It’s no secret to those who know me well how much I love Colorado and still call it home. I was thrilled this past weekend to finally visit Book Cliff Vineyard’s tasting room in Boulder following a great morning of hiking. I’ve been following this winery on Twitter for a while as well as receiving the newsletter to stay on top of events and harvest news. It’s been a long time since I last tasted a Colorado wine and having worked in the wine industry and developed a palate, I’ve been itching to taste wines made from grapes grown in the state.
BookCliff Vineyard’s tasting room is next door to the Upslope Brewing Company off of Lee Hill Road in North Boulder. The winery grows all of its grapes in Palisade and brings them to the Boulder facility. I loved seeing the stainless steel barrels upon walking inside. It’s a smaller tasting room and the bar was nearly full when we got there. We were greeted upon entering and immediately told tastings are $5 for five wines. That tasting fee is waived with the purchase of two bottles of wine. I loved the relaxing atmosphere and was thrilled to see a great selection of wines from whites, reds and sweeter wines all made with grapes grown in Colorado. After examining the wine list, it was time to taste.
I started with the 2011 Viognier having tasted so many in Virginia and most recently a new one here in Arizona from Lawrence Dunham, so my curiosity was at a high for one from Colorado. The wine was a beautiful pale yellow in the glass with green apple on the nose. On the palate it was medium bodied with honeydew, a touch of vanilla oak and lemon zest. Overall I enjoyed sipping this and could see it pairing well with many summer dishes. Next was the 2010 Muscat Blanc, which really had me intrigued following the description received when asking about it. The nose on this wine was honeysuckle and a delicious floral fruitiness that had me thinking sweet. However, on the palate it was fruit forward with a very crisp, refreshing and clean finish. This is something I’d love to sip on a hot summer day or after a fun powder day on the slopes. I enjoyed it so much and found it so different from many whites it came back to Arizona with me. The last white before moving onto reds was the Lucky Twenty that won the bronze award of Best of the Fest 2012 at the Colorado Mountain Winefest. This is a blend of Muscat Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Viognier and Orange Muscat. For all those who love a well done sweeter wine, this is your wine. On my palate I tasted peach and honeysuckle with a nice smooth off-dry finish. I admit I’m not one for sweet wines but this one is well done and worth trying.
Onto the reds and being a girl who loves her big, full-bodied reds this was the truly exciting part for me. Staples in my wine fridge are Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Malbec and red blends. First up was the 2011 Zinfandel, which was a pretty ruby red in the glass and had plenty of Bing cherry on the nose. However, on the palate, this had character, raspberries and black cherries with some complexity and delicious tannins on the finish. I initially got some white pepper but as I swirled the wine and let it breathe a little in the glass, I noticed the pepper disappeared and only tasted a touch of spice. This is a wonderful red for the summer or winter and will pair well with many foods or do well alone as an end of day sipping wine.
The next red tasted was the 2010 Cabernet Franc Reserve. I admit I’ve tasted many Cab Francs so I was so excited to try one from Colorado. This was a tad tight when I first tasted it and it needed some swirling in the glass to get it to open a bit more. I loved the structure and velvety finish of this wine. On the palate I tasted dark fruit with a very smooth finish. Next choice was the Malbec, which I’d over heard the crowd next to us saying was their favorite. It was a gorgeous garnet color in the glass and on the palate I got plum, spice, and blackberries with a smooth finish. It was a nice medium body wine especially for those who like Malbec. Up next came the Cabernet and wow was this delicious and truly Colorado. I loved this wine, as I do most Cabs, but what made this stand out is that it tasted like Colorado and nothing like California, Virginia or Washington State. This was medium to full body with black cherries, blackberries and nice tannins on the finish. I loved it and will be back to get some more of this. A bottle was brought back for dinner and poured into the decanter, which had it drinking beautifully. The last wine of the tasting was the 2010 Ensemble, a blend of 56% Merlot, 34% Cabernet, 9% Cab Franc, and 1% Malbec. I’d overheard this wine being described and knew I had to try it. I do love a good blend and was excited to learn the 2012 vintage would include Petit Verdot. This had a delicious nose that I could smell all day. It seriously had my mouth watering and of course thinking of a juicy steak or prime rib to pair with it. On the palate it was full, complex with blackberries, nice structure and smooth finish. A bottle of this came back to Arizona as well.
The tasting ended with a tour out back to see all the grapes as they were fermenting and yeast was about to be added into the giant bins. I’m a giddy girl anytime I get to see the wine making process or am around barrels. For my first Colorado wine tasting I don’t think I could have started anywhere better. There’s something special about Boulder and these wines all around were really delicious. I can’t wait to come back and will be keeping an eye out for the next vintage release of the Syrah and Petite Syrah. I missed tasting the 2010 vintage by a day due to customers coming in earlier and buying the rest of it. If you’re passing through town or haven’t visited yet, I recommend stopping in to sip some wine. There is something here for everyone and you won’t regret it.