Tag Archives: Two Rivers Winery and Chateau

A Colorado Syrah Worth Your Dollars

“Juiciness, with a Full Rounded Body”  2 Rivers Syrah

A Colorado Syrah (Two Rivers Syrah 2013) is worth your dollars.  The wine is opaque, inviting emotions of strength and richness.  There is an immediate raspberry aroma coupled with (to name a few flavors) butter, popcorn, and a little smoke on the nose.  The flavors are very juicy and mouthwatering.  It is complex on the palate with lively acids on an undertone of earth.  The tannins from the stems, seeds and skins plus the tannins from the oak are well integrated and soft.   The finish is also fresh, juicy, and long, leaving you with a longing for more.  All indications speak of its youth.

I like the wood notes and the way the juiciness weaves in and out of the structure of the wine.  The nose signals the juiciness and it, of course, is due to the acids that are in perfect balance on the palate and finish.  I also like the way the wine says something.  It firmly states its character of “round, juicy, balanced, and sophisticated with a note of power presented in a full body.”  Colorado can produce some gorgeous Syrah’s and this in one of them.

Buy a few bottles and lay them down (if you can resist the temptation to drink) and see how this wine, in the next two to three years, has developed.  I think you will be well pleased.

Do wines say something about life?  Sometimes.  This one says, “Keep the love of liveliness and celebrate with life with vibrancy.”

Rating 89+

Emotional rating:  Wanting more and more!

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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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Gundlach Bundschu — 2010 Merlot

Gundlach BundschuAs the half-brother of Cabernet Sauvignon sharing one common parent — namely Cabernet Franc — Merlot has always shown its familial compatibility.  In the U.S., Merlot lags behind Cabernet Sauvignon in popularity and plantings regardless of its recent surge in consumption and its image as “Cabernet without the pain.”  But this is a pity, since not only in Bordeaux but here Merlot can rise to greatness and grace your table with power and style.

Here is an instructive exercise.  Take a Colorado Merlot — perhaps Two Rivers’ version, which is a well-made wine — and taste it alongside of Gundlach Bundschu’s Merlot.  You should immediately notice the difference a dry, well-drained soil (Colorado) versus one that typically holds more moisture and is richer (Sonoma) makes in the wine.  In Pomerol and St. Emilion, the soils are more clayish, holding more moisture, and their Merlot-dominated wines are regarded by some as the world’s best expression of Merlot.  Merlot seems to do best in soils that hold moisture.  The Sonoma wine is fuller and richer.  The comparison will let you experience for yourself the differences in these two excellent examples.

So, let’s see what we find in Gundlach Bundschu’s 2010 offering.

Rich aromas of oak and fruit fill your senses immediately.  Blackcurrant, blackberry, bilberry, some cherry and plum with coffee, vanilla, licorice and hint of truffle leap out at you making for a rich complex nose.  The deep, dark ruby that is opaque at the core signals a full rich wine even before you have raised the glass.  Long daylight exposure, some grapes from a warmer cline, a good cold soak plus the addition of 4% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec have contributed their characteristics to its opaque character.  This wine has spent 17 months in French oak (40% new), which accounts for its pleasant oak underpinning.

On the palate, lots of dark chocolate — and oh, so smooth!  It is a very rich, very full, and well-rounded wine.  What a warm, rewarding wealth of flavors and it’s true: no tannic pain or puckering astringency to disturb the American palate.  If you would like to know the definition of smooth, try this wine.  Let’s add the oft-repeated descriptor “supple,” because it, too, describes the overall effect of the wine.

Where the grapes have not swelled to full ripeness and the climate is more taxing  (Colorado is more taxing), an acid bite can be quickly noticed in Merlot.  However, along with this increase in acid goes the increased number of foods with which it will pair well, and a European palate might appreciate the Two Rivers version more.  Conduct your own comparison and educate your palate.  Which do you like best and for what purpose?

Blackcurrant (the dominant fruit flavor in the Gundlach Bundschu example) has a warm, dark, fruity aroma coupled with a lively edge that lifts the wine’s appeal.  See if you don’t pick up this liveliness on the nose of this wine.  I grew up with blackcurrant berries, jellies and drinks and love a wine in which I detect its full rich quantity.  It is also a fruit that will last for a long time without fading or disappearing in the wine as it ages.

As a parting note, this wine can challenge the wines from the right bank of Bordeaux and surprise you.

Rating: 91

Emotional rating?  Blackcurrant and chocolate lovers will probably rate it 98!

For an evaluation of the Two Rivers Merlot, go to my book, Experiencing Colorado Wine (page 253), which you can order from this site.

