Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Reeder Mesa Vineyards

One of the gems of Colorado's wine country has its home off the beaten path. If you take Highway 50 south from Grand Junction towards Whitewater, you'll see the gravel Reeder Mesa Road on your left. If you follow this path for about eight miles you'll come upon Reeder Mesa Vineyards. Doug and Kris Vogel own and operate this family-run winery. Trooper, the golden retriever, is head of security and hospitality.

Doug, a former mechanic, is in charge of winemaking, while Kris is in charge of sales, graphic design and many of the other operations. Started in 2003, Reeder Mesa Vineyards is quickly becoming one of the wineries to know in Colorado. The tasting room at Reeder Mesa Vineyards has the best view in the valley with the Grand Mesa staring back at you in all its basaltic glory. Outside, the Vogels have planted 2 acres of estate Riesling. They produce award-winning wines from grapes purchased from the Grand Valley AVA. When my wife and I visited a few years ago, we bought a few bottles of 2006 Syrah. The last of our stash has been popped and is the impetus of this post. Time for me to stock back up! My advice to you? Taste what Reeder Mesa has to offer and buy a few bottles of your favorite. Try one or two now and put a few aside to drink over the next few years!

2006 Reeder Mesa Vineyards Syrah, Grand Valley AVA, Colorado

This aged Syrah pours with a black core yielding to a dark red rim. At first the nose is a little tight, but then slowly opens up with blackberry jam, freshly roasted coffee, black olives, hints of clove and what smells like bacon fat! At first taste, spices, black fruit and tobacco dominate but after a few sips the olive tapenade comes to the forefront. Even on the second night, olives and cigars continue to be the best descriptors of this lovely Syrah. I hope that a few library editions of the 2006 Syrah are still available. If not, I'm sure that the current 2008 release will be just as good. 15% abv Purchased $20. Very Good/Excellent (tasted 9/29/30)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bodegas Emilio Moro

In addition to Colorado wine, Spanish wine is at the top of my list for having high quality for a reasonable price. I also happen to greatly enjoy wines made from the Tempranillo grape. The two most important regions where Tempranillo is grown are Rioja and Ribera del Duero. While I have enjoyed most wines from Rioja for a while now, I have a more recent fondness for Ribera del Duero due to the similarities between this region and Colorado's wine country. Both Ribera del Duero and Colorado are home to each country's highest vineyards and have continental climates that allow hot growing seasons that have large daily temperature fluctuations and cold winters that sometimes cause problems for vineyard managers.

Last summer, my wife and I had the opportunity to explore Ribera del Duero and visit a few of the most prestigious wineries. While there, we visited Bodegas Emilio Moro with export director Barbara de Miguel. Bodegas Emilio Moro is a family-owned winery that has been making wine from Tinto Fino (the local name for Tempranillo) in Ribera del Duero for more than 120 years. They own over 170 acres of vines in and around the town of Pesquera de Duero. Emilio Moro and its sister winery, Bodegas Cepa 21, produces a series of 100% Tinto Fino wines. If you are interested in learning about Tempranillo, I suggest that you find some of these wines to explore how different the grape can taste from one region! We met Barbara in the tasting room, where photos of Tom Cruise and David Beckham posing behind the bar adorned the walls along with other Spanish celebrities and royalty. She led us on a tour of the bottling facilities and the barrel room. We then retreated to a second tasting room in the loft overlooking the barrels. After tasting a few of the 2009 releases, Babara called their sister winery, Bodegas Cepa 21, to set up a lunch for us.

We drove to the new and very modern winery just a few kilometers east of Pesquera surrounded by 124 acres of Tinto Fino vines. The wines are designed to be modern in style with bold aromatics and fruit dominating a soft palate. Currently, Cepa 21 produces two wines. We ordered some of the Cepa 21 wine that we had just tasted with Barbara, ate some fantastic jamon as an appetizer before our lunch as we sat next to the large glass wall overlooking the field of Tempranillo vines soaking up the sun.

Recently, I also had the opportunity to meet with Barbara at an event in Denver during her first trip to the United States and taste the 2010 releases. We enjoyed the late-summer weather while eating paella and drinking wonderful Spanish wine on a downtown Denver rooftop patio.

2008 Hito, Ribera del Duero, Spain
This deep yet bright purple wine offers a clean nose of red fruits with floral notes. It spends only 8 months in used French oak. Raspberries, cedar and dried violets meld with fine tannins to create a good easy-drinking wine that can be enjoyed by itself or with food. Sample (retail $20). Good (tasted 9/13/10)

2007 Cepa 21, Ribera del Duero, Spain
The flagship wine of this new winery is a slight step up from the Hito. The wine spends 14 months in a blend of 85% new French barrels and 15% used American oak. The Cepa 21 is a slightly darker color than the Hito. It shows more darker fruits and a bit of nice minerality. You can tasted dark dried red fruits and a hint of leather mixed in with a more complex tannin structure. Sample (retail $26). Good (tasted 9/13/10)

2007 Emilio Moro Resalso, Ribera del Duero, Spain
This entry-level offering is perhaps my favorite as far as quality to price ratio. The reddish purple juice releases a very floral and fruity bouquet. The simple fruit flavors on the palate are complemented with a spicy earthiness, tart acidity and light tannins. While not an overly complex wine that will make you scratch your head, this wine is a bit more Old World the those from Cepa 21. Sample (retail $17). Good (tasted 9/13/10)

2006 Emilio Moro, Ribera del Duero, Spain
This step up from the Resalso is definitely a fine example of Tinto Fino. The color is more dark than purple and the aromas on the nose are complex. A good amount of acidity is balanced by dark fruits, a concentrated earthiness and dried leather. This wine demands food more than the previous three but still is quaffable in its own right. Sample (retail $28). Very Good (tasted 9/13/10)

