Wine Reviews: Colorado Wines

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 02-16-2019

Back for the fourth time, I’m digging into some wines from the state of Colorado. Yep, it’s more than just good beer in the Centennial State.

I recently tasted through the winners of the 2018 Colorado Governor’s Cup. Like Virginia’s renowned Governor’s Cup, the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board kicked off a similar program in 2011. In 2018, 46 Colorado wineries submitted 344 wines to the competition. These wines were judged by a panel of somms, chefs, writers, and wine experts, including Warren Winiarski. They chose a baker’s dozen worth of winning wines.

Colorado is a huge state, but it doesn’t crack the top 10 states in terms of wine production. The state’s winegrowing regions boast plenty of sunshine, low humidity, diverse soils, offering up plenty of opportunity to grow quality wine grapes. And, fun fact: the state’s two American Viticultural Areas (Grand Valley and West Elks, located in the western part of the state) are the highest elevation appellations in the country.

More and more, it seems to me, Colorado winemakers are not afraid to experiment and strike their own path, like Infinite Monkey Theorem’s quirky blends and branding aesthetic, and Red Fox’s Teroldego in this report. This is the most impressive batch of Colorado wines I’ve tasted yet. Now, to get out there for some tourism.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2017 Colterris Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé “Coral” - Colorado, Grand Valley
SRP: $22
Pale salmon color. Nose shows white peaches, white cherries, white lemon verbena, sea salt, white pepper and cut flower stems. Crisp acidity on the palate but a nice, plump texture, the balance is quite nice. White cherries, watermelon, peach, lemon, a nice fruit salad topped in white pepper, sea salt, honeysuckle, a slight tobacco note. Really balanced and fresh and fun. (87 points IJB)

2017 Whitewater Hill Riesling - Colorado, Grand Valley
SRP: $14
Light yellow color. Lots of peach nectar, apricot, candied orange peel, along with honeycomb, lychee and floral perfume. Medium-bodied, moderate acidity, there’s significant sweetness in here, but it’s not too heavy. Pineapple, peach and mango nectar, with sweet floral perfume, orange blossoms, sugar cane and candied ginger. It finishes clean and with notes of minerals and mountain stream, and the sweetness is balanced quite nicely. (86 points IJB)

2016 Bookcliff Vineyards Tempranillo - Colorado
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Light purple color. Super spicy on the nose with tart, dark currants, spiced cranberry sauce, along with leather, clove, black pepper and musk. Medium-bodied with bright acidity, the tannins are structured and provide serious grip, but the acidity helps balance them out. Black cherries and tart currants mix with a host of pepper, tar, coffee, clove, and there’s this sandy, rocky, earthy undertone that is lovely. Could use at least a few years to unwind, but the concentration and quality is there. (87 points IJB)

2015 Bookcliff Vineyards Cabernet Franc Reserve - Colorado, Grand Valley
SRP: $25
Deep purple color. Concentrated aromas of black cherries and currants, with coffee and cedar, notes of tar, tobacco, sage and creosote. Fresh acidity frames the wine nicely, but the tannins provide serious structure. Black cherries and blackberry fruit, dark, deep and tart, mixed with earth, graphite. Oak, cedar, coffee notes are strong but the fruit is concentrated enough that it all works, and I love the black pepper and sage notes on the finish. Could do well with three-to-five years of age. (88 points IJB)

2016 Infinite Monkey Theorem Cabernet Franc - Colorado, Grand Valley
SRP: $24
Light purple color. Really interesting nose, like tart black cherries and wild raspberries with lots of rosebush, clove, tobacco, mesquite and scorched earth. Medium-bodied on the palate, the tannins give structure but show smooth edges, and the acidity rally pops, from start to finish. Vibrant red and black cherry fruit, wild raspberry, spicy cranberry sauce, with notes of clove, cinnamon, and lots of rose hips and leathery stuff. Complex and interesting, this is a really zippy, different kind of Cab Franc, worth checking out! I’d love to see how it ages over the next few years. (90 points IJB)

