Friday, August 1, 2014

The United Grapes of America - Colorado - Creekside Cellars Franc

During the 2012 Drink Local Wine Conference, I finally met Michelle Cleveland, winemaker at Creekside Cellars. We had communicated frequently through twitter, but this was the first chance I had to sample her wine; specifically a Cabernet Franc and Viognier during the event's live twitter tasting. As I recall, both were quite pleasing and nailed the varietal character of each grape variety.  This week I had another chance to sample her wine, this time through our friends at Protocal Wine Studio and their informative #WineStudio Tuesday twitter sessions. Michelle had donated the Creekside's 2011 'Franc' Colorado Cabernet Franc ($35) for July's The Independent Spirit | Wines of the USA

The United Grapes of America The United Grapes of America
Colorado is a unique region for grape growing. Most of the vineyards are located in the western part of the state in the Grand Valley and West Elk AVA's in addition to the Four Corners region in the southwest.  In general, as you would expect, these are cold climate vineyards - with vineyards in the West Elk AVA the highest in the northern hemisphere. The Grand Valley AVA is a warmer micro-climate, providing over 300 days of sunshine per year  and Creekside owns a vineyard in Palisade, aptly called The Vinelands.  Here, right next to the Colorado River,  they grow Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Viognier, and Muscat.

The winery itself was started by Bill and Anita Donahue with their son, Tim in 1996 and is located in Evergreen - a little southwest of Denver. Michelle started working for the winery in 2005 and became the head winemaker in 2008. Once the grapes are harvested at The Vinelands, they are trucked east to Evergreen to be processed.  2011 was a cold year, even by Colorado standards: thus the yields were low, and acids high. After fermentation, the wine for the 2011 'Frank' Colorado Cabernet Franc spent 24 months in half American oak and half French oak - providing more depth, tobacco, and spices to the already black cherry character. This is a ripe Cabernet Franc, meaning little traces of herbal or green peppery character. My kind of Franc. Cheers.

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