends on selling wine; If consumers are buying a competitor's wine they're not buying your wine. Wineries naturally compete against each other, however, they can also work together. This is especially important in emerging wine regions such as Colorado.

In Colorado, a leader in cooperation is Two Rivers Chateau and Winery. Owner Bob Witham, is the first Colorado winery proprietor to utilize a recently enacted state law that allows two or more wineries to operate at an alternating proprietor licensed premise. This means that a portion of a host winery’s licensed premises can be shared with alternating proprietors for winemaking activities. Offered as an employee incentive for Two Rivers' winemaker Tyrel Lawson, Witham agreed to let Lawson start his own winery, Kahil Winery, using Two Rivers' infrastructure. One condition with this arrangement is that Kahil must not produce any wines that directly compete against any Two Rivers labels. For its first release, Kahil produced a Malbec, a variety which Two Rivers does not produce.

In addition to sharing premises with Kahil Winery, Two Rivers also produced and bottled a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon blend, Colterris, for High Country Orchards and Vineyards owner Theresa High. Not surprisingly, Ty Lawson was also the winemaker for this debut endeavor. With the cooperation and foresight of Two Rivers Winery, two new wine brands have been emerged by taking baby steps while holding the hand of one the leaders of Colorado's wine industry. To celebrate and participate in the First Ever World Wide Colorado Wine Virtual Tasting, I opened a bottle of Colterris.

2008 Colterris, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grand Valley AVA, Colorado

This deep purple/red Cabernet has a little bit of Malbec and Merlot thrown in for good measure. Rather than open more than one bottle for the tasting, I decided to try the Colterris three different ways. I popped and poured some wine into my glass before pouring some more into a decanter and left the bottle half full. I sipped on the first glass for an hour or so before going back to the wine that had been sitting in the bottle. After about two hours and some vigorous swirling for aeration, I poured a glass from the decanter. The wine straight from the bottle, both with the initial pour and an hour later, was brooding with dark fruit. Relatively smooth tannins melded with black currant and blackberries along with a hints of mint and smoke. After 15 minutes of swirling in the glass, the wine opened up and presented more complexity. Earthiness, tobacco and smoke moved to the forefront while still maintaining a core of black fruits. The wine from the decanter bypassed the jammyness of the initial pour and yielded the most satisfying glass of the night. A touch of minerality began to show with the final few sips of the night. To enjoy the Colterris at its best, I recommend decanting for two to three hours. However, if you prefer that bold Napa-like jammyness pop and pour and experience how the wine changes over the course of a few hours. 14.3% abv Purchased $20. Very Good (tasted 11/10/10)


  1. Love Two Rivers and Colterris. Have to get my hands on Kahil. It is the forward thinking of Two Rivers to get a start and lead the way for other wineries.

  2. I am hopeful more Colorado wineries will follow Two Rivers' example. Perhaps this could even lead to custom crush facilities like in California!