This report features the first looks at Colorado (all in the Grand Valley AVA) and Moldova, plus one new Slovenian winery, Jakončič.
The results were a bit surprising. I liked what Colorado was doing a little more, at least based on this admittedly small sample size. It is worth noting that the Moldovan wines were simply submissions by an importer, while the Colorado wines were selected by the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board—a less random selection of a broader group. Still, overall, they showed rather well for a region you don’t much think of in terms of wine.
The price points for the Colorado wines were often pretty good too. In fact, it often didn’t seem like there was a lot of motivation to trade up either. Nice values include the Bookcliff Vineyards Riesling ($15), the Carlson Vineyards Tyrannosaurus Red ($17) and the Whitewater Hill Shiraz ($18). The biggest star, to be sure, was the most expensive—The Infinite Monkey Theorem’s 2013 The Bubble Universe. (Yes, those are real names. Remember that the state has legal weed.) Creekside Cellars did particularly well too, but the price points were also relatively high for this report. The “Franc” Cabernet Franc was still my favorite table wine ($45), although not by much.
The attention to structure in the Colorado group was impressive. Even some of the simpler wines had real backbones and seemed designed to age. To be sure, at times I wondered if there wasn’t a bit of overkill—more tannins than fruit yet coming in at price levels that sometimes did not suggest anyone would want to hold them for a few years. Overall, the attention to structure was still a big plus.
There were some failures, to be sure, and the Grand Old Man, the 1991 Colorado Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon from “Colorado’s original winery,” didn’t show too well. It was rather miraculous that it was alive and still drinkable, though. Colorado Cellars was founded in 1978, “the first to produce and sell Colorado wines made from Colorado grapes.”
Moldova was an up-and-down story too, but if anything, the flaws in the Moldovan wines were worse. Most of the rest of the wines were fairly straightforward, although they typically come at pretty good prices, like the Rosu de Bulboaca ($15), a Bordeaux blend from Castel Mimi. My overall favorite was the Fáutor Winery 2016 Fumé Blanc. Their Tempranillo was a valiant effort, but it didn’t have a lot of character. At Gitana, the Autograf Chardonnay was a nice value ($14), and the La Petite Sophie was a charming white blend. However, some wines also seemed a bit flawed.
Overall, there are some wines that are worth a look, particularly for everyday drinking. Most importantly, you’ll want The Bubble Universe just so you can walk into a dinner party and say, “Who wants to enter The Bubble Universe?” (Then, you’ll find that it’s pretty good too.)