I’ve been tasting the winners of Colorado’s Governor’s Cup Awards for two years now, and here’s my third installment.
Like Virginia’s renowned Governor’s Cup, the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board kicked off a similar program in 2011. For the 2017 competition, 46 wineries submitted 325 wines, and the top 12, which I reviewed, are featured prominently as part of a “Governor’s Cup Case.”
Colorado doesn’t crack the top 10 states in terms of production. According to the Colorado Wine trade group, Colorado wineries released about 178,000 cases in 2017. But with abundant sunshine (more than 300 days per year) and low humidity, the raw ingredients are there. And there seems to be quite a bit of enthusiasm and experimentation going on in Colorado.
A few of the “wines” in this case aren’t grape wines. A cider, a mead and a fruit wine are included. Also, one of the wines comes from Sonoma County fruit, which struck me as odd, and perhaps counterproductive, for a competition designed to focus on Colorado’s wine industry. That said, there were some delicious and impressive wines in the mix.
These were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.
2013 Infinite Monkey Theorem Sparkling Albariño
Golden color. Lovely aromas of apricots, lemons, chalk dust, dandelion, honeysuckle, sea sat. Crisp and bright on the palate with faint but pleasant bubbles. Kumquat, tangerine and apricot fruit, juicy and delicious, mixed well with yellow flowers, chalk dust, smashed seashells, honeycomb. Wow, the complexity and deliciousness are impressive. This is a gutsy wine (considering the name, the fact it is a sparkling Albarino under crown cap, and costs $55), but it somehow pulls it off. (90 points)
2016 Bookcliff Vineyards Riesling
Medium gold color. Aromas of peach, guava, lime, notes of sea salt and honeysuckle. Creamy texture on the palate, medium acidity balances out some sweetness. Peaches, yellow plum and yellow raisins. Lots of yellow flowers, with some honey, cinnamon sticks. Plush, rich, not too sweet. (86 points)
2015 Carlson Vineyards Lemberger Tyrannosaurus Red
Pale ruby color. Aromas of sweet raspberries, strawberry jam, roses, some black pepper and rhubarb. Medium+ bodied with medium acidity and fleshy tannins. Spicy wild raspberry, strawberry, black cherry, the fruit mixes with notes of cola, rhubarb and black tea. Impressive take on this grape, food-friendly, fun (if not super deep or complex), well-made. (86 points)
2015 The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey Merlot Reserve
Rich ruby color. Aromas of sweet plums, red and black currants, blueberries, some spicy tobacco and pepper and violets. Fresh acidity frames the palate, and the tannins and light and dusty, velvety red and black plums and cherries. Some leathery, charcoal, spiced tea, some roses and red licorice. Stays vibrant, bright, easy to drink, but shows some delicious and complex elements. (87 points)
2015 Guy Drew Vineyards Syrah
Bright purple color. Tangy black fruit (blackberries and plums) along with ginger, cinnamon, black pepper and campfire smoke. Full-bodied on the palate with grippy, structured tannins and moderating acidity to set the stage for sweet but tart black currant and plum fruit. Lots of dark chocolate, espresso, gravelly-loam notes and some vanilla, cedar. Impressive, delicious stuff from Montezuma County. (87 points)
2014 Creekside Cellars Franc Colorado's Cabernet
Deep ruby color. Aromas of red and black cherries and plums, along with black pepper, mushroom, cedar shavings, coffee grounds. Full-bodied, structured well but silky, with fresh acidity. Tart black cherries, blackberries, crunchy plum skins. Coffee, cedar and roasted chestnut mix with black olive, charred herbs and cracked pepper. A bit overt with oak influences perhaps, but still very well done. (88 points)
2015 Decadent Saint Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
Medium purple color. Aromas of smoky and sweet black cherries, black currant, saucy and rich fruit with notes of mocha, eucalyptus, cigar lounge and vanilla. Surprisingly fresh acidity on a full-bodied frame with silky tannins. Fresh but bold with tart black currant and blueberry, the fruit is laced with graphite, sweet pipe tobacco, eucalyptus and cedar shavings. Rich but fresh finish. The wine is produced in Colorado, but the grapes are sourced from Sonoma County. (88 points)
N.V. Meadery of the Rockies Strawberry Honey Wine
Deep copper color. Smells of strawberries, candied apple, white flowers, sweet perfume. Full and rich on the palate but moderate acidity, the sweetness is integrated well. Tangy cherry and strawberries, honeyed richness, candle wax notes, floral perfume. Plump but balanced quite nicely. (85 points)
2017 Colorado Cider Company Grasshop'ah
SRP: $11/4-pack cans
Shows a zippy, fresh appeal with plenty of ripe apple, apricot and peach along with notes of spiced herbs, white pepper, floral perfume. Zippy, fresh and fun. A lightly hopped cider. (87 points)
N.V. Colorado Cellars Raspberry
Light cherry color. Smells like raspberry jam, maraschino cherries, red hot candies and rose tea. Juicy and sweet but some refreshing acidity keeps it from being too heavy. Candied fruit (raspberry jam, cherry cough drops, strawberry cheesecake topping) flavors dominate, with hints of roses and bitter tea. Grape wine with raspberry juice added.
2016 Whitewater Hill Sweetheart Red
Bright ruby color. Aromas of sweet cherry preserves, prunes, currant paste, sweet coffee. Rich and sweet but some lively (surprisingly so) acidity. Red currant and strawberry jams mix with sweet cola, coffee, toasted coconut. Simple, fun, sweet red dessert wine.
2013 Two Rivers Port Château Deux Fleuves
Deep ruby color. Aromas of cranberry sauce, fig paste, with cedar, sweet coffee and vanilla. Sweet and chewy on the palate with medium tannins and tangy acidity. Red currant jam, sour cherries, along with flavors of red licorice and ginger snap. Interesting flavors but the sweetness and sour aspects seem a bit off balance. 19.6% alcohol.
This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.