2016 Red Fox Cellars Teroldego - Colorado, Grand Valley
SRP: $40
Bright purple color. Whoa, what a burst of sweet plums, cherries, with roasted coffee and candied pecan notes. Fresh acidity, really zippy here, on a medium-bodied frame with velvety mouthfeel and a nice line between silky and tangy. Tart cranberry meets sweet plums and back cherries, the fruit is juicy but really vibrant. Notes of pepper, herbal tea, oak, coffee, it’s woven together very nicely. Ready to drink now, really versatile stuff. (88 points IJB)

2016 Colterris Petit Verdot - Colorado, Grand Valley
SRP: $24
Bold purple color. Nose shows dark and concentrated elements of black cherries and currants, topped in pepper, leather, magic marker and charcoal. Grippy, concentrated and dark on the palate but the acidity is surprisingly vibrant. A core of tart dark currant and plum fruit blends well with smoky charcoal, mesquite-grilled beef, pen ink, dark chocolate. This could use some years in the cellar to unwind, but a well-done and interesting take on this variety. (87 points IJB)

2016 Colterris Merlot Riverside Vineyard - Colorado, Grand Valley
SRP: $45
Deep ruby color. Aromas of tangy black cherries, juicy plums, raspberry jam, with roasted chestnut and violets. Big and full on the palate (15.2% alcohol) with velvety tannins and vibrant acidity, so it all fits together quite nicely. Juicy raspberries, black cherry jam, yummy and Zinfandel-esque fruit but it’s fresh, too. Nots of violets, roasted herbs, chestnut, coffee and cedar. Drinking really well right now. Highly delicious. (88 points IJB)

2016 Monkshood Cellars Syrah White Water Vineyard - Colorado, Grand Valley
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Bright, almost neon purple color. Nice aromatic combination of tart blueberries, black currants, sweet plums, along with smoky menthol, tar, graphite, mint. On the palate, bright acidity rips in, supported by strong tannins, this is a young wine but has a lot of tanginess and depth. Tart currants, black cherries, some pomegranate, loaded with elements of smashed rocks, minerals, charcoal, charred herbs, cocoa, a lot going on here. A bit austere in its youth perhaps, but I think this will be singing in about five years. Impressive stuff. (89 points IJB)

2016 Snowy Peaks Winery Eleve - Colorado, Grand Valley
SRP: $24
Light purple color. Whoa, what a spicy aromatic display: black pepper, beef bouillon cubes, leather, tobacco and mint along with tangy black cherries and plums. Grippy tannins meet bright acidity on a medium-bodied frame. Juicy and tangy red and black cherries, the acidity really rips through. Lots of spicy, beefy, pepper, earthy, leathery notes that I’m really enjoying, with violets and coffee, too. I’d love to revisit this in 4-5 years. A spicy and exciting blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre from vineyards some 7,500 feet above sea level. (89 points IJB)

1999 Colorado Cellars Colorado Port - Colorado
SRP: $40/500ml
Medium ruby color. Lovely aromas of spiced cranberry jelly, candied cherries, berry compote, with roses, clove and black tea. Full and sweet, smooth tannins, but it sports some moderating acidity. The tawny-style elements of gingerbread, candied ginger and apricot marmalade mix well with darker elements of dates, candied cherries. There’s an earthy, clove, spiced coffee note that is woven in really well. I am quite impressed with this Colorado dessert wine! (88 points IJB)

2017 Carlson Vineyards Gewürztraminer Laughing Cat - Colorado, Grand Valley
SRP: $15
Medium yellow color. Aromas of sweet peaches, guava nectar, honey, spiced white tea, some herbal tea notes. Plump texture, the sweetness isn’t too heavy, there’s moderating acidity that keeps it refreshing. Flavors of sweet apricot jam, guava, peaches, mixed with honey, spiced white tea and nettle. I’m really impressed with how well this shows at the price point. (85 points IJB)

<85 points

2016 Carlson Vineyards Plum Wine - Colorado
SRP: $15
Bright strawberry colored. Nose shows fresh pears, peaches, glazed with honey, topped in some rose hips and herbal tea. The palate is where things go off course (for me). Plump, medium acidity, sweet and sugary with flavors of apricot skin and peach pits. Strawberries and Southern sweet tea elements are quite strong. The sweetness and flavors aren’t lining up for me but I could see this being popular with some.

Comments (1)

  1. I enjoyed a Malbec 2015 from Bookcliff when I was visiting Colorado Springs a few years ago.