Wine Reviews: Colorado Governor’s Cup

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 04-04-2020

For a few years now, I’ve been tasting the winning wines from Colorado’s Governor’s Cup, and this week, I’m focusing on the 2019 winners.

Colorado has some 150 wineries, which grow grapes in vineyards upwards of 4,000 feet in elevation. Riesling, Rhone varieties, Bordeaux blends, and some quirky, inventive stuff as well, the styles have been all over the map. Each year, I find a few that really pop out and make me think: there’s a lot more to explore here, especially on a trip (whenever we can go on trips again).

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2018 The Storm Cellar Mesa Dry Riesling USA, Colorado, West Elks
SRP: $22
Pale lemon color. Bright and chalky nose, with lemon, orange peel, guava, mixed with white flowers, honeysuckle, tea and wet slate. The palate is dry, fresh, pure, it has a mountain stream sense of clarity, with lemon, quince, guava fruit. The flinty, mineral, lemon verbena notes add all sorts of complexity. Nervy, dry, talc-infused finish. Color me impressed with this Colorado Riesling, from their oldest Riesling vines in rocky soils. The value here is something else. (90 points)

2018 Carlson Vineyards NSFW USA, Colorado, Grand Valley
SRP: $12
Pale lemon color. Super peachy on the nose with guava, lemon pith, honeysuckle. Fleshy texture, crisp acidity, this has a light and punchy style with lemon, green melon and lots of canned peach fruit. Some floral perfume and chamomile tea elements as well. Fun, fresh blend of Vidal Blanc, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer. (85 points)

2016 Plum Creek Cabernet Franc USA, Colorado, Grand Valley
SRP: $23
Dark ruby color. The nose shows red cherries, plums and raspberries, with hefty doses of black pepper, herbal tea and dried rose petals. Full-bodied, smooth and velvety tannins, vibrant acidity, there’s a lively, balanced appeal to this wine with tangy cherry and tart plum fruit. Notes of cocoa, coffee, pepper, leather and rose petals add some complexity. Round, fresh, nice stuff! (87 points)

2016 Bookcliff Vineyards Ensemble USA, Colorado
SRP: $22
Deep purple color. The nose shows tart black cherries, currants and plums. Dense and smoky elements with earth, violets and coffee grounds. Full-bodied, solid grip on the tannins, medium-plus acidity, things line up pretty well on the palate. Crunchy tart black cherries and dense fruit, I like the concentration and tanginess. Earthy, pencil shavings flavors, along with smoky oak and vanilla. Well-balanced, a bit oaky, but well-done Bordeaux blend. (87 points)

2016 Bookcliff Vineyards GracianoUSA, Colorado
Deep purple color. Smells of cassis and black cherries, with tar, sweet pipe tobacco, mint and dark chocolate notes. Full-bodied on the palate with smooth tannins and fresh acidity. Plummy, saucy black cherries, some stemmy notes but they’re subtle. Notes of tar, smoky charcoal and spiced black tea round out this wine. Oaky but not too heavy, I’d like to see what this does in two or three years. (86 points)

2017 Colterris Petit Verdot USA, Colorado, Grand Valley
SRP: $24
Deep violet color. Aromas of black cherries and roasted figs with cocoa and violets. Vibrant acidity opens up the wine, with grippy tannins, but not too harsh. Sweet blueberry and fig, rich, jammy fruit, a saucy style. Coffee, coconut and dark chocolate flavors, the oak overpowers some elements but the wine still shows a balanced feel. Could definitely use some time to unwind. (86 points)

2016 Snowy Peaks Winery Petite Sirah USA, Colorado, Grand Valley
SRP: $29
Dense purple color. Aromas of deep blueberry and fig paste, along with anise, violets and mocha. Deep but tart on the palate with black cherries, blueberry and roasted fig fruit, while the tannins show grip, and the acidity balances things out quite nicely. Elements of tobacco, campfire smoke, black tea, along with beefy, peppery notes. Bold but nuanced, this is a really solid Petite Sirah. From a 7,500-foot vineyard, aged 12 months in French oak. (88 points)

2017 Qutori Wines SyrahUSA, Colorado
SRP: $30
Bright purple color. Spicy as heck on the nose, with mesquite, tar, black olive and cigar smoke on top of black currants. Full-bodied, smooth tannins, bright acidity, with deep currants and sweet, jammy black cherries. Beefy, grilled herb and anise notes. Ripe but fresh, it is a bit hefty, but the acidity keeps it lively. Aged 18 months in a mix of Hungarian, French and American oak. (86 points)

2017 Red Fox Cellars Nebbiolo USA, Colorado, Grand Valley
SRP: $38
Medium ruby color. Aromas of tart cherries, raspberries, red apple, with spicy herbs and rhubarb notes. Full-bodied on the palate (15% alcohol) with solid grip and zesty acidity. Tangy cherries and red apple peel fruit are mixed with cocoa, black pepper, with notes of mushroom and tar. Nice tartness and concentration here, perhaps a few years will help this open up more. (86 points)

2018 Bonacquisti Wine Company Tempranillo USA, Colorado
Medium ruby color. Aromas of juicy raspberries, red cherries, sweet cranberry sauce, with violets, roses and cola. Medium/full-bodied with velvety tannins and really fresh acidity. Flavors of sweet plums, raspberry jam, black cherry cola, with elements of mint chewing tobacco, coffee, toffee and cedar. Fun stuff, fruit-forward but the acidity lifts this wine up and makes it easier to drink. (85 points)

N.V. Vino Salida Vermouth di Salida – USA, Colorado, Grand Valley
SRP: $19/375ml
Deep salmon color. Super spicy aromatics that pop, like anise, clove, cigar smoke, and white pepper over cranberry relish and candied apple peel. Full-bodied but fresh acidity sets the frame for wild raspberry and cranberry relish, topped in a hefty dose of clove, black licorice, some rhubarb, rose petals and black tea. This is really fun, sipping as an aperitif, or for use in cocktails. Brandy infused with all sorts of spices, blend with a base wine of Black Moscato, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, sweetened with Colorado honey. Unique, interesting stuff. (86 points)

<85 points

2018 Whitewater Hill Moscato USA, Colorado, Grand Valley
Light yellow color. Juicy and sweet aromas of white peach, lychee, guava nectar, with floral spice and honey. Plush and sweet on the palate with medium acidity and plenty of plump white peach and lychee fruit, topped in honey and circus peanut candies. Yummy, fun, summertime sweet Moscato.

Comments (1)

  1. We still have a little of our 2018 Moscato available, $15/750ml