Creekside Cellars continues the reign of Colorado cab franc
It’s Sunday, 95 degrees, and I’m recuperating from Colorado Wine Week.
I missed a Colorado Wine Week post or two Friday and Saturday but really, I honestly have a good excuse.
Friday night’s Day 6 Wine Week Challenge was the Governor’s Cup Awards presentation, and I opened (or had opened for me, which is even better), scads of tasty Colorado wines, including the Best of Show and Double Gold Cabernet Franc from Creekside Cellars.
Saturday, well, Saturday was the Colorado Urban Winefest (lots of nice remarks coming from that event) plus I woke up
hungover out of sorts and needed some time to gather my thoughts, which mostly were “Where am I?” and “How did that happen?”
But important things first, right?
Congratulations and a well-deserved high three (it’s a long story but how many fingers does Pluto have?) to Michelle Cleveland, talented winemaker and all-around great person for Creekside Cellars in Evergreen, for winning the 2013 Governor’s Cup Best of Show and Double Gold for her 2010 Cabernet Franc.
Dark, luscious, lots of fruit and a judicious 24 months in Appalachian oak (she said it’s the same species of oak tree used to make French oak barrels) to balance.
Too bad there’s not any left.
Funny story: Michelle said she made 44 cases (that’s about 100 gallons or so) of the wine, which grew in the 10-acre Creekside vineyards in the Grand Valley, (Hey, almost all – 87 percent – of Colorado grapes grow in the Grand Valley) but had only 1 (one, uno, half of two) case left by the weekend.
“I didn’t know how fast it would sell,” she said, but at least she had enough to share with the
light intimate crowd at the Governor’s Cup Awards at Metro State University.
Michelle really likes Colorado cabernet franc (the bottle’s label reads simply “Franc,” and underneath says “Colorado’s Cabernet”) and she and Kyle Schlachter of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board have this plan to promote cab franc as Colorado’s best red grape.
I’m all for it after tasting some of the excellent cab francs being produced by various Colorado winemakers. Curiously, the other double-gold medal Bordeaux-red winner this year also was a 2010 Cabernet Franc by Jackie Thompson of Bookcliffs Vineyards, and the 2012 Gov’s Cup winner was yet another cabernet franc, this one by the enigmatic Matt Cookson of the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey.
“We’ve been making cabernet franc since we opened (2000),” said Michelle, who said she began as a beermaker before making the switch to fermenting grapes.
As for the oak, well, “We like oak,” she said with a sly smile. “But it has to balance with the fruit and the 2010 vintage was huge fruit. The only problem is cab franc needs a long growing season but we haven’t had any problems.”
And for those who are aware of this year’s tribulations in the vineyards (sounds like something Danielle Steel might write, eh?), everyone I’ve talked with are saying (fingers crossed behind their back) their cab franc is one of the few vines to be healthy after the January freeze and the April frost.
And remember 2010 was a light vintage, too, but Michelle had no problem wringing a Best of Show from the grapes.
The rest of the Governor’s Cup winners are here, and among the top award-winners were Glenn Foster (Talon Wines); Jackie Thompson (Bookcliff Vineyards); Jay and Jennifer Christianson (Canyon Wind Cellars); and Matt Cookson (The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey).
There were 225 wines submitted for the competition but Governor John Hickenlooper, who is a great supporter of Colorado wine, wasn’t able to make his usual appearance.
After the awards, I headed over to Row 14, one of the Denver restaurants hosting the Sips & Snacks, pairing a glass of Colorado wine with a larger-than-an-appetizer but smaller-than-your-appetite plate.
Row 14 was pouring the 2011 Two Rivers Winery Syrah and paired it with carnitas tacos. Good food, great wine, nice people, lots of fun. Lots.