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“Sur Lie” — Two Rivers 2012 Chardonnay

Refreshring White Wine in a GlassThe French can come up with some descriptive names and they are often quite prosaic.  This one, “sur lie,” simply states “on the lees.”  White wines are most commonly spoken of in this way if they have spent some time resting on their lees.  The yeasts that are active in fermentation form a residue that rests in the bottom of the tank or barrel.  Quite literally they form a slime (good slime!).  In the first racking the gross lees are removed, leaving what is called the fine lees that a winemaker can take advantage of for additional flavor in the wine.  The lees capture aromas from the wine, and stirring them releases these aromas to add more complexity to the wine.

Burgundy is where this practice of battonage (stirring the lees) originated, as far as we can tell, although letting a wine sit on its lees was perhaps the only way they first made wine. But in our sample, Two Rivers 2012 Chardonnay, you will be able to taste an excellent example of the unctuousness or creaminess this practice can add to the wine.  The wine becomes fuller and imparts a slight yeast/fermentation aroma that deepens the fruity flavors of the wine when it sits on its lees.  The aroma of the lees differs, of course, with the grapes — Chardonnay being different from Muscadet or Chenin Blanc.

This Two Rivers wine is excellent and the winemaker should take a bow.  If you like a white wine whose acids do not predominate but are there to adequately cleanse the palate and sharpen the flavors of the food, this is one such wine.  Very soft and pleasant to drink.  Chardonnay, in this wine, has again claimed its superiority among the whites.

Rating: 90

Emotional rating:  93, for soft wine lovers.

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.

“King Cab:” Altitude Makes Colorado’s Expression of the Grape A Rich One

Cabernet Sauvignon is a new kid on the block in comparison to some grape varieties thatColterris-7 CF Bottle and filled glass date back one to two millenniums.  Its importance began to be felt in Bordeaux near the end of the eighteenth century, having been, as is thought, a spontaneous cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.  As one of the noble grapes, it is no surprise that it would show up in Colorado’s warm climate, maintain its benchmarks, and ripen more consistently than in Bordeaux.

The expression of Cabernet Sauvignon’s true character is different, but recognizable, from place to place and from Old World wines to New World wines.  Colorado Cabernet offers a fruit-forward New World style with indications of Old World minerality or what I call stoniness (mountain granite).  The examples that I mention in my book, Experiencing Colorado Wine, demonstrate this definitive character in varying ways.  Let me take a stab at defining the character of Cabernet Sauvignon in Colorado:  deeply colored, full flavored, ripe, a slight stoniness on the finish, characteristic fruit with tannins that can be quite gripping.  Some of the Cabernet’s will have indications of their parents’ herbaceousness; some will not.  The cooler nights that slow the ripening bring out more of the grape’s intense flavors.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a perfect vehicle for testing the winemaker’s techniques and, as we have seen, loves this relatively warm climate.  But ripening can test the winemaker’s nerve when the season cools off more than he would like.  In the Grand Valley, the vine is also challenged by winter kill in severe winters and in areas where frigid air pools.  Few places are perfect for Cabernet.  Perhaps Napa Valley and Coonawarra could be cited as near perfect.  In other places, the vine meets the challenges and develops interesting expressions of both its varietal character and the terroir.  Colorado is one such place.

Perhaps the most obvious characteristic of the grape is its naturally rich concentration of phenolics (flavor compounds, vegetable tannins, and coloring agents) in the skins, making it produce deep red wines which, at times in Colorado, can be almost black.  Colterris Wines’ Cabernet is a good example of the deep color these wines can achieve.  The reason for the darker color in Colorado Cabernet is that the berry’s skin toughens and thickens with the high UV concentration that is very noticeable in altitudes over 4,000 feet, giving the winemakers a unique opportunity to extract and style this higher concentration of phenolics.  The berry size is also often smaller, increasing the concentration of phenolics even more, as is also seen in Washington’s Red Mountain fruit.

Bilberry can be detected in Colorado Cabernet Sauvignon.  In other parts of the world, it is often found in warm areas located “on the edge” of the growing conditions for this variety.  Flavor is also due to a good supply of sunlight.  The flavor pigments (anthocyanins) are increased and quality rises in the long hours of Colorado’s high altitude sunlight, which is no small blessing to the growing of superior fruit.  Canopy that allows dappled sunlight on the grapes from partial leaf cover creates the ideal condition for deeply flavored grapes.  Therefore, Colorado’s intense sunlight, combined with good canopy management that provides for the plant’s needs, provides a very promising formula for wonderful fruit.  More experiments on canopies need to be run.  The potential of Colorado fruit is now being clearly seen in the richness of the wines when fully extracted.

