Friday, April 13, 2012

Colorado vs. Virginia with Terroirist.com (Red Blends edition)

Last month, I found myself in Washington, D.C. for a work trip. On one of my free nights, I got together with David White, founder of Terroirist.com, and some members of his local tasting group for a Colorado vs. Virginia wine blind tasting. We opened 28 different bottles of wine from Colorado and Virginia, with a few ringers thrown in. We started the festivities with a flight of viogniers (12) followed by a slightly larger flight (16) of red blends. Today, I will post the results from the Red Blends flight. You can find the results for the viognier flight on yesterday's post.

All wines were wrapped in foil and randomly numbered. We poured two at a time, in no particular order (I've listed them here sequential for clarity). The group discussed each wine as they were tasted, but the identities were not revealed until all wines in a flight were tasted and voted on. The results revealed that while both regions have some work to do to be consider "world-class," they both produce some pretty good wine right now. The notes that follow are my own, though I do note the wines that were determined to be the best as voted on by the group. While I did take brief notes during the tasting, I somehow managed to not write down the vintages for the wines. C'est la vie!

Red Blend Flight:

Wine 1: Pleasant aromas of chickory, cherries and raspberries on the nose. There are nice red fruit and cedary flavors in the mouth. More bordeaux-like than the rest. A nicely restrained wine. Good

Wine 2: An unpleasant nose filled with green pepper, tobacco and cabbage. Doesn't get any better when you put it in your mouth. It is hot and vegetal with a bitter, metallic finish. Poor/Average

Wine 3: The nose is enticing. Full of sweet fruit, soy sauce, cloves and leather. Nice tannins and bright cherry and raspberry flavors complement the spicy and earthiness on the palate. Tasty stuff. Good/Very Good

Wine 4: Leather and meaty with bright cherry aromas. The mouth is full of chalky, meaty/bloody, thyme and black raspberry flavors. Not overly complex, but a nice solid wine. Good

Wine 5: Wow. This smells wonderful. and it gets better in the mouth. Cedar, currant, herbs, brown sugar all complement the smooth velvety fruit. The finish is long. This is a strong, yet gentle wine. One of the best of the flight. Very Good

Wine 6: Weirdly buttery with banana flavors. It's acidic, tannic and thin and not much else. Average/Good

Wine 7: Hot, spicy, tannic, thin and did I say alcoholic? Average

Wine 8: Holy bacon, Batman! This has lots of smokey and mesquite notes. It is quite tannic, but a bit green with tart cherries, rosemary and a disappointingly bitter finish. Average

Wine 9: Great nose. It is a bit dusty but with nice cocoa, a lack of fruit, drying tannins and slightly hot. Good/Very Good

Wine 10: Red and black fruits and a little VA (but not too much to make it flawed) on the nose. Sweet flavors of plum and subtle, smooth tannins on the palate. Good/Very Good

Wine 11: This one is all over the place. Raspberries, ripe strawberries and white chocolate. It almost tastes like fruit punch. It is a bit hot and slightly watery. Average/Good

Wine 12: Stewed and canned veggies. Not good. Poor

Wine 13: Big tobacco, black fruits and dill on the nose. This is a big boy. Loads of tannin, cassis and dark chocolate grab your tongue. This one is chewy! Very Good

Wine 14: Nice red fruit, but a bit hot and woody on the nose. Much better in the mouth. Red fruits but a bit green. Long finish and big tannins. Nice hints of oregano and basil along with good fruits. Uniquely complex for the flight. Very Good/Excellent

Wine 15: This starts out musty (I'm guessing cab franc) with some nice red raspberry and tobacco scents on the nose. In the mouth it is big and brooding, but with a long finish and exceptionally sweet tannins. Gets better with time. This is a very nice wine. Very Good

Wine 16: This is a definitely a young wine. Loads of raspberry, white chocolate and cloves. This is going to be a nice wine, but obviously way too young as it tastes like barrel sample right now. Good

Top Wines of the Night as voted by group:

#1: Wine 15
#2: Wine 5
#3 (tie): Wines 4, 9 and 14
Others receiving votes: Wines 3, 6, 10 and 13

Wines Unveiled:

Wine 1: Anemoi Boreas (Colorado)
Wine 2: Boxwood Winery Boxwood (Virginia)
Wine 3: Guy Drew Vineyards 2004 Metate (Colorado)
Wine 4: King Family Vineyards (Virginia)
Wine 5: Worthy (Napa Valley)
Wine 6: Pearmund Cellars Ameritage 2009 (Virginia)
Wine 7: RdV Rendevous (Virginia)
Wine 8: Pearmund Cellars ????? (Virginia)
Wine 9: Guy Drew Vineyards 2007 Metate (Colorado)
Wine 10: Mesa Park Vineyards Family Reserve (Colorado)
Wine 11: Kinkead Ridge Vineyard and Winery (Ohio)
Wine 12: Château Haut-Brisson (Bordeaux)
Wine 13: Eagle's Trace (Napa Valley)
Wine 14: Barboursville Vineyards (Virginia)
Wine 15: Sean Minor Wines (Napa Valley)
Wine 16: Anemoi Zephyrus (Colorado)

What a long line of wines. Most of them were very nice, but few were top-notch wines. Much to the dismay of all in attendance, Napa Valley really stole the show. I guess this shouldn't really come as a surprise as Napa is the benchmark for which all other American cabernet sauvignon based wines are measured. I was also quite impressed with the Barboursville Octagon. The Colorado red wines showed much better than the whites in my opinion. Both Guy Drew Metates were amongst the favorites of the group. I thought that the Anemoi were at the upper part of the middle of the pack, but both were too young (2009 and 2010 vintages). Surprisingly, I was unimpressed with the RdV. Jancis Robinson had written highly of the prestigious (and expensive) Virginia winery, but I just didn't see it and most of the other attendees were equally dismayed. Overall, the event was very fun and educational. Both Colorado and Virginia can make very good wines right now, but still have a ways to go before they are considered world-class wine regions.


  1. Kyle,

    Did you taste the second Boxwood that we opened? The first one was way off.

  2. I did. The second bottle was better, but still a bit funky. We also got to try a third bottle the at dinner the next night. Rachel brought both the Boxwood and Topiary for comparison. I much preferred the Boxwood Topiary to the Boxwood Boxwood.

  3. I agree with your assessment that the CO reds showed better than the whites.