New Year’s resolutions tend to be hard to keep. However, if the resolution involves drinking wine, it might be slightly more manageable. One way to learn about wine is to select one type of grape and try different bottles of it.
My current grape: Cabernet Sauvignon. Between January and March, I have been buying and drinking mainly Cabernet. What better way to wrap up my “Three Months of Cab,” than to compare two local, 100% Colorado Cabernet wines produced by Settembre Cellars?
I met the owners, Blake and Tracy Eliasson, when I happened upon their tasting at Oliverde off of Pearl St. Mall a few years ago. Using Blake’s engineering background, Settembre’s motto is “art, science and patience,” leading to the creation of earthy and elegant wines inspired by Italy and France. Their tasting room, located at Winery Row in North Boulder, opened on Memorial Day weekend in 2014.
During a recent event hosted by Settembre, Blake poured the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2009 Mesa Cabernet Sauvignon side by side for a group of inquisitive reporters. The grapes come from the Grand Valley AVA of Palisade, Colorado, and are grown 3 miles and a few hundred feet apart. Both are fermented in stainless steel, spend a year in French oak, and then bottle aged for 11 months.
The benefit of tasting them side by side is to understand how much of a role terroir (environmental conditions) plays in wine production.
The Valley Cabernet smelled of grape jam, nutmeg and shucked corn, while the Mesa Cabernet exuded a powerful spicy red pepper smell, followed by notes of cherry, smoked wood and chocolate. On the palate, the Valley is mildly fruit forward, soft, with minimal tannin, suggested to be paired with cardamom or chocolate. The Mesa was drier, but still light and felt satiny on the tongue, with a supple, soft finish. Its suggested food pairing is mushrooms or a “quiet contemplative evening.”
In comparison to other Cabernets I have recently tried, these will forever stand out in my mind not only due to quality but also due to the setting in which I drank them.
The best part of visiting the tasting room is getting to meet Blake and Tracy, ask questions and learn about their wines. I can sit at home and try different Cabernets, but the experience of getting to speak to the winemaker, learn about the origin of the grapes, and hear the story behind the bottle is more memorable than simply drinking wine.
Settembre Cellars creates a warm and comfortable environment to enjoy and learn about wine. A visitor is encouraged to bring a picnic and sample any of their 11 wines. It is fun to explore how food and wine pair up, and Blake and Tracy are willing to make suggestions for the best ways to experience their wines.
Blake and Tracy are warm, welcoming and more like friends than owners of a successful business. The environment of the tasting room reminds me of chatting in their living room after helping bottle wine in their garage.
Settembre Cellars has created a place of learning, community and great wine in Boulder. It isn’t too late for another New Year’s Resolution: visit Settembre Cellars to meet great people and discover how amazing wine drinking can be.