It is not often that you see wine regions other than the big four (California, New York, Oregon or Washington) mentioned in the national media spotlight. Combined, those four states make up over 97% of U.S. wine production. The other 92% of states account only 3% of domestic wine production, so it kind of makes sense that they don't get a lot of press. As a result, it is a big deal when states like Colorado share the spotlight with the big states.
This past few weeks were busy for the local wine industry. Last week, TripAdvisor named Palisade, CO one of the top ten U.S. wine destinations. The Colorado ranking was the only American wine region not in the big four states! This accolade comes at the same time as several other recent national media mentions. Men’s Journal details a bicycle trip along the Palisade Fruit and Wine Byway, and Colorado's amazingly high elevation vineyards are described in a Smithsonian Magazine article about wine in unexpected places. In August, Colorado wine's poster child, Ben Parsons, appeared in Sommelier Journal.
But perhaps the most impressive praise came in the form of a series of unassuming tweets. Last month, Robert Parker, Jr. tweeted: "tasted some very interesting/high quality Colorado wines from Grand Junction(Grand Valley appellation)>>> <<
and another winery-Ruby Trust Cellars->>> << a 2010 syrah dominated wine & an amazing 2010 cabernet franc based blend that sure opened my eyes & palate to the potential that exists
The Colorado wine industry has seen articles in the national press before, but no critic with half the influence of Parker has ever praised Colorado like this. I would be willing to bet that Parker, or another writer from his Wine Advocate newsletter, will explore Colorado more in depth in the near future. His devote followers will buy Colorado wine simply on his recommendation and even his detractors will want to find out what Parker sees in the wines. This small step for Parker may actually be a giant leap for Colorado wine.
And speaking of the two wineries Parker mentioned, I have not tasted Allis Ranch Winery before, but I was able to attend Ruby Trust Cellars' 2010 vintage release party a couple of weeks ago. With only their second release, Ruby Trust has a bright future. Their 2009 Smuggler, the inaugural release of the cabernet franc blend, was named the best red wine at the 2012 Drink Local Wine Twitter Taste-off. With their two 2010 offerings, I think Ruby Trust is quickly become one of Colorado's top producers. The 2010 Smuggler and 2010 Gunslinger (syrah blend) are even better than their 2009 counterparts. Both are young, but offer excellent concentration and lovely aromatics. The Smuggler shows lots of dark red fruits together with espresso and sweet vanilla flavors. The Gunslinger is a bit tighter, meatier and spicier, but shows great potential for those patient enough to wait a few years. What really got me excited at the release party was a barrel sample of the 2011 Smuggler. This blend of 48% cabernet franc, 37% petit verdot and 15% cabernet sauvignon is simply outstanding. It is delicate, yet concentrated and the aromatics are amazing for still being in barrel. This wine has the finesse and finish to really impress critics and consumers alike. Don't pass up the 2010s right now, but mark my word, that 2011 Smuggler is going to be a national showcase for what kind of wine can be made in Colorado.