Tag Archives: Michelle Cleveland

Roussanne, the Delicate Wine!

Wine is like music: we need both loud and soft, fast and slow, soft and dramatic, to create Creekside Cellars Roussanne 2015interest.  Life, nor music, nor wine should be all the same.  We’ve evaluated some powerful wines. My personal favorite is “King Cab.”  But some foods and occasions call for a delicate wine, and we focus on one in that category today: Roussanne.

This grape is now all over the world.  Rhone is its home and it is their expression of this grape to which all other Roussannes are compared.  Delicate, refined, and an exciting pleasure to all white wine lovers.  It can even court a red wine drinker successfully.  It is difficult to ripen, but not here in Colorado if Creekside Cellar’s version is any indication.

Apple, pear, lime, and apricot spring from Creekside’s 2015 Roussanne.  Although not noted for its full body, this Roussanne is creamy, leaving the mouth coated and gently lubricated with the above flavors that will not quickly lose their appeal.  True, the alcohol is not that high (13.7%) and the wine’s legs wash down the glass a little too quickly.  But who cares for what the eye detects when the mouthfeel is so luscious.  This is a true sipping wine to be served for its aromatic qualities and its pleasurable fruit and creamy effects.

Learn from this wine the real meaning of delicate.  No rough edges appear.  The finish, its last impression, softly fades with a touch of acid bringing its silkiness and soothing texture to life — something winemaker Michelle Cleveland is very conscious of and something much needed in Colorado, where the heat can destroy the possibilities of a delicate grape, stripping it of its acid.

The flavors in a delicate wine are transparent.  You can taste through them to layers underneath.  No muddiness should be experienced in a delicate wine and there is none here.  The texture is silky, — oh so soft — brushing your palate with a gossamer touch.  Each flavor is like a sheer fabric or like the gossamer wings of a butterfly: fine and oh, so engaging to the senses.  Does it need to be blended with Marsanne for more body?  Not in my books.  This wine should continue to brandish its own richness and delicacy.  It does not need the traditional treatment of the Rhone.  The New World has discovered its appeal.  Do yourself a favor.

Rating: 89

Emotional appeal:  increasing with each sip.

Available from the winery.

Unusual, Well Made, and a Colorado Wine Worth a Try

Vineyards of Palisade, CO in the Grande Valley AVA

Vineyards of Palisade, CO in the Grande Valley AVA

Counoise, 2014— From the Grand Valley of Colorado

Something unusual and very well made is always worth the try.  In Colorado where the wine industry is still finding what grows and develops best in its AVAs, the unusual can pop up.  Counoise is used mainly in blends in Chateauneuf du Pape and the lower Rhone Valley in France.  When I was asked to identify this grape from the barrel at Creekside Cellars, I could not.  It is seldom produced as a varietal wine, although you will find some examples from the south of France and a few from California.  Maybe you could identify it, but the experience alone peaked my interest.  Here’s a good question, how much Counoise have you tasted as a single variety?

Counoise is valued for its contribution of acid and a spice in the form of a pepperiness, but otherwise it does not have a dominant distinctive note.   The excellent Creekside example made by winemaker Michelle Cleveland offered aromas of red currant, rose, and the expected lively acid and peppery notes for which this wine is well known.  Oak aromas of vanilla and cedar add to its complexity and what was so noticeable was its long peppery aftertaste.  The palate is light and fresh and the tannins are not obtrusive.  The wine needs a little time to air, so open it 30 minutes before you consume.  Its full contribution is experiences as a delayed reaction.

Thank’s to winemaker, Michelle Cleveland, for the experience of a Counoise from the Grand Valley and a confirmation of this grape’s ability to show its colors in such a different terroir.  A must adventure!

Rating:  89

Emotional rating: It has to be high for the wonderful experience it offers.

Available from the winery.

Balance and Liveliness in a Cabernet Sauvignon from Colorado

Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, from Creekside Cellars, Colorado

Creekside Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Creekside Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Cabernet Sauvignon (“king of the red wines”) is a grape that adapts well to various climes but not with the same presentation.  You will notice a distinct difference between a Cabernet Sauvignon grown in a warm climate and one from a cool climate.  Brix at picking is a key factor, too.

The perk that Cabernet’s herbaceousness can give to the fully rounded flavors of the wine can be very attractive and are what some Cabernet lovers look for.  It is not pronounced in this sample from Creekside Cellars in Evergreen, Colorado.  Guess why.  Black current has a bright edge to its deep, warm, black fruit flavors and it is noticeable on the nose of this wine when first opened.  The flavors in this wine are further rounded by the caramel and cedar notes imparted by the oak.