2007 Emilio Moro Malleolus, Ribera del Duero, Spain
Now we're getting into the big bold triad of Emilio Moro's ultra-premium wines. Concentrated and complex fruit aromas along with lavender and rosemary emanate from this big deep-purple wine. The Malleolus is like a velvet balance beam of high acidity and dense tannins. Prounounced spice and earth match the dark fruit flavors. Sample (retail $65). Very Good (tasted 9/13/10)

2007 Emilio Moro Malleolus de Valderramiro, Ribera del Duero, Spain
The cream of the crop. This single-vineyard wine is from the oldest 11 acres of vines owned by the estate. The blackish/purple wine gives off a complex bouquet of of deep, dark fruits followed by a slight scents of sweetness. The Valderramiro tastes of freshly brewed mocha espresso combined with blueberry and blackberry jam with a dusting of herbes de Provence and graphite. This wine is a tightly-wrapped little boxed gift that will require at least 5-10 years before it will be ready to unwrap its complex and powerful personality. Sample (retail $189). Very Good/Excellent (tasted 9/13/10)

2007 Emilio Moro Malleolus de Sanchomartin, Ribera del Duero, Spain
The other sacred cow produced by Emilio Moro. This wine is more powerful and aromatic than the Valderramiro but also shows a bit more alcohol on the nose and palate. The same rich dark fruits, spices and pencil lead flavors are present but with the addition of a roses. Another complex and powerful wine that needs time but that is slightly less balanced than the Valderramiro at present. Sample (retail $209). Very Good (tasted 9/13/10).


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wild Wine Lists

In this week's New York Times, Kevin Sack discussed the emerging trend in restaurants of using touch-screen electronic devices, such as the iPad, to deliver their wine lists instead of the traditional book, binder, or sheet of paper. However, this isn't a new idea; Aureole in Las Vegas began using wine tablets in 2003 to navigate the near 10,000-bottle wine list housed in its four-story glass wine tower. While I have not yet lay my hands on an iPad, Aureole's tablet was easy to use for quickly identifying specific wines that meet your requirements (i.e., price, region, vintage). While not a crutch for a poorly designed wine list, such technology can make perusing a wine list even more fun.

So, I pose this question: what is the most interesting and inspirational wine list (technologically enhanced or not) from which you have had the pleasure of ordering?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Colorado Wine Haiku

In advance of Regional Wine Week (Oct. 10-16), Colorado Wine Press offers this submission to DrinkLocalWine.com's haiku contest:

from grand valleys to
mesa tops, Colorado
wine is beautiful

Join the fun and comment here or on our Facebook page with your local wine-themed haiku and submit it to The Wine Curmudgeon at Drink Local Wine, too!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pinot done right in Colorado

Pinot Noir has achieved an increased prestige since the release of the movie "Sideways." Pinot Noir is the grape from which the great (and sometimes mind-blowingly expensive) red wines of the Burgundy region in France are made. It is also one of three grapes from which true Champagne is made. Chardonnay is perhaps the most famous cultivar from Champagne due to the grand Blanc de Blancs (literally, white of whites) of Champagne's greatest Champagne houses and Grower Champagne.

Another term that you may be familiar with is Blanc de Noirs (literally, white of blacks). This style of white wine is made from black grapes. The two permitted black (sometimes referred to as red) grapes in Champagne are Pinot Noir and a mutant relative, Pinot Meunier. This unheralded grape derives its origin from the oft-mutating Pinot Noir (just as Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc). It gets its name from the white, flour-like down found on the underside of the leaves. Meunier, for you non-Francophiles, is French for "miller." Pinot Meunier actually accounts for about 40% of the vineyard acreage in Champagne and is used as a blending grape to add aromatics and fruit flavors to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sparklers. Despite its predominance in Champagne, you will be hard-pressed to find varietal Pinot Meunier or to even see it mentioned on a label.

Nonetheless, Jack Rabbit Hill in Hotchkiss, CO grows and vinifies Colorado Pinot Meunier. Rather than producing it as a varietal bottling, Jack Rabbit Hill blends nearly equal parts Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir to create what they call M & N. These 100% organic grapes (more recent bottlings are certified biodynamic) are aged sur lees in barrels that previously aged their Chardonnay for 3 months. The wine is then bottled unfined and unfiltered. Owner Lance Hanson also runs Peak Spirits and distills vodka from estate-grown Chambourcin, gin from local apples and spices, and eaux de vie from locally-grown fruits. While I've had the pleasure to enjoy most of Lance's wines and spirits, the unique M & N is probably my favorite but closely followed by the CapRock Organic Dry Gin. While the current release from the 2008 vintage is tasty, I still think the 2006 is better. I am lucky to still have one bottle sitting in my cellar quietly awaiting its grand finale sometime in the future.

2006 Jack Rabbit Hill M & N, Colorado
This unique blend of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Pinot Meunier has been sitting in my cellar for more than two years. It shows a clear dark garnet core fading to a brick red rim. The nose is exceptionally aromatic with black raspberries and dried dark cherries that meld with old leather, truffles and a hint of dried floral notes. In the mouth this smooth, dry, low-tannin wine presents complex flavors of cloves, cinnamon, sandalwood followed by traces of smoke and toast. As the wine opens up, the spices yield to dried red fruits, strawberries and ripe raspberries, with a complement of violets. This lovely blend possesses a lingering finish and I highly recommend it. 14.26% abv. Purchased $21. Very Good/Excellent (tasted 9/4/10)