What To Drink Now: Settembre Cellars

Serving place by the bottle

Settembre Cellars

By Jeff Steen and Maya Silver | Editors

If the world of wine has taught us anything, it’s that only those with a passion and talent for winemaking can soar. It helps, of course, if your background happens to be in engineering. That’s the story for winemaking couple Blake and Tracy Eliasson, whose carefully-crafted Settembre Cellars recently found a home in Boulder off of Highway 36.

The background

While Blake boasts a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Tracy works full-time in the engineering field, winemaking is what truly excites them. As the story goes, the two fell in love while exploring good food and wine in Boulder. Not long after they were married, and affirming their great love of Old World eat and drink, the two launched a winery in their garage in 2007.  In fact, the name of the winery—Settembre (Italian for September)—alludes to the couple’s anniversary month and the typical grape harvest time in Italy. On May 24, 2014, the Eliassons opened a tasting room in Boulder, where they pour eight different red and white varietals–all unfiltered–alongside reserve wines chosen by Blake himself.

Blake Eliasson, Settembre Cellars

The mission

As Blake puts it, Settembre’s mission is to do justice to Colorado grapes—which account for 100-percent of the fruit used for their wines—while “letting the vine’s seasonal story develop and be expressed.” Paying the terroir of the grapes their due respect allows Blake to capture place in a bottle. Blake, who serves as the Cellar’s one and only winemaker, leans heavily on the profiles of Italian and French wines as his guide. Ultimately, Settembre’s winemaking mantras is “art, science, and patience.”

With a modest output of 500 cases a year, Settembre is focused on its craft, and doesn’t anticipate growing more than two or four times it’s current production capacity. This allows Blake to focus on winemaking, rather than hiring a winemaker and pouring himself into the business side of Settembre.

The ingredients

Ninety-percent of the grapes used in Settembre’s wines come from first-cluster harvests in Palisade. Depending on the varietal, each wine is aged in either stainless steel, French oak, or a combination of both. This is particularly noteworthy, since plastic fermentation tanks or aging vessels can leach contaminants into the wine itself, compromising the character. Blake is particular about the ancillary components of winemaking, too—from biodegradable corks to a gentle stainless steel press that precludes the development of harsh tannins in their red varietals.

One of the winemaking techniques that sets Settembre apart from the winemaking crowd is the maceration time allotted for the grapes. Grape press is often delayed up to two full months, allowing the expression of the fruit to manifest more fully. While this extends production time, it ensures a nuanced, layered final product that shows body, character, and richness.

Bottle highlights:  

Settembre 2010 Chardonnay

2010 Chardonnay (French oak barrel-fermented and stainless steel-aged, this vibrant vintage is both soft and piquant with well-balanced citrus notes and the gentle backdrop of soft oak. It pairs well with tart and acidic flavors, like apples or citrus.)

Settembre 2009 Reserve Syrah

2009 Reserve Syrah (Aged in French oak and cellared for added depth, this crowd-pleasing Syrah boast a profile of tart cherries and golden raisins, while finishing with beautifully soft tannins. It pairs well with earthy flavors and aromatics, like those found in hummus or bean dip.)

Settembre 2010 Sangiovese

2010 Sangiovese (Likened to Pinot Noir, this straightforward wine carries a slight edge, while offering a rounded mouthfeel that makes it the perfect companion to mild chiles and spice, as well as chocolate.)

Where to taste

Settembre’s tasting room {1501 Lee Hill Road in Boulder} is open Thursday-Sunday 1-6pm or by appointment at other times. Large parties can call ahead to reserve the room. When you come, Blake and Tracy recommend starting with a flight of five wines and moving to a full glass. They also encourage guests to bring a little picnic; Cured on East Pearl is a great place to pick up a pre-packaged gourmet meal, and has partnered with Settembre for several events. With two other wineries and one brewery in the same complex as Settembre, you could even spend a whole afternoon at Lee Hill Road sampling wine and beer.

Settembre’s wines are also in select local stores. If you’re smitten with Settembre, you may also want to consider joining their Wine Club, which will provide you monthly access to bottles, tastings, discounts, and many more perks.

Keep an eye out for…

Upcoming “In Search of Synergy” pairing events at Savory Spice Shop in Boulder on Saturday afternoons, as well as pairing events at the tasting room. But event or not, this is is the perfect place to come for a casual afternoon with friends or a loved one. As Tracy says with a smile, “This would be a really good place for a date.”