The maceration period can be very long as, for example, in the case of Alfred Eames Cellars in Paonia or shorter and still effective in others.  French, American, and Hungarian Oak barrels are used in the state with most wineries buying used barrels mainly for economic reasons.  Two Rivers Winery, on the other hand, along with some others buys 20 percent new oak each year, the result of which is detected in that distinctive new oak spiciness and sweet oak flavors.  Neutral oak or used oak imparts less oak flavors to the wine.  Therefore, Colorado provides the opportunity to explore the new and old oak effects on very thick-skinned Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that come from a high altitude.  Colorado has produced some impressive Cabernet Sauvignon that speaks of place and that we wine nuts can take pride in loving.

In the next few posts, we’ll take a look at some of Colorado’s outstanding Cabernet Sauvignons.  Joint me for a rich experience with a glass of Colorado Cab in hand!

The above article is adapted from my book, Experiencing Colorado Wine.  You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in it and you’ll find the description of the pairing of several with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.  Order your autographed copyExperiencing Colorado Wine at Square Market.

Experience Colorado When Experiencing Colorado Wine!

IMG_0344As I have said, emotion and wine are inseparable. We taste with our emotions, so what does that mean to us?  Trying to separate a wine from your emotional responses robs wine, or any food for that matter, of its magical touch.  S’mores, for example, toasted over a campfire in the forest, taste so much better than the same treat at home in front of the fireplace.  Candlelight improves a wine too.  Colorado wine consumed in Colorado’s scenic wonders will go down in your memory as one of your greatest wine experiences.

When in Grand Junction, you should take time to experience wine in this way.  You might visit the Tilman Bishop State Wildlife Area on the East Orchard Mesa for a similar site or drink wine on the edge of the Mesa at the Avant Vineyards, their wine of course.

Try this.  Driving to Terror Creek and Stone Cottage is an experience that will test your nerve and thrill your senses, but you will discover world-class views of the massive West Elks Mountains that are akin in drama to the Alps of Switzerland.  Artfully sculpted wines from these two wineries make it all the more exhilarating.  Step outside the tasting room and soak up the drama of the landscape.  You will be entertained with emotions that a dinner table will never be able to emulate.

Tasting Colterris Wines’ full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon or their Cabernet Franc, with their lush fruit and balancing acids, in their famous peach orchard, replete with the aromas of both, will not leave you without a sense of connectedness to nature and its mutual harmonies.  Vineyards and orchards unite to emulate a taster’s dream at Colterris.  Experience both — peaches and wine.

The clear blue skies, the bulk of the mountains, and the canyon’s breezes will make Canyon Wind’s wines exhibit a real sense of place.  Slow down at their simple picnic spot and sip their wines.

Stop at Maison la Belle Vie’s for their wine and cheese.  The pairing is ancient, but sitting under the trees at the winery is relaxation at its best.  The owner is French; the winemaker is an Aussie; the place is Colorado, and the wine, satisfying.  If you know what to look for, you’ll find reminders of both France and Australia in the way the wine is made, while the brogues will make you wonder where you are.  Perhaps soon you can expect a restaurant, as John wants to flesh out the experience of wine with more food.

Stay in luxury at the Two Rivers Chateau in Grand Junction.  Waste away the last hours of the day on the balcony of the Chateau, overlooking the vineyard and the Grand Valley with a bottle of wine selected from the display in your room or purchased at the tasting room.  While the sun bids farewell, kissing the tops of the Book Cliffs, your experience will be complete.

Is it lunchtime and are you on the front range of Colorado?  Then don’t miss Creekside Cellar’s winery and restaurant in Evergreen, where the wines at the table are the same price as the wines you purchase at the counter — no markup.  A fabulous chef and an outside balcony suspended over Bear Creek will surely hit the spot and make a memory you could want to make a habit.  Yes, bears and elk visit here too.  There are photos to prove it.  You may be lucky and have a sighting while you are there!

It’s a small, self-guided tour, but with glass in hand you can learn the basics of winemaking at Boulder Creek’s winery, and those wines are among the very best in Colorado.  Tour the winery and sip.

In medieval days, the monks made wine and grew the grapes on the land surrounding their Monastery.  Holy Cross is a spectacular Abbey that reminds you of wine’s Christian heritage.  It is the pride of Cañon City and The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey offers a large and well-stocked gift store.  Indulge in their great wines at a table under the trees beside a small vineyard and think of those days when the monks made detailed notes of their vintages, viticulture, and winemaking, handing down to us the secrets of wine and terroir.  Think also of the wine.  It’s great!

And there are more (many more) sites, sounds, and tastes to return wine to its rightful place — stirring or calming our emotions.  Create your own Colorado wine experience.

The above article is an excerpt from my book, Experiencing Colorado Wine.  You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in it and you’ll find the description of the pairing of several with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.  Order your autographed copyExperiencing Colorado Wine at Square Market.