Announcing to us the style of this wine is its bright edge — the liveliness of its acids.  Against a deep, dark background, such as Cabernet can present, acids show up readily and often seem stronger than they really are.  In this Cabernet the acid level is not extremely high, but certainly high enough to lighten the finish of the wine, making the wine a perfect fit with a grilled steak and salad meal.  Here’s why:  the rich savory meatiness of the steak is matched to the blackcurrant and oak flavors and the light green flavors of the salad are highlighted by the acids and slight herbaceousness in the wine.  The wine holds them together nicely.

Ninety minutes later the wine opens up with more of the cedar note dominant in the aroma and the tannins are a little more prominent.  It is a young wine.  The color is an appealing, deep ruby, clean and bright, and the body is medium weight.  What the wine exhibits is a lovely balance that does not obliterate its character.  Taste a Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon with this wine and you will see Cabernet in two easily distinct styles.  Which one do you prefer and with what food or on what occasion?

From an emotional perspective, this wine leans to the side of elegance for a Cab and promises some very interesting days ahead in its development as the wine lives on and the flavors marry and develop.  Aging potential?  Ten years.

Congratulations to winemaker Michelle Cleveland, for a well made Colorado Cabernet Sauvignon.

Rating: 90

Emotional rating:  High, for an invigorating lively Cabernet with a promising future.

Available from the winery.

From the Grand Valley AVA — A Nice Pinot Noir!

Creekside Cellars 2010 Pinot Noir Creekside 2010 Pinot Noir

Brian Cox (the grower) and Michelle Cleveland (winemaker at Creekside Cellars in Evergreen, Colorado) have presented us with a light Ruby wine — clear and brilliant, with a great balance of fruit and oak.  This delicate wine allows the nose to flag you of the influence of the fine wine lees, even if it is light.  Strawberry flavors coated in vanilla and spice notes together with the wine lees make for more complexity in what would otherwise be a simple wine.

Even a short rest on its lees (the fine lees not the gross lees) can add more complexity to a wine.  Semi-stable, colloidal phenolics (ultramicroscopic in size) settle and, even in small quantities, offer their aroma to the wine.  Each grape variety will change the aroma of the fine lees, so the fine lees for a Pinot Noir are different in character from that of another kind of red grape.  Is the complex nose showing us this delicate aroma along with all its other smells?  What do you discover?

The mouthfeel is typical of Michelle’s winemaking: soft, perfectly balanced, but with refreshing acid that does not dominate but emerges a little more on the finish.  The medium finish is clean and the fruit and oak carry through from sniff to swallow with persistence.

The Grand Valley AVA in Colorado is not known for Pinot Noir.  In fact the opposite is what we can normally expect from its Pinots: namely, the influence of too much intense heat that can turn a Pinot to jam.  Congratulations to Michelle for producing a fine Pinot Noir from what many say is not Pinot country.

Rating 85

Emotional rating is best made with Mozzarella and wine in hand.  You will be delighted.


You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in my book, “Experiencing Colorado Wine,” and you’ll find the description of the pairing of several of them with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.

GET YOUR COPY during our “Colorado Mountain Winefest” Sale at SQUARE MARKET FOR $20!Experiencing Colorado Red Print Ready

Book entertains, educates, and entices readers to experience Colorado wine


Wine That’s Fun!

IMG_0832There are more tools to use in the making of wine now than ever before.  More knowledge of why things happen the way they do.  Therefore, a winemaker can fashion a wine to meet their predetermined goals.  That’s what you find in this new wine that you just must try.  It was made to be pure pleasure, filling your senses like a walk in the warm rains of summer.  Just like the rain freshens the air, its fresh top note of cherry and reminders of dry rock minerality, light and bright, tantalize your senses and its juiciness makes you beg for more.  Faint wood notes hide under the fruit, making it complex and intriguing.

It’s alive, changing as the flavors deepen and mature with the passing moments.  Then on its medium-length finish the wood notes begin to come out of hiding, marrying with the fruit perfectly.  For a wine that is not designed to be big and bold, it has surprising character and character is what makes the wine memorable.

I would not call this wine a “house wine” — quaffable and unmemorable — but a light-drinking red that freshens your mood and makes you plead for more.  It is a harmonious experience — soft, impressive and attention-getting, claiming your emotions and your rational evaluation.

You will find it in some Front Range liquor .  Ask for it!  If they don’t have it, they CAN get it by contacting the winemaker.  It is also available to members of the Creekside Cellars Wine Club.  Its name?  “Wine That’s Fun.”  The winemaker?  Michelle Cleveland of Creekside Cellars in Evergreen, Colorado.

Rating 86

Emotional rating under any condition:  90, and rising with each glass!

You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in my book, “Experiencing Colorado Wine,” and you’ll find the description of the pairing of several of them with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.  Order your autographed copyExperiencing Colorado Wine at Square Market.