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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Terroirist.com does Colorado Wine

A few months ago, Terroirist.com founder David White (@TerroirsitBlog) tweeted that he was planning a trip to Denver. I responded to his tweet and suggested that we pull a few corks. David wanted try some Colorado wine after seeing Gary Vaynerchuk's raving review of Guy Drew Vineyards' 2007 Metate on his short-lived Daily Grape. Well, after a few tweets back and forth, we met this weekend and tasted through a lineup of Bordeaux blends and varietal wines from Colorado, California and Bordeaux along with Terroirist.com contributor Ainsley Adams and some members of my local tasting group. We started with a Colorado riesling, non-blind, and then blind tasted through 5 Colorado, 3 California and 1 Bordeaux wines (the other guests brought the non-CO bottles). One of my local wine tasting buddies was kind enough to also bring a half bottle of a well-aged Sauternes to finish the festivities. 

Starter: 2009 Reeder Mesa Vineyards Riesling. Good floral aromas with some apricot and mineral flavors and hints of gasoline. There is a bit of noticeable sulfur and it could use a bit more acidity. It is ok, but I've definitely had better CO riesling (including previous RM vintages). Good

Wine 1: This garnet colored wine has flavors of dark cherries and raspberries, tea leaves, leather and a bit of dark caramel. It has well-structured tannins and an slightly earthy and peppery finish. This was my #2 of the tasting. Very Good

Wine 2: Deep purple, this wine is clearly younger than the previous. Lots of red and blue fruits, especially raspberry and grapes and dark chocolate fill the palate.. The finish was nice with an added smokiness. Fairly monolithic, but overall a very good wine. Very Good

Wine 3: Definitely more old-world in style than the previous two. It is meaty, funky with notes of black olive. The aromas are big and complex. It has firm tannins with spicy tobacco and leather flavors. Very Good

Wine 4: This wine is exceptionally young. It is bright purple and smells and tastes like a barrel sample. Green pepper, raspberry and white chocolate suggest that is cabernet franc heavy. It needs a few years to come together; I don't think it is ready to drink yet. Good

Wine 5: This wine has complex aromas and flavors. Cedar, cigar, brown sugar, plums, blueberries, and black currants are all there along with notes of lavender and sage. I love the intensity and combination of fruit and secondary flavors. Combined with the long and smooth finish, this was easily my wine of the night! Excellent

Wine 6: Dark red fruit, cedar, tobacco and vanilla combine to create a lovely complex nose. The mouth is full of big fruit almost bordering on blackberry liqueur over vanilla ice cream. It needs time to meld and will clearly keep getting better. Very Good

Wine 7: The nose is less intense than the previous wines. Another old-world style wine, but not screaming Bordeaux like Wine 3, graphite, red plums, slight black tea and pencil shavings are evident in what is a little thin palate with a short finish. A subtle wine that needs to be drunk with food and not in a lineup of 8 other wines. Good/Very Good

Wine 8: The oak is noticeable on the nose and I immediately think Napa. Concentrated red and black fruit, and typical currant but it is acidic and lacks soul. Not doing it for me. Good

Wine 9: This was the only wine of the afternoon to exhibit a bit too much alcohol on the nose and palate to me. Sweet red fruit is prominent on the nose. The palate is not what I expected, but pencil shavings, cranberries, figs and raspberries make up for the kind of watery texture. Good/Very Good

We finished with a 1985 Chateau Gilette Sauternes. I took no notes on this, but clearly remember honeyed apricot and more acidity than I would expect in a 26-yr old Sauternes.Very Good

We voted on just top two. The clear winner was Wine 6, with almost half of the tasters choosing it as their top wine. Wines 5 and 9 split all but one of the remaining first place votes, but Wine 5 had more second place votes.Wine 3 came in fourth place with the last first-place vote. Rounding out the bottom of the lineup, in order, was Wine 1, Wine 4, Wine 2 and finally Wines 7 and 8 with no votes at all. Even though I decided that we should only declare our top two wines, I now wish that we had declared third places as well and even least favorite! Overall, the wines were all good wines and none stood out as poorly made or not belonging on the table. My personal rankings in order from most favorite to least are: 5, 1, 3, 6, 2, 7, 9, 8, 4

Wines Unveiled:

Wine 1 = 2006 Plum Creek Cellars Grand Mesa (54% cabernet sauvignon, 46% merlot), Grand Valley, CO
Wine 2 = 2008 Canyon Wind Cellars Petit Verdot (98% petit verdot, 2% cabernet sauvignon), Grand Valley, CO
Wine 3 = 2003 Château Smith Haut Lafitte, (55% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot, 13% cabernet franc, 2% petit verdot) Pessac-Léognan, France
Wine 4 = 2010 Infinite Monkey Theorem Cabernet Franc, Grand Valley, CO
Wine 5 = NV Boulder Creek Winery Consensus (50% merlot, 20% syrah, 15% cabernet sauvignon, 15% cabernet franc), Grand Valley, CO
Wine 6 = 2006 Robert Craig Winery Affinity (76% cabernet sauvignon, 13% merlot, 6% cabernet franc, 5% petit verdot), Napa Valley, CA
Wine 7 = 2007 Canyon Wind Cellars IV (50% petit verdot, 32% cabernet franc, 16% cabernet sauvignon, 2% merlot) Grand Valley, CO
Wine 8 = 2003 Schrader Cellars Double Diamond, Amber Knolls Vineyard, Lake County, CA
Wine 9 = 2007 Vincent Arroyo "Nameless" (55% cabernet sauvignon,19% merlot,13% cabernet franc, 13% malbec) Napa Valley, CA

I had not tasted the Boulder Creek Consensus since I wrote this article about how the blend was chosen, and I was quite impressed with what ended up in the bottle. It is an outstanding wine. I contributed my only bottle to the tasting and will have to replace it before the 112 cases are gone for good! I chose the CWC Petit Verdot because is a unique varietal bottling of a mainly blending grape and because Gary Vaynerchuk also reviewed this wine in Daily Grape episode 77. I picked up the IMT on the way to the tasting since David had asked about that winery specifically. Overall, everyone at the tasting was impressed with the wines and surprised that Colorado wines stood up to some pretty big names in the wine world, but don't take my word for it, check out Terroirist.com's take here.

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