The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey sits on the property of the Holy Cross Abbey in Cañon
City, Colorado. A history of winemaking by the Abbey has now turned into a modern winery (owned by Larry Oddo) that honors the traditions of the past. Each Harvest Fest is blessed by a Father of the Roman Catholic Church and this year’s event set a record at approximately 4000 in attendance for the two-day event.
This was a great opportunity to experience the way Colorado celebrates the vine. A surprise (and “truly Colorado”) was the churning of home made ice cream, powered by a donkey on a “treadmill.”
The winery’s new winemaker, Jeff Stultz, produced 2011 Revelation that won “Best New World Generic Proprietary Red Wine” in March of 2014 at the Jerry Mead International competition.
I tasted a vertical of their Cabernet Sauvignons and could clearly see the skill and experience of the winemaking. Here are the notes from the evaluations of the current reds created by their current winemaker, Jeff Stultz.
Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, 2012 A strong blackcurrant aroma, with light herbal edges and underlined with blackberry, greets you boldly. The herbaceousness for which Cabernet is known is controlled. While still juicy and fresh, the wine’s attack is very much like a young Bordeaux. Its medium weight on the palate is supported by a strong structure. The wine should develop more complexity as it ages, although it would dress a grilled steak very well as it is. This is a wine to lay down for 2-3 years with a longevity of 10 or more, depending on how it develops. It should reward wonderfully. Allow it to breathe in the glass for an hour to smooth its power a little. The wine is a quality wine with a food friendly medium finish.
Syrah, 2012: Bluish red in color (sporting its youth), this Syrah is abundant with raspberry and pepper notes on the nose that lead to even more spice on the palate. Notice that the fruit does not display its full power on the nose but increases through the palate to the finish like a grand crescendo. The acids are racy and razor edged and the bite remains to the end for a real cleansing effect.
Cabernet Franc, 2012: Beautifully graduated from the core to the rim with a youthful red color. Dark fruits flood the aroma and a brightness gives indication of a lively wine. A sleek balanced palate, medium in weight, is a platform for the brightness and blackness of the blackcurrant and raspberry fruit. This is another excellent wine and it finishes with a balance of acid, fruit and tannin that leave you feeling like “more.” Also, it displays a medium length on the finish with acid that refreshes but does not bite. This is a very good Colorado expression of the grape. Colorado is defining its expression of Cabernet Franc as having more of the richness of the new world, but still with hints of the stoniness of the soils in which it is grown. Science can make no connection between soil and the flavors of the grape, but tasters can tell. See if you can get hints of stone and dry rock.
Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012: Deep ruby, the nose displays more of the fruit than the reserve wine and less of the herbs. In fact, they are almost hidden. No indication of VA tingles in your nose and you are quickly introduced to a rich mouthful of fruit. The tannins are a little more pronounced than the reserve wine, but fine and mainly oak derived. This is a good buy. There is plenty of acid to make it a food-friendly wine and to suggest, like the reserve, that it can do with a year or more maturing in the bottle for even more rewarding flavors.
Merlot Reserve, 2012: This is a Merlot worthy of a close examination. Deep ruby and with acids that expand in the mouth, its strong tannins for a Merlot will please the Cab drinkers and its black fruit, led by blackberry, blackcurrant, and plum notes, create an aroma and palate that is plush. The plum enriches the sensual delight that Merlot is expected to provide. Silky sensations smooth out a strong structure. This is another wine that can do with a little time and would love some food. It is powerful for a Merlot and should enhance a steak meal and entertain the big and bold wine drinker.
Ratings: All wines would rate in the 86-90 range.
Emotional rating: Very good — will improve with age as the tertiary flavors develop.
